Author: Rob Hart © 2000

used with permission


"I want to be trained."

These are delightful words to hear. They show desire; they promise fun; and they speak of trust. But what does it mean to train a submissive? It is far more than instructing a submissive on the expectations of a particular Dominant, or making her a good "generic slave" (there being no such thing). It is also never a one-way flow of information or learning.

I think of training in four contexts, which often occur simultaneously to some degree. And at my stage of development both in terms of relationships and D/s, none of them occur outside of the context of an ongoing relationship. 

1. Introduction to B.D.S.M.

A novice who has yet to experience much play with discipline, toys, language, role-playing, humiliation and so on needs to be gradually introduced to a taste of each. This will let her gauge her appetite for more, and to deal with whatever concerns or issues she may need to address internally or with her Dominant before proceeding.

This process of taste, consider, resolve, proceed continues and repeats itself, both for particular activities and for D/s itself (I won't reproduce the oft-repeated Stages of B.D.S.M., it is on sites I have linked). Whether submissive or Dominant we all need to come to terms with what we like, why we like it, what it means about us, what it means about our partners and what it will mean for our relationships.

 Training can help a submissive find her limits, hard and soft, and determine what level of submission and erotic power exchange she needs and enjoys. Is she a 'brat' who wants to misbehave and be soundly disciplined? Is she a 'good girl' who is eager to please and hates to be found misbehaving? (Personally, I like good girls over brats, but no one has one face exclusively)

An experienced submissive needs less of this "trying out", but it is still required to confirm mutual understanding when she communicates her needs. When she said "I like severe discipline, but not humiliation", what did she mean?

2. Mutual Introduction

Training is also the way in which a Dominant shows a submissive, "this is how erotic power exchange will be with Me". At the same time, He is learning what kind of submissive she is and whether she will meet His needs both physically and emotionally in this sphere.
 To wield Power over someone you must understand them. The more Power used, the more spontaneously and dramatically, the more often, the more understanding is required. Otherwise that Power will not be used well and rightly. Training is part of how a Dominant learns the initial outline of a submissive's needs, enough to build upon later through constant further learning and mutual growth.

A good Dominant is flexible on some points. A slave who was very dear to me had difficulty shaving - it irritated her badly. Being a generous soul and valuing her greatly, I did not impose this unwanted discomfort on her - I merely gave her a couple of firm, playful smacks each and every time the area was exposed to remind her to thank me for my generosity.

3. Molding the Relationship

Training is indeed learning the technical details of a Dominant's expectations. If I say "stand easy" or "kneel up", what do I mean?

It is also reaching an understanding together of how the relationship will work. What will be between two people is never dictated only by one, even one who is One. It is the combination of two and their needs. 

 Training can also mean retraining.* What will be between two will also not be what has been between any other two. Whether good or bad, there is a human tendency to recreate or replay what has been familiar - even if it is not what would be best. We try what worked before, and we repeat the same self-defeating behaviour, until we learn to recognize it. Training can be a means, for submissive at least, to start something anew. My own view is that it is desirable in relationships if the Dominant also approaches things differently each time, both to assure His slave she is not being made into a replica of someone else and to condition Himself to be with someone new.

A submissive does not want to hear about the glorious oral skills of a past partner (although she will be told how to improve hers, glorious or not there is always room for improvement), this is not terribly ego-enhancing. A Dominant also does not wish to hear that "Master Paul always did....". These desires are simply the wise and positive wish to be with who you are with here and now.

However 'bad' habits may need to be abandoned and new ones learned. 'Bad' may mean truly troubling and disturbing, ultimately unhealthy, or simply not the best way - and sometimes best is simply 'new'. It is always best if what is created is unique. The special name I give you will not have been given another; the true collar I afix to your neck will never have graced another's and the particular ways and means you please Me will be yours.

4. Specialization and Increasing Erotic Competence

 Training can also be undertaken specifically to introduce particular acts or toys to erotic play, and to create a particular role such as pony girl. A submissive who has never engaged in any form of anal play may be gradually introduced to it through 'anal training'.

Public behaviour is another particular area of training a slave may be required to master if her Master wishes to take her into public D/s settings. Do you want interact in public in ways that express your private relationship?

While it can be fun, it would be tiresome if most new activities were formalized in this way, but if a submissive has issues to work through and wants help working through them the structure of 'training' can help do this gradually, and can give sense of accomplishment.

There are lots of websites with descriptions of commands, positions, expectations. This is something a Dominant truly must make His own, for it must flow naturally from within Him. Enforcing someone else's rules is both bothersome and joyless. All I will say about my specific expectations and approach to training is that Professor Higgins had it right when with Eliza Dolittle.

Not that any girl plucked off the street can be made into a proper young lady, there is indeed an inner quality that must be present from the start. No, rather the general areas that good training for a young lady should cover (and all the best ladies are young at least at heart).

 Personal Hygiene - a young lady is always clean and fresh, hair well kept (where she still has it).

 Proper Speech - knowing proper forms of address and to please by sound alone.

 Deportment - grace should be evident in how she adopts and keeps any posture and in her dress.

 Etiquette - knowledge of precedence and how to deal with better and equal.

Now when a young lady has mastered all of those, she is suitable to have a Master. For with such a young lady, a Master has a suitable companion and one He knows will do Him credit.

Final Thoughts

The medium of training is also an important reflection of the emotional side of the relationship. Most submissives want not only physical play but the emotional nurturing that is part of any good relationship. Those seeking a Master as well as Dominant may also find comfort in the concept of guidance.
The role of teacher is a familiar embodiment of authority that is benevolent, intended for your welfare, and seeking to improve you and strengthen you. This expresses, in many ways, the role of Master and slave - including the fact that a teacher may find themselves learning from an exceptional student, and such students are a pleasure to teach - worth many hours of extra-curricular activity.

*Thanks to teri for pointing out the need to explain this more fully.

 Rob Hart, 1998, 2000

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