Tag Archives: shibari

The way He saw Her

I take a deep breath and look around. S is crying. N is crying. Someone who’s name I don’t know is crying. I’m trying to wipe away the tears from my face. Everyone around me is looking slightly dazed, slightly confused. I breathe out, feeling as if there are too many people around me, join N outside as he is enjoying a cigarette. It feels almost as if we have played ourselves, or watched something so intense that it feels as if we have played. S is expressing how she felt that she was watching something private, something which she was not supposed to watch. I’m trying to find some kinds of words for it, and N is doing the same. We give up pretty quickly.

Sometimes, you see something which hits you right in your gut.  It is often unexpected and you need time to process it. Take time to find a way in which you can express what it was, because no words seem to make it justice. Not only are the words insufficient, but how can we even describe something which is so intrinsically tactile? I know photographers makes attempts, and some makes darn good ones. But it is still not the same. That is why it has taken this long to write this.

I had only seen a couple of videos with Naka Akira. Plenty of photos. But for me, none of then had really captured me, they were not luring me into the shadows of what he does so brilliantly. Beautiful rope that is for sure, but it had not left me with a lingering sensation. It had felt distanced.
That is why, when Naka and Iroha sat down on stage, I was not prepared. I was not prepared for the way in which he sat, not behind her as we usually see, but slightly off center in front of her, carefully seeking her gaze, meeting it and boom. A chill down my spine. I know that kind of look. It is one where my partner is not focussed on what I’m wearing, or what tie they will use or the next transition. It is one in which they see me, who I am. My desires, my longings, my weaknesses and my strengths. I wish I could explain this in any other way than this projecting my own feelings and experiences, but it is rather hard. That moment when he caught her eyes, she met his and looked away slightly before looking back, that is also when they caught me as an audience. This is a conversation that happens through the gaze, through the eyes and staying aware of what they express.

As he tied her into his signature highhanded gote, there was a calmness to it all. A stillness, placing her where he wants her to be and there is a different kind of objectification that usually does not appeal to me. I guess I am quite oversaturated with objectification of female bodies, how ever beautiful they are. What was not seen in many of the photos as well as being hard to detect in the few videos, is that Naka Akira’s gaze is so strong you can feel it in the audience, even if his complete focus is on Iroha. Raising her to standing up, he ties her legs tightly together and she could technically stand up (there is enough space) but she is leaning her whole body into the ropes. Iroha-style. Every single moment can be a photography of Norio, but this is different, because it is live and she meets his gaze everyonce in a while, before looking away again. As he continues to tie more and more ropes he is slowly revealing her. This is not the classical ‘slowly sliding the kimono over the shoulders’ move at the beginning of the performance that we have gotten so used to, it is much more methodical, not calculated but slower. Portions of vulnerability dished out and I can’t stop watching, while still feeling more and more like an invader.

He gagged her, slowly, with cloth, several of them, three in fact. When the last cloth went over her mouth, there was no way she could do anything but whimper.

As the performance went on, he tied her into a twisted facedown suspension, legs high, her beauty and strength exposed. He sits, looks at her again, she is breathing and processing. Hair getting tied. A flogger comes out and he hits her. The louder she gets, the more he push through the hit of the flogger. Harder and harder as you heard him breathing out every time the flogger hit down upon her.. She starts sobbing, and when she does, he is right next to her, holding her face in his hands, and suddenly, it does not feel like its about them anymore. Naka san had mentioned his mentor, Nureki, who has passed away just a couple of weeks earlier. This was him and Iroha paying homage to him, a farewell.

During the Q&A that followed it became quite clear how fond he is of what we would call a Showa period style of rope. Akira Naka does not work with carabiners or rings, he uses rope and bamboo as points of suspension as he feels the clash of metal and rope is not compatible. In an interview that followed, he was himself left wondering of why we see his style as ‘old’ or ‘historical’, it would not be a category he would use, he just feels that he ties rope and that is it. The ties are all harder on the partners’ body than even the most difficult ones showed by many other Japanese Masters. The focus is on the model, exposing her (it is almost always a her) and they are about creating angles, exposing and pulling the suffering out to be seen. Not flashy and fast, but slow and steady, a gradual build up that becomes meditative, a different type of flow and fluidity that does not seek speed at all. He is not always overtly close to his model, but always there, always present. Naka has the ability to sit back and watch, just watch, and seeing his partners inner experience unravelling. If there is something I learned from this, it was to take even more time, to dare to take a couple of steps back.
When Iroha later was asked how it was for her to show that kind of emotion on stage she answered that the audience does not matter. “You can see us but we cannot see you” , that their world is just their own. That is what we were witnessing, the world they created through the rope and through the eyes, and it was what made me cry. The way they saw each other, and the way the paid homage to someone who had just passed away.

Thank you Naka-san and Iroha-san. I will always be grateful for those moments that you share.


LFARJB 2011- Saturday

Ooopsie daisy. I found this the other day. 2012′s festival is soon coming up. I’m not sure I have anything from the Sunday or Monday written down anywhere, but I think it will have to be a ‘perhaps, maybe’ kind of thing.

On the Saturday, 2nd day of the festival, our little group of rope lovers all fell asleep on the train in the morning when going to Resistance Gallery. We got there a bit late (again) and by then, the schedule for the day had already been subjected to a reshuffle. The Japanese team were jet lagged and needed some rest, so others stepped in and did their classes or classes on other topics. I must admit I was terribly bad at keeping check on what went on during the day time, as it flew by so very quickly. Wykd Dave did his class on tension while Esinem held a beginners class upstairs, which went on during the day. I found myself walking around, looking at what was happening as well as relaxing. My two friends, one who has just only recently started to explore rope, went in very enthusiastically with all of his energy to learn as much as possible, and for others I offered myself up to be a demo-bottom. After a couple of intense weeks previously to the festival, with a lot of tying, I was quite happy to just kick back and relax. The mezzanine got very warm very quickly. That weekend was  sunny and very warm, and while we were  inside with ropes, the sun heated the building. A fan will probably be appropriate for next year, as people who walked down the stairs from the mezzanine were sweating like they had just been in a sauna. Rope can indeed get you flustered.

As a side-note, for the organizers, during the Saturday, the information was better displayed then on Sunday. Although the chalk-board worked as well as it could, those who arrived later during the day found it a bit confusing to find all the information. All in all, the festival was busier than ever, with more amazing rope going on, but for next year, the challenge will be to develop the organisation of the festival itself and focus on the small things which makes it even better for the visitors. One lecture which was very engaging and I would say vital, was Esinem’s talk on nerve injury. He was joined doing this by Wykd Dave. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this talk, and yet, I make sure I always try to listen as if it was the first time hearing it. Give the document a read if you yet have not done so, do this regardless if you bottom or top with rope, that is my advice. To no surprise, the Q&A section of this talk was buzzing, and had to continue even if Esinem had to leave to continue doing the beginners classes upstairs. Due to different reasons, I did not have time to stop and sit down to listen to talk and demo on Hojojutsu by Strange Love. During the day, Esinem performed with Ika. Previous to the show, he had written:

Whilst most have been busy practising their shows, I have been busy not practising.  In part this is due to logistics, as my model does not arrive till Friday, but it is also a case of attempting to practice what I preach. In other words, I believe passion wins over emotionless precision every time.  Anyway, if I properly get into a rope scene, I become lost in it and there is no way I would ever manage to follow a rehearsed set. So, I have decided to “let The Force be with me” and rely on the connection with Ika to guide me.  It remains to see whether I can make the grade as a rope Jedi or will crash and burn …either way, I plan to keep it real!

A

And keeping it real he did. While I missed the beginning of the performance, a friend of mine did a recap. Esinem started with a floorbased  ichi-nawa session, very distinct to his style. You can see it here. Up close, fully embracing Ika, playing with balance  moving her back and forth, off balance, utilising all of the small nuances that are so important to kinbaku. Ika was then tied into a TK and a futo momo, partially suspended sideways and had wax dripped over her body. It was at this point I came into the room, and to my surprise, the soundtrack was one from the operas,  and

other classical pieces. An interesting contrast to the music that you usually hear in rope performances. What followed, I saw Esinem demonstrate how it is possible to make the untying seamless from the tying, and in the end, Ika was rather wobbly legged and had to be helped off stage.

The evenings’ performances started off with something really special. Yui Namiko . I first met this shy firecracker in Berlin a week earlier, where she was Kinoko’s model. During that week I slept at Schwelle7 and got to see her both in practice as a bottom, as well as on her own, + a performance for the crowd at the playparty in Berlin. All left me rather….flustered, as her presence and passion is somewhat out of the ordinary. Tiny, smiley and though as nails, determined as no other. In London, Yui entered the stage with dimmed lights carrying a large candle, dressed in a kimono with several layers of sheer fabrics and cotton ropes tied around her body as decorations. Her performance cannot be described in any other way but as a demonstration of her love of ropes. First, it evoked a sense of loss, sorrow and mourning within me and I thought that the candle represented someone close who was with her anymore, but after thinking more about this, I decided to revise this notion and instead focus on the story she told us with her body, without having some kind of  imagined ghost from the past lingering in my imagination. If there was any loss, it was her loosing herself completely into the ropes, with acrobatics and movement very rarely seen. She peeled layers of layers of clothing off her body, and the striptease aspect was heavily ingrained with the way in which she stripped herself raw, revealing layers of herself through the ropes. Every movement was deliberate, as an illustration of specific feeling; a story written and told with the body, all for art.  To say it was a night of wax-candles it not to exaggerate. Yui herself lit candles that were tied into a bundle of and traced it over her body,and there was no way of escaping this, no way to stop watching (not that you wanted). She drew all of us in, as she poured the wax over herself whilst still being suspended.  The candles burned close to her body, the drips  of wax falling into her face, into her hair. Yui held us in a tight grip from start to finish and afterwards, when she left the stage on shaky legs, she had the whole crowd in the palm of her hand, standing and cheering her name. When she peaked out from the balcony back stage area she was meet with even more cheers. If it wasn’t that she had given us all, we would probably would have asked for an encore.

The next performance was from one of the Peer Rope London crew, Will Hunt, who tied the wonderful Rabbitbunnie and Zahara. This was something completely else. Will Hunt was the guy dressed in black who had caught an innocent lady, Rabbitbunnie, who was prim and proper in a pussy bow blouse and a pencil skirt. Hunt is not someone who hesitate to pull a punch, and the tempo went from 0 to 100 in less than 30 seconds.

With somewhat of a new take on the damsel in distress, set to music by She Wants Revenge, Hunt was rather terrifying and Rabbitbunnee played the damsel so very convincing, demonstrating a growing panic, but also screaming her lungs out, resisting, trying to get away from the brutal Hunt.  He tied her into a TK while tossing her around, and if Esinem previously had played with balance with Ika, the way in which Hunt had Rabbittbunnie like a rag doll was a much more  extreme example of this. While it looked rough and aggressive, it was also controlled. This kind of physicality also came through when he started to ripping the blouse open, tearing her skirt up, flipping her forwards across his knee to tie her leg. Rather than him moving,he kept her moving around him, like a cat playing with a mouse; catch and release.

As his frenetic aggression started to make her submit physically, we suddenly were all surprised as he brought out Zahara, covered up by a trench coat. As he uncovered her, he showed her off. She was already tied into a tight 3 rope Takate Kote, he smiled, and giggle rippled through the audience.I laughed, because it made me feel a bit like the classic cooking show; “Here is the one I made earlier!” but with a much darker undertone obviously. This damsel was completely different to Rabbitbunnes’, as she had surrendered completely to his will, completely letting go into the ropes, showing no sign of struggle.  They all looked at each other for a moment, him grinning, Zahara completely calm and centred, Rabbitbunne on the ground, struggling to breathe slowly after her ordeal.

He quickly the attached a suspension line to the TK, and suspends her face down, in a very sharp angle so that she is almost diving down, before it is evened out.  The only points of suspension at this point is the TK and one ankle and this is how the suspension remains; yes, Zahara is a tough one. Securing the points, Will then took out wax candles, and a lighter run by gas.

He lit it with another huge grin and for the second time made the audience giggle. Zahara turned into a chandelier, watching down upon her co-prisoner. As Zahara came down, he positioned them next to each other and started untying. During this time, Rabbitbunnie sought to get the attention from her, to wake her up, to make her realise what situation she was in. But Zahara were lost, in the ropes, perhaps the Stockholm syndrome. A favourite moment of mine during this show were these still seconds, captured so beautifully in this photo.

These contrasts, with Rabbitbunnie’s desperation, wanting to escape his aggression and Zahara’s stillness, acceptance of her predicament, showed us a classic story about the damsels in distress, with signposts that were still rather wonderfully kitsch in its portrayal of the bad guy; add then also excellent rope work, showmanship, control and technical skills. Speaking of technical skills, the untying of the two damsels were done in a tandem, right hand working on untying one of the TK’s, left hand on the other, never relinquishing his control over the situation. support, or attention from Zahara, who was completely still.

The next performer was  Pedro & Karina.  Tying with no music what so ever, only a history being told by a voice in a microphone, we heard of Karina, who had disgraced her family and thus had to be punished by being exhibited, tied up on public display. The story, narrated by the excellent Mac added much of the feel.  Pedro, dressed in black with the classical black glasses embodied a type of kinbakushi we rarely see in this day of  age; the distant shadow. All the focus here was on her exposed body that made us into the ultimate voyeurs, the exposure and the intention of the humiliation of being on display, tied up. We did not get the flashy, fast rope, nor explosive transitions, but instead a slow build up of a situation, a scene, also illustrated by the changing of the setting of the light which marked the passing of yet another day. We get very used of seeing a specific type of rope here, and have often quite rigid ideas about what it should be like, that it gets easy to forget where it comes from and different expressions of it. It has not always been the kind of ‘connected’ experience that we like to push it, there are other factors there, playing with shame, but furthermore, also playing with a total kind of objectification, in which the object is the female body being tied up for display, and the subject of the rope artist is the person enabling this. If looking at rope and forgetting about the history, the background, and much of its present use, and denying these specific pornographies which are still very much alive and kicking, if we remove this, we would commit some serious cultural appropriation. Pornography or not, rope is multifacetted, and through Pedro’s historical reminder which was also very beautiful and technically excellent and innovative.

Next up on stage were Wykd Dave and Clover. The calm of the previous performance was gone, this was a performance with a lot of sadism, adrenaline and insanely beautiful bottoming. The way in which Clover totally surrenders into the ropes is rather extraordinary. Suited up, Dave cut the dress off Clover, and started tying her into a sidesuspension, , moving into a futo momo, using a lot of wax as well as a couple of cane strokes. Clover always look remarkable in rope, and my friend noted how Dave controlled each and every part of the performance, even when they bowed to the audience. You can find a video of the performance here.

Max and Tina came on stage next. This is a couple who have tied only with each other for more than 10 years. He does not tie anyone else and she is not tied by anyone else. Seeing them work together thus become very personal, intimate. The first thing you note is the focus of Max. His eyes, firmly fixed on Tina sent chills down my spine, in a good way one might add, and probably down Tina’s as well.

 The drums pushed this performance very much.  Tina was tied into a beautiful, slick face down suspension with both of her legs in futo momo’s which more or less had become the new black of this festival, a tie which featured a lot both in private play as well as on stage. But still, the way in which it featured in this performance made it really beautiful and unique.
Attaching clamps with bells on that then were slapped off with the help of a towel, Max followed the tradition of the evening, which was really about a lot of sadomasochism. There was a different pace here though, slow, controlled, almost settled way of moving, with outbursts of energy. Tina herself looking very strong and beautiful in the ropes, working not against, but with the ropes. Tied into a tough guyaku ebi (face down suspension) with both of the legs in futo momo’s it was a performance which was truly memorable.

And I’m sorry dear readers. But this is as much as I will write about the festival 2012.  The post is more than one year old now, and it is time to let it go. Time for new adventures. But this has really been nostalgic.

See you on the flipside.


Rope Practice Diary-New Objectives

Still catching up with backlog. 

A couple of months ago I wrote down a couple of objectives for the ropes; what I wanted to focus on in order to develop my ropework. I guess it is time to evaluate and develop new objectives as the time goes on. (see previous post)
The objectives then were:

Muscle memory to solidify foundational elements
Visualisation-  why I do what I do and think constructively about the ties.
Connection- was a questionmark then.

The main objectives on the foundations, especially in regards to the TK and Kinoko hip harness was to tie this with a focus on getting it right, tensions, placement and consistency. I’m most pleased with how the development of learning the Kinoko harness has worked out, both in my hands and in my mind. I understand why I want to do what I do with the harness, tying it goes smoother and smoother and more often than not, placement and tensions work out on the person I’m tying it on, which to be fair, is the most important bit. Every once in a while I tie it slowly, slowly, in order to keep track of myself and not getting into any bad habits. Slowly does it also for the TK. Back then I thought I was going to focus on the three rope TK, but in reality, it is the 2 rope TK that has been getting most of the attention, and it has really improved. But in the same time I’ve noticed tying the ‘third rope’ is still somewhat hesitant and not at all as smooth and efficient as it can be. Thus; the third rope will get much more attention now, especially in regards to muscle memory and efficiency of movement. I want to be able to use it if I need to, as well as exploring a couple of other versions of it, but for now, focus will be placed on the third rope. Same thing here, tying slowly but with effiency. After a couple of good pointers from Peter Slemrian, I think I’m going to head in the right direction when it comes to this, especially in regards to a couple of tiny movements of the fingers which will improve the flow.

Speaking of Peter Slemrian and his advice; I have finally a game plan for smoother sailing on my suspension lines. For some time I’ve felt like I have fumbled too much, had far too messy lines and felt line handling being somewhat laborous when it should not. The last couple of weeks I’ve been extra attentive when it has come to this; avoiding or cleaning up the mess and still being secure, but it wasn’t until the past weekend when Peter saw me tie and then pointed out how I was actually working against myself and making it more difficult than it really is that I had some practical tips that I can move forward with. Now there is something I can do on my own, and that is to practice handling my suspensionline. In this I will utilise the technique he demonstrated and made me test, over and over again. Extra attention towards not pulling the rope through the half hitch towards me, but pass me, like it is driving by. Also, being precise and a bit more thorough with the second half hitch will make me feel more comfortable, rather than stressing around.

After the workshops with Kazami Ranki, I have tried to really remember what he told me, which was essentially that I needed to relax a bit more. “Quick hands, slow heart”. This is the next thing to focus on, but not speed for speeds sake,but to rest into what ever it is that I, to mentally focus and trust that which is in front of me. Have a long road to travel on this one, and it will probably be a part of the overall objective for all the rope work. But it is a good one to hang on to.

A challenge just received from when I went across the Atlantic is to start to dare to move away a bit more. Cannon and I was discussing rigging styles and asked each other in what ways our rigging would improve. He asked me to try to step back a bit, to not always be right up close and I think there is something there. As much as closeness is important, I need to remember that it is not about vincinity but intimacy. If I work properly, the rope is the link, not my direct body. Indirectly he reminded me of that, hope the rope is the link, or the conduit; let it do it’s work. Rest into it, take a step away; create some space around the bottom, or even hesitation. Did exactly this in a session last weekend, actually as a start of a tie, standing and waiting behind the rope bottom almost in the other end of the room. Rest assured I will continue having this in mind as it produced very interesting results.

Last but not least, I want to work on angles. For this, I will go back to the classic yoko zuri, the Osada Ryu style, rather than the Kinoko style. The one which has the hip harness is spectacular from so many perspectives, but I found myself becoming lazy and not thinking enough about levels and angles in suspensions. It is easy to do something quite random, but I need to develop a better eye if there is something special I wish to achieve with this. So I will play around with and see how different angles in the side suspension work on the bottom.
To sum up I shall focus on:
The third rope on the TK (efficiency and stability)
Better control on my suspensionlines
Quicker hands, a slow and focussed heart
Playing with connection that is not based on actual vincinity- daring to take a couple of steps back.
Yoko zuri- levels and angles bootcamp.

All with the same engagement in tying it slowly and really focus on intent and how come I do things. At this time, I’m just happy to be back on track :)


Rope practice Diary-Objectives I

So objectives change. This was my first one I wrote back in October perhaps. Things were not really good then on many levels, but tried to have something to focus on.

Dear Diary..,.

I try to keep myself a bit busy, try to keep going with that which is important. One of those things is to practice,practice,practice. Today Bambi Kiss and I have had our second practice session together and is keeping on top of our diaries in order to make them regular for the coming weeks as well, which feels good. It is so easy to get comfortable and sizzle out,
This diary is for me to keep track of what we go through, what we think about it and stuff for me to remember. I don’t know if it will always be published here as I still try to catch up with 10 blogposts but hey.

My general objective for 2011 (what is left of it) is to rope my ass off… D’oh. But on a more concrete level I wish to focus on:

*Muscle memory to continue to solidify the foundational elements, to put them further and deeper into my fingers and my spine. Slowing down and being thorough (speed for speeds sake is not that interesting anyway, technique and movement more so). Especially in regards to the 3rTK and hip harnesses (to begin with!), but also about the macro-elements of efficient movements and really push my fingers and body to utilise skills learned. Knowing is not enough, doing gets you further.

*Visualisation: Where do I want to go together with the person I am tying? Some people might add a ‘how would I do that?’ to that part, my I’m not sure at all that is included here, as the road we take quite often diverge into other paths less expected and it is not something I want to exclude.

*Concretizise: thoroughly think about the elements of ties, about what they consist of, and why they consist of this.

*Connection? This is a tricky one. Both me and Bambi know that practice is practice. We do have a good baseline and have done a connection based scene or two. Furthermore, it is easy to slip into elements of play while practising, no wonder. But I have also made it clear that my head space right now is one which is very untoppy, with an element of the dominant side of me being burned out due to outside circumstances. Just to think about a connection driven scene makes me shake and cry, miss his skin, the scent, the way in which he moves. I can’t and I wont go there unless the situation itself materialise as such. Not now. Not yet.

There, that’s about it.

 


Languages of rope

Backlogs finally being posted here. Have not felt like writing that much nor have had the time. But am now looking forward to put up some of the backlogs as well as perhaps starting to write on other stuff. Hopefully, I will be able to move away from the complete rope focus in some time a head and find my way back to some of the queer politics. 

Nawakiri Shin, a dear friend of mine, translated something I wrote a while ago into  into Chinese and put it on his website. Sooner or later this is going to make me big-headed, but for now I mostly feel very happy and honoured about seeing my writing being spread to a completely different audience.
You can read it here if you are interested in Chinese, the original English one a bit further down in this post. But first I would like to muse a bit on language..

It is strange though, how passions can transgress any written or spoken language; tying with someone who does not speak the languages I know have never been a problem. But when it comes down to speaking, writing, exchange of words, it gets trickier. There is so much knowledge out there, so much love for what we do, but language barriers sometimes prevents the sharing of this. But people like Shin or NuitDeTokyo, as well as internet and technology, is slowly changing this. Because you know what? I think we want to interact, in one way or another. We want to know more, feel more, live more to varying degrees.

Language can also be about privilege. Who can speak what, which language is favoured and how does it act towards those who do not speak? In opening up and making sure that many voices are heard, listened to and interacted with, we can destabilise defaults and connect with each other.

Comparing rope as a language to the written or spoken word, I can sometimes find that one has more possibilities than the other, but they are not mutually exclusive. We need to do more rope, to listen more to each other, let images inspire but also words and actions of those who we admire. Rope is a language of the body, neither neutral or always objective, but always evolving and ever changing. I want to be the same, to strive not for perfection or becoming ‘better’, not a goal orientated vision of what we can do with ourselves, our bodies and our minds, but one in which we seek to understand each other more, respect and admire and learn because of learning itself. The journey you know?

Time for me to stop rambling. Thank you for reading. And thank you Nawakiri Shin for translating, FrenchLibertine for being an awesome rope partner, and Jenis for taking the wonderful photos:

I was tying with French Libertine again, but it was a different occasion than usual. Jenis had kindly offered to take some photos and even kinder was Esinem, who let us work in his wonderful studio. I wanted to do some floorwork, and some partials, as I felt ready to move like that with rope again, focussing less on the technical. And to be honest, it was great spending the Valentines with people I adore, and doing stuff which is great. Before I got there, sitting on the bus, I had an idea in my head about creating something visual in the same time as getting really close. To work in that studio also added tons of feeling to it, with its decor and the tatami flooring. If you have never heard the sound of rope and tatami, I can only try to describe it.
Rope for me will always be more than just yarn. It has so many specific properties, and when you find the perfect rope and tying together with someone, nothing is as good as exploring all the elements of it. You know that sound when you snap a coil open? How it sounds when it passes through your hands? The creaks when it is pulled tightly, the sound when it reacts to its own tension. When you have rope and bodies over a tatami mat, or wooden floor, it is like an orchestra. Kneeling on the tatami mat, that is the slow tap on the stand which the conductor do to signal that we are about to start. The conductor, her body, and the bodies of the orchestra; the rope bottom, the environment around them. Then, we have the overture, slowly building something up, the strings working, the bass setting a baseline and a first inkling of a perhaps reoccuring tune; the sound which characterises not just the overture, but how the whole piece will move you.

After having kneeled on the floor, my tapping on the stand consisted of focussing on a point just above the shoulders, watching first if there was any tension, then my right palm between her shoulders, to feel. In those moments, I had captured her attention, allowing her to rest into the tunes, her feeding the notes back to me. A slow shudder, she took a deep breath; in and out. And I could not help but to prolong that moment, you know the moment when the conductor has tapped in for attention and up to the point she lowers their hands to mark the beginning of the overture. No hurry, just anticipation. I took a deep breathe in, as I pulled the first rope towards me, and unsnap the coil is next to her ear. She shudders at the sound, that very Pavlovian response. The first rope is felt, before it even touched her skin. And then it did. Traced over her shoulder, then over her chest. A simple TK, tying it with tactility, not forgetting about technique but working more on tempo and what is underneath the ropes and in them, rather than the ropes themselves.

Her body provided me with cues, like a lead violinist and her string, the conductor conducts but also moves with that lead, the almost extravagant body language of the lead violinist, so that the rest of the strings can follow. But then, looking at the pictures from the session, when I finalised the TK with a wrap between the breasts, I was looking at the rope, rather than her. I actually did not realise I was doing that. On one level I can really understand why and where it comes from; having that focus on the ropes the last couple of months makes you look at the ropes more than the person. I’m slowly coming out of that headspace, and looking forward to it. All along while tying, the rope moved across the tatami, across her body, the rest of the music piece came out, intense sounds and small thumps.Having finished the TK, I continued towards creating the visual element. Tying her leg, tightly, but not really resisting the urge to close my mouth around her knee. The French Libertine let out a small whimper.
As I continued a quite simple partial, I kind of forgot the camera, but kept focus on my rope-bottom, and the vision in front of me. Watching the photos, I think I have now learned one thing; get my arse out of the way. Not being used to creating visual images for someone who takes photos, I did what I usually do; being very close, moving around a lot. That does not really work, if one wants to create images with a focus on the rope bottom and the rope.

Having finished the leg tie, I then did some rope in the face, as well as pulling the other leg backwards, making the partial more demanding. And when we had finished I remembered how much I love tying like this. There will be more to come. But if there is someone with a camera, I’ll just have to remember to be every now and again step away.


LFAJRB 2012 proudly Presents: The Ichinawa-Kai

So, finally the weekend that I had been waiting for arrived.  The London Shibari Festival, or rather, the London festival of the art of Japanese Rope Bondage. Don’t try to say it too quick to many times, it will just twist your tongue. The opening night of the festival had an all Japanese line-up with the members of Ichinawa-kai, a rope-collective from Tokyo, lead by Kinoko himself. A description of this group in the program read:

You could say that Ichinawa-kai is similar in many respects to the peer-rope projects that are taking place all over Europe these days, where both devotee’s and aficionado’s from all back grounds and age groups can meet upon common ground. Hajime Kinoko likes to refer to the group as a ‘Comprehensive Kinbaku Entertainment Organisation’ which in Western terms might be better described as affiliation, collective or co-operative. In simple terms; the kindred spirit. Everyone involved takes Kinbaku seriously and dedicates a great deal of time and energy to continually develop their wider understanding of the art. However, it is not all serious! Within the group there is a sense of openness and fun…

In the months leading up to the festival, a lovely letter came from Kinoko and with that more information about the group itself. You can read more of that here. On the first night of the festival, the lineup for the shows consisted of the members of the Ichinawa-Kai, i.e. that is a completely Japanese line-up in Europe. It must have been a first. I had 4 people visiting for this occation, including the amazing Niki who was my bunny, or a bunny (rope-slut <3)  for the weekend, and two new found friends, and one person who recently discovered rope, the Doctor. We made our way to the venue after a delicious Indonesian meal, and got seated on front row. And boy were we in for a treat!

First performance was with a favourite female kinbakushi of mine, Yoi. Her performance at Toubakutouched me deeply, and she was now back with the same model. The concept this time was much more simple, there was less play and a very much traditional, straightforward rope-session, displaying the models body but also torturing it through difficult poses or through suuchi-nawa, shame and exposure. Yoi is a very special rigger who has an incredibly calm presence, and a no fuss way of doing rope. A friend of mine described her as a very stern madam. That very same friend then developed a huge crush on this only female kinbakushi in the collective. I could definitely understand why. Yoi could be the kind of teacher that would show up and a whole class room would get quiet simply through her presence. With her tiny model, (who is going to to remain un-named) I got a sense that this scene was about disciplinary measures, the model very petite, rather school-girl like.

Photo by Mooschief Images

The model entered the stage carrying a single red candle. As she sat down, Yoi reached over her shoulder and opened the underskirt, lit another large white candle, took the red candle away and pushed the white one into the mouth of the model, remarkably deep. As the candle wax slowly dropped, the model sat still, only ever shivering ever so slightly, waiting.
Yoi’s tying is functional, but with beautiful lines and maximum exposure of the model. She is one heck of a rigger and a sadist; applying plenty of crotch-rope, while looking completely nonplussed as her model squirmed from the tight ropes. Yoi did not make any large movements, but it was in her calm presence and the precarious situation of her model that we as a audience could rest in. The stern madam, controlling the room she was in. The purposeful but still understated way of tying played with both the shame and the shyness of the model, where the part where the exposed genitals was not framed as a big reveal, instead it just was a simple development of what was already there. The model was tied into a demanding yoko zuri- sideways suspension, and once more had the candle in her mouth. Once untied from the suspension, the previously mentioned crotch-rope came into action.  As a result, the model was finally carried off stage, a faint smile mixed with a blissed out look.

Shigure was next on stage. Him and his model was remarkably different, especially since she was not a very tiny one, even by Western standards. We get used to seeing the tiny models from photos and performances, but this was a very strong reminder of the wide spectra of people who love rope. Her body, although larger than usual was also strong and beautiful, and it was indeed liberating to see rope on this level with this kind of model. I must also say that this performance, although not extremely showy, was one of my favourites, because of their immensely strong connection, their relationship really shone through the ropes in an almost overpowering manner. There was a special way in how they interacted and how she was exposed to the audience, or rather, not as exposed as many of the other models. When she shifted position, he made sure her Juban was covering her, the way he looked at her and treated her made me as an onlooker almost ashamed of butting in on what seemed to be a very private session. But they still tied in front of an audience, and managed to merge that very special gap between creating something captivating and still staying true to themselves.  They both started out kneeling on stage, him closing his eyes and then opening them again, fixating them on a point just above her neck. Her eyes were closed, but it was possible to feel the focus of them both. As he started to tie, it became so clear that he tied so intensly with his whole heart, that he tied for both of their sake. It was the small things; the way in which he looked at her, the way in which he wiped the sweat of his forehead with a cloth, then he did the same thing for her. His hands were precise, seeing with them where the rope went rather than trying to look and she responded to every single touch, with a calm confidence. She was tied into another yoko zuri, but completely different from the previous one we saw with Yoi. When she was mid-air, Shigure took a tenugui and covered her face, to then pour water all over the cloth. Waterboarding mid suspension. Nothing forced or over theatrical, but still intense. After this she progressed beautifully into a guyaku ebi. There was a quiet moment here, when he took her face, held it with both of his hands and they looked into each others’ eyes. Both me and my friend the Doctor was deeply touched by this. He spoke about it later and said that it was a display of two people who were very happy together, and that they shared that happiness with us as an audience.It was a display of deep love and happiness. There was so many expressions of deep emotions and devotion to each other but it did not get sleazy, au contraire, it just was about their journey together. This intensity was palpable, and what made it more special was that they were one of the couples who wished to not have their performance recorded in any way. Instead it was a performance which they did for each other and chose to share it with the us, the audience. A truly unique experience.

Photo by Mooschief

Next on stage was Bingo, who got to represent a very interesting kind of sadism, the subtle sadism perhaps, if that is the correct word. Him and his model, the extraordinarily beautiful  Akane, came up on the stage together, her with purple rope wrapped around the neck.

He started by wrapping that rope up and showing how it was connected to the arms that werealready tied behind her back, then started to tie her into a takate kote.

Photo by Mooschief

This followed by tying her legs, then suspending her sideways, a sideways suspension which then progressed into an inverted suspension. It was beautiful to see the way in which he progressed in these, because it was not just about the shape, but also about the levels. It went from being a fairly low suspension to a higher one, as time went by. Incredibly dynamic. The way in which the sadism was ‘subdued’ then was that it was not the kind of sadism which utilise direct heavy force, but it was the little things, the small expressions of it, tugging slightly on a rope, the way in which the explosive parts came during the transitions and progressions of the suspension and the heavy handed smacks on Akane’s buttocks, which left huge marks, only after getting her arse hit two or three times. The best way I feel to describe this was through using the word graceful, there was so much grace and poise throughout the performance,subtle sadism and with a very strong soundtrack it was yet again a show which left me and my friends in a rather quiet and contemplative mood.

By Patrick Siboni

Next person up on stage was Ero Ouji and  his m’jo who was dressed in a white kimono with a red hairband, red which became a reoccurring colour during the performance. They started by her sitting right at the edge of the stage, him standing further back. Through the sound of his sandals slamming down into the stage, he marked his presence and she bowed for the audience (and him).

By Patrick Siboni

She bowed as deeply physically possible, remaining absolutely still, and the submission she displayed made the hairs in the neck stand right up. He walked closer, very slowly,while she remained in her deep bow. He took a hold of her very resolutely, tied a very strict 3TK, before starting to remove her kimono. She twitched, tensed up, then relaxed, before standing naked in front of the crowd. He removed the hairband, which was then transformed into a tightly tied fundoshi, savouring the moment of her squirming, forcing her to hold the front part of the fabric with her mouth. The way in which they interacted was electrical, the Doctor described it as if he ‘really, really wanted her’.

We then got to see how she was tied to a bamboo-pole that was suspended. All the transitions then took place through the pole, which acted as a mid-beam. When she was fully inverted he took out a large single tail which handle was encrusted with diamond-like stones and started whipping her. It looked amazingly impressive and was indeed a show, but I noticed somewhat of an interesting part which I would like to talk about a bit. When he started to tie the pole together with her, the focus shifted from being one which was about a very strong connection to one which was about the show, about the expressions and the technicalities of this very impressive rig. There is a balance there that all performers thread, and I really liked the showmanship together with the craft he displayed in this show. What we cannot forget was his wonderful rope-partner, expressive and incredibly strong.

Photo by Mooschief

By Patrick Siboni

The last performer of the evening was also one of the main performers, Kazami Ranki. Known as the ‘Atrocious Nawashi’ due to some very sadistic movies he has made. Seeing this man in action during the weekend actually wanted me to rename him as the ‘Smiling Nawashi’. Him and his model Gestalta had only met that very day, but this did not show at all in the performance. As it started, they flirted with each other in a very understated way, he smiled, their eyes met, he started tying, their eyes met again, he smiled even more. There was a great preciseness, no nonsense way in his style of tying, a preciseness that brought out so much of the elegant beauty of Gestalta, but moreover, how they moved together, how it was something they did together, and needed each other to do what they did. There was not much of the expected ‘atrociousness’, but instead we were treated to beautiful rope.At one point, Gestalta was suspended, he kneeled down, seemed to ask her is she was ok, she nodded and then he did a straight pull, pushing her into a single ankle inverted suspension. This, together with the insanely beautiful hair of Gestalta, which was revealed at this point, made it look like she was floating through the air, although she was in an intensely demanding position which very few people can pull off. This was indeed one of the main-acts, and it was wonderful to see him making the rope to be all about the one that he was tying, an understated way of introducing himself and what he loves to do. Later he wrote a letter which was published on Fetlife, explaining the way in which he tied and felt about it:

Dear everyone,

I truly appreciate that the organisers invited me and gave me such an opportunity.
Also thanks to all staff for looking after me very much.

This time, my Kinbaku performances were in the very simple form which does not include a whip nor a candle, unlike my ‘hard’ style which you have known.
It is because I thought that I would pull out M-jo gestalta’s beauty just by using only rope.
With her, detailed communication was taken through the interpreters.
Then my performance have become that form.
Although I am not sure how it was projected in your eyes,
I think that the view of the world of me and gestalta was able to be taken out.

It was honorable that I could teach rope bondage to non-Japanese students in the workshop in London.
At first I thought that bad things would be checked and corrected according to the method of your own style of Kinbaku.
However, when I heard that you wanted to learn Kazami’s own style, I really was moved and I appreciated it.
I hope there will be another opportunity which I can teach more Kazami’s Kinbaku style.

I would like to do my very best so that people in the world may further raise their passion and stronger love for Kinbaku.
I am looking forward to meeting everyone again.

Kazami Ranki

Thank you for reading this far. There are plenty of more posts in the pipeline, after all, this was only the beginning of the festival…


Crickets:Tying with Naiia- Shibaricon 2011

We have been tying for quite some time by now. The class with Midori is about speed and flow drills, and she is indeed drilling us. We are told to pick a tie we know, but not too well, something which we can challenge ourselves with. 7 minutes for each exercise, which include tying with the dominant hand tied behind your back and vice versa. This is something which forces the rope-tops to think about how to move, how to use their body and mind , and I’m not the only one who has heureka moments, as it is possible to hear a ‘aha!’ or ‘ ohhh, I get it!’ during the class. When the 7 minutes are up, Midori’s phone lets out the sounds of crickets and you are asked to start to untie. Hence, this sound now become known as ‘the crickets of undo’.

It is indeed a drill like class, and tying with the lovely Naiia is getting my heart pumping, concentrating and focussing how to move, not only me but her, thinking about effiency of movement, something Zamil teaches but that I’ve so far sadly has missed, but also about the effect of said effieciency on Naiia. She seems to settle into the physicality, and it is indeed wonderful to to tie with this kind of bunny, that responds and gives feedback, both verbal and also physical. This is actually the third time we played with each other at Shibaricon. First time had been in a corset-lacing scene one of the earlier days. Lacing a corset can be done in many different ways; she was tied with her hands above her head, un-laced roughly and then relaced even rougher, again and again, pressing different parts of the corset together, undoing it again, pushing and pressing her ribs against that wonderful garment that is a corset. Gasps and giggles are following, and it is so great to relax into a scene like this, with a focus on one simple act that can be done in so many different ways. It is not an elaborate or complicated scene, but one in which we can just relax into it; I’ve laced corsets before tying any ropes what so ever and she is experiencing for the first time. The second time we play is in Graydancer’s RACK role-play class, where I play the dominant who is pestered both by an over-zealous dungeon monitor as well as having a very bratty sub, played by Naiia. Although this is role-play and she played a role which she usually would not, it was interesting to interact with her in that role. And now, while being drilled by Midori, we say that we definetly need to find some time to play properly, preferably before the weekend is over. It is Monday already, and it seems like we don’t have much time. But then Midori annouces the final drill; to tie the tie with both your rope-bottom and yourself blindfolded. My heart beats a bit extra, because I was asked to do the same once in another class, to close my eyes and to focus on the movement and feeling the tie instead of watching what I was doing.  It produced really good results, and I start to think that perhaps this might be our moment.

We are sitting down already, my hand is stroking her neck and her shoulders falls lower. A exercise like this can be anything from a drill to a very intense scene or all of that in the same time. Ropes are being prepared, coiled in the tight coils that are recognizable, laid out in the right direction. Midori starts some kind of music from her I-pod. The sheet that we are sitting is evened out, moving disruptive stuff out of the way, including any stress or thoughts reminiscent from a completely exhausting and incredible weekend.But what ever there has been earlier, I let it slip away, as  one blindfold first is draped across her eyes, then looking one final time at the back of her neck as I blind myself. We are both blind now, her eyes as unseeing as mine. Left hand on her shoulder, right reaching for rope. Her shoulder; fitting perfectly in my hand, my hand; fitting perfectly around the coil of rope. A slight shudder from her part as the coils unravels, the distinct sound of rope falling to the floor, and no hands need to search from now on, the hands knows where to go and why. The first wrap of the TK feels like a starting point, a take off, in the second wrap, we start to melt into each other. Securing those two wraps become a paced dance, a slight interlude,hand on her shoulder to even out the pressure, then the cinches, locking it, she is breathing, moving, the ropes just fall into place. The two following ones are caressing, but not slow, they move in a pace of their own, and suddenly I breath out loudly, a stain of sweat in my forehead. It is like she is everywhere, in every strand and fibre of the rope, like the ropes has made us become so entangled with each other that there is no telling of who is who and what is what.  Uncoil the second rope with my teeth, even more fluff in the mouth. There is a deliberate pace in all of this, not perfect, probably syncopations rather than a steady beat. The locking of the second wrap a full stop, a semi-colon when evening out the wraps, pushing her into a break, pushing her into feeling the tightness of the rope around her. Hearing her breathing, a small gasp, warm skin, stroking the back of her neck again, tracing a strand over rope over her cheek, not knowing how it looks like, but feeling the effect.

We continue tying until we hear the crickets of undone. Then we continue. Then, at one point, we are asked to start finishing, to untie. For some reason, I think it is because the stress of the voice of those who need to prep the space for the closing ceremonies, I take off my blindfold. But I am still within that feeling, that entanglement that we have, a rush and buzzing in my knees. Naiia is quite far away as well, but know she needs to get back to her duties as a volunteer at some point. It is strange when the real world catches up with you. I start to untie, first slightly mechanically, but it is not possible to stay like that. The ropes continue to live, even as they are coming off. And now I can see it as well as feel it, her face, as the rope strokes the side of her cheek, how her mouth opens and closes as she gasps when one of the chestwraps is first taken off very slowly, then reapplied with more pressure. I have shifted my position now, sit straddled over her, and when leaning over to reach better over the back, the pulse in hear neck is hitting the side of my neck, steadily but quite hard.

As the last ropes are disappearing, the people working really wants us to start moving. We are not saying anything for some time, and we can’t move, we just sit. I find a glass of water for Naiia, do it on very shaky legs, then try to gather ourstuff, but it becomes almost impossible as my knees are so buzzing. In the end, we just shove everything into the sheet and carry it along, walking slowly down the corridor. We giggle, say a couple of words, drinking some more water,  just breathing, still just feeling.


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