Category Archives: Shibari

Shibari and BDSM

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(Photo by ChrisD  Rigger MasterMHatter, Bunny: Cheshirecat-MMH. Rope: MMHJute )

There is a sharp divide in the rope community between those who engage with rope as part of a Dominance and submission paradigm and those who approach Shibari as an end in and off itself.

This is a divide that I have been aware of for some time but one which I have only recently begun to actually think about in a more serious context. My own entry into the rope scene was heavily influenced by Kink.com and the portrayal of rope bondage as part of a sexual D/s fantasy scene. With this as a starting point I then explored Japanese rope, Shibari, Kinbaku, and its related routes – but at its heart rope has always been about Dominance and submission, Sadism and masochism and is sexual. A theme reflected in many of the Japanese riggers who started (and in many cases continue) there careers in pornography.

 

I was not made aware of how unusual this approach was until a talented rope teacher came to stay with us and said “I haven’t come across another rope community which is so D/s focused”.

 

Shibari can be a sport, one in which people push themselves to the limit of there physical endurance. It is a two-person sport like a Tango, and those who perform for the public can put hours into their practice conveying the greatest passion they can through their routine. This performance can take place however whether or not the two people are actually lovers who are angry with each other – or desperate – or in a D/s relationship, or whatever other emotions are being displayed as part of this performance. The importance of the emotional connectivity that is conveyed within Shibari is a prevalent discussion, while some teachers focus on the technicality of the steps others empathies the important of delivering those steps with feelings – this is not the same as encouraging people to have these feelings, or viewing those feelings as necessary – rather the portrait of emotions is the often emphasized requirement.

 

Within some Rope communities’ rope is decidedly unsexual – while people might engage in bedroom bondage Shibari is viewed as an elevated art form more akin to nude painting than porn. The sexual tension is careful removed from the room and replaced by giggles and sweatpants. For other communities rope is introduced specifically for the bedroom, this is an activity for couples seeking some extra spice – some go on to make rope more than a bedroom activity but the starting point is desire and hands and feet attached to bedposts.

 

A word is needed here on the terminology relating to participants in rope. For the person tying generally one of two terms are used, either Rigger or Rope Top. The term rigger is used almost universally in the Western rope scene, with a few people adopting rope top – a term which has a good level of elasticity in its meaning. For some Rope Top is an indication that they tie within a dynamic, for others it is just a term used to be synomonous with rigger.

 

When we approach the terminology for those who are tied things become far more emotionally charge. The preferred term in some communities is “Rope Model”. This term implies to me a rope clotheshorse, but by the people who adopt this term it means anything but this. Rather the term is used to describe an equil partner in rope – 50% of the rope team that along with the Rigger create rope art. Others use the term Rope Bunny, a term that while preferred by some people who view it as an affectionate name which accurately describes there bouncy excitement at the possibility of “falling” into some rope, for other this term is seen as deeply insulting. For those who object to the term it is viewed as frivolous and brings to mind the image of a vapious playboy bunny (not to suggest that playboy bunnies are vapious but rather that this is a commonly associated image). Next we have the “rope bottom”. Here we have a term in hot contention – does this refer to a degree of submission, or does it refer to the position one takes in a particular scene, which may or may not involve submission? As unclear and open to interpretation as these terms are use the wrong one at your peril. Finally for the person being tied and the person tying we have the term “Rope Artist”. This terminology appears to makes it clear that we are not talking about D/s, or Sadism and masochism; we are discussing the creation of art – of course this is art that does on occasion contain D/s and Sadism and masochism and so again these lines become blurred.

 

At some classes an announcement is made at the start of the class that D/s relationships should be put on hold for the length of the class, that both parties rigger and rope “model” are equal parties working together to achieve a common goal this is not a place for D/s. This approach seems to imply that first of all within a D/s context a couple are not able to communicate freely, further that an established D/s couple are able to or desire to put the normal context of their relationship on hold within this environment – and thirdly that a couple would be prepared to do so upon receiving an instruction to do so from a third party. This can create a situation in which D/s couples feel unwelcome at Rope workshops, an environment in which they might reasonably expect to find a warm embrace.

 

Having nailed my colours firmly to the mast, and for anyone who missed it – my personal approach to rope is that it is a tool with which to express D/s, it is brimming with sex, and there is a good chance that there will be some Sadism and masochism as part of any rope scene I engage in – what is Shibari for you? Are you an artist? A Rigger? A Bunny or a model? Are you a rope top or rope bottom and have I misunderstood what you mean by the term?

 

Talk to me folks.

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12 tips for new rope bunnys

1. Work out what you want from being tied.

Before you do anything it is a really good idea to work out what it is that you want to get out of the experince. Some people enjoy being tied up for the adrenile rush, others because they get a sexual kick out of it, some people love the physcial challange, while others enjoy going into “rope space”. For some bunnies its all about creating beautful shapes with their bodies and getting awesome photos, for others its about surrunder. What you want to get out of rope makes a massive diffrence to who you will want to be rigging with, and how you want to approach rope as a whole.

 

2. Don’t get hung on body shape or size 

The number of people we have had tell us that they can’t be suspended because they are too big.. and so far we havent found someone we can’t suspend (we have suspended people so far from size 6-size 20).  If you are svelt you are likely to fnd bunnying easier than those with a larger frame…sort of…. and I say sort of because rope is not a competition. A good rigger will work with you so that you can get the kind of rope experince you would like. If what you are after is a challanging suspension – then it doesnt matter what size you are or how flexible you are belive me your rigger will find a way to make it a challange.

If your aim is to do the same suspennsion as you have seen someone else do, with the same transistions this may be more of a challange – because no two people are built the same. We have found that some bunnies who can sustain a single ankle suspension struggle to spend more than five minutes in a TK, while we hav a bunny who loves TK’s but hates strapardos.

Everyone has different ranges and capabilities, find a good rigger that will work with you, your desires, and your body.

 

3. Fitness helps
Being fit means that you can sustain ties for longer, and do some of the more circus type stuff – but if you dont want to be doing this kind of tie…then don’t worry about it! If you do want to increase the ties you can sustain then working on core strength will have the biggest impact.

 

4. Stretch

It really does help, having warm muscles means you can be more flexible and fly/stay in the ropes longer. My Master gives me a little heads up, i start stretching and flexing when i’m done i like to wait quitely on the floor. He then knows i’m done and we start our scene without losing the dymnanic of the scene, as i find it a bit toppy to then say “yup i’m done warming up, ready for you now” .. kinda thing!

5. Tingles..

yes there are different tingles, some are okay, some mean you need to come out asap. Unless your really experienced never ignore tingles. Speak up quick or risk losing a functioning hand or arm.

 

6. Tk get used to them, they happen a lot!

There are almost unlimited number of variables on a TK (Box-tie), get used to it now. No amount of complaining “what another tk!!!!…” Is going to help. Get used to the position, in your day to day.. hold your arms in that position as often as possible, it does become comfortable eventually I promise… Your gonna be doing this a lot. It’s your rope bread and butter. So learn to love them.
–Please note if you really can’t get on with a TK that doesn’t mean that you can’t do rope but it is the most common tie that riggers use–

7. Learn to laugh in the face of Failure and think about how you define failure.

At some point you will get nerve twinges and need to come down early. At some point something will hurt lots. At some point you will find something you are trying to do just too tough.  Whether you define this as failure, whether you are able to laugh about it – whether you are able to take a breath and go okay what shall we try next, or whether you and your rigger get into an argument about it, or you feel really depressed that it went wrong will define how much you enjoy rope. Sometimes your body wont let you do what you wish, sometimes you are not in the right head space. That is okay. Remember this is meant to be fun!

 

8. Safety is your responsibility

Fuco a well known bunny, recently wrote about how being safe as a bunny is your responsibility. I whole heartily agree, the blame culture in shibari is rife and often unfair. It’s unlikely your top is out to deliberately hurt you, however there are some people around that do not realise they have unsafe practices. You need to know as much, and often more than they do. So bone up on weight loading, dynamic loading hard points and their rope. Old rope, or rope that’s lost its twist in places, dry rope, is all bad! Check their equipment for weight ratings.. tell them if your wrap placement’s are wrong. Make sure you are confident in your riggers ability.

 

9. Communications

If struggle to speak up, worry about saying no, get anxious or feel intimidated by the person your rigging with… Simply don’t let them tie you. BDSM requires full consent, if you can’t give it or withdraw it.. do not play. You will find yourself in situations you don’t want to be in, and it’s not fun to have such regrets.

 

10.Use your safe word.

I am repeating myself here but it’s serious stuff I’m sick of reading how this bunny did xx with X she didn’t call red and then posts “rape like” allegations to discredit and/or humiliate them. It’s not fair. Safe words will only keep you safe if you use them. If you don’t use them, then you’ll have to live with the consequences. Don’t blame the top, they aren’t a mind reader.

 

11 Every tie is a lesson

Everytime you get into rope your learning more about your body, especially at first. Most of the time its fun, but its not always for the faint hearted. I have passed out due to coughing too much in a chest restricting tie, i projectile vommited in a suspension from spinning a lot. The more you do the more you learn – but sometimes its messy!

12. Negotiate boredom time

Otherwise known as lab time. Which is where you’ll be stock still whilst your rigger learns or practise something new. How much time you spend in lab work, and how much is in dynamic is a balancing act that you can negotiate on.  It is easy for a rigger to forget how boring lab time can be for a bunny – it is however important – but making sure its interspercide with something fun makes it a lot easier. Lab time is also the time many injuries occur as you can be in the same position for far longer than normal – keep checking in with your body.

 

13.Sickness

Would you go swimming with a cold? How about going for a hike with a chest infection? IF you are unwell take the night off. The number of times I have tried to carry on and bunny despite being under the weather is …well more than I care to admit because I love rope – I dont want to mis sout on a chance to be in rope, but if I am not in tip top health it always goes wrong.

The Takate-Kote aka Box-tie

MMH_4066.jpgIn my early days of rigging I posted on a rope forum critising the statment I kept hearing that the TK takes years to learn. Everyone seemed to have a really precious view of it – unless you have been doing it for years you cant possibly understand it. I asked was this view because of bad students or bad teachers?

That was two years ago and I have now found myself in the catagory of those people I was questioning. The more time goes on the more I realise I don’t know. I do not claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination. There are lots of ways to tie a TK, and while there are lots of right ways – safe ways, fun ways there are also lots of wrong ways.

One of the things I really struggled with when I was learning the TK was that I got so far through and then got lost. I would go to classes and think I had got it all down and then get home and realise that actually I had missed a bit.  In an attempt to help make it easier for other people to learn we have produced a series of videos showing the TK stage by stage, so that you can practice each stage on its own:

01 Tying the wrists
02: Upper wraps

03: Upper cinches

04: Lower wraps

05: Lower cinches

For the rest.. have a look on youtube!

 

 

 

What we look for in a Bunny

I was asked the other day what it is that a rigger looks for in a Bunny. This is a topic that has been doing the rounds a bit lately but I thought it was worth me putting in my two-pence worth as its different for everyone.

1) Someone who melts. This really is the top of my list. For me the pleasure in doing rope with someone is about the interaction between us and the rope, and for me that means I enjoy tying with people who melt, or shake, or laugh, or feel turned on. Any or all – but most of all I am looking for a reaction.

2) Someone who knows there body – and knows when to say “ouch that’s the wrong kind of pain”. Having good body awareness, learning what your body can and cannot do are really important – and communicating those things.

3) Someone I can work with over a period of time – I like to build up a friendship, to work together and work out how each other work. I love tying people as a “one off” but I get far more from an established rope relationship.

4) Someone who is able to clearly communicate their lines and limits.

5) Someone who is happy to have photos taken and shared. I love having photos of rigs I do and so my preference is to rig people who don’t mind photos.

Its only after all those boxes are ticked that things like flexibility come into the equation. Having amazing core mussels, and being super flexible will allow us to do more variety in the type of ties. This is good – it is something to work towards if this is your passion, but items 1-5 are the bits that matter to me.

I haven’t mentioned size or gender as part of this, and the reason is.. that this isn’t part of the equation for me. I tend to have more photos of slim bunnies than I do of bigger bunnies. This is a topic of considerable debate in the rope community – but in honesty there is a very simple reason why I have less photos of bigger bunnies…

More often than not bigger bunnies look at photos of themselves and say I don’t like those photos please don’t use them. People who are happy with their body shape (whatever it is) tend to be happier with photos.

That is fine. Its not a deal breaker for me – if you are really fun to tie then I am happy to go without photos.