Within the Osada Ryu, there are some key terms that are of highest importance for a deeper understanding of Kinbaku. Two of them are Ma-ai and Kankyuu. Ma-ai is understood as the proper distance at the proper moment, and Kankyuu as the proper pace and the proper intensity at the proper moment. Thinking about those two terms shall help to understand that tying with somebody always at the same distance and at the same intensity and speed can (in many cases) lead to predictability and hence to boredom. (There are situations where methodical, paced movements are very effective – for example a tie that tightens slowly as it is applied.) Conversely, a constant variation of distance or a variation of the intensity can add an immense scope for people who are engaged in rope bondage – the surprise factor keeps the mind from wandering. These are dependent, though, on the term ‘proper’ – proper distance, intensity, and pace, at the proper moment. While the proper intensity is a little easier to unpack, the proper moment is more elusive, and is the focus of this writing.
What is the proper moment? When are the best situations to do something within a Kinbaku scene?
It turns out that the answer to this questions was already basically uncovered in the interview metaphor. A brief and overly simplified review of the interview metaphor (The original idea is published at https://fetlife.com/users/1762060/posts/2762869):
When people tie with each other, the combination of the power relationship and the communication can be seen as an interview within which the tying person is the interviewer and the tied person is the interviewee. The power is on the side of the interviewer, and the information comes from the interviewee. An interview is failed if the interviewer talks all the time, and an interview is also failed as soon as the interviewee takes over and decides the path. Kinbaku scenes are unforeseeable as they are shaped by the moods and questions/answers of the participants.
I see tying as a conversation where I ask questions and, depending on the answers that come, choose the following questions. So how does the concept of ‘proper moments’ fit into this way of understanding rope bondage? Well, the same way as it plays a role in a verbal conversation – people take turns speaking, and giving each other space to speak. It is a game of the right moment to ask personal or distanced questions and answers. It is also a game of short and pointed or of extended questions and answers. (This “game” is subject to another writing that is currently in preparation). But again, what are the proper moments, for example, to end a sentence or to start a question?
One important tool we can borrow from linguistics is the concept of “transition relevance places – points where a sequence is grammatically complete, and at which it might be reasonable for a turn to end.” (Swann & Graddol, Gender Voices, 1989)
The translation of this concept to rope bondage is kind of straightforward and it contains an interesting second layer. A transition relevance place, from the perspective of the tying person, is when the tied person is finished with their reactions. (And, according to my personal experience, this is way longer than one might think.) Now there are two possible ways how to deal with that. I would call it the caring way on the one, and the overwhelming way on the other side. Both have merits. Let’s have first a look at the caring way of leading the rope interview.
The person in ropes in most cases has an immediate reaction to an action of the tying person. After that, the one in ropes usually settles in and adapts to the new situation, or, in other words, finds their place within the new situation. They may tense or inhale slightly, then exhale, relax, shift, relax into or pull against the rope, and eventually they calm into a state/position and stay there pending new input. In the caring way of tying, this process needs to fade out before a new action can be done without interrupting the tied person’s answer/reaction. It is a question of respect to let the tied person finish their answer completely. It is a way of getting to know the tied person by letting them express themself in the ropes that are provided by the tying person. One thing that needs to be mentioned here, which can destroy the flow of a rope interview, is when the people involved miss the transition relevance place. What happens then is a rather awkward pause where nobody knows exactly whose turn it is and what to say next. This leads to a power void and it can upset the scene. I want to quote again the authors from above:
“An important feature of conversation is that speakers coordinate their talk so that (normally) one person is speaking at a time and speaking turns succeed one another relatively smoothly. […] The gap between two speaking turns is often as little as the fraction of a second and to achieve such rapid transitions listeners need to predict when the current speaker is likely to finish speaking and a new turn can legitimately begin.” (Swann & Graddol, Gender voices. 1989)
The other way is overwhelming and disrespectful, but not necessarily in a bad way. In this way of leading the rope interview, the tying person doesn’t wait for the person in ropes to complete their answer. They use interruption as a tool to increase the power relationship between the two.
But one has to be careful with both tools. If the tying person only listens to the tied person, the power relationship can (!) be somewhat damaged as this leads to a power void. If the tying person constantly interrupts the tied person, it can (!) be hostile, can (!) appear that they are not interested in the reactions of the tied person and can lead to resentment. Hence, in both cases, overuse can damage the power relationship.
Coming back to the initial question of what are the proper moments for a proper distance or a proper intensity, we are now able to answer it. It is a conscious decision whether one lets the tied person complete their answer or not. When is an answer complete? When the body language, i.e. the reactions to a certain action are fading out, and the person is on the verge of settling.
It is indeed a skill to organize a conversation and it is even more tricky to organize a Kinbaku scene, where there is no explicit content of any speech, except obvious ones (for example, overt pain). This skill can be learned and needs to be practiced consciously.
This approach may sound very academic, and yet thinking along these lines has great practical application within Kinbaku – it encourages the tying person to pay attention to the person in ropes, to seek their individuality, and to adapt to the situation. This helps create deeper and more fulfilling scenes.
… are the myths of the every day life in the past. educational and magic
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.
Addie and I will be going to Tokyo to study in June 2016 and are inviting a small group of people from around the world to join us.
The intent is to gather a group who wish to study with some of the great masters of Kinbaku. Our main focus is to study with Yukimura Haruki, Nawashi Kanna and Osada Steve. Depending on their availability, we could likely arrange time with other instructors upon request. We can recommend affordable lodging near Osada Steve’s Studio Six. For those who are on a tighter budget, some free lodging space is available at Studio Six.
We will meet participants at the airport, help them get settled, schedule lessons, and plan some sightseeing. One of the benefits of coming with a groups is the option to sit in on each other’s lessons. This means each participant sees more rope, and participants can take notes and photos for each other. We also have the use of Studio Six during non-lesson time for group practice.
Group chemistry is very important. We would like to know the people we are bringing well enough to ensure that it will be a good mix.
All costs are in Yen, for the sake of consistency.
Date: Arrivals from June 9th onwards, departures June 30th latest.
Lesson costs: varies by instructor between 10000-15000 Yen/hour. Lessons will be scheduled so that people can observe each other’s lessons (depending on studio space and instructor’s agreement).
Models: Partners welcome, and participants can model for each other. Japanese models can be hired for 5000Yen/hour. Alternately, for those who are interested, we know a couple of experienced models who would like to come. They would be willing to bottom for lessons and for practice. Those who are interested and are willing to contribute to part of their trip costs please let us know, and we will see what the options are.
Accommodation: We can arrange a group rate at a nearby hotel for group rooms (4-8 people) which would be approx. 3000 Yen per night. There is also the option of staying at Studio Six for free (limited number of spaces).
Food budget: approx. 2500 Yen/day is easily sufficient for most people. We can show people where the good cheap eats are 🙂
Transportation: a one way trip is approx. 220 Yen on the subway.
Tourism: We can arrange a side trip to Kyoto if there is enough interest (it’s beautiful there). There is plenty to see in Tokyo itself, both free and with cost associated. We will arrange a couple of tourism days, and can give directions and recommendations for those who want to wander on their down time.
Clubs/shows: for those who are interested. Approx. 5000 Yen for women, 8000 for men.
Organizer’s fee: 20000 Yen per organizational ‘unit’ (per person we have to organize for – if two people are traveling on the same flight, staying together, and attending classes as partners, they count as one ‘unit’)
If you have questions or are interested in coming with us please send Barkas a message (email@example.com). Please include a rough idea of how long you are likely to stay, with whom you would like to study, whether you would prefer to stay in a hotel or at the Studio, your needs regarding models, and whether you are interested in going on a side trip. Participants are considered registered once their flights have been booked and their organizer’s fee is paid.
So, I told you a lot about my theoretical views on Japanese rope art and how one perceives all the stuff that happens from several perspectives. That doesn’t mean at all that when I tie with my partner, I sit there and think about the etymology of a certain word that probably occur to me, when I pull a rope a bit tighter. This kind of reflection takes place before and after a scene.
When I tie with a person, I am interested in this person. I’m not necessarily interested in a relationship beyond the scene, but something should be there, that makes me feel like “yes, there is something in this person, I want to explore” and sometimes I just appreciate the time together with ropes and sometimes, well so far only one time, I get engaged with this person only ten months after the first scene. (@Addie <3)
And then we tie. The scene starts earlier than the first wrap around a wrist is applied. It starts, when it became clear that we will tie with each other. I look at the person. How he or she looks, how the head is held, the tension in the shoulders, the position of the legs and then I guess. I can never know and actually I am also insecure about if I will be able to read my partner properly or if everything will lead to a misunderstanding. So I put my hands on my partner. I want to feel, if my visual sense is right, if the tensions, I see, are actually there. But I also want to let my partner know about my tensions. And then, after a few moments, I start to use the ropes. Not long ago, pictures of how I would like to see my partner, or what kind of pattern it should be, occurred to my inner eye and I followed this picture. But this feeling vanished. I don’t know and I really don’t want to know, how it will look like. So, this teleology stopped. I don’t tie a chair, which shall look pretty.
When I tie, I see my partner and except from a few moments where I look at the suspension ring or the ropes, I try to always have my partner in view. Technicalities such as where the suspension point is, became somehow like sneezing while driving a car. Sometimes, I wake up within a scene and ask myself, what I intend to see, when I stare at my partner. And then, I see it. It is one of the toes curling or the hands that try to hide the thumb or it is my partner trying to seek eye contact. It is the increasing frequency of the breath or it is an expression of suffering when I squeeze the toes. It is the subtleties, that reply to what I do with my ropes. And immediately after I’ve seen, what I intend to see, my thoughts become blurry and hide behind a fog again and it feels good.
It is somehow like one meets somebody and one talks and all of a sudden it is 4am. I don’t rehearse such a conversation.
It is just beautiful. But sometimes, in the middle of that conversation, I say something and my partner interprets this in a way which hurts, or vice versa. So we stop the conversation and talk about why this could happen and it can also be beautiful, because we both have learned something. And next time, I tie and I come to a situation where I normally would have done something, I remember the last time and say to myself “Hah, I do something else or I’ll hurt my partner.”. But everything I do, while I tie is basically to get to know my partner and let him or her knowing who I am. So I listen to my partner. I watch my partner’s reactions and I try to get a feeling for his or her needs. And every time, my partner stays calm, I do something. I start talking and say who I am and what I feel. Sometimes, I tell my partner my love of very complicated patterns and sometimes I talk about the simple things that are very important for me. Sometimes I like to dance and sometimes I just want to sit and listen to music; metaphorically. And I ask my partner, if he or she likes similar things. Because I am interested in the person I tie with and I cannot imagine, that someone wants to tie with me, who isn’t interested in my personality. Because tying is such a big part of my personality. And although I said in the beginning that the reflections on a deeper meaning of my tying start after the scene, Addie told me at one point that my way of asking with the help of ropes feels somehow scientific but not in an objectifying way. She said, and that was one of the greatest compliments I ever got for my tying, that it feels like if someone is more interested in her as a person than anybody else.
When I studied mathematical physics, I never thought that I will ever be interested in people. I have to admit that there are people out there who are far more interesting and whose personality is much more beautiful then the Onsager solution of the 2-dimensional Ising model.
A short note about my perception of a Kinbaku scene
Recently, I was confronted with the question of how to explain the experience of tying. Whilst I tend to intellectualize every detail in my “free time”, I try to shut down my conscious thinking during a bondage scene. Hence, it is not trivial to explain somebody how I experience a scene.
In order to explain anything, I should be once more open about my background in thinking to make the argumentation consistent. I see the world basically from two perspectives. The first perspective is a linguistic perspective, which is very much influenced by the historical works of French structuralism and post structuralism. Roughly spoken, the importance of language cannot be overestimated and everything is language. The second perspective is the one of a mathematical physicist, who tries to find the analytical structure of a more or less complex system. After a few glasses of gin and tonic, in a funny, a little bit nerdy mood, one could ask, where is the difference? Well, without anticipating the point of my thoughts, I would say, exactly in this difference lies the explanation of how I experience a Kinbaku scene.
Of course, a Kinbaku scene is highly sexualized and it means a lot for me, when I’m able to create a situation within which my partner and I have a great time. Of course, I like the power relationship, that is created and, when I tie, directed by me. But these feelings, and many others, expressed by terms like enjoy, turn on, like, energy etc. are obvious. Therefore the “of course”. These are not what I am looking for, when I ask myself, how the experience of tying can be expressed. The difference of the thing and its expression from a pervert’s perspective turns out to be a topic for my next writing. Here I want to focus on my perception of a Kinbaku scene.
As I pointed out earlier, I see a scene as an interview that ideally combines the discourses of communication and power. When we ask ourselves, what each and every interview consists of, we will be led to the answer, that all interviews requires some, not necessarily specified kind of language in order to have an interaction between the people involved. It requires some set of symbols which are exchanged and those symbols are learned. In my worldview (I wouldn’t dare to try any kind factual description) nobody enters the world of living creatures and is already equipped with a consistent set of symbols. You have to learn language and you learn it in your social and cultural environment.
With a huge set and an immense variety of known symbols one enters the age at which sexual interaction is legally practiced. Hence, when I interact with someone, not only but of course also through ropes, I communicate with this person by using several sets of symbols which have been acquired in the past of this person as well as in the past of myself. We are both not able to use anything that lies in the future or in other words, the future doesn’t exist. It cannot exist. What we are doing, lies in the past at any moment and not only this:
When I tie, it’s past directed. It has nothing to do with the future and it has nothing to do with the presence. It is something, that shows me the past – of me as well as of my partner’s past. Tying is an interview for me. I ask questions. The questions I ask, with my rope, with different tensions, different distances, different exposures and so on and so forth, aim for answers in the past. The physicist in you (and in me, too!) now yells at me and says “No way! Even if the answers are built with symbols that have been learned, you get the answers now, ie in the presence!” Well, from the perspective of time as a coordinate, you are right. But I don’t experience a Kinbaku scene as a mathematical physicist. I rather see it as a pervert linguist and historian – one could say as an archeologist of personalities. And as such, I am not only interested in the past, I see life as an ongoing chain of past directed loops.
Every moment we live, the way we see the past changes, or, the past is a function of the presence – historialité, as Derrida has called it. When I tie with somebody, when I ask this person certain questions, I experience it as a time machine, that shows me this person’s past. The answers I get, change the way my partner sees his/her own past and it changes the way I see my past.
Ropes offer a possibility for me to interact, to communicate with people in a way that leads deeper into anybody’s, also into my own, history, than anything else. As such a past directed medium, it often creates more curiosity and interest in me, than spoken language. That’s how I experience a rope scene. As the most intense conversation about who my partner is and who I am. And we both are not in the future. We are our history, like everybody is his/her history, every individual consists of his/her past.*
I can imagine Paolo Coelho et al in rage now, if he would read this. What about the dreams of a future? Isn’t it that what constitutes a human? Well, where are the dreams built? What a human is dreaming of, is learned. When? In the past.
that’s the name of the company which produces films for Polaroid Cameras. Impossible is nothing when it comes to different perspectives of my interpretation of Kinbaku – the Japanese rope art.
Before I left Europe, I was wondering what to do with the big amount of ropes that are in my bags. Ropes, which are not good for tying anymore. I didn’t want to throw them away and so I came to the idea of creating a farewell present to Vienna. A sculpture with ropes that was used to transport very personal feelings to very special people. A few days before I moved to Vancouver, my friend Tom Hofmann and my partner Addie went to the “Wiener Wald”, a huge forrest in the west of Vienna. After a little walk I found a very special place for my sculpture. The picture is one of a series that shows the process of the creation.
In that sense: Goodbye Vienna! Es war mir eine Freude.
The BSPC along with Barkas and Addie present a Kinnbaku workshop: Ranboo
The Bellingham Sex Positive Center is proud to announce our first Kinbaku/Rope workshop of 2016.
On Saturday January 2nd we will be hosting Barkas and Addie for a 4 hour workshop that you do not want to miss. Then, after dinner break join us back at the center for an after party including a feature performance by Barkas and Addie. There are a very limited number of spots available so don’t wait! Tickets are on sale now!
Pricing (Includes after party and eventbrite fees)
- Early bird: November 15th – November 22nd – ***ALL GONE***
- General Presale: November 23rd – January 1st – $120
- At the door: January 2nd – $200
The Workshop: Ranboo
In 1932, the well-known artist Itoh Seyu, who is one of the key persons of modern kinbaku, published a book with the title: “BiJin Ranbu”. This means “wild dance of a beautiful woman”. In 2011, Barkas started to develop his personal way of doing ropes, which was very stormy and overwhelming. His Sensei Osada Steve called it ranboo and since then, this way of doing ropes became one of the well-known styles in the world of kinbaku. Within this class, the participants get a first insight into ranboo. Some key terms of ranboo, such as proper distance and proper intensity at the proper moment are the framework to tie in this way. Content •Key terms of Ranboo •How to start a scene •Madame Butterfly •Hojo Jutsu (some techniques to catch your partner) •Application of the principles of Ranboo Prerequisites: Osada Ryu Advanced or a good knowledge of Rope Bondage