Recent writings on Fetlife have had Me ponder My philosophy on teaching, why I teach in the way I do, and what it means to Me. These are good things, the pondering helps Me be clear in My own mind, and also to learn at the same time, and I do like to continue to learn ?.
I guess my overall philosophy can be boiled down to three things:
1. I love ensuring that people have the fundamentals of Shibari solidly locked in, to ensure that what they are doing with rope is safe and that they have the skills to do what they want to do in their private play without endangering anyone.
2. I believe that regular classroom style teachings are the best way to achieve point 1 above.
3. I am at My happiest when My students exceed Me.
Let Me expand on those points, in reference to how I teach. I teach a specific style, Kazami-Ryu, as per the certification I have received from My Sensei, Kazami Ranki. I teach in a systematic way in what could be best described as a manner similar to a Martial Arts School. We do drills, and work through a curriculum, until students have not only an intimate knowledge of the ties themselves but also a deep understanding of the “why’s” of what we do, and how changing things affects other structures within the ties. This is done over a series of Levels within our curriculum, each Level building on the skills learned in the Level before. Levels 1 to 3 work to specific forms of ties, until they reach Level 4 where we work more on the creativity and connection within the ties….during those classes there is very little of Me saying “we do this in this manner”, and it is mainly more along the lines of Me suggesting “here is a concept, how will you interpret that” and giving suggestions along the way based on My experience. If we go back to the Martial Arts analogy, these are the “Black Belt” students.
Many times within these Level 4 classes, I look at something a student may have done, and think “wow, I hadn’t considered that option!”…and I love that, I love the fact that they have gone somewhere completely different to where My brain went, and created something amazing. The debriefing and conversations about the why’s and wherefore’s as to where they went are always fascinating following such sessions.
Also within these Level 4 classes we are seeing so much connection between the students and their respective partners, often because they are already in a relationship but often even when they are not, simply because the student tying is not thinking about the rope because they have the skills to ensure no longer need to, they are simply thinking about their partner and what will be of benefit to them. Or as Bruce Lee once said, “The best style is no style”…it doesn’t mean he didn’t have a particular style, and he didn’t put in the hours upon hours of basic training even after attaining a high skill level…it meant he was able to adapt to suit the counterpart he was fighting.
So all that “hard work” (it’s not that hard, really…people are getting tied up! That’s fun! ?) done in the earlier Levels, really pays off in Level 4, when students are dealing more in “concepts” and less in “forms”. This is where I start to see students true potential, and that yes, maybe this person will exceed Me, and that makes Me so happy and proud. And also nudges Me to improve Myself, to be better as well…how cool is that? Win Win!
I can’t even begin to explain how proud I am of all My Level 4 students, both past and current ❤️.
Now maybe it’s because I held teaching qualifications and taught at TAFE (an Australian Technical Schooling system) for many years back in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s), that teaching this way resonates with Me. But I don’t see this way of teaching as a restriction of the student or a stifling of ability, I see it as a way of ensuring they can be free to do the wonderful, sexy, fun, intimate stuff in a safe, responsible manner. To Me, that is the ultimate goal of a teacher, to have safe students who can do the fun stuff. That’s why I love to travel around Australia and New Zealand doing workshops of our Level 1 & 2 curriculum, and not just the “we are going to do a workshop from basics through to Suspension in a weekend” style of workshops.
It boils down to Georgia’s #thinkbeforeyoukink in many ways… the study done prior, builds quality and excellence later.