Tag Archives: Copenhagen Shibari Dojo

Tokyo Day 2

Disclaimer: Due to the fast pace of this journey, and jetlag, massive sensory overload and general crazy rope-time, these accounts are not always as detailed as I would like them to be. Furthermore, if there is anything factually incorrect, please tell me and I will do my best to amend this. I also sadly did not have time to see all the performances nor write down as much as I’ve would have like to. Also, please, if you know the name of the various model’s that the rope-artists worked with, please post. They deserve to be named and get as much credit as the riggers themselves, as they truly shined throughout the event.

This was the first day of the rope-festival Toubaku and as we made our way to the venue, we where both excited. The first performance we caught was that of Nawashi Murakawa‘s kinbaku lifedrawing session. It is like any other life-drawing, except for the model that is holding the poses, is tied up in various shapes, all of which are very aesthetic and translates beautifully onto paper or what ever medium one might prefer. At first, people seemed to prefer watching Murakawa at work and being hesitant on joining in on the actual drawing, but after a while, people started to pick up the coal and the drawing papers, creating beautiful shapes. My own creativity is quite limited to the written and spoken word, so I just enjoyed sitting down and taking it slow. If there is something that I really enjoy with Murakawa’s rope, it his his lines and serenity. The rope is very organic, and seems to fit perfectly both through his hands and with the model, in the same time as his tying style is almost meditative.
The next performance was that of the two Danish friends of mine, who did a powerful and interesting show, with very precise rope, and in which both the skill of Max’s rope and the extraordinary strength of Tina as a model could be showcased. When Tina’s second leg went up to complete the ebi zuri, the audience let out a collective *Gasp*. What also was very touching was to see how Osada Steve watched his disciples on stage, being very aware of every move they did. Both Max and Tina made something that I must imagine to be quite a difficult tie to look almost effortless.

As we then walked down the stairs to inspect the other stage, we walked straight into the performance of Aotsuki Nagare who together with his model created a very intense performance, with bombastic choirmusic with slightly religious undertones. As I was late, I missed a fair amount of the rope-work itself, the model was already tied up as we walked in, but it felt like landing in a victorian sadomasochistic dream, somewhat resembling to The Story of O. I think it was the raw singletail whipping together with Nagare’s victorian looking tailcoat that gave me that impression. As his model was still shaking from the whipping, Nagare than sat down to watch his model, tied into a hip and crotch-harness, standing in front of him, undulating her hips to the point of orgasm. While sitting down watching her, he was also occasionally pressing a boot against her body, against her crotch and cunt. Now, I’m a sucker for these scenarios in general. There is something about boots, feet and masturbation, as well as boots pressing against the body that just does it for me. But what I had a hard time believing, in all of this, was how much she was actually coming. I know that a performance require a certain level of fantasy, but is it so strange for me to become quite doubtful of a fullscale orgasm or two during a performance? This is not me being jealous (or perhaps, an evil man in tailcoat that is pressing his boot against me…well, anyhow), but somewhat of a sceptic. I don’t doubt the honesty of the performance, just the way in which it felt like the female body in general was somewhat simplified. Then again, I’ve always been doubtful when it comes to the ‘control’ over the female orgasm.
But what I did enjoy was the distinct Master/slave dynamic between the two, strong and vivid and in which suffering, sexuality and submission became the central themes of the performance all in all. While there was many shows with clear sadomasochistic elements, few had such a strong sense of M/s as this.
Towards the end, she stood on her knees, offering her hands towards Nagare, who slowly dropped the ropes all over body. As he then carried her out from the stage, I could feel a sense of release and devotion.

The next performace was very different. Mark from Dv8 and Lani from Australia probably did the most ‘Western’ performance during the weekend, in terms of theme, focus and movement. It was a highspeed performance, explosive and modern . The rigger was very precise, working in perfect conjunction with the beats of the music. As a shownumber, it really showed the abilities of another incredibly powerful model, who worked up into a cresecendo and then entered a very dramatic sviwel-sequence of movements.

Another performance that I thoroughly enjoyed so much was that of Umitsuki Kurage. I can’t really pin this performance down very easily. I remember a white juban very clearly, and a very powerful, intimate experience, with a lot of sensitivity and heart.  Kugare is a member of Ichinawa-Kai, a rope-collective managed and sponsored by Kinoko himself, and it was many of the members of this collective who during the weekend stood out from the crowd in their styles and approaches to rope.

Following Kugare, it was time for Hajime Kinoko himself, for his first performance of the weekend. His traditional performances are different from the neo-kinbaku, and it was indeed a show that took both him and the model very far. As they entered the stage both of them wore traditional Japanese clothing and sat down on the floor. The way in which Kinoko starts his sessions is a very distinct one for him, one which both of them sit facing the audience, him sitting behind his model. He first place his right hand on the neck of the model, just holding it there, then moving both of his hands to the shoulders of the model. As he does this, you can  see how the  focus of both him and the one that he ties become condensed toward right here and now. His breathing slows down, so does hers, and her she closes her eyes, lowering her head, and that focus is what you can continue to see throughout any session that Kinoko does. It is such a clear signal that it draws you in as an observer, even if you are not tied yourself.  While this is not a film for the session at Toubaku, it is one which shows his style of tying, and the presence he brings to the way in which he ties.
In this specific performance, there was a focus on the dishevelment of  the model, gradually exposing her by slowly sliding clothes of her, bit by bit, forcing the kimono apart, and invoking a sense of shame in the way she was positioned and moved by him and the ropes that he used.
This concept of working with rope and shame, Suuchinawa, is one which stands very central to Japanese rope practice, and one which was seen in many different configurations during the weekend. I find the concept of shame in general being very interesting, especially from a sociological point of view.  In what situations are we ashamed? How is shame invoked in general in our different societies, and in specific, the different type of kink-communities that we inhabit? There is no point in trying to essentialize these concepts, even if that might be tempting, as they are a part of a ever so changing social world, and one which indeed can be culturally specific but certainly not static in its expressions or the way that shame is invoked. But this is probably a good topic for a whole blog-post on its own, so I will return to the performance of Kinoko-san. As the performance moved on, the rope turned into a more of a tool of not only shame and sensuality, but also a more torturous kind of rope and interaction. He moved the wax-candles over her body, up towards her face, and the trace the candle left looked like black tar over naked skin.  As she was partially suspended from a croth-tie, Kinoko pushed and pressed his model towards the point of tension not allowing the possibility to escape the pain in any way.

The last show at the festival on Saturday which I managed to catch, was the final minutes of Kazami Ranki. The only thing I thought I knew about him was how though he could be both as a rigger and a sadist, but to my surprise, there was not a lot of what I had expected of seme-nawa, torturous rope, going on. There was indeed rope which was truly demanding for the model, but what was so very special about this performance was the incredibly strong connection between them, it literally radiated out in the audience. His presence on stage was matched by that of his model, who again, was clearly such a strong woman. At one point, I could not stop staring at her legs, as the muscles that relaxed and tensed as she was moved in the ropes were so clearly defined. But the most intense moment of all came when Ranki untied her, and as they sat on the floor, something extraordinary happened. When the last strand of rope was about to taken off her chest, she leaned into his arms, and as they cuddled she started crying. It was not long before the last rope had been removed, and at that point, Ranki himself was crying as well. I had never seen anything like it, nor expected to do so. It was a moment where e the audience, including yours truly, was so affected by the feeling of unison and devotion between the two on stage, that they themselves broke out in tears. It was so amazing seeing a rigger and his model being so close to each other through their experience as well as letting us, the audience in on such an amazing show of vulnerability. One might forget from time to time, that even though riggers are the ones who are in control, they are too often so very vulnerable. In order to connect with someone, you really have to open up to not only see them as for they are but also letting those who are tied into one’s own heart. When that happen, magic such as the magic we got to witness in the case of Ranki and his model is indeed created. It was so touching and truly an honor to be allowed to witness this at Toubaku 2011.

To be continued…

Advertisements

Osada Steve in Copenhagen-a very personal journey

This is a guestblog by a fellow rope-maniac who was fortunate enough to bank a couple of days training with Osada Steve in the Copenhagen Shibari Dojo.

Here is Sauvage’s report:

Day 1

You know it’s going to be a heavy week when you start with one hour’s sleep. Early flight, up at 4am. Blue_entropy, bunny extrordinaire, is insane and worked until 3am but shows no hint of tiredness. She finds that last sentence amusing. And that one after.

We’re staying in a B&B apartment in a suburbian utopia in Copenhagen. People don’t close their gates, kids play in their front gardens, cycle lanes are divided from the main roads. It’s nice here.

After stocking up with food and having a couple of hours shut-eye, we decided to head down to the shibari dojo a little early so that we could make friends and soak up the atmosphere before starting.

Everyone is so extremely personable and modest. The atmosphere is one of a family. I mentioned Ve, who has visited the dojo twice from what I understand, and everyone clearly has fond memories of her charm and enthusiasm.

We bumped into Osada Steve walking into the venue. Personable, he and everyone else put me at ease. I’m not sure people knew exactly what to make of me and Blue_entropy, because everyone else was a member of the club there already, was Danish, they all knew each other, and Osada Steve commented on how young we were: “it’s good to have new young blood learning”.

The standard of the dojo members is extremely high, and their modesty equally impressive. Imagine a room full of nawa_konekos. Ehrm, and me flailing about.

Today the dojo members wanted to check I met minimum standards for Osada Steve to teach us. One member in particular, Attila, kindly spent most of the day with me. Given that they wanted to check I knew the two-rope Takate-Kote, and single limb and double limb ties, I wasn’t too worried.

But oh my god is there an infinite amount of detail involved in tying all the possible elements of the Takate-Kote correctly. I’ve tied it probably at least a hundred times in play and previous tuition combined so I thought I would be ok, but every fine detail of tension, distance between ropes, how to keep control of a struggling partner while tying it, etc. was covered.

To not touch ropes for a couple of months, get one hour sleep, feel a bit like the baby odd one out and to be the only one who wasn’t already a qualified known in the school, and tie with Osada Steve sensei’s exacting eye on every move was, well, a challenge. But what’s life for if you don’t rise to these occasions?

It was a challenge and a taste of how high-calibre the week to come will be. I amjust (just) passable enough in rope skills to not completely drown in these lessons. I hope. And the roughness and great tension in the tying would be a big deal for any bunny – I was surprised at how tight the ties were supposed to be done.

Shattered, going to sleep now.

Day 2

Fingers bleeding.

In theory it would be technically accurate to say that I tied Osada Steve today. However, this would be missing out crucial detail: he was teaching us how to ‘capture’ struggling partners, how to stand in a way that protects our balls from getting kicked, how to shift them off-balance.

So after we practised the technique for a while, he singled me out and told me to try to capture him. Ah.

He’s 6-foot something and trained to an advanced level in aikido. Ah.

Well, I started trying to wrap around his wrist with the first move, doing what he taught me, as he danced around the room making sure I couldn’t approach him from the angle I wanted.

There was a moment where we were both just grinning at each other as we acknowledged that he wasn’t going to make this easy for me. I finally managed something passable when he eased up a little, after a few simulated elbows to my face to highlight my lapses. Remind me not to try to tie large world-renowned senseis trained in martial arts in the near future though.

Today was on the whole much easier than yesterday, sleep and practice probably helped. I’ve worn the skin off my right index finger, which will make the remaining three days interesting. My existing knowledge is benefiting from the extra details that make it all more fluid and efficient, and today’s material overlapped enough with what I was already familiar with to feel comfortable most of the time…

…Except when chasing Osada Steve around the dojo.

Tomorrow we’ll start some suspension, although today already covered some vertical technique. Looking forward.

Day 3,4,5

Eye-opening. Mind-blowing. Life-changing?

So many thoughts, so much to spill onto a page…

The Classes

Friday, Day 3, marked the arrival of the second rope bunny, who for the purposes of this blog I will refer to as Little Miss Awesome, and the bruised Blue_Entropy took a much-deserved chill-out day.

With one hour of sleep, Little Miss Awesome was indeed awesome as we did a fair amount of side suspension amongst other things. Far less nervous than at the beginning, I began to appreciate that I was of a comparable skill level to the other students and no one was judging me. Sometimes I fiddled with details of forms that were new to me, and this occasionally led to bunny boredom which led to wriggling free, which (temporarily) confirmed Osada Steve’s perception that all English girls struggle and wriggle. By the end of Day 3 I’d cemented many of the details I’d learnt earlier this year, I was pleased to learn Osada Steve’s 3rd rope to the Takate-Kote, and we were moving into unfamiliar territory.

Day 4 (Saturday) was a free practice day with much messing about, and I managed the yokozuri side suspension with more success. I’ll still need to practice with heights, tension and speed. Little Miss Awesome read me like a book and did her best to get me to focus on her and not the ropes. I still have the scratch-marks. A theme that persistently came out of this was that the tying is 90% about your partner and 10% about the rope. The more fluid and automatic the technical details become, the more you can express yourself and connect. Driving a car becomes more fun once you can change the gear without thinking about it. Although tied up, Little Miss Awesome was as important a teacher to me as Osada Steve in conveying feelings and energy. For all her vices, she reads people, and this is so important. I feel so impaired in this at the moment, jittery, hopefully just a temporary phase as the PhD thesis closes.

Day 5 was the most enjoyable… especially after the change in spirit from the night before (more below). One of the hojo-jutsu ties was elegant while laced with meaning in Japanese culture of a guilty prisoner in a judicial trial. Osada Steve gave me a lot of time and attention as he saw my eyes light up with the options presented by a series of rather simple ankle/foot ties. It can be used to just keep your partner’s leg up in the air as she lies on the ground, presenting a humiliating position, and presents options to play with the rope and her shape as a toy, but it can also be used for inverted suspension, and even presents a lot of opportunities for progressions in suspension. I can imagine using these related ties a lot, in play and even in performance if I ever move on to that. Little Miss Awesome is lean, strong and acrobatic, so we moved on to inverted suspensions. For one of the ties, she started relatively flat, and in one sweeping tug she was propelled with her feet close to the ceiling, just suspended by her feet. It’s fucking satisfying to tug the suspension ropes until you’re lying flat on the ground, and provide the kind of dynamic ‘top gear’ moment of rapid change that Hajime Kinoko was saying adds variation and interest to his sessions and performances. Then we swung her around to much “weeee!” It entered the world of fast dynamic fluid progression, and confident stimulation and experience to the partner, that I want to explore further.

Osada Steve insisted that I stay in touch with Little Miss Awesome as she is actually quite talented and would make a good performer. And the words of praise and attention that Steve had for me were encouraging; he said a number of times that he feels people like me are the future.

The Copenhagen Shibari Dojo

It’s the people that make a place.

And that’s why the Copenhagen Shibari Dojo is one of the best places in the world. The level of talent is extremely high, yet there is no competition between members, no egos, no showing off, just pure love, passion, respect, enjoyment and support. People enjoy their own individual journeys. People talk themselves down, not up. The Dojo leadership stems from a pure sincere passion for shibari and kinbaku, not from wanting to be highly visible in order to pick up more girls. There is no hint of people undermining each other, and people share with each other if they want to, but again there is no hint of compulsive slutting.

And considering that the population of Copenhagen is less than a million and the total population of Denmark is less than 6 million, it’s incredible that there is such a concentration of talent and cooperation that we haven’t seen in London or the UK, as far as I’m aware. They are like a family, and we were welcomed within it.

The Dojo is linked to a club around the corner, which is similarly brilliant.

London and probably the UK has a lot to learn from Copenhagen. While I left the Dojo inspired, I also felt disappointed that I don’t think such a replicated effort could survive the politics of London. It’s the people that make a place.

The Club Night

For me, this was the biggest turning point of the journey. It’s a small private members club, with one main central room, and several smaller side-rooms, including one with an interesting array of historically authentic East German Stasi interrogation equipment.

After four simultaneous warm-up acts, Osada Steve gave his own performance. MaxTina gave a really original flowing performance that highlighted the deep connection they had together. Dspar – another great guy, who had been a superb host over the week – did something similar to what I’d seen Hajime Kinoko do with Ve, like a prayer on the floor which is then suspended into the air. I hope to learn this form one day. Ardour gave her performance with a model example of the Gyaku-ebi-zuri in action.

Osada Steve was suitably brilliant. He did some tough ties on his partner Mari, which included a form of minimalist face-down suspension used as torture (which he then taught us the next day in the last day of workshops?!)

Then came magic. The eye-opener. The most passionate and intimate thing I’ve seen in my life. Which left me speechless and even had Osada Steve saying he’d never seen anything like that before (oh, and that maybe English girls can enjoy rope without struggling after all). I don’t want to give any further details but everything started to make sense after that. The connection, passion and energy exchange between partners, not the focus on the ropes per se. Magic. And I want it. And I can make it if I persevere. I’ll have a lot of fun even if I don’t make it there. And the ties always have usage in the Western bondage sense of “she’s tied up now let’s do something cruel to her” so an important thing will still be to read partners regardless of what mode of play you conjure.

As much as Little Miss Awesome and I acknowledge that we will one day kill each other, I’m aware that I’ve seen sides to her that people who knew her for years never saw, and I value that. I’m grateful to her, Blue_Entropy, Osada Steve and the Dojo members for the huge experience this week has been.


Denmark proudly presents; Copenhagen Shibari Dojo

Update: I just heard from Denmark that since the opening things are moving fast. 30 new members, training 3 days a week and one open Friday.

Last time I was in Copenhagen, I felt very welcome and had a fabulous and intense time learning, but this time, it was about celebrating the opening of the Copenhagen Shibari dojo. This house-warming was indeed the perfect start of what is going to be a new fixpoint on the international Shibari scene.

 

I arrived,  a whole lot less stressed than last time, and a very kind member of the dojo offered to pick me up at the station. This time I hope I memorized how to find my way so that the next time I can just walk there. All in all, the location of the venue is very easy to get to, as well as being very close to SMIL.

Stairs lead up to the door, a spacious entrance hall makes it possible to change clothes, as well as removing any footwear, complying with the rules of the place. There is an outdoor smoking area, as well as a ‘living room and then finally the main part; the training area or the actual dojo.

As you can see from the photos  the dojo is bright, spacious with a airy and relaxed atmosphere, a feeling which makes it easy to focus on the work and art at hand, blanking ones mind from the outside world and maximize the possibilities in the moment, creating something of a very unique place.

Rigger: Slemrian. Model:Tatjana

 

There is 6 suspension points, plenty of floorspace and additional points for anchoring limbs of different sorts. There is blankets for those who might feel a bit cold after or during play.

The afternoon followed with Enji Rayd from Studio Six Berlin who held an inspiring opening speach and handed over a dagger, a plaque and two photos to commemorate the day. This ceremony felt both sombre and spiritual but also filled with anticipation.

As generous as Danes are known to be, the guests of the opening were treated with wine and other various alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, sandwiches and snacks. While some socialized, other started tying immediately.

There was different types of tying going on all evening, decorative, erotic, forceful, intense, low-key. I’ve never seen such a different range of people tying and being tied as well, both in terms of gender (equal amounts of female and male riggers!), age, body types, etcetera.
As a part of the dojo ethos, people were learning as well as inspiring each other. The dojo founding group, Shihankai, with some people having more than 16 years of experience with rope was well visible, talkative, friendly and very, very funny, and in the same time very open to ideas and discussions. One whom I talked to expressed a wish that the dojo would generate enough interest so it felt as alive that it felt that evening. It is a hope that I indeed share!

As the night progressed I was lucky enough to see some of the most beautiful rope I’ve seen since the London Festival of the Art of Japanese Bondage. It was not always because of the technique but because of what happened between those involved. It felt honest. It felt emotional and strong. I did not bring my own ropes, mainly because I was craving rope around me myself.  And it was indeed great rope I got to experience first hand. Both was with people I’ve never been tied by before, but both of those was more than great. The last one also made me re-visit a place I’ve not been since Kinoko tied me about 6 months ago. A place that I really never thought I would visit again, but one of the members of the Shihankai had seen the tie during the festival and asked if it was possible I was interested in trying that suspension out again. Of course I could not say no! The other play was a suspension which relied a lot on my legs, a breathtaking experience mainly because yet once more, there was a person who knew enough to note my strengths body wise and work with that. Bring on more, please bring on more of that:)

The dojo is bringing over Osada Steve this month, and are planning several other tuition-occasions. And they are indeed ready for it!

A personal thank you to all of the Shihankai and everyone else who make this place what it is. Good luck in the future. I’ll be back as soon as I can. That is both a threat and a promise!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All pictures provided by the Shihankai group of Copenhagen Shibari Dojo.