Around Christmas 2016 we signed up for an account at the Shibari Classes website. As the name implies, they offer online training courses in Japanese style rope bondage. The emphasis is on encouraging erotic intimacy through rope, not simply providing a series of rope bondage recipes; don't purely expect instructions like "tie this knot then do this", and so on.
The experience will almost certainly be different for everyone who undertakes it. When we initially got started, it felt rather like learning a musical instrument. Initially you spend time fumbling for the correct finger positions, and employ a lot of predictable strumming, before you reach a threshold where the passion can really start to reveal itself in more subtle rhythms, and finger-picking embellishments between chord changes, and so on.
"...a simpler tune can still be very expressive if played with feeling."
However, these videos (links below this next photo) have served as a timely reminder for us not to lose sight of what is really important. At the risk of pushing the musical analogy too far, a simpler tune can still be very expressive if played with feeling.
Primarily, the learning point we've been taking away from this is not to let inexperience prevent us from trying to inject as much emotion as possible into our rope-play. Speed, fluency and elaborate flourishes will have to wait, but by sticking to simpler techniques, and with slow delicate teasing, incorporating sensual touch, and what I believe might be termed "dishevelment", we're trying to maximise the passion; even though your partner may be secretly wracking their brain to remember what direction the rope is supposed to be going next!
Interview and tutorial with Esinem & Nina Russ (KFS TV via YouTube)
With a runtime of 32 minutes, this video does an amazing job of capturing and conveying the definition and appeal of erotic Japanese rope bondage. It also includes a tutorial, but very specifically not about knots; it gives far more attention to the emotional aspects of rope.
What I wish I had known when I started shibari - part one
One of the free courses on ShibariClasses - where the motto seems to be "it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it". Amongst a wealth of other advice, this course highlights starting out with simplicity, using rope as an extension of your hands, and developing an awareness of feedback. It also reinforced our "tying in front of a mirror" thoughts that we touched upon in this previous article.
Merihari - Cadence in Shibari
The Shibaridojo website has some very interesting articles and this one happened to appear on our Tumblr timeline with almost perfect timing, discussing speed and emotion in a way that felt very relevant to two videos we'd just been watching.
Incidentally, my outfit in these photos is the iCollection Racer Back Corset, purchased from Lovehoney in 2015. It's no longer included in their Basques, Sexy Corsets and Bustiers range, although it can still be bought elsewhere. It's a fabulous item and well worth seeking out. A couple of weeks ago we also posted an article featuring a couple of my favourite Sexy Robes and Kimonos and drew some attention to the beauty of rope bondage in satin gowns. Take a look at the Robes and Kimonos over at Lovehoney if that sounds appealing.
It's a matter of personal taste of course, but as much as I love the look of rope against this red corset, a satin robe is much easier to remove! ;-)
As a couple who enjoy sexy photography, it's been all too easy for us to get bogged down in the "visuals" of a technique and not to give enough focus to the erotic aspects of the overall experience. We've yet to discover any magical solution to that, but one thing that feels significant for us is to make time for play where there's no pressure to take any photographs of the tie - simply to enjoy the moment. We do take pleasure from photography, and that's great, but it's important to not allow it to always become the main focus.
When you watch the What I wish I had known video, you'll see just why it resonated with us so well.
Becoming really proficient at the core ingredients is key. We've tried various improvised ties in unconventional positions and found they've yielded some mixed results. As beginners, the grounding to make that sort of experimentation work successfully simply isn't in place yet.
And so our aim for now is to become much more confident in a couple of basic techniques so that we can feel the emphasis shift from self-consciously remembering the technical aspects (some of which are safety related and clearly cannot be overlooked) towards really feeling that our focus is on the passion of erotic rope play.
Our closing photograph above illustrates another experiment in a "low hands" gote style tie. I find the 90-degree elbow of a classic box tie to be not quite comfortable enough to maintain for a useful length of time and we've tried a couple of variations on this, but still seeking a better alternative.
Hopefully our renaissance of "keeping it simple" will lead us towards exactly the kind of solution we desire.
First and foremost, this article was motivated by a desire to share these following three resources:
- Interview and tutorial with Esinem & Nina Russ
- What I wish I had know when I started shibari - part one
- Merihari - Cadence in Shibari
The second link above is one of the free tutorials over at the Shibari Classes website. You'll need an account, but it's quick and easy to sign up and you'll have access to some great free tutorials before deciding if/when you're ready to move on to their premium content. We mentioned in a previous article, definitely check out the free Bondage Safety video course.
A final link, that only came to our attention as we were making a few final edits to this article, if you're on FetLife, check out this forum post for a video discussion between Bruce Esinem and Andrea Ropes. (We haven't had chance to watch it yet, but I have no doubts it'll be good.)