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Category: #the human bondage

Why is shibari so complicated? (2021)

A widespread misunderstanding that I face is that rope bondage is complicated. Especially the Japanese inspired styles of shibari and kinbaku. People often think that it is only about the aesthetics, shapes and knots, while they claim to be only interested in “bondage”. There is a fundamental belief here that first needs to be clarified. Imagine that you have one rope in your hand. The rope itself doesn’t have a predecided function. Like a pair of leather cuffs do. It is flexible, so the person tying needs to decide their intention. That hopefully, it is shared by the person being in the ropes. Is it either to make the most complete tie possible with the one rope with different styles of knots, rope patterns, and body positions, making the most of the one rope, so to say. Or is it to make the most straightforward tie to fulfil a specific play or fantasy, similarly, making as little as possible of the same rope. Here the subculture is divided; some aim to perfect the complexity of rope bondage, while others aim to perfect the simplicity. Some would say that shibari, the verb for tying, is more about complexity, while kinbaku, the philosophy of connection through rope, is more about simplicity. But I think the terms are used too interchangeably to make this distinction. However, the open-ended-ness in rope bondage allows for the question even to be a question. 

The evolution of patterns (2021)

I am grabbing the hands, folding the arms, and locking the wrist in preparation to wrap the body in rope. Every wrapping is another layer of holding and another step on a journey into trust and bravery. For me, tying the upper body is the most fundamental technique in rope bondage. It is the introduction, the handshake, the getting-to-know-each-other movement that I love the most. Somehow it’s almost sacred if this should be some spiritual practice. So it was; the first thing I learnt on my bondage journey, the first thing I teach, and the last thing I’ll probably do.

When I first started studying old Japanese bondage pictures, I was fascinated by the wrapped bodies. In the old photographs, the wrapping was crud and the rope thick. With time, patterns evolved into something sophisticated—the materials got refined, to the hand-made Ogawa jute that I use today. In this musing, I want to write about some of the steps I discovered when learning to love the upper-body tie.

Workshop: Bonding rituals (2021)

Rope bondage is excellent for exploring power and surrender and provides many interesting technical challenges for suspensions. There is the Japanese heritage with its aesthetics, narratives, and patterns. And finally, there is the communal practice. To join together and explore the ritual practice of being bound.

Aftercare for vulnerable dominants (2021)

A rope bondage scene is a story that unfolds another world. We take off the uniforms of the everyday-life. Uniforms are given to us, indicating our place in the global hierarchy. To make us feel safe. In the story, I’m allowed to be someone else. It’s often a parody that helps me cope with all the stupid power games of reality. I’ve learned a magical ritual over the past decades to create this rift into the otherworldly. It allows me, the one tying, to enjoy magnificent power, a power given to me in the form of another’s submission, suffering, and surrender. In return, I take them on a journey that they never could venture alone. Aftercare is the return, to the conventional, to the equal, to the status quo. It is commonly said that the submissive is the one in need of aftercare from the dominant. But I don’t agree, not in the way that I play and teach BDSM. Let me explain why.

A dedication to drooling (2021)

I have to admit that drooling, hypersalivation, and ptyalism fascinates me. It is probably my second biggest kink after rope bondage, and let me try to digest why. Drooling is ultimately about losing control of our bodily functions, our appearance, and our social status. Animals, like Pavlov dogs, drool before feeding, and so does infants before they learn to control themselves, to adhere to our social normals of cleanliness. Residues leaving the body doesn’t belong in the public realm. Urine, faecal matter, and menstrual blood belong in the lavatories, while barfing, farting, sneezing, and crying are expected to be discreet. Salivation is on the borderline in between. Losing control is a degradation into something more animalistic that takes one step further away from the order and cleanliness of civilizations and gods. In a BDSM play, it can be both surrendering to the present moment and submission to a dominants desire—allowing oneself to lose part of their humanity.

Some days you’re the pigeon and some days, you are the statue (2021)

There is an expression I Like to humorously muse to, “Some days you’re the pigeon and some days, you’re the statue.” A phrase more appropriate for comfort on a bad day. However, it is the first thing that came to my mind this morning when reflecting on last night’s Shibari workshop.

Book: Somatics for rope bottoms (2021)

My friend Natasha Nawataneko sent me her book called Somatics for Rope Bottoms, so I read it, and now I’ll dedicate this weekly musing to my thoughts on it. My first impression is that this book is not for me, as I mainly tie nowadays. The book is a fellow companion for rope bottoms exploring what makes their experience meaningful, and the answer is often found in the body. I habitually tend to arrange things hierarchically—things like concepts, such as surrendering the physical body is less “deep” than offering one’s devotion. And I also put things in relation to one other, like the polarity between surrendering and submitting. It helps beginners to approach my area of expertise. However, I often believe that the question is more valuable; for example, what is the relationship between surrendering the physical body and devoting oneself? And this is what the book left me with, questions, to ask myself, to structure my view of rope bondage.

Facing challenge, and the sweet surrender (2020)

Often when people come to me for private rope sessions, they express an interest in suspensions. The ideas about it are many; it can be “ultimate surrender”, defeating gravity, or flying. Maybe the peaceful faces often seen in bondage pictures are alluring—the beautiful suffering, that Japanese bondage has made almost iconic. In reality, hanging in ropes is both a physical and emotional challenge. I believe that there are two fundamental ways to handle hardship, generally in life, particularly in bondage.

Workshop: Tantric Ropes for Couples (2020)

Did you do a beginner’s tantric rope workshop, and want to take the next step technically while still keeping the focus on the human connection?

Do you enjoy Andy more philosophical and experiential approach to bondage? And think that BDSM is more about power then whips and chains?

And do you prefer learning in small and intimate groups rather than big workshops? Great! Then this is the right thing for you.