Shibari

Western-style bondage is straight-forward stuff. Grab yourself some handcuffs, slap them on your partner’s wrists, hear that satisfying “clink,” and away you go. If you’re fancy, grab yourself a soft silk necktie, tie a couple square knots, and call it good.

 

But Japanese Shibari is a whole different animal. This is a little more about savoring the journey rather than jumping to the good part. You get yourself 20 or so yards (or meters) of some hemp or silk rope, and you build a harness directly onto your partner, one knot at a time. It’s slow, it’s sensual, and it encourages mind games and power plays.

 

This isn’t simply about binding someone and making them stay put. This is about the erotic sensations of caressing your partner with the ropes that will bind them. It focuses on touch and intimacy, in a way simple handcuffs can’t.

 

Different ties focus on different goals. Some are mainly aesthetic, like the many corsets and other decorations you can create on your partner. Others are more restrictive and focus on trapping your partner or causing discomfort. A whole other subset of Shibari focuses on suspension. To perform suspension Shibari, be certain your rope is meant to hold weight and make sure you do it properly. Suspension is the most likely form to cause harm.

People enjoy Shibari for the beauty and intimacy it brings to the interaction between two people. It’s growing in popularity, so if you’re interested, it shouldn’t be too hard for you to find yourself an introduction. Many major metropolitan areas, from San Francisco to Helsinki, have places you can go and learn this art form. I highly recommend it because it’s really fun. I like the puzzle of it and the way you create something complex and beautiful out of a simple rope.

 

A word of caution: in Western-style bondage, it’s easy to release the bound person. Unlock the handcuffs or untie a couple knots, and everything’s cool. Shibari, however, is much more complex, and releasing your partner could be much more difficult. As with all BDSM practices, communication is critical. Keep track of your sub’s feelings and comforts at all times, and be mindful of any possible dangers. This goes extra for suspension Shibari. Suspension trauma can be very serious.

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