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Shibari

‘Shibari’ is a Japanese word that has been adopted into western BDSM terminology. Whilst the use of the term shibari was once ‘out of context’ a few decades of ignorance has seen a whole generation of rope enthusiasts identify with the westernised concept of Shibari as a distinct discipline of rope based bondage.

In Japan, the term shibari describes the act of ‘decorative tying’ and encompasses everything from ribbons around presents, to purely aesthetic knot work that has no functionality. There is no common association between the word shibari and bondage being carried out as an SM activity. Shibari as a reference to rope bondage has developed in western circles.

Read our position on the differences between Shibari and Kinbaku.

 

There are particular ropes preferred by those practicing shibari:

  • Natural fibre ropes or Natural ‘look’ ropes that are a stronger synthetic alternative
  • The use of rope with a diameter of 6-8mm
  • The use of coloured ropes is not dominant, but it is common and accepted
  • Rope lengths vary dramatically and can range up to 21m (69ft) – whilst longer ropes can be employed this is rather uncommon

 

Further identifiers

  • Shibari practitioners tend to pay more attention to aesthetic appearance over functionality
    • (this is not to say that shibari ‘artists’ restrain with any less effectiveness – the comment relates more keenly
    • to the rationale behind a selection of technique)
  • Knots are more readily accepting in Shibari than Kinbaku
  • Rope is deployed equally for asthetic values as for erotic intent, where the rigger often actively targets erogenous zones

 

These characteristics, do not define Shibari as a discipline, they are merely preferences that can be seen when observing shibari communities.   

Shibari shares some commonalities with Kinbaku, both disciplines – when practiced at higher levels – tend to structure ties in a manner where the ropes themselves become pleasurable for the person being bound.

 

Terminology – Shibari Vs Kinbaku

We do not argue that one term is more correct than the other at Jade Rope. We do not assert that Shibari is a different activity to Kinbaku, nor do we believe that they are the same.  We do, however, avoid using the terms indiscriminately; it is our position that it is the intention behind the activity of binding another with rope which discerns the appropriate term.

We feel that if a tie, or technique is used by a person in a martial arts context, this intention makes the act Hojojutsu. Similarly, we believe if that same tie is used in an artistic pose, where emphasis and – most importantly – the intent of the person tying is aesthetically driven… the act is Shibari, whilst should the same tie used to create a sexually driven scene… then Kinbaku can be applied most appropriately. 

There are numerous translations and even more interpretations of meaning surrounding the terms shibari and kinbaku. All of these interpretations are seeking to accurately define concepts which in reality cannot be removed from Japan.   Once removed from the Japanese culture, the context in which the western world uses these terms are significantly different… and to date the meaning varies almost between each person. 

At Jade Rope we see shibari and kinbaku existing in a state of duality, a state which has emerged naturally within the bdsm communities and we have decided to champion these dual viewpoints by recognising both Shibari and Kinbaku by the underlying intentions of the person who is practicing the rope based art forms.