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The Biggest Problem With Practice, and How You Can Fix It

So you’ve gone out, you’ve obtained your rope, and you’ve been reading this website and studying Youtube videos  and devouring the material.

This rope is tragically empty

You’re ready. It’s time to start practicing and developing your skills…

But there’s a problem. A big problem.

You have no one to tie! How are you supposed to practice and develop skills with no one to tie up and practice on?


You CAN upskill and practice without having to tie someone, so that when you do go and tie someone, you won’t feel like a total noob.

I had this exact problem when I was learning to tie. It was frustrating. I really wanted to impress this girl I was seeing – I had failed once, I wanted to totally wow her next time.

But I couldn’t surprise her if she was my practice model, and she wouldn’t be as impressed if she’d had to watch me laboriously learning patterns and knots and making mistakes.

And while people might not believe it now, back then I was sort of shy about asking people if I could practice rope bondage on them… it’s not a common sort of question, and I didn’t know how people would react. Would they call me a pervert? Get upset? Shun me thereafter, referring to me as that creepy guy who wanted to tie them up?

Kind of a scary thought.

So I developed my own means of basic practice, no bunnies or models or people required.

How To Practice Without A Model

Method the First:

First, you actually do have a model.

It’s you.

One of the easiest ways to practice is on your own legs.

Two column tie using my legs as columns

You can practice column ties, knots, hitches, all kinds of things simply by making use of your own legs. You can do it while kicking back on your couch and bed or whatever and watching TV, drilling those movements into your fingers so you don’t have to fumble through it anymore; it’s become reflex.

By practicing like this, you’re essentially training those movements and patterns into your fingers and hands, so that when you do go to tie someone’s wrist or ankle or whatever, you do so pretty darn smoothly.

However, there are limitations to this. You can’t exactly tie harnesses or learn frictions or whatever, because those are tied on the torso, and that would be cumbersome as hell. So you need another trick.

Method The Second:

Tying furniture.

My most reliable model

I can’t tell you how helpful I’ve found my computer chair for this kind of stuff. I tied my first few harnesses on this chair; learning the principles of the takate kote harness, how to keep my tension even on my wraps, how to tie frictions on the back.

Basically, I use the spine of the chair (at the base) to start my single column tie, then move my rope upward and develop things from there.

This works really, really well, both for learning patterns of harnesses and ties, and for practicing your general rope handling skills.

Even to this day, I still use my chair when I’m just doing idle bits of practice and I have no one handy. The same when I’m learning a new finish to a harness, etc.

Limitations: you can’t really do cinches, and of course you can’t really learn about connecting with a person, teasing reactions out of them, etc, when you’re tying a piece of furniture. But you can definitely pick up some good technical skills which will stand you in good stead.

Method The Third:

Some times you want to work out a design for a tie, and furniture won’t cut it. You need something with arms and legs. You literally need to have a model, but if you still don’t have anyone else available…

Well, there’s a fix for that too.

I don’t think my mother would approve of what happened to the toy she gave me…

Haha it looks terrible, right? Who would do such a thing to a soft toy?

Seriously though, if you get something with articulated joints and some string, then you can actually do some pretty good rope science, working out ties and positions etc in miniature. It’s a good way to figure out new patterns or variations on a tie.

My ex had ball jointed dolls; terrifically creepy things, but yeah, they ended up in some pretty perverted looking states after me and my ball of twine were done with them.


This comes a very poor second to an actual session or practice or rope lab with a real person, because real people give you feedback. They can tell you what hurts, what doesn’t, what feels good… all that great stuff.

That said, this is a good way to get some starting ideas for things you might want to try with an actual person.


So yes! It is very, very possible to practice certain skills without actually using people. There are of course limitations, but there’s lots you can do, and let’s face it; being good at something, staying good at something, means practice, practice, practice .

If anyone has other ideas about ways to practice without a model, I’d love to hear from you. Add them in the comments!

2 thoughts on “The Biggest Problem With Practice, and How You Can Fix It

  1. When you mention mini test subjects with articulated joints, would you recommend those little wooden artist mannequins? I think they might work well, but I’m also worried that they might be a little bit too stiff. What are your thoughts?

  2. You mean like these things ? If so, then it might work, it’s hard to tell from the picture. I’ve never handled one, and it’s hard to say without seeing how well articulated the joints are. As long as the joints are reasonably flexible and can approximate most human poses, you should be able to use them for some decent planning.

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