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Wrapped Up in Connective Rope

I recently participated in a video project aimed at introducing its viewers to shibari (Japanese rope bondage).  The process of production was a lot less professional than the finished product, but I think it conveys a few of the key points that characterise my approach to rope bondage (plus, pretty pictures) so I’d like to share it here, and take the opportunity to talk a bit about how rope features in my BDSM practice.

I’ve been studying shibari in Melbourne intermittently over the last couple of years.  The Dojo brings together a few different styles of rope, and occasionally hosts master classes and workshops with some of its most respected teachers from Japan.  There are a number of different styles of shibari, some of which resonate with me more than others.  But I’m always interested in learning from someone new and attempting to integrate their stylistic and theoretical perspectives.

People tend to think of rope bondage primarily as a utilitarian and aesthetic pursuit.  You tie people up so that you can do something else to them; it’s a means to an end.  You’re tying them to fuck them, to take a photo of them, to hit them, etc.  To symbolize your power, to restrain them, to actualize your will.

I like this type of rope.  As a top, I enjoy using rope as a tool among many, and most of my playmates will have experienced at least a little bit of rope bondage in session.  It can be an effective and purposeful tool for restraint – I’ve had a few would-be Houdinis challenge me to put them into rope they couldn’t get out of, and have yet to see one of them manage an escape.  It also helps me to restrain grabby hands from intruding where they haven’t been invited.  So I certainly do appreciate its more pragmatic uses.

For me, though, rope is a lot more.  For someone whose primary intention in play is to connect and to communicate, rope is a perfect medium.  Used simply, rope stimulates conversation between bodies and energies, and is a fantastic way to connect with someone new.  Rope has voice, pace, flow.  It can be dramatic, tense, it can take us by surprise.  It can also whisper, it can create stillness, it can warp time.  And in a single session, it can move in between these tones mulitple times.  Rope tells a story, which is writing itself in each moment.  It can be a poetic and also brutish way to play.

Rope also allows a physical closeness that many other types of play don’t.  The first thing I do at the beginning of any rope session is to find the breath – that of my partner and also my own.  I start to listen.  I’m focussing in on our sense of one another.  Our proximity, both physically and energetically.  The rope is an extension of my body, and often its path travels not far behind or in front of that of my touch.  It allows for a sort of embrace that just simply doesn’t happen in spaces like impact play or needleplay.  You come to know the other person’s scent, the sound of their breath and movement, the texture of their skin.  And this can travel in a million directions, manifesting as eroticism, nurturance, downregulation and relaxation, as its own form of SM (I like to call it ‘mean rope’), and so on.

I am often asked about my favourite types of play, and while these can definitely vary over time, rope is something that I find consistently fresh, engaging, and satsifying.  For those willing to briefly suspend the itemized list of play requests in favour of a session that dives deeply into a single activity, I would highly recommend treating yourself to a session of connective rope.

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