INS AND OUTS - SHIBARI

Hey everybody!


Fall is officially in the air, and to be quite honest I love it. The chill makes me feel creative, energized, and most relevantly: sexy!

Today I’m going to be talking about the very sexy and seductive art of Shibari, or, Japanese rope bondage. Briefly, this incredible art began in Japan several hundred years ago, and was originally devised for the purpose of tying up prisoners in unknown (and therefore harder to escape) ways. These techniques began show up on stages in the 1950s, and have gained in popularity and complexity ever since.

Rope bondage is an aesthetic expression of all kinds of pleasure, including exhibitionism, sadomasochism, artistic creativity, and trust. It can also be combined with various other types of stimulation too, adding and exciting and challenging element.

The most essential element of shibari (well, maybe after the bodies involved) is the rope. There’s an almost limitless list of possible materials that can be used to tie ropes including cotton, coconut husk, silk, parachute cord, leather, plastic tubing, bungee cords, but for the purpose of learning the basics there are three main materials most often used. Nylon rope is soft and gentle on the skin, which makes it kind of the ideal choice for starting out. It also has a little bit of stretch to it which makes it more forgiving. It also comes in lots of fun colours which can make it less intimidating. The only downside is that, because of its smoothness, it won’t hold knots quite as well as some other materials. Hemp rope on the other hand, will hold knots, and is the most popular rope for bondage. It becomes very soft and smooth over time and is slower to burn the skin than nylon. It also looks beautiful, and is the rope most people think of when they think traditional Japanese shibari. Jute rope is made from long, shiny, vegetable fibres, and is prized among shibari photographers for its glossy quality. Jute is also very strong, and can therefore be lighter and thinner than other ropes.

The second thing you’ll need for Shibari is knots, from the most basic square knot, to incredibly complex knots like the prosperity knot. Each one has a function in more complex constructions, and a really good resource for this is Back on the Ropes by Two Knotty Boys.


Once you have the basics, Shibari can become a beautifully complex, expressive art, contorting the body into incredible shapes and allowing the person being tied up to experience bondage in an entirely new way. It can be used to make all kinds of harnesses, binds, cuffs, gags, or even for full body acrobatic suspensions.


 

Here are some other resources for techniques and tips related to the art of Shibari:

For a great introduction to the history and materials of Shibari: The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage by Midori

For an introduction and overview of the foundational knots used in Shibari: Back on the Ropes by Two Knotty Boys

For technical and safety instruction for rope bondage suspension: Douglas Kent’s Complete Shibari Vol 2: Sky

For advanced applications of basic knots: Miumi-U Teaches Japanese Shibari