Workshop: Intimacy of a pattern (2020)

Rope bondage is often taught as a pattern, and schooling traditionally starts with the upper body harness called the Gote, or Takata Kote. I can remember my first lessons almost fifteen years ago. It was the same back then, and I was thrilled to learn the patterns of Osada Steve. Make a knot here, friction there, pass the rope like this, and finally finish with a decoration. But something was often lost in the technicalities, that was the relationship to the person in the ropes, and the shared intimacy.

Then, of course, there was a counter-movement – no pattern shibari, and it came with the buzz word of “connection”. The rope is the thread that connects two hearts. Lose the tension, and the connection disappears, just like an old string-phone. However, I believe that a pattern can be practiced with intimacy. Or that all the little details in the design are also an opportunity to communicate something with your partner.

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Initially, in this workshop, we will look at a pattern, and see where in the tie, we can find time and space for intimacy. I have two classical examples prepared for you, one basic version of the Gote, and one very technically challenging of a hojo (prisoner) hishi (diamonds) tie. We will pick one depending on the experience of the participants. After I’ve briefly showed you the tie, and I’ll explain some the ways that intimacy can be investigated and expressed. And then I’ll let you practice, and see what kinds of play you can engage in using this specific pattern. A bigger question that we will investigate is what are the different scenarios that are related to these traditional patterns. Many of them as their origin in Japan, since Japanese riggers created the designs, but how these kinky Japanse stories connect to modern European sex-positive culture? The classical role-plays often involve geishas, schoolboys, secretaries and prisoner.

Interestingly enough, all of these role-plays places the person in the bondage at the center. So even when practicing a pattern, the focus should eventually evolve into being about the relationship. This progression challenges the person in the ropes to change their behavior gradually from being very passive into being the main character. As everyone has their reasons for exploring rope bondage, we will look into how the different role-plays can cater for different preferences and fantasies—going from totally passive objectification to passionate seduction—all in the same pattern. Finally, we will take the theory behind the techniques and use them when tying in general. Either by integrating them in another design that you already know or in your improvisations.