A Beginner’s Guide to Rope Bondage by ‘Frederick’

If you fancy tying your partner up with rope and testing how it feels, then you’ll need to know the basics. Here, our guest blogger ‘Frederick’ gives us a beginner’s guide.

“Since the early caveman in his heard took a trip to Gretna Green, There’s always been….” Rope!

Or perhaps we should say, “Since the early Cave woman got bored with her man wandering off to play with other women and tied him down to keep him in his place, only to discover that the effect on him caused him to rise up to her advantage and pleasure.” It is certainly true that rope in some form or another has been around for a very long time.

Rope is probably the earliest tool known to man/woman kind, it is also the most versatile item in our toolbox. Rope is everywhere; it holds our parcels and bundles together, it holds our clothes together, it tows our broken down cars, it lifts our goods up and lowers them down, it moors our ships it holds up our masts…Rope is even used in our bedrooms and playrooms to enhance our fun.

Rope is found in every walk of life and there is no doubt that it is here to stay.

Who knows when rope was first used as a play toy? Very early erotic writings and artwork as early as the ninth century BCE mention and illustrate bondage as a part of sexual play. Surf the net and you will see that interest in bondage is spreading fast. So, not only is rope here to stay, its use to bind a sexual partner is also here to stay.

In the context of sexual play, bondage is about a power relationship between two or more persons for the purposes of stimulation and pleasure. The fundamental premise and the only motivation for this author’s bondage activities is that it must be fun for both the person who binds and for the person(s) who is bound. Binding may be purely psychological where a “Top” controls a “Bottom” by strength of will and personality alone. More commonly, bondage is about physical restraint and forms the basis of the realm of BDSM. (Bondage & Discipline – Dominance & Submission – Sadism & Masochism)

Bondage has many forms and practices and this introduction concerns that of Shibari/Kinbaku or Japanese Rope Bondage. These customs date back to the days of the Samurai and how they would bind and restrain their prisoners. This was known as Hojojutsu and is accepted as one of the Japanese martial arts.

At the beginning of the twentieth century Hojojutsu was adapted as an erotic art form where the positions of the body of the tied person (at that time usually a woman) and the patterns of the rope and knots on the body formed a pleasing and erotic view to the observer. The terms Shibari and Kinbaku although subtly different may be taken as synonymous and are often used together.

Bondage may be applied by anybody to anybody irrespective of gender or sexual orientation. More than one person may be tied, and “self-ties” are not uncommon.

Raven and Dawn enjoy being tied together.

Trust

If bondage as sexual play is to be enjoyable and fulfilling for those who engage in it the first and most important aspect is trust between the top and the bottom. Without a trusting relationship, bondage is no more than wrapping rope around an inanimate object. It is the foremost task of the top to establish that trust and the only way that it can exist is for the top to ‘BE’ trustworthy. Trust must be established before the first tie, and if it is true, will grow as the relationship between top and bottom grows.

This author does not support the practice of subjecting an unwilling person to bondage even though this may be part of an agreed role play

Safety and Comfort.

Safety is paramount in all bondage play.
The generally accepted rules of BDSM apply: Safe, Sane and Consensual.
A sharp knife or better still a good pair of EMT scissors are essential. If necessary, cut the rope. Rope is only rope but a life is irreplaceable.

When tied, the recipient should not be left unattended.

The establishing at the beginning of a session, of safewords or of some means for the submissive to stop the process is always good practice. The Nawashi must always honour the stop word or sign without fain or delay. Using a gag can limit the ability of the submissive to use a safe word but if a gag is important in play, there is always a way.

A tie should not be uncomfortable, unless that is agreed between the Nawashi and the submissive.

Care must be taken to consider any medical conditions that might affect tying.
Care should always be taken to avoid restriction of blood flow or where that is unavoidable that the restriction is of limited timespan.
Care should also be taken to avoid nerve pressure points causing pins and needles or loss of sensation.
Both of these can cause serious damage to the submissive’s body which can be permanent.

Passing a rope around the neck of the tied person is dangerous and should be avoided.

Motivations

The factors that motivate those who engage in Rope Bondage are as diverse as there are individuals who involve themselves. The Nawashi may approach tying with the intention of presenting a demonstration or entertainment to an audience. This may include the form of a photo or video shoot or be a live show. It may be fore play or the centre piece of a sexual encounter or love making. Or again, merely because the submissive enjoys the sensation of being tied.

Similarly, for the submissive there are motivations for being tied that are too numerous to list. The submissive may be a professional model who is paid to be tied as part of an entertainment or artwork for viewing by a live audience or for a video or photographic session. He/she may be a partner, friend, or someone who wishes to be tied as a taster. The submissive may wish to be tied for the pleasure of another who does not have the skills to tie for themselves, or who wishes to learn how to tie.

One of the great motivations for the experienced submissive person is that of Sub-space. Subspace is a very difficult concept to describe and warrants an article on its own. It is a desirable mental state where the submissive person feels detached from but not unaware of the world around them. It is different for each person, and may be different each time the person visits. When a submissive person is tied in such a way that they are fully under the control of the Dom who has tied them and he or she has a complete trust in their Dom and is able to relinquish themselves into his or her care, they can drift away into a relaxed state of mind where they are released from the cares of their world and only the sensations of what is happening to them in the here and now….

A tie may contain rope work that is intended to restrain or be purely decorative and does not restrain the recipient. Such ties may be combined with others that are intended to restrain the submissive.

Without embarking on a lengthy tutorial on Rope Bondage , here are two simple ties that a beginner should learn.

The “Single Column” tie. Which might be used to tie a rope around a wrist or an ankle.

The “Double column” tie. Used to tie two columns together. For example, wrists, or ankles either to each other or one to the other.

In Japanese Rope bondage, the ropes are most frequently used double thus spreading the load over a wider area.

To tie a “single column” tie

In this example a wrist is shown, double the rope to form a loop at the centre, (the bight) wrap the rope around the column leaving about eight to ten inches of the looped end. Cross the loop end over the long end and pass the loop under the wrapped rope. Tie the looped end and the long end in a reef knot. The long end may be tied to another point for example a bed post.

To tie a ‘double column’ tie.

Here ankles are shown. Double the rope at the centre and pass it twice around both columns leaving about two inches of space between the two and leaving about twelve to fourteen inches of the looped end. Pass the looped end between the two columns and twice around the ropes around the columns. Cinch the ropes together but not too tightly and tie the loop and the long end together with a reef knot.

As a beginning exercise, use a “single column” tie to attach separate ropes around both wrists and both ankles. Tie each of the four long ends to each of the four corners of a bed so your partner is spread eagled and ready for fun.

As another exercise, use a “double column” tie to tie your partner’s wrists together, either in front or behind their back. Then tie your partner’s ankles together using the same tie. You can extend this tie by tying your partner’s knees together, and if they are sufficiently flexible, their elbows.

A third exercise is to use a “double column” tie to attach your partner’s right wrist to the right ankle and the left wrist to the left ankle thus giving greater access.

With these two simple ties, the possibilities are endless limited only by your imagination.

There are of course many, many more ties, some of them traditional standards and some of them more modern in design. As well as rope, other items can be used in the ties, carabiners and rings, rods and bars (often of bamboo) used to spread legs, splint limbs and in as many ways as the Nawashi’s imagination can come up with.

Learning the Ropes

If you are looking to take a GCSE in Rope Bondage, don’t, there is no such thing. There are no qualifications, nor am I aware of any “Regulatory bodies” who set standards. There are many people who will claim to be teachers of the subject. Some are competent and will give good tuition and some think they are competent and assume that they can teach. The later need to be avoided.

The only real qualification for the ability to teach Rope Bondage is the approbation of others who practise and teach the subject. Those who are tied are likely to sing the praises of their Nawashi and some may be right, but not all. The watchword is “Buyer beware”

Look for humility in the teacher. A real master is called master by others, rarely by him/herself.

Observe the work of the Nawashi and if all is well, experience that work for yourself before attempting to try it on someone else.

As the author of this introduction I do not call myself a teacher, rope will always be my master no matter how experienced I become. I do feel that I have some experience and competence however and I am always willing to share my knowledge and demonstrate my abilities.

A suggested path of learning might be as follows:
Learn the basics, simple ties and knots.
Learn the standard named ties.
Begin to modify the standard ties to your own taste.
Combine the standard ties together to make more complex ties.
Begin to design your own ties……..

As the Nawashi’s learning progresses the standard ties become modified to suit the individual Nawashi. Standard ties are frequently combined with other standards. After a time, the Nawashi my devise his/her own ties and the rope work becomes more complex and intricate. Learning is an ongoing and lifetime process and many very experienced Nawashi will freely admit that the more they learn the less they know.

Knots

Tying of course requires knots. The knots used in Shibari/Kinbaku are simple. They include the ‘larks head’ the ‘single overhand knot”, the ‘double overhand or reef knot’ and the ‘half hitch’. Good knots are easy to untie and do not come untied on their own. More complicated and decorative knots can be used but the basic ‘Scouts” knots will suffice.

Rope

Rope is of course the primary requirement. When first experimenting with rope bondage a small collection only of rope will be appropriate. Not just any rope will do, it is important especially for the person new to being tied that the rope used causes as little discomfort as possible. If you are not willing to buy appropriate rope, borrow some from a rigger with a good collection. The feel of the rope against the skin is a significant factor for many rope bottoms. As the rope is tied sliding and rubbing it against the skin can be a great added sensation for the recipient. Generally recommended rope is made of natural fibre, jute and hemp are traditional but require much treatment to soften them for use. Cotton rope is an excellent alternative and can be used without additional treatment. Silk is soft but slippery and can come untied rather easily.

Rope of six or eight millimetres in diameter with hanks of between seven and ten meters in length are appropriate. Longer lengths can be more difficult to manipulate and tangle easily. Joining more rope to the working piece is a recognised part of tying.

Traditionally, natural coloured rope is used however modern dyes can colour natural fibre rope to give an attractive and artistic aspect. Day glow and fluorescent rope is expensive and can give a very interesting effect.

Ready to use bondage rope is available from the usual suppliers but it can be expensive. If you buy ready to use rope, obtain it from a reputable source.

Play space.

Where you play and where you tie is of course very much a matter of what is available to you.

In Shibari/Kinbaku, tying takes place either on the floor or overhead in suspension.
The floor can be extended to include a table, bed or massage couch.
If the floor is used some form of padded matting is desirable. Tatami or woven rice straw mats are traditional but expensive. Mats used in martial arts are available from sports equipment suppliers are appropriate and much less expensive.

Suspending someone in bondage is an advanced technique not advised for the beginner. To suspend someone requires overhead suspension beams with tried and weight tested attachment points.

Suspension

The practice of suspending a person in bondage is dangerous and should not be attempted by anybody who has not been properly instructed in how to do it. Suspension bondage is beyond the scope of this introduction.

Terminology

Shibari – to tie
Kinbaku – Tight binding – Kinbaku-bi – the beauty of tight binding
Nawa – Rope
Nawashi – A person who uses rope. Also, Kinbakushi
Jujuun – Slave or submissive

Other terms include

Rigger – the one who does the tying
Top – Dominant partner.
Bottom – the submissive partner.
Dom – Dominant partner.
Sub – Submissive partner(s)
Tie – A completed piece of rope work

Further Resources

There are some useful instructional books on Shibari/Kinbaku. Here are some that I have found helpful

“Shibari That You Can Use” (Paperback & Kindle) and “More Shibari that you can use” By Lee Harrington
(Paperback & Kindle)

“Back on The Ropes” (Paperback & Kindle) and “Showing You the Ropes” By Two Knotty Boys
(Paperback & Kindle) I haven’t read the later of these two, but it gets good reviews

“The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage” by Midori
(Paperback & Kindle)

“The Beauty of Kinbaku” by Master ‘K’
(Paperback)

On the Internet, the websites covering or touching on Shibari/Kinbaku are too numerous to mention. To view videos of tying performances, look on Youtube and Vimeo and search on “Shibari/Kinbaku”