The following text is not about terminology of patterns, positions and other stuff around Kinbaku. It is a first try for a dictionary of tying itself.
Quite recently I wrote an article about a possible view on a grammar of tying. My claim was that there is no discontinuation of the conscious communication, called negotiation, between pre-scene, scene and post scene. There can only be a more or less smooth variation of vocabulary. The following lines are now dealing with this vocabulary. But instead of discussing the pre- and post-scene vocabulary, i.e. the spoken words, I want to focus entirely on the vocabulary used during a Kinbaku scene.
First let’s recall for a moment the interview metaphor used by me for describing a Kinbaku scene at all. It is said that in order to combine the two main discourses of tying, that are communication and power relationship, one can use the picture of an interview. The tying person becomes an interviewer and the tied person an interviewee. In an interview it can be regarded as a good interview, when the necessary and interesting information comes directly from the interviewee whereas the direction or path of the interview is chosen by the interviewer. This picture gained a wide acceptance in the rope community since I brought it up a couple months ago. But of course, it doesn’t tell anything about how to implement it to one’s own and personal tying process. It is more like telling somebody how beautiful and exact the German language can be. It doesn’t enable that person to speak German. For this purpose, one has to learn a certain vocabulary and some rules.
The vocabulary of any language is a set of symbols which are used to express some sort of information within a certain context. Although I would need to, I don’t want to go too much into what the terms symbol and information mean. In the following, I want to define a symbol as a minimal representation of an information within its context. Thinking of words, a syllable is not necessarily a symbol but a word can be. A sentence can be a symbol as well as an answer. The symbols are exchanged in various ways such as gestures, mimics, words or positions. Except the words, all of them can be expressed and/or caused through and by playing with ropes. (Of course, some people talk with each other while tying, but that’s another story.) In addition there is also something like tension and pattern that can be added as subsets of symbols and hence those enlarge the vocabulary. The symbols used besides the spoken language have some kind of an underestimated existence. Although everybody would admit that the roughly called body language is existent and even important, almost none of us learns its grammar and vocabulary as a subject on its own at school or so. It is something that grows somehow anyways depending on the cultural environment.
Doing ropes is a chance to get aware of this language and furthermore to use it consciously and explicitly. It’s a chance and a problem at the same time. Why is it a problem? I would claim, the fact that there is only a rough idea of the interpretation of the symbols in use can lead to a huge variety of misunderstandings. This is the reason why I want to come up with my little, far from complete dictionary of tying.
As I said before, I see a bondage scene as an interview. Hence I need basically two kinds of symbols to describe the content of such an interview – that is a set of questions and a set of answers. But I don’t want any troubles of too complicated answers, because I couldn’t be sure to understand them properly and so, I just reduce my set of questions to polar questions.
A yes and two different no’s are the answers I am asking for when I tie. A yes, i.e. something like a support from the tied person contradicts the power relationship. I give an example. When I softly push against the knee from the inside, i.e. asking if it’s ok to spread the legs and the answer is immediately spreading the legs on her/his own, it would lead to something like topping from the bottom.
A sharp and definite no must be interpreted as a no from outside the play and therefore must be respected. Such a no can be expressed by a sharp breath, a verbal and very explicit no, a search for eye contact and a sudden body tension but also by many other reactions and combinations of reactions depending on the context.
The last remaining answer is actually the only one that is interesting for me. It’s the kind of no that I would like to call a staged no. It is the kind of no within the play, that must have been negotiated before and that respects the power relationship.
We have the answers – what are the questions? Polar questions which lead to the above answers can be announcements like “I’m going to spread your legs” or “I will show your face, which you hide now”. They can also be grammatical questions like “Do you like it when everybody sees your breasts in a second?” There is basically no difference between the statements and the grammatical questions, although the way of asking them can differ. The above mentioned questions are those which deal with some sort of shame play. But there are of course much more directions.
The more tricky ones are about positions. In Osada Ryu, there is in principle no action that forces someone into a direction with pure power but it’s often just a hint at going into a certain position. Breaking the Seiza is a perfect example. Instead of pushing the partner into the broken Seiza, one just needs to touch intentionally the hips such that the partner feels this intention. It is then a question or not, whether the tied person is already in a right state of mind.
Another kind of question asks about the dynamics of the play. Those questions basically ask for some sort of resistance against actions. In the beginning of a scene, long before there is the first rope applied, I try to pull the person towards me. If the person falls into me, it might not be the best situation for going ahead in Ranboo-style. If she/he resists and fights against my subtle and very soft pull, why not getting stormy and overwhelming? Don’t get me wrong here! I don’t mean rope pulling like in Highland games…
A last remaining kind of question, I would say, asks about the pattern, that should be tied. But as the only two functions of a pattern are framing the beauty of the tied person and secures the person within a certain position, this kind of question can be reduced to asking for a position. “Where should be the hands, can there be something around the neck, shall one emphasises a certain part of the body, etc.?” All of those questions are basically questions for a certain position, the rest is creativity.
The above sets of questions are my personal questions and they should just give a hint of what is possible and how my view on the metaphor works in detail.
When we talk about communication and power, this could be a way to understand what can be meant with those terms. Because talking about communication and connection is easy, but the next step, namly talking about how to connect and communicate isn’t that easy. The above dictionary is a suggestion and my personal experience. Now find your dialect and create symbols consciously.
(As it deals with language and my mother tongue is German I ask for pardon for some reckless disregards of the English language, I haven’t seen in my text. I’m happy for any corrections, but please don’t discuss my grammar here.)