How To Be Good At Rope: Discipline And Patience

How To Be Good At Rope: Discipline And Patience

It is often considered that discipline is the key to success. Whilst there are obvious physical and mental talents and limitations we all have, there’s no denying that to truly succeed at anything you’re required to make routines, structures and sometimes sacrifices in the pursuit of the goals. You need dedication and tenacity. You need to equip yourself with the tools to do what you want, educate yourself of the safest ways of doing it and adhere to your plan making necessary adjustments along the way.


Whatever you do requires patience. As Imam Ali said “Through patience, great things are accomplished”. Patience is all about keeping a good attitude whilst you are waiting for something. It’s not just stopping yourself from being angry and frustrated. Instead, patience is about recognising that all good things take time to achieve. It takes time for things to develop and grow, just like a flower you plant, it takes care and commitment. It takes a lot of practice and time to build your skills in anything. That requires discipline and patience. And learning rope is exactly the same.

My advice to anyone starting out in rope is:

  1. Take your time. Slow right down. I get it, it’s fun, but behaving like a kid in a sweet shop isn’t going to serve you any favours. Rushing will lead to mistakes and biting off more than you can chee, so don’t do it.
  2. Learn how the body works. Learn how it can vary between different people and how medical conditions can affect how to tie different people. Particularly get to know about nerve damage and circulation problems. Learn safe ways to contort and/or stretch bodies and how this can rapidly affect how rope behaves in that circumstance.
  3. Get informed on how rope works: tension, knots, placement, how different rope behaves. Read, join forums and groups, go to rope events. Talk and tie/be tied alongside other riggers and bottoms. You’ll learn a lot more that way, from both sides of the dynamic.
  4. Know your limits and those of whom you play with. Slowly try things out to see what works for you both. Doing too much at once will make it difficult for you to distinguish between what was positive and negative.
  5. Get the tools you need to practice safely, don’t take unnecessary risks – that may be the actual rope gear itself, which you need to be informed about; things to help you prepare for rope and aftercare; but also the psychological techniques to cope with the emotions and stress, and managing the emotions of who you’re working with.
  6. Look after your physical and mental health. Don’t tie if you feel too tired or unable to focus as this will make you unsafe to play with. You can do far more if you look after yourself.
  7. Don’t be guided by photos and videos you’ve seen of Shibari on social media. The people you usually see doing the “cool stuff” have usually been practicing rope for years and have built a strong connection, with solid communication and mutual respect with whomever they work with.
  8. Use books and video tutorials, but don’t rely on them. Nothing beats hands on learning to pick up those nuances you only discover in person.
  9. Rope is about people. No one has the right to be demanding when it comes to being tied or tying. Rope is often an intensely emotional experience, where you both can feel very vulnerable. It can illicit all sorts of human reactions. So when you approach rope with someone, be very mindful of the potential consequences.
  10. Get informed on consent. Discuss this directly with your partner(s). Learn it’s different forms. Without consent tying someone is abuse! Learn how to negotiate with respect and a sense of humility in the process
  11. Check your attitude. Are you doing this to show off? Do you think you’re amazing and can’t wait for the world to see how awesome you are? Guess what, you’re not. There are hundreds of riggers out there that are very talented. So leave your ego at the door.
  12. Making mistakes is normal, but you need to learn from them. Accept responsibility for where things went wrong. Own them and apologise if something doesn’t work out.
  13. Keep practicing the same tie over and over again. You can’t do a tie until you’ve done it dozens of times without a mistake. Later, try it with different ropes, on different models to see how much it can vary from person to person.
  14. Don’t suspend. Until you can do all the basic knots, can evenly tension and understand rope on the ground fully, as well as understood everything above, don’t go in the air. And definitely only do it if you have someone way more experienced and established than you guiding you for the first few times with someone you’ve established a solid dynamic with.

There is an awful lot to learn to practice rope safely. So get disciplined. Don’t become slack or lazy. Dedicate yourself to practicing and executing the tie to the best of your ability, and grow each time you fail. Be disciplined in your temperament and attitude to the learning process, because it will never end. Humble yourself, removing all chips from your shoulder (through self reflection and therapy if needed) and let your mind embrace the journey you’re on. It’s totally ok to take a break from your practice if you feel you need to, because we all need to at some point. Your happiness matters, so only do rope if it makes you happy.

Disclaimer: these are just my opinions based on three years experience in tying and self tying, working with lots of different people in meeting mutual goals. I’m not classically trained nor under tutorship of any particular school or mentor. I have worked alongside riggers and rope bottoms of different backgrounds and developed different skills and a collaborative, consent focused attitude to rope.

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