Tips On How To Master Shibari: The Art Of Japanese Rope Bondage

Last Updated 07.11.2022
11 min read
Taimi

The ultimate aesthetics of Japanese rope bondage amaze everyone with eroticism and beauty. Once you get familiar with this ancient art form, you want to master it.

Are you into bondage sex? Do you want to take your sexual experience to the next level? Here is a guide on the basics of Japanese bondage. Learn these simple tips before trying shibari for the first time.

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Brief History of Japanese Erotic Bondage

You have seen shibari in modern movies (including porn movies), fashion magazines, and art galleries. Therefore you may presuppose that shibari rope bondage is a new BDSM trend. But in fact, it's an ancient art with a long history.

Shibari takes its roots from Hojo-Jutsu, a traditional style of military incarceration and torture aimed at restraining a person using a cord or rope. In most cases, this method was used by samurai and police to shame criminals publically. Hojo-Jutsu was popular in feudal Japan from the beginning of the 17th to the mid-19th century.

In the late 19th century, this form of martial art was transformed into the erotic bondage kinbaku. From this time, the Japanese began to use the basic ties of Hojo-Jutsu for BDSM role play. People liked the idea of experiencing restraint (on a physical level) and shame (on an emotional level).

Definition: Japanese word "kinbaku" is literally translated as "the beauty of tight binding". Term Shibari means "to bind" or "to tie up."

The basic idea of rope play is to create beautiful patterns that make the human body look even more seductive. The knots are supposed to simultaneously contrast and complement the natural curves of the tied person.

Just take a glimpse at the picture of this tweet. The tied girl looks mesmerizing, isn't she?

Are Shibari and Kinbaku the Same Thing?

In Western culture, Shibari and Kinbaku terms are used interchangeably. Even though they are similar in many ways, there is still a difference between the two of them:

  • The robe bondage form, which is called Shibari, is more about the result of tying a person up.

  • The form, which is called kinbaku, is more about the emotional experience and the tying process in general.

Roles in Japanese Rope Play

Just like any other BDSM role play, Japanese rope bondage includes two players:

  • A rigger (a rope top plays a dominant role)

  • A rope bunny (a rope bottom plays a submissive role)

Basically, a rigger is one who needs to master the ancient Japanese knot-tying technique. A robe bunny doesn't need to have any specific skills. The task of this player is to be submissive and allow the top to do their job.

How Does It Feel like to Be a Rope Bunny?

Let's make it clear. Rope bottoms are not supposed to feel pain. They are supposed to experience physical constraints and get sexual pleasure from being submissive.

Fact: Shibari may be associated with some physical discomfort, but not intense pain.

How to Know Whether This Japanese Art Is Right for You

Japanese rope bondage is more than a role play, it's a real art. Therefore, not all kinky people can understand and enjoy it. This ancient Japanese art is right for you if:

  • You are a patient person - you are focused more on the process than the result.

  • You are ready to invest your time in learning new skills.

  • You trust your partner and want to try new things to spice up your relationship.

  • The aesthetics of the rope bondage is important for you.

  • You get pleasure from playing a submissive or dominant role.

  • You have a good understanding of Japanese culture.

What Ropes Are Suitable for Shibari?

Want to get ready to practice shibari? The first thing you should do is to buy a suitable rope. In Japan, people opt for natural fiber ropes - either jute or hemp. They are more durable and have an authentic look. However, you can also use synthetic ropes, for instance, nylon rope, if you wish.

Rope materials are not the only thing that matters. The size of the rope is another important thing. If we talk about classic shibari rope, its length must be from seven to eight meters and its thickness from four to six millimeters.

Tip: As a beginner, you should choose thicker rope. It will feel more comfortable on bare skin.

Keep in mind that raw rope made out of natural fibers such as jute or hemp can't be used for shibari. If you buy raw hemp rope, you should treat it before the first use. The treatment is a multi-stage process that includes boiling, drying, singeing, and oiling.

You can get a pretreated hemp rope if you don't want to waste your time on preparation. Well, you will have to pay a few bucks more. But the main advantage is that you can get into rope bondage play right away.

You can buy the following products online. They are suitable for beginners who want to master the art of shibari:

  • Doc Johnson Japanese Bondage Rope

  • Fifty Shades of Grey Restrain Me Bondage Rope (Twin Pack)

  • Kink Bind And Tie Initiation 5 Piece Hemp Rope

  • Liberator Silk Binding Sash

Are There Any Risks Associated with Shibari?

When it comes to bondage usage and BDSM constraints, risks are inevitable. So when we talk about shibari play, we should also talk about the associated health risks.

Asphyxiation

If you are a beginner in Shibari, don't tie the rope off around the neck. It's way more dangerous than you may think! If you make a mistake when making a collar, it may result in asphyxiation. The rope may cut off the oxygen flow to the brain, and it will cause permanent brain cell damage or even death of the rope bunny.

Unfortunately, some people don't fully understand the risks of shibari rope bondage, and their ignorance leads to fatal cases. 

Reminder: The person doing the tying accepts the legal consequences that may result from the mistake. If your partner dies from asphyxiation, you will go to prison as a murderer.

Nerve Damage

The primary safety rule of Japanese bondage is the following: if two fingers can easily pass between the rope and the skin, everything is fine. If only one finger can pass between the rope and the skin, you should loosen the rope to prevent nerve damage.

Be aware that if the rope is tied too tight, that may alert the blood circulation and lead to irreversible consequences. Once the nerve gets damaged, it cannot be cured entirely.

  • Here is a list of warning signs of circulation impairment:

  • Change of skin color: skin may get pale or turn bluish.

  • Change in temperature: when blood circulation is poor, legs and arms get colder than usual.

  • Change of size: a limb can swell or shrink.

Once you notice one of these changes, you should stop the play immediately. You should take safety scissors and cut the rope before it gets too late.

The Variety of Ties in Shibari

Since shibari is an ancient art, it offers a great variety of different ties. Some are simple to learn, while others require extra skills and experience.

Are you ready to get started? The first step you should take is to learn two ties: double column tie and single column tie. That's the bare minimum you need to know to practice shibari with your partner for the first time.

Interesting fact: Hojojutsu ties were designed to restrain prisoners and cause them harm - they are unsuitable for erotic play. You need to learn shibari ties - modified ties - they perfectly work for erotic and aesthetic purposes.

Ways to Learn Shibari

Shibari is getting more and more popular nowadays. So if you want to learn it, you can choose one of the following options.

Free YouTube videos

The best way to learn the basics of shibari is to watch videos with practical tips and tricks. Our top recommendations are Self Tie Tutorials by Rory's Brainworks and Rope Bondage Tutorials by Zed Ropework.

Online classes

If you want to level up your skills and get familiar with more sophisticated knots, you can enroll in a specialized online course. There you will learn other forms of shibari art.

Some online schools like ShibariStudy and ShibariAcademy offer discounts and refer-a-friend special offers. So if you decide to study with your partner, you can save money.

Offline hands-on seminars

Shibari is all about practical skills. So if you want to get more practice, you can attend offline hands-on seminars in your area. The best thing about such workshops is that they will help you learn more than double-column ties and meet like-minded people. You can use this opportunity to find a partner for your kinky sex play.

Books

Do you like to learn in an old way? Then you can start your shibari journey by reading books about knot tying and books about Japanese culture. Once you better understand the local culture, your sexual experience will become more meaningful.

Traveling

Do you want to learn shibari from the best experts? Travel to Japan to get familiar with the best professionals and learn the basic principles of authentic knot tying. It will be the best adventure in your life ever!

Art performance

Shibari-based performances have recently gained popularity in the US and many European countries. Probably one of such shows is currently available in your area. Don't hesitate to check it online!

“There is a great art to the act of tying. It is this incredibly ascetic experience,” says Luke George, UK-based artist, ropeworker, and performer.

Tips on How to Make Your First Shibari Experience a Success

Shibari is a one-of-a-kind play that involves tying people. If you want to enjoy it to the fullest, you should follow these principles:

  • Choose high-quality ropes. The use of proper ropes will facilitate the tying process and make the bondage experience more enjoyable for both partners.

  • Be a good student. Make sure that you understand what shibari is and how exactly you should tie different parts of your partner's body. Be aware of every step you take. If you don't know how to perform a specific action, don't proceed with your erotic play.

  • Be gentle with the body of your partner. Don't make any harsh movements.

  • Consider using sex toys: vibrators, dildos, or anal toys. It's a great way to sexually stimulate your tied partner and boost their sensation.

  • Learn the basics before you start experimenting with your personal style. Take your erotic journey one step at a time.

Practice makes perfect. If your first shibari experience hasn't met your expectations, get more practice. Learn the lesson from your failure and find a way to improve your skills before the next try. Also, consider using ropes of different types to spice up your experience.

Follow Basic Safety Rules

Whatever your experience level is, you should never neglect safety rules. It will help you to avoid any severe damage and health issues.

  • Place safety scissors nearby. Seriously. Don't start a play if you don't have scissors or other tools you can use to cut the rope fast and effectively.

  • Come up with a safe word. Once you understand that you feel uncomfortable or that your sex play is going in the wrong direction, you can stop your partner from moving to the next stage.

  • Discuss the process with your partner before you get into the erotic play. It's important to ensure that both of you have the same expectations and see the process in the same way.

"You can go as heavy as you want — as long as it’s consensual. But you don’t need to, either," says Dr. Stephanie Hunter Jones, a certified sex therapist.

  • Be aware that rope tops must know the basic anatomy. If you are responsible for tying, you should understand where the main nerve paths (brachial plexus, radial nerve, ulnar nerve, median nerve) are located. It will allow you to ensure proper rope placement and avoid the adverse effect of compression.

  • Check how your tied partner feels. If there are any signs of asphyxiation or nerve damage, stop the play and drive to the closest emergency room.

  • Remember that the trust involved has its limits. You should trust your body and your feelings more than you trust your partner.


Photo by Nikolaos Dimou

Shibari Is Something More than Kinky Sex

Some people see shibari as a kinky sex option. Others believe that shibari must be practiced with romantic partners only. But in fact, shibari is much more than that - it's a unique, authentic experience that doesn't have to be purely sexual or romantic.

You can feel aroused by body awareness without any additional sexual stimulation. You can share this experience with someone you barely know and still enjoy the intimacy. So if you want to try something new and brighten up your life, shibari rope bondage might be something you are looking for.

Interesting fact: Shibari can be beneficial for women's and men's health. When it's practiced in a safe way, it helps to reduce physiological stress.

Start with Self Tie

Do you still doubt whether you want to try shibari with a partner? Do you have some trust issues and don't want someone to hurt your body? If this is the case, you can practice rope bondage on your own.

Yep, if you don't have a rope bunny to practice on (just like this Twitter user), you can be a bunny yourself.

You can start with making a rope corset or creating beautiful knots on your legs. It's a fun and safe experience, and you can get it within the comfort of your own home.

Tip: Self-tie bondage allows you to explore your body and sexuality. Gained erotic experience will help you better understand your BDSM preferences and test your pain tolerance.

We want to remind you that even if you practice shibari without partners, you still need to follow safety rules. You should have scissors by your side to cut the rope if necessary.

Don't Hesitate to Give It a Try!

Are you already familiar with Western rope bondage and want to try other forms of bondage? We highly encourage you to use this beginner's guide to explore shibari art - a brand-new experience that will rock your world.

You can tie beautiful knots. Or you can be the one who is tied. Whatever role you choose, your body will release feel-good hormones and make you high.


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