Unconscious Competence

June 22, 2016 in Hebari's Blog, Rope

IMG_6114With rope education we are always talking about competence, ego, getting students to slow down and focus on depth rather than breadth, don’t jump ahead yada yada and on it goes.

The thing about learning a skill is that it’s bloody boring, it starts out as exciting, the prospect of the wonders to be unlocked, the cool things we’ll be able to do soon, and that generates the enthusiasm that gets us started.

Then we hit a road block, something that doesn’t work as expected, maybe a knot won’t hold, maybe the tie falls apart, maybe our bottom tells us that something doesn’t feel right. Whatever, we stall and it’s frustrating.

At this point we all know what we are supposed to do, we are supposed to stop go back and work on things until we have it right and this is where we have a choice to do things well or poorly.

So here is the trick I teach my students, at the point where you feel you “have it”, rather than jump ahead see if you can do it while doing something else, talk to your model, watch television whatever, the point is when you can use the skill well while doing something else you have become “unconsciously competent”, unconscious competence is essentially the point where as kill has been moved down to your automation functions and it’s actually really cool to become aware of it as it happens.

Human beings actually can’t do many things concurrently using our conscious minds, basically we can do one thing well or two things poorly. So the reason we are able to multi-task at all is that we have amazing automation systems run by our subconscious mind.

A great example is watching a child learn to walk, what they are doing initially is using their conscious mind to try to walk, which is really hard, there are just so many things to think of, and you can actually see them jump between them, they get one thing working then they try to do something else and fall over. Then over time they train their automation systems and walking becomes easier and easier.

When we walk we have all the motor and balancing in automation, we also scan our surroundings and avoid obstacles automatically, we also have a light automated tactical system that plans and remaps out route for us and we only need to move that to conscious thought when a major change occurs.

Rope is the same, we start by getting the basic components into automation, then bigger patterns that a formed form the smaller components, then we are free to notice our model more, and our feel and flow can be moulded by that feedback and so on.

So the moral to this story is get in touch with your learning processes, start to feel the progression as less of a progression into boredom and more as a progression into automation that opens up new layers of awareness and ability and your learning experience will naturally become richer.

Connective Rope

June 21, 2016 in Hebari's Blog, Rope

20160611 - Victoria Rose 0052This may seem obvious but sensual rope is about engaging the senses and what may surprise you is there are more than 5. We all know about sight, sound, touch, taste and smell, all first order senses what is often missed are not strictly speaking senses but I’m going to take some poetic license.

Sense of timing, sense of trust, sense of state, sense of intensity, sense of space and sense of flow.

Very often I think people wanting to get into sensual rope do one of two things, they either smother the person they are tying or they try to use the first order senses as a series of buttons to be pushed to get an effect.

Each of these have elements that can be used and may look similar to a more connected rope scene but the thing that makes the difference is extended senses if I can call them that.

The way I like to think of it is like an old school story teller taking an audience on a journey, feeding off their reactions and changing the story as they go for maximum impact with a few twists for those that have heard the story before. That subtle understanding of the human condition, the reading of expressions and the sounds the audience makes, sometimes calm then building up to a crescendo, a pause then the revelation.

So I think of myself as a story teller, a purveyor of sensual journeys, and to tell those stories I have to use the language of human experience.

Kurt Vonnegut did a great lecture on this exact point called “The shape of stories” where he discusses the concept of flow, intensity and timing as it relates to the way people experience a story.

Rope is the same,  we experience it though the difference between moments and states. If things happen very fast and intensely then it builds up until we either break out or burn out. If we experience thing at a low intensity and a slow measured pace it’s either calming or boring depending on the context. Whether it’s a good piece of music, a play, a movie or a conversation the most interesting experiences generally have build ups, pauses, intense periods followed by calm and then the build again. A spike of intensity after a pregnant pause and so on.

The other thing about experience is the idea of “right moments”, the best example for me is a kiss, if you go in for a kiss a bit early it’s awkward and the same if it’s a bit late, there is an indefinable “right moment” to kiss someone and the only way to work it out is through intuition.

Intuition was once described to me as the queues our subconscious mind gives to our conscious mind after processing far more information than our concious mind ever could, and the way it informs us of it’s conclusion is with “those feelings”, the pressure or the feeling that it’s not the right time. The hard part is learning to listen. We all have days when our brain is full for whatever reason and our ability to listen to our intuition or our partners in just not very good, maybe we are tired or maybe we had bad news or any number of other things. On days like that I don’t do rope, I find a way to relax that doesn’t require me to be very capable.

So if I listen to my intuition and the feedback I get from my partner, then use my skills at both rope and story telling the end result is a unique journey, a conversation tailored to the people involved and our momentary state of being, and that is the best connective rope for me.

Rope Play Top 4

June 10, 2016 in Hebari's Blog, Rope

20160605 - Willing Pet  0003Jokes about what is the right way to tie, or what is or isn’t twue rope aside.
I love tying in lots of different ways sitting down in learning mode and working out a tie is great, not sexy but great fun and very rewarding. I love doing circus rope for shows and I also love shows that play to a more devoted rope audience where I can take more time and really get into some depth with the show I also enjoy doing scenes at parties or events in public.
But my favourite rope is the unplanned scene at home, where I can take my time and everything is set up for me, tatami on the floor, toys, points and bamboo, and all the other fun stuff I have. But mostly I love the energy or sitting down with someone and getting into their head, working out what makes them tick and then using that to take them to the edge and back repeatedly.

The other night I had a small intermediate class, just one student and our models, so I asked what he would like to learn, he said play rope, partial suspensions etc. Great I thought, lets have some fun 🙂
So over the next two hours I basically did a scene with my model, in the end there were a few key points I thought I’d share.

Skills

For me using skills that are at the unconscious competence level is really important for good play, that’s not to say that all my skills have to be at that level, just the ones I need for the scene. The reason is simple, it means I’m focused on my model not on the “How” of tying, and because my attention stays on them, I pick up on all that small detail, all the little movements, expressions and sounds that that allow me to totally present with them and playing in a way that is tuned to exactly where they are at. Also a model will know the moment their rigger’s attention drifts, thing just feel different and a lot of models feel “abandoned” when their partner’s focus shifts, that is ok in academic rope or in a show but in more intimate rope it has a really negative effect.

Body Mechanics

With rope especially it’s really important to me to understand how the body moves and to be aware of where problems are likely to come from. So one thing I look for as I move a person’s body is that point where the resistance to movement ramps up, which normally means I’ve reached the end of travel for that movement, it means I have to be careful and very aware if I push further.
The other side of body mechanics is the idea of elegant movement of a model, ways of lifting them or moving them that is graceful and not just using brute force, the end result is that the model has a smooth experience and doesn’t feel the need to “take control back”, any jarring movement for instance can shake the model’s confidence albeit briefly, the result is them stiffening up and making things harder on me and they get shaken out of their “space”. This was something that Yukimura sensei was very big on and I gained a lot of good floorwork skills from him.

Observance

As I already mentioned, being able to stay “present” with with my model allows me to pick up on all the little signs the give off telling me about their state of mind and how they are experiencing what I’m doing with them. Without that information I’m flying blind and run the risk of doing rope “at” them rather than “with” them. To me rope, and in fact all play, is a conversation, a shared communication and part of that is listening, otherwise it’s just a lecture and lets face it lectures tend to be boring and impersonal, not concepts that make for an enjoyable scene.

Intuition

This is to some degree the big one, and it’s a really difficult one. I once had intuition described to me as the subconscious mind letting our conscious mind know what it thinks about what is going on. It’s the subconscious mind picking up on all the little thing, sounds, body language, speech patterns and a million other tiny details that we could never process consciously and letting our conscious minds know by giving us that “feeling”. The hard part is learning to listen or at least it has been for me 🙂

How long does it take?

May 24, 2016 in Hebari's Blog, Rope

0004cab1-37c2-c3a9-8f50-37560ab14059_720This is a question I get asked a lot. It’s a bit like asking how long it will take to get fit, it depends on how much work you are prepared to put in and how much you are prepared to put your ego aside. As someone once said you can’t learn something you already think you know.
I’m also going to be sexist for a moment and let the guys know something. I hate to tell you but the girls are much less prone to tripping over their egos.

Let me break down the bad process for a bit and talk about some of the things I have observed from poor students.

  • They talk rather than do, it feels like the talking is to cover their inability to take on the information, or maybe they feel that it’s so easy it doesn’t require all their attention. Either way the people that talk a lot in class invariably end up lagging behind
  • They want to jump ahead rather than focus on getting what is in front of them right
  • They are the first to start trying to teach others
  • They obviously don’t practice between classes, or maybe they don’t practice well. Either way the progression between classes is small or non-existent
  • They seem to think that a quick class will give them the skills to get laid. Sorry no one will fuck you for skills especially not bad ones
  • The rush ahead when something frustrates them
  • They have a it’s good enough attitude

The behaviours of good students that progress quickly I have observed are:

  • They are quiet but inquisitive, they ask why
  • They are tenacious, they keep at a tie until they have that “Ah ha” moment
  • When they get frustrated they ask for help
  • They practice as often as they can and they practice within their limits
  • They critically analyse their work and work to understand why things are used they way they are
  • They, like everyone have an ego, they just don’t turn class into a competition with their teacher or the other students

For me the moment I an doing something for attention, or external factors, my ego is in play and prevents me, so I actively avoid competition. When I’m focused on the person I’m tying or just getting something right my ego subsides. So that’s what I try to do.

Sexpo 2016

May 12, 2016 in Hebari's Blog, Rope

sexpo_buttonThis year I have been asked to teach and perform at Sexpo in Sydney. It’s lovely to have been asked and to be able to share the art I love with so many people, but from chatting to the organisers, it’s also indicative of the new format of Sexpo. What for a long time has been about lad culture seems to be changing to support sex positive culture and it’s great to see,

This year I will be facilitating two seminars on Shibari in the Sexual Health & Wellness Seminar Room (SHARE) on Thursday and Friday respectively, then performing on the main stage Saturday and Sunday.

Also this year MBE has teamed up with Sexpo and Mistress Tokyo to hold MBE within Sexpo’s Fetish playroom on Saturday. I’ll be sharing a stage with two amazing rope artists, Osaka Dan and Avalon doing shows from 18:30 until late, definitely not to be missed 🙂

Seminars

Shibari: The Sensual art of Japanese Bondage in the Seminar room in RHI

  • Thursday – 21:00
  • Friday – 17:00

Performances

Main Stage – Hordon Pavillion

  • Saturday – 19:45
  • Sunday – 15:30

MBE – RHI Fetish Play Room

  • Saturday – 18:40 & 21:05

IMG_5665 IMG_5936 IMG_5952 IMG_5981 IMG_6020 IMG_6114 IMG_6145 IMG_6180 IMG_6212 IMG_6232

Muga and Connection

April 19, 2016 in Hebari's Blog, Rope

20151226-untitled-150Muga is one of those words, if you have heard it you may still wonder what it’s all about. I didn’t get it for a long time to be quite honest. I thought how can I tie with no sense of myself or with no intent? It was only recently that I came to an understanding of it.

On my most recent rip to Tokyo, I have been doing a lot of healing and a lot of growth in general. Clearing my head and working on bad coping mechanisms, so I have been in a very good state of mind to get into feeling my way rather than thinking my way through things.

The click with muga for me came when I got off the station at Harajuku on my way to Meiji-jingu shrine. Anyone that has been to Harajuku can attest to the madness of the crowds, a sea of people to try to get through on the way to anywhere, and I thought to myself “If I wanted to get to the shrine from here I could just force my way through” and then it occurred to me, I’d forced my way through crowds before without much success. The times I’d gotten through crowds in the best way is when I’d kind of gone with the flow, I knew which way I needed to go but then I just waited for the gaps to open up, not gotten frustrated and just felt my way through. To me that is a big part of muga, or at least what I understand muga to be. The goal is known to some degree but the path isn’t set.

In the context of rope, muga for me is about having some idea of where I’m going but then putting that aside in favour of feeling my way through. More than that though it’s about relaxing, putting the ego aside and feeling for those spaces, they are there just the way there is an indefinable right time to kiss someone. None can teach you either, you just need to know they are there, relax and feel for them, when you get it you know.

Reddit AMA

April 4, 2016 in Hebari's Blog, Rope

For anyone interested I’ve started an AMA thread on Reddit 🙂 A great opportunity to ask anything you like.

Goodbye Sensei

March 9, 2016 in Hebari's Blog, Rope

Yukimura Haruki Sensei was a great man, and the world is less for his passing.

0004cab1-37c2-c3a9-8f50-37560ab14059_720I had heard of Yukimura sensei for some time before I finally met him in 2012 while visiting Japan for rope lessons with Kinoko and Osada Steve.
I was lucky enough to be in contact with Hajime Kinoko and asked him about meeting Yukimura sensei, he said he would find out and the end result was both of us doing two days with him as students.
Aside from the time with sensei, I also had the honour of watching Kinoko san and Yukimura sensei chatting and discussing the world of rope. The old and the new generation of nawashi together, it was something I’ll never forget.

 

 

0004cab1-b88a-fc86-0146-08b95cc497cb_720Over the next couple of years I went to Japan 3 or 4 times a year and despite how little I managed to retain of the language, I worked hard on my rope with sensei. The patterns didn’t change much but each time I got better at what I had learned and slowly got glimpses of deeper concepts. One hard earned layer becoming the foundation for the next

 

 

 

 

 

 

0004f470-6913-9a85-02d2-ee0d60f104ae_720On the 13th of March 2014, sensei bestowed on me my student name and my first class teaching certificate on his visit to Sydney.

While I felt very lucky, I knew then that it was just the beginning of my responsibility to learn all I could and deserve the honour I had been given.

 

 

Unfortunately that is just chronology and doesn’t say much about a great man. Sensei had a wonderful way about him, just very relaxed and easy to laugh. He played the role of the dirty old uncle so very well, turning models into jelly with a few gravely words, and the lightest touch of his hand. Everything looked so casual and relaxed, almost an afterthought, but if you asked any of his models they would tell you they never felt his presence waver from them while they were in his rope.
Nothing was overt with sensei, like a finely spiced meal, nothing overwhelming but the cumulative effect was so powerful to watch and ask any of his models and they would tell you how addictive it was.
Something my rope is only the shadow of.

I remember tying a Japanese model in front of sensei in his little lounge room, feeling like I was starting to get it when sensei said a few words in his rough relaxed voice and my model just came apart. I looked up at my translator and gave her a questioning look. She said “Oh, sensei just said she’s a naughty little girl and he’ll have to have her suck his cock later”, and that was so him, to be able to deliver the dirtiest talk with a little laugh and have models just fall apart with shame and excitement. I’ve never seen anyone that could come close to that.

My favourite memories were of the lunches at his place, sensei was a brilliant chef, quite simply the best food I’ve ever had in Japan was at sensei’s table. Relaxed lunches and suppers with our models chatting about rope and the west, about energy and feeling. I learned more about the real art of sensei at those times.

I want to write more but I can’t at the moment, I’m just a bit too sad but maybe I’ll write more later. For now I just hope to give a few people a little glimpse into the amazing man I had the privilege to learn from.

Thank you sensei
Haru isamu