Shibari versus Kinbaku

tangan-shibari-gag
CutieTie in the “Plea” formation with a gag.

One of the first controversies that I happened onto when I was first introduced to shibari was that of the semantics between the terms “shibari” and “kinbaku”. It was fortunate that I had come across Osaka Steve’s article on the very subject that differentiated the two items based on an understanding of his own. In essence it was that shibari (縛り) was the Japanese verb “to tie” (shibaru; 縛る), which could be used to refer to tying such things as parcels, objects, etc. While kinbaku (tying tightly; 緊縛) tends to be used to describe a practice where connection between the nawashi (rope artist; 繩氏) and dorei (slave, rope bottom; 奴隷) are important. For this reason I often translate kinbaku as “tying deeply” as opposed to tightly.

Though it doesn’t take long before one starts to wonder if these divided semantics are needless and a waste of time. Is it really necessary to devise these different ways of describing the same thing? In my opinion, I think it’s not necessary, however, I will do it regardless simply because when you tie someone in private, the approach, feeling, and intensity is different then on a public stage.

I frequently have different dorei, or rope bottoms over at my studio simply for practice. The majority of the time this practice is quite clinical and dry; they enjoy being tied, and I get my technical practice in. I love it when they approach me with ideas of ties that they want to try. It is rarely something that one would call a scene or play. I would call this shibari – it is a technical practice in tying with rope, an opportunity to experiment.

tonbo-shibari-shingyoso
“Tonbo Shibari” (Dragonfly tie; 蜻蛉).

On the other hand, there is when you are with a lover, you strive to tantalize and tease, to get inside their head and open yourself to their exploration. You create a connection (Nawa no Kankaku; 縄の感覚) between hearts with rope as the medium. I commonly describe kinbaku as tantric rope bondage.

There’s of course other forms of rope bondage for various means including hojojutsu (science of arresting with rope; 捕縄術), Semenawa (torture rope; 責縄), and so on. But the big division seems to be around shibari and kinbaku.

So how does the greater community feel about this division in semantics?

One Reply to “Shibari versus Kinbaku”

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