Barak Article

Notes on Practice & Mastery
circa 2007

Wow! That Looks easy - Let me try?

I have an affinity for Zen Buddhism, so I will introduce this topic with one of my favorite Zen Fables - A rich man, fond of felines, asked a famous Zen ink painter to draw him a cat. The Master agreed and asked the man to come back in three months. When the man returned, he was put off, again and again, until a year had passed. Finally, at the man's request, the master drew out a brush and, with grace and ease, in a single fluid motion, drew a picture of a cat - the most marvelous image the man had ever seen. He was astonished; then he grew angry. "That drawing took you only thirty seconds! Why did you make me wait a year?" he demanded. Without a word, the master opened up a cabinet, and out fell thousands of drawings - of cats.

At certain levels of practice, the act becomes so second nature to the person performing, it looks simple. This is something that newer people to the scene take for granted. They watch and see people performing intense, interesting, scary, amazing things with single tails, fire, needles, knives, rope, etc... From a newbie’s point of view, it appears very simple and elegant. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, let me help illuminate what is not so apparent.

Those fluid motions, elegant ties, breaths of fire, smooth entries of the needles, look so simple because of the time and effort that we have spent practicing over and over and over and over, ad infinitum.

Before I used a single tail whip on a human being, I sought assistance. I went to whip classes through CORDs/SORE and at national leather events. I watched Tops who were very proficient, asking them for tips, and tricks. Then I stood in my living room, throwing the whip for an hour at a time, weeks on end, for months and months, until I could reliably hit a paper plate or pillow the size of a hand.

In using needles, it looks easy because I have been pushing needles through human skin for well over fifteen years. I didn’t start by sticking them in human skin, I started with an orange. Orange peel has similar characteristics to flesh, and after learning the basic technique from a book, I went at oranges with gusto. From there, I used myself as a first crash test dolly. After it wasn’t so bad for me, I talked my friends into it. Then over the course of time, I got more skill, and more practice.

What I am saying is that the beauty and sensuality of using specific toys comes from practice. That is the part that not many people see. I am still learning in my path as a Top and Dominant, and there are many things that I do not have a level of mastery with. Those things won’t be publicly seen until I feel content that my level of skill will not permanently damage another human being. That is the key. If there is a type of play you are interested in, find someone who does it well and watch them play. Make sure as you view, they have a level of skill that is admirable. Honor them by asking them to point you in the right direction, to recommend books that will help, or tricks to hone your techniques. Then practice, practice, practice!!

Don’t be afraid to admit you don't know something. It is honest, and will get you so much more respect in the long run.


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