Author Topic: Knotting/rope technique contests, how would you handle them?  (Read 1439 times)

Whitewater Scout

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Knotting/rope technique contests, how would you handle them?
« on: August 16, 2018, 01:59:21 PM »
Hi there. Let me introduce myself: I'm a self titled rope ninja (my skill level is probably below average around here, I just like the title). Most of my knotting background is in the scouts/pioneering, supplemented with techniques from whitewater rescue and a few climbing and sailing knots.

The reason I'm here is because recently I've found myself thinking about the concept of rope sports. Basically, you take practical knotting and rope techniques and formalize them into a contest format, similar to both the classical and modern pentathlon, strongman competitions, most martial arts, lumberjacking competitions and knife sports. If knife nuts can do it, so can rope nuts. The worst that could happen is that it turns out a little safer. (And I say this as a bit of a knife and axe nut myself, but a bigger knothead.)

The for now completely hypothetical idea is to host a competition of multiple events that can all be staged within a single day or a weekend, as a gathering of rope minded individuals from all sorts of backgrounds. Scouts, climbers, sailors, whitewater rescue technicians, decorative knotters and handworkers, rope makers, survivalists, the odd webbing specialist and maybe a bondage fan or two. I'm looking for events that capture core parts of what knotting is that show skill on the part of the participants while being a fun activity to do and to watch. Scoring can be done on time, jury decision, amount of weight a knot holds, number of knots, size of a knot or any other measurement you can think off. The competitors would be people who know their knots and who heard what all the events will be beforehand. So there's no need to think of "but what if they don't know a knot like that?" Given the nature of that weirdly specific hypothetical scenario, I ended up here. What kind of events would you suggest? I'd also like to know if you think the ropes for these events should be supplied by the organisation or if it's better to let competitors bring their own gear with as little limitations as possible? And if they can bring their own rope, would you let them use different ropes for each event, or go for a "one rope only" policy?

I suppose speed knotting would be a shoe in for one or maybe even two of the events. I've found a few references on this board to a coveted world record for the six basic scout knots. I think it might be more fun to look at if it's something bigger, like lashings. (Ways to tie poles together, I'm not a native English speaker myself and learned most of my knots in Dutch so I'm just going to assume not everyone knows all the terms, hence this explanation). I would also think about a throwing event. Some form of tying a lasso/bolas/a monkey fist/and throwing it into a small target or catching a pole with it. Throwing is not that important in most knotting disciplines, but it's certainly not a completely unknown rope technique either. I would also suggest some sort of climbing style event, but it would have to be something where the contestant hauls themselves up through good use of friction hitches like the prusik and such, without making it possible to just climb the rope like a normal athlete, because that would defeat the purpose of a knotting competition. The event would also have to be safe. I mean, plenty of people there with experience belaying, but still... I would also think about a rope maintenance event, like splicing. Do an eye splice within 2 minutes and have it judged or something. To have an event where quality matters over speed.

And that's roughly as far as I've gotten. I'd love to hear what kind of thought some of you knotters have on the matter. Anyone ever organised something like this? Anyone even mildly interested in the basic concept? Anyone sure they would become the local rope master 2019 if the event was held? Anyone thoughts on events, scoring, ropes used etc etc etc all the important stuff?

Thanks in advance for your replies.

EDIT: If this fits better in chit chat or something that's fine, it can be moved.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2018, 12:38:43 PM by Whitewater Scout »


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Re: Knotting/rope technique contests, how would you handle them?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2018, 08:38:42 AM »
Hi Whitewater Scout,

I am sorry that there has been no response to your request.  I guess that it is an indication of the indifference knotters have for competition.  The greatest competition in knotting is between knot and self, and of course, the winner is always - the knot.

Good luck



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Re: Knotting/rope technique contests, how would you handle them?
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2019, 08:51:34 AM »
I hope Whitewater Scout will see this.

I have a good example of a type of rope sport that I once saw. The contest was to make a rope halter for a calf, and the results were judged on both speed and quality. It took place at an agricultural exhibition, and the participants were members of 4-H clubs who likely would have learned to make halters as part of animal husbandry through their club. (The rope halter is used for everyday functions at the farm and at the exhibition, while the ?show halter? is a nice leather version used only during the livestock judging, etc.)

Ribbons were awarded, and the judges gave some good advice to all the participants as they reviewed their efforts. It was a difficult thing for many of the contestants, as it?s something seldom done and there was a crowd watching, but hopefully they learned something good from it.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2019, 09:05:33 AM by tomh »


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Re: Knotting/rope technique contests, how would you handle them?
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2019, 06:11:50 PM »
Quickly --and sooner than a comfortable reading of the OP in full--
I'll muse about something not so overtly *competitive* and maybe
more informative (to observers) ...
would be to set out a *course* of rope problems with the
requirement to use only unique solutions (per contestant, i.e.)
and the objective is to keep going & going ... (see who runs out
of (good) ideas).
Then, in a sort of turnabout,
do some similar *course* where the opposite it required --SAME
knot (re-)used.  (Now, might be that "same knot" would  allow
e.g. an overhand to be used in the fisherman's knot
and simple noose and stopper and Ashley's #1452 and ... !?

The more commonly done timed event could perhaps take a step
away from the Tie-These-Given-Knots to --again, potentially edifying--
a Solve-This-Rope-Problem course --do it however you want, doing
it for speed.


Whitewater Scout

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Re: Knotting/rope technique contests, how would you handle them?
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2019, 01:40:07 PM »
I'm still watching, a bit.

Both of these are pretty good ideas. "Use whichever knot you like" would definitely be my preferred style of play, even if in any serious competition competitors would after a while end up using the same knots anyway. At least they can find the most suitable solution through actual use.

The halter for a calf is a good suggestion for a thing to make. It has a nice balance between challenge level, taking the right amount of time to do and having something to judge on.

So yeah, thanks for replying.


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Re: Knotting/rope technique contests, how would you handle them?
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2019, 02:17:38 AM »
I really like the idea of making something ie the halter, using any knot or combination thereof.
Maybe even give the contestants a choice of different ropes.

Also the rope 'problems' seems like a really fun one too.
And who knows what innovations might come off them.

Of course you could still hold the scout type races also.

Good luck!