I was reminded, by a Fetlife thread by my friend MasterMHatter, of a video that I watched some while ago which led me to the surprising revelation that I didn’t know the right way to tie my shoelaces. That’s something we all think we mastered shortly after discarding the services of our mother, isn’t it? We would never guess we had been doing it wrong all our lives if we weren’t aware there was a right and a wrong way. Indeed, we cannot know what we don’t know. Naturally, as a consequence, we assume we know. There’s the catch. It applies to shibari as much as anything else.
I think realising that there will always be something we don’t know is the first step to mastering rope or any other skill. MasterMHatter said of a private class with Pedro, Portuguese maestro of rope, that when he was asked what he wanted to learn couldn’t adequately answer. Here’s what he said:
“If the chance should ever come your way…I would urge you when asked what you want to learn, to answer… I don’t know what I don’t know.
I had a similar experience with Nina’s foto momo tutorial. I felt that this was an area I had reasonably got cracked but I thought why not look again? I picked up a number of adjustments which have helped me move things forward.”
It is certainly the aim of all our tutorials to break this ground. It is very easy to imagine you know all there is to know or, at least, all you need to know about a specific tie or technique after one workshop or once a friend has shown you. How much of the full story that you get will depend very much on the level of experience and ability of your teacher. At worst, it can be the blind leading the blind. I think this is the reason why some ties, e.g. takate-kote, gets bad press as a dangerous tie. A 1,000cc sports motorbike isn’t dangerous per se. If you don’t know how to handle it, it is an accident waiting to happen. Same rules apply to shibari.
I freely admit that I have been at the stage where I thought I knew something…many times. Finally, I am recognising that failing after numerous reality checks. It has usually been a Japanese master or an experienced model who comes up with a revelation, but sometimes it can be a raw beginner who simply says “…but why not do it this way?”. Many things are simply the result of repeating the same process thousands of times. As time goes on, refinements and adjustments are made but that can be a long road. It is the benefit of all this experience, and the explanations of why things are done a particular way, that make our tutorials different.