Tim, Like Santini said, start small. Starting out in escapology shouldn't be that expensive. Heres a list of things you should consider picking up to start with:
ROPES- 100' of 1/2"- 1" nylon or cotton rope( $20-$25) Remember larger rope looks more impressive to the spectator. As if it can restrain you better because the rope looks big and strong. A lot of escapologists say that you should stay away from nylon. I really like it because , mine at least, is very smooth to the touch. I've never had rope burns from it. It's a 5/8" twisted nylon. Although , I do have 100' of braided cotton sash cord. This is good for any general rope escapes. The benifits of sash cord is that it is relatively stiff, which in terms of escapes makes it easier for you to untie knots. The stiffer the better, in most escapes. With sash cord it can be worked to make it more soft. Which again, certain escapes work better with softer rope. There is no real way to teach someone the art of escaping from ropes. Besides studying how knots are tied and untied, you must be tied up and try escaping. Although there are a few things that will aid you in doing so:
Slack- This is extra length in rope. Slack is imortant because it will allow you to move more. The more you can move the better chances are you can get an arm, leg, or hand free. If someone is tying rope around your cest you can obtain slack by expanding your chest. To do this, just breath in deep and hold your breath. If your legs are together and they are being bound just move them apart slightly. If its around your arms or legs you can tense the muscles in that area.
Length- The length of rope is important. If you hand someone 10 feet of rope they are going to use every foot as efficiently as possble. Tying it as tightly and taut as possible. The longer the rope there is the more slack you can obtain. This is for two reasons. One is that by the time the person gets done with the first 25-50 feet of rope, they start to get bored tired of tying you up. They get irrated with all that rope. So, for sake of time they will start to loop the rope around you carelessly. They will also tie less knots and if they do the knots will be simple knots, again for sake of time.
Thickness- Bigger is better. It's funny, the larger the rope is the easier it is to escape from. This is because the thicker a rope is the harder it is to tie very taut. It is also difficult to tie knots in larger rope. So from an escape stand point bigger is better. From the spectators stand point it will look nearly impossible to escape. Just think of like this, you tell someone to tie you up with 100' of 1" rope. By the time they're done they are physically and mentally exhausted from pulling, tugging, tying and thinking of ways to keep you bound. They get to feel the rope and know that its strong. The person will walk away and feel as if there is no way you can get out because well from one, they tied you ( people are egotisticle like that) and because that rope they tied you with just looks like it could hold an elephant down, let alone a person.
CHAINS- 20-30' of 1 1/2" standard steel link ( $40-$50) Although there are many ways you can be bound with chain and many "chain ties" like the siberian chain escape I will talk about it being used as rope would, it being wrapped and around your body to restrain you. In my opinion chain is easier to release yourself from, unless it is looped around each wrist indivdually and padlocked at the wrist. This applies to the ankles as well. The only way you could get it off at that point is to use a shim, picks, key, or a saw. So you tell the person to wrap the chains around youre body so that they can secure the remain chain with one padlock. You could leave it at that point if you would like, But honeslty removing the chain would take a little less then wiggling to remove it.
. So, what you can do is hand them another padlock telling them to padlock two sections of chain together. You could use as many as you would like but i try to keep it at five. By the way, the the #5 master padlock fits perfectly through the above chain described. They cost about ($10 a piece). Again, chain escapes have to be done to understand them, meaning you just have to do it to understand the little ways that work for you to help release yourself.
Handcuffs- Peerless 700's or Swith and Wesson 100's( $25)- The S&W 100's are the most widely used cuffs and are very easy to escape from. You can use a pick to relase the locking mechinism or a shim to bypass the locking mechinism. You can pick either of these cuffs up at www.handcuffwarehouse.com
. Although, there are many good instructionals on how to release yourself from cuffs . If you were to do a little research on the locking mechinisms of handcuffs you will be able to figure out how to use a pick or shim.
I really hope that this helps you out. If you have anymore questions please feel free to ask. Have a great day