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The possibly above-average insufficient bondage guide – The ‘Bondage – A practical manual for beginners’ review

Bondage – A Practical Manual for Beginners

Davide La Greca
MBD Studio Edizioni
€ 25.50
246 pages
Language: English
ASIN: 8827828753
Isbn: 978-8827828755
@: buy it online

The ugly truth when talking about bondage manuals is that, unfortunately, they are all equally unfit as a complete learning tool. The reason often is they are… differently well-written, so to speak: tying people up and professionally composing a book are two skills as separate as they come, and even highly-praised texts usually lack basic polish. Or a sensible approach: while each work obviously reflects the personal rope style of the author, my bookshelf counts quite a few titles that feel more like a showcase of the writer’s obsessions and quirks than like a guide meant for the general public. Mostly, however, they suffer from a deeper underlying issue.

Due to its three-dimensional, intricate and intensely sensorial nature, bondage really doesn’t lend itself to be fully described on a printed page. Some manuals make outstanding efforts at properly tracing every twist and turn of the ropes, but the effect is frequently as separate from the intended result as those dancing diagrams that try to turn art into an algorithm. Not only the personal relation disappears, but so do the hundreds of tactile, emotional and contextual feedbacks required to feel the binding and do it right.
Online video tutorials are similarly insufficient to convey the complexity of bondage – but that’s a subject best left for another time. What matters now is to realize that bondage manuals in general are welcome and useful, but no substitute for an actual, hands-on course held by an expert rigger. Think of them as handy reminders of technical steps, and nobody will get hurt.

The 110 pages of diagrams in Bondage – A practical manual for beginners would work admirably as such… if only they were better printed. The one thing you will notice perusing the book is in fact how faded the pictures look: also given their small size, interpreting them becomes a bit of a chore. While it clearly is the unintended byproduct of some printing snag, the issue can be hardly forgiven in a publication of this type. And yet you may want this book anyway.

Fact is, there are 130 more pages in there, dedicated to the bondage experience as a whole. They range from an (occasionally slightly imprecise) history of the art to interesting chapters about choosing the right materials for you, to the oft-neglected phase of untying your partner and giving proper aftercare.
There is the inevitable and very important chapter on safety, which might surprise with its broad understanding of the concept. In La Greca’s view, safety begins with proper consent and negotiation, covers the preparation of your play space and how to cultivate a safe mindset, and includes learning to read even the unintentional distress signals hidden in your partner’s body language. Of course the usual topics such as anatomy and emergency tools are also covered, but I liked how they are seen as but one aspect of the whole experience.

Even better, a concise yet fitting chapter deals with the ethical aspects of bondage – on several thought-provoking levels, including one that deals with the mainstream public, or with the production team of a performance or video. You then have a glossary that may come handy when studying Japanese styles and a few more odds and ends that provide a reasonably rounded idea of the topic in general for the intended audience of rope beginners.
All in all, this work feels like a solid starting point for your bondage learning path – a much more complete one than you’d find in other manuals, to boot. Again, one cannot ignore how the faults are as numerous as the merits… but you weren’t planning of keeping all your study based on paper while skipping your in-person lessons, were you?

Note – This review is based on the original Italian edition, and I cannot offer any informed opinion on the quality of the English translation.

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