The Photographer pointed me at a discussion on IC recently regarding the subject of submissive training - the nub of it was that someone was more interested in "becoming a student" in a similar way to geisha or other formalised courtesan learning, rather than being trained. This grabbed my attention, not merely because it pushed my japanophile buttons or my intellectual buttons but because I like the idea of BDSM as a learning process, and who better to learn with than your very own partner in crime?
In many respects, almost all of the encounters I have had over the years include something of the instructive, which perhaps says more for the way I think than anything else. But I've often come away knowing something new, either about myself, techniques or similar. I like the idea of making the relationship a bit more concrete however, to have a tutor rather than casually learning by observation and participation. For example, I'm currently searching for a mentor to help me top The Photographer, and the idea of making this arrangement into a hierarchical BDSM study - the mentor at the top, me in the middle and himself at the bottom.
There are also a lot of additional behaviours and patterns that could be adopted, to make scenes interesting, such as the traditional Japanese request for tuition, in which the student arrives at the door, kneels or bows and humbly requests to be taught by the sensei. Other protocol are already quite prevalent - 6 of the best for punishment and school room scenes, although the latter are not precisely to my tastes (age play is not really my thing), it shows how the structure could work in a roleplay environment.
The difference between training and tuition is fairly obvious. The trainer gives orders, the submissive obeys. The process is simple and one way, perfect for animal play, where you can slip into the calm space of not-being and follow orders. The teacher-student balance is different, for a start both are definitely human, and both are thinking. Blind obedience is replaced with a conscious care and attention to what is being done and why. It has the potential to be a two-way relationship given that it is discursive (animals don't really speak). There are a number of ways to think about how one might learn rather than be trained. The first is one in which the submissive is taught a specific techniques from the dominant - which would be a fairly straightforward tuition session, say on rope, for example. Another would be one in which the subject at hand was the Ds relationship itself - both practically and philosophically, indeed this blog forms part of the way in which I am a student of my own relationships and encounters.
The second is more interesting to me, I love the idea of becoming a student of my master's needs and desires: to be taught by him, and to learn with him, about his body and his pleasure. I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than to both take the time to find out, together, what works and what does not. This is, of course, also a process of learning about my own submission, exploring the different areas of subject matter - bondage, sensory deprivation, pain, and finding out what each of us get from doing and being done to.