Using Shibari Knots to Ignite Sparks in the Bedroom
On a spring evening in Japan, a woman slowly takes off her dress to reveal nothing but her laced black panties and kneels down on the floor. Another woman, holding rope, looks down at her almost naked body and begins to unravel the rope. She grabs the woman’s arm behind her back and binds her hands. The floored woman is sweating and looking up at her Master seductively. Her master thoughtfully and efficiently ties the woman limb by limb until her whole body is lifted off the floor. The now suspended woman moans in pleasure as her body twists with the tightening of the rope. The Master grabs a paddle and slyly grins at the beautiful helpless woman.
The art of Shibari is a traditional form of Japanese rope bondage. It is often done using thin pieces of rope, and involves the tier contorting bodies in intricate geometric patterns. Shibari is an intense power and control exchange, as the person being tied gives their power to the tier. The experience can be arousing to both parties due to this intense power exchange. Shibari knots are positioned to excite the body's pleasure centers, with knots often being tied around the person's genitals, breasts and other arousing body parts. Shibari knots can be used to tie somebody up, tie them to an object or suspend them in the air. Shibari often includes more explicit sexual activity such as oral sex or intercourse, but not always.
From the 17th to 19th century rope was used in combat and to restrain prisoners of war. Specifically, rope punishment was used to get confessions and to display criminals. After World War Two there was a shift towards fetishizing knots in magazines and popular culture, where knots were shown as explicitly sexual and displayed mostly naked women. Although originating in Japan, the concept of Shibari as a form of BDSM began to spread around the world. In recent times, an altered depiction of it has become part of popular culture with many mainstream media showing rope play, such as in the film Fifty Shades of Grey.
To the uneducated, Shibari may not look too different from its roots in tor/ture, however, to those that are knowledgeable about the practice, it is clear that it involves a high degree of communication, consent and can be very thera peutic. Some describe the feeling afterwards similar to that after a relaxing massage; as Shibari experts utilize techniques to stimulate arousal and hit the brain with a big shot of endorphins and dopamine.
Knots of Shibari
Single Column Tie
The most basic tie is the single column tie. The body can be seen as being made up of a series of columns; think about the shape of your legs, butt, ankles, torso, arms and wrists. The single column is used to tie up any of these columns. The single column is the first step in many leg ties or body harnesses. It is also used in positions where each limb is tied to opposite sides of the bed, also known as the “spread eagle” position. Although the single column tie works perfectly for tying one limb, when tying together a couple limbs with this tie, for example both feet, it may be fairly easy for a partner to slide out of it.
Double Tie Knot
The double tie knot is used to tie two columns together. For example it would be used to tie two wrists or two ankles together. It can also be used to tie a limb to a chair or a bed. It also functions to tie together a wrist to an arm or a foot to a thigh with the knees bent, making it so the person can’t move their arm or leg.
How to Practice Shibari Safely
Shibari has the potential to hurt somebody if it is not done correctly. Here are some basic tips.
- Don’t tie any knots too tightly! There should be a little bit of wiggle room to move the wrist or ankle in the tie, but not enough for a hand or leg to slip out.
- It’s also important to leave a lot of rope at the end of the tie so that the rope doesn’t come undone.
- VERY IMPORTANT, don’t make the tie at the end of the wrist, as the inner wrist can experience nerve damage if circulation is cut off for too long. Instead, make sure ties are done a little bit higher on the wrist and ensure that the knot is on the outside of the wrist not the inside.
I would suggest reading more about safety before attempting anything too complex. To become a Shibari expert the tier must begin with some research to understand basic human biology, including the location of nerve centers; they must inquire with their partner about recent injuries, and know how to be flexible and adjust the technique to each individual.
Using knot play can be quite intimate, connecting and arousing as foreplay, as a stand alone experience and as a sexual practice. It is important that the tier is trained as they take on a lot of responsibility to ensure that the person being tied remains feeling safe and comfortable. Some good resources for learning more about rope play include the Shirabi Academy, and the Knotty Lounge.