How To Shibari – Japanese Rope Bondage

One of the most popular yet one of the most taboo kinks making its rounds on the internet is the art of Japanese rope bondage, otherwise known as Shibari or Kinbaku.

Bondage is one of the most common kinks globally, and more often than not, a simple search for bondage techniques can have you bumping into pictures of this beautiful method of rope tying.

Shibari is an ancient art form that’s persevered to this day thanks to a growing number of rope enthusiasts, who rely on the benefits it brings them to maintain their mental and physical wellness. It’s grown even more popular with scenes of Shibari being practiced appearing in many TV series and movies.

But, what is Shibari? Where does it come from? How can you practice it? Is it safe? We’ll answer all of these questions and more in our ‘How To Shibari’ guide – so get comfy and read on to discover a fantastic new world.

First Off, What Is Shibari?

Shibari is an ancient form of artistic rope tying that originated in Japan. Shibari means ‘to tie’ and involves tying people up to create bonds and showcase beauty through the knots and lines in the rope.

While Shibari is in itself an art form, it is most often associated with sex or eroticism. And while it could create an undercurrent of sexuality, it mostly depends on who is tying the ropes and who is being bound. However, people practice Shibari for many different purposes. Over the years, Shibari enthusiasts have touted the non-sexual benefits of Shibari. Some of them include:

  • To Slow Down

Sometimes, people just need to give up control and let themselves be. Shibari can be a great way of doing this. When the ropes are bound, you have to let go of control and allow yourself to relax.

  • To Feel Good

Shibari does involve some pain and discomfort. And like any activity where you have to push past your limit, your brain releases endorphins and dopamine, which puts you in a more relaxed and even happy state of mind.

  • Enhances Connection

The act of Shibari should only be done by two people who trust each other. It can help create a unique sense of connection between the rope top and the bottom (more on these terms later) and better their communication and relationship.

  • Helps Increase Body Positivity

As the rope is tied and tightened, the discomfort helps to heighten awareness. Such a heightened sense of awareness can bring those bound to a better and more positive understanding of their bodies.

Anyone can practice shibari, and you can start learning it from the comfort of your home. However, before we get into the basics, let’s take a look at the origin of Shibari.

Shibari’s Origins

Shibari is an ancient rope art that originated from Hojojutsu, a rope tying method used by martial artists around the Edo Period (1603 – 1868). Martial artists would use this intricate method of rope tying to restrain criminals and prisoners. Unfortunately, they also often used the strong knots and tight lines created by this method to torture them.

However, it is also said that some of the knots and ties commonly tied by these martial artists were meant to symbolize the status of prisoners and their crimes.

Alongside the Edo Period, Hojojutsu disappeared but reemerged in Japan’s BDSM scene as Shibari or Kinbaku. Its intricate knots and strong connections had now become a favorite for those looking for something a little different.

Shibari stayed hidden for a long time until World War II when soldiers and personnel returning from Japan surreptitiously brought the practice back with them. Since then, it’s spread across America and Europe and is slowly becoming recognized across the world.

Although some of the meanings and symbols behind the original art have been lost to us or aren’t apparent to non-Japanese individuals, Shibari’s aesthetic complexity and functionality are still instinctively understood and appreciated by individuals in the rope community.

Is There A Difference Between Shibari And Kinbaku?

shibari on legSpeaking of things lost in translation, the true meaning of the terms “Shibari” and “Kinbaku” might be one such thing. While Shibari and Kinbaku both mean “tying” in different ways and have been used interchangeably, some evidence proves that they aren’t the same. Both are pretty similar, but there are minor differences that make them stand out from each other.

Shibari is the art of being tied. It focuses more on the end goal of the bottom, rope model, or rope bunny being restrained and unable to move. Kinbaku, on the other hand, is a lot more sensual and symbolic. The intention behind Kinbaku is to tie and be tied, but the emphasis is laid more on the emotional process of getting there.

In Kinbaku, each knot, tie, and line mean something, and there is a lot more intensity behind it. One thing that Shibari and Kinbaku have in common is that both focus on achieving beauty in the tight restraint of the binding ropes.

You could say that modern-day Shibari is a combination of these two methods of rope tying. While the end goal is still to be tied, the aesthetic and intention are essential, and any rope master should teach.

Common Terms to Know When Learning Shibari

  • Lab Time – This refers to time spent learning and practicing rope skills that may be on or above your level. It simply means practice time.
  • Rope Top/Rigger – The person who is doing the tying.
  • Rope Bottom/Rope Model – The person who is being tied.
  • Rope Bunny – A term of endearment that some riggers use for their rope bottoms or models. Unsurprisingly, some rope bottoms find this demeaning.
  • Rope Switch- Someone who enjoys being both the rigger and the rope model.
  • Floor Play or Floor Work – Rope play that’s done on the ground. The rope bottom might be kneeling, lying down, or squatting as long as they’re on the floor.
  • Suspension – This is an advanced Shibari that beginners shouldn’t attempt. It is rope play that involves the rope bottom being lifted off the ground and suspended in mid-air by only ropes.
  • Self-tie – When a person ties themselves, not an easy feat, but it can also be extremely beautiful.
  • Single Column Tie – The foundation of all knots and the first knot that you’ll learn in your study of Shibari.
  • Partial Suspension – Lifting a section of the body off the ground with a rope
  • Bight – Any loop of rope produced by folding it against itself, usually the mid-point of the rope wrapped against itself.
  • Cuff – Two or more wraps around the wrist, ankle, or leg, usually.
  • Running End – The section of the rope you’re tying with.
  • Tension – The “tightness” with which the rope is pulled and/or attached to the body.
  • Scene Time – The amount of time you spend practicing Shibari with a partner tying or being tied.

How to Shibari

1. Learn Lots of Theoretical Knowledge First

tying a shibari ropeBefore you even touch a rope, you need to study, study, study. Shibari might look beautiful and effortless, but there are still hours of tedious reading and memorizing that comes before you start tying and being tied.

This is especially true for a person who plans to be a rigger. As someone who intends to be the one tying people, you have to take on the responsibility for their safety and know what to do in a crisis. But, of course, bottoms should know this as well.

The foundation for all of this is the theoretical knowledge you build up before actually practicing.

2. Find Teachers Who Share Your Ideals

There are lots of Shibari instructors able to teach you what’s what in Shibari. However, you shouldn’t only look for ability when choosing a Shibari teacher. You should also look for those that share your values. Shibari is an intensely emotional practice. To learn Shibari, you need to get an instructor who values Shibari the same way you do. In addition, you should understand your reason for practicing.

Until you find them, you can continue practicing and learning by following Shibari-focused pages on social media or online schools like the Shibari Academy.

3. Know Your Ropes

Shibari is the only rope art that uses ropes made of natural fibers like jute or hemp. Nowadays, nylon ropes are also an option, but some people believe that they don’t have the same beauty as ropes made of natural fibers. However, most instructors don’t bother emphasizing the nature of the rope you buy as long as it’s within your budget and is of sufficient thickness.

Although bigger ropes are relatively heavy compared to lighter ropes, beginner ropes need to be thick. These ropes should be at least 6mm thick. Any less may cut into the skin of the rope bottom and could cause injury.

If you have enough cash, you can purchase a hemp rope kit even as a beginner. However, these ropes need special preparations and conditioning to use, which is a lot of hassle. Nylon ropes are a great alternative when you’re still learning but remember to get a thicker set.

4. Practice with a Trusted Partner

Eventually, you will have to start practicing all the things you’ve learned theoretically. When you do this, you should do it with someone you trust and trust you in return. Communicate openly with the person and be clear about your desires, intentions, and expectations. Go into each practice knowing that the person who’s going to tie you or the person you’ll tie knows your boundaries and will understand when you’re at your limit.

5. Understand That The Process May Be Long

I hate to break it to you, but you will not be a Shibari master after a month of learning. You might still have lots and lots to learn after three months. So many people see a picture of a person tied up beautifully and believe that they can do it. Well, yes, you can, but it won’t happen in a short time.

The process of educating yourself theoretically alone might take a while and practice even longer. Take your time to make sure that you learn correctly, are not a risk to yourself and your partner, and enjoy the process.

To help you on your journey, here are a couple of safety tips.

Safety Tips for Both Parties

The most important tip when it comes to rope safety between partners is to have trust and communication. Talk about everything with your partner before the session. Some great topics that should be hashed out are your expectations for the session, planning the session, letting them know stuff like your boundaries and aftercare needs, etc. Be completely open and honest.

Oh, and keep some safety shears around for emergencies.

While there will be two sections for each party, both top and bottom should read each part to understand how to coordinate with your partner if such an action needs to be taken.

Safety Tips for the Rigger/Top

  • Ask your bottom if they have any past injuries or medical issues that might cause pain or need special care.
  • Before the session, take note of the color of your partner’s limbs. This is their baseline color, and if it starts to change, you’ll know to get them out of the ropes ASAP. Also, note the temperature of their hands. If they start growing colder, that may be a sign that they’re having problems with circulation. Such a situation can cause nerve damage, so cutting them out should be your priority.
  • Tie over large muscle groups.
  • Do not tie over places with lots of nerves like armpits and joints.
  • As a beginner, you should stay away from your neck.
  • Craft a check-in signal with your bottom before your session.
  • Make sure your partner’s communicating with you all the way.
  • Be ready to get the shears and cut them out quickly in case of an emergency.

Safety Tips for the Bottom

  • Make sure to share any past injury or condition that could affect your session with your partner.
  • Keep a constant line of communication with your top.
  • Make sure that you pay extra attention to the feeling in your limbs. If you start to feel pain, numbness, tingling, burning, or coldness in any area, let your top know quickly. You could cause serious nerve damage if you choose to endure it.

Final Thoughts

Shibari has many awesome benefits apart from being sexually appealing. It’s a beautiful, complex art that serves many purposes to many people. However, if you choose to practice this art, you must have patience and be ready to communicate and trust because the key to any good session is explicit communication and implicit trust.

vibratorist.com
Logo
Enable registration in settings - general