People skills, people!
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I was at a meeting recently where a couple of the folk suggested that someone young and without much experience can't really be a master. I both agree and disagree with this.
If we're talking about skill then I agree. It takes years to gain the variety of experience with a wide range of submissives and slaves as well as the variety of experience with a wide range of BDSM practices and techniques to be a BDSM master in a technical sense.
On the other hand, someone who has a profound relationships with a slave, who finds deep satisfaction with a slave, who can bring out the best in the slave, and who can put the slave to full use, is someone I'd readily call a master. They might never master anyone else in their life beyond this single slave, but when they are the master in even just one fully-functional master/slave relationship then I'd have no hesitation in according them the title.
I say this because, ultimately, I don't think there's much point in measuring up someone for masterhood by just looking at their skills with a rope, how well they can do suspension bondage, their ability at needle play, or how hard and for long they can deliver a wallop. All these count for nothing if the master can't master a slave or a submissive.
It's admirable to aspire to greatness with knots or with impact play, but the end goal for a master will always be the effective engagement of a slave or a submissive. Everything else comes second. We should never lose sight of this.
I write this because it is diabolically easy to fall into the trap of focussing too much on the mechanical skills side of BDSM and not enough on the people skills side. This actually applies just as much to submissive and slaves as it does to dominants and masters, but it is sometimes more obvious in the latter because people skills are hard and when there are difficulties in a relationship it can be remarkably tempting to think that more or harder floggings, or more or tighter bondage is the answer.
So, extending what I wrote just two paragraphs ago about the measure of mastery being effective engagement of a slave or a submissive, what we should look for in BDSM generally is not so much the collection or perfection of mechanical skills, but more how we engage and affect our partners.
People skills, people! That's what it's about.