To most people, the idea of tying up your partner sounds ultra kinky, and ultra scandalous.
But there is a difference between simple rope play and Shibari, a Japanese art in the use of rope with a partner.
For a start, it’s skillful – while anyone can learn Shibari, not just anyone can pick up a rope and do it on the first try. There is method to the pleasurable practice.
Anna Kii, an expert in Shibari – both in tying and being tied up – said on this week’s episode of Metro.co.uk’s Smut Drop podcast it’s an ‘erotic consensual practice’ that’s ‘connecting’.
‘It’s a beautiful art form,’ she explained. ‘This is what interests me most about it, it’s an art form of tying up people.’
So what is the difference between Shabari and just tying someone up?
‘It’s done in a particular way, using ropes in a safe and pleasant way,’ she added. ‘And it has particular patterns to it. Patterns and knots, which are applied and tied to the body. So it should not be done randomly. There’s a certain structure to it.
‘It’s not something you learned in the Boys’ Brigade.’
Ideally, you’d use jute, a natural fibre rope for the practice.
The length of a rope bundle is eight metres and it’s normally six millimetres wide and three ply twisted.
‘And it’s smooth and nicely works to feel good on the body,’ Anna added, and it should be waxed so it’s comfortable against skin.
To learn the practice, London offers workshops in which you can practice such as Anatomie Studio in Peckham, and sex clubs like Killing Kittens sometimes offer online sessions in which to learn.
The reason Anna thinks it can be so good for building connection, is because the practice requires trust, respect, patience and consent. These are all good hallmarks in any relationship, and require strong communication.
In a Shibari scenario, there will be a ‘bunny’ – the one being tied – and a ‘rigger’ – the one doing the tying. But it’s also very common for people to swap and try both, like she has.
The person acting as the bunny will be making themselves vulnerable too, which can also strengthen the bond between two people as trust is developed and vulnerability is respected.
After care is another important step when practicing Shibari, according to Anna.
‘It’s important to spend some time with your bunny having a quick chat, giving them a hug,’ she said.
‘Make sure nothing hurts too much. Give them like a little rub. It’s just human nature to look after each other.
‘I think it’s important to make sure the other person feels well after the session.’
Intimacy is vital both during and after the act.
What it feels like
Djfet, who runs a group called South Coast Shibari, previously told Metro: ‘I adore zoning in on the person I tie with.
‘I find out what mood they are in and always negotiate what they want – and really don’t want – before I tie them.
‘Seeing them become free and relaxed is a huge gift to both give and receive.
‘When I am tied myself I still get that sense of quiet inside my head – the space where my thoughts aren’t racing at a million miles an hour.
‘For me, this is not a sexual act – which is not to say that it doesn’t become erotic; after all it’s primarily an erotic art form.’
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