A Japanese Rope Bondage Scene doesn’t consist only of ropes and patterns. It mainly consists of people. Especially in recent years, the focus of many enthusiasts seems to have shifted from a pattern centered approach to one where the tied person stays in the center of attention. A direct consequence of this shift, in my understanding, is an increase of direct touches. More and more people try to build up and stay in a certain connection which is often accomplished by touching the tied person in one or another way during the scene.
But what is the meaning of a touch in Japanese Rope Bondage? Clearly, there are thousands of different answers to that question and once, this question is asked in a more or less knowledgeable public, spontaneous reactions will appear. Those reactions will most probably consist of various cues such as connection, communication, energy etc.. So far so good, but those terms require a deeper explanation, simply because they describe everything and hence nothing specifically.
I already described in previous writings how I imagine the term communication in Japanese rope bondage (and my understanding also implicitly the term energy. The term connection is subject of further studies). Roughly spoken, communication is a conversation within a certain nonverbal (or in rare cases verbal) language in the context of fluctuating power relationships. I also tried to establish an idea of a vocabulary, which consists of the easiest yes/no-questions and their answers as part of an interview.
In none of those previous attempts I was able to specify and give a better idea about the medium of that communication. Clearly, as Yukimura Sensei would say, to transport love and emotion through the medium of rope. To use the ropes is obvious (although not strictly adhered by everyone and every time) but he himself uses also the medium of his fingers, his hands, and other parts of his body to transport what he tries to say.
When I tie with my partner, I do not only use the medium of ropes.* I touch her or him* with my fingertip in the region of the lower back, when I want them to straighten up in a sitting position. I touch their inner knee when I want them to spread the legs, I touch their neck, when I want them to show their face etc.
I consciously say touch and not pull or push. I just “tell” my partner to do and insist of them doing so – not by using my physical force to make them move in a certain way but by hinting at movements and supporting its performance. This is the crucial point. Namely to communicate in a directed way. And that’s only possible if the touch has a certain direction. The touch’s direction needs to be towards the tied person and must not be reflected at the border between me and my partner. I have to touch her or him* for her or his* understanding of my language and not (only!) for my pleasure. And this has to be done consciously. Within a sexual context, the borders of humans are semi-permeable. A part is reflexive, a part is permeable.
I give an example: A shoulder. I touch it. I want to feel it – its surface, its tension etc. That might lead to reactions of the touched person but at first, I want to touch it. The touch is reflected at the surface of the touched person and let me feel what I touch. I want to call this category a retro-reflexive touch.
Or I could touch it, because I want to see a reaction in a face, an answer with eyes or I want the shape of the body to be changed, i.e. I want a certain movement of the body of the tied person. For this purpose, I have to touch the shoulder in such a way, that the touch isn’t reflected on the surface but – one could say – goes through that surface; it is directed towards the person I touch. I want to call this a directed touch.
The latter case is the one, according to my experience, which creates a completely new state of mind in the tied person. It gives her or him* the feeling of being in focus, of being important. It is also the latter one, that makes it possible to move a whole body with a fingertip, simply because the touched person “understands” much easier what I want from that her or him*, whereas the retro-reflexive touch remains selfish.
One might object that many people want to be touched retro-reflexively exactly because of its selfish character. The objectifying character is demanded in some cases. Of course, I agree with that and I personally like to touch and to be touched in that way as well. The distinction, I made between a directed and a retro-reflexive touch is not a grading.
Rather than valuing, I want to express the possibility of the directed touch and what advantages it can contain. When I tie, I focus mostly on the directed touch for mainly three simple reasons.
First, it requires much less effort to move a body in that way. (Selfish reason!)
Second, it helps stabilizing the power relationship in a subtle way. People tend to be more impressed by other people who can move them without any effort. As someone told me a couple weeks ago, it appeared to be magical, when she was touched and hence moved just with a fingertip and she felt utterly at my mercy.
Third, as mentioned above, the directed touch lacks of selfishness. Hence, it is able to increase the tied person’s feeling of being the center of attention and not just an object for macramé.
*Although it seems, that I distinct between a skin-skin touch and a rope-skin touch, I strongly want to emphasise at this point that the touch with a rope is 100% included in this article. One must include the ropes as a medium of touch in the distinction between retro-reflexive and directed touch.