Kihon Happo 基本八法

I often lecture that it is from the fundamentals that the infinite arises. The advanced ties are quite literally made up solely of the fundamentals.

Example of how just a few basics can make something a bit more extraordinary.

This tie (to the right) for example is made up of a simple Hishi Shibari (Diamond tie), two Futomomo Shibari (Thigh Ties), and a rope run around the models lower back to make the sitting position more comfortable to be maintained; all basic ties, that, in co-ordination, come together

“Kihon Happo” (基本八法) literally means the eight fundamental methods or principles. However, if you turn the number eight (8) on its side, it becomes the symbol for the infinite (∞). Thus, a way of reading this phrase is “from the fundamentals comes infinite methods.”

Or as it was written in the 17th century scroll of the jujutsu tradition, Takagi Yoshin-ryu Chugokui Mokuroku,


Takagi Yoshin-ryu Chugokui Mokuroku

Which means something like “Training is crucial; a thousand or ten thousand methods are linked to a single method.”

This idea of implementing several basics at a time also contributes to the “completeness” of the presentation, comparable to a similar principle that I often talk about in shibari, Shingyoso.

Takagi Yoshin-ryu Chugokui Mokuroku

The Eight Fundamentals

A sort of collection of fundamental ties that I like to make sure that my students are familiar with are as follows:

Kōte Shibari 後手縛Hands-Behind Tie
Kōtō Gōte Shibari後頭後手縛Hands Behind Head tie
Maete Hiji Shibari前手肘縛Hands Forward Elbow Tie
Futomomo Shibari太腿縛Thigh Tie
Teppō Shibari鉄砲縛Rifle tie
Mae Gote Shibari前小手縛Front Wrist Tie
Agura Shibari胡坐縛Cross-Legged Tie
Koshi Shibari腰縛Hip Tie

From these eight basic ties all other ties can be considered to be derived, so this makes for a groundwork with which to grow everything else. For ties on the ground, pretty much any iteration of these ties are suitable, and there are suspension-worthy versions of each of these. Even practicing extremely basic ties offer innumerable lessons.


2019 Theme – Ipponnawa 一本縄

In the effort of having a theme every year with which to direct my practice, expanding concepts, and going just a little deeper into the art, I really took a while (okay a few days of going around in circles), but I finally settled, though the deeper I reflect on what I chose, the more it demands…

Examples of what can be done with a single rope. (Model: CutieTie)

Often times, I will refer to my research in classical Japanese martial arts, and the literature around that for inspiration, and this time was no different. This time around, it was from the teachings of a very old samurai school called Kukishinden-ryu. Within their teachings of the use of the jutte (a sort of sword capturing truncheon) there is discussion of the use of the rope for arresting as well as the use of improvised and concealed weapons (essentially, all small weapons should be used as concealed weapons). Within these teachings, there is the following statement:

(Hitosujinawa Tajō Busshin Jūjō no kamae
“The attitude that a single rope multiplies into the ten ropes of Buddha’s mind.”)

(Kukishinden-ryu Jupposessho no maki)

This correlates to the teachings of the “Ten Oxen” (jūgyū; 十牛), which is a series of short poems and accompanying drawings used in the Zen tradition to describe the stages of a practitioner’s progress toward enlightenment, and his or her return to society to enact wisdom and compassion. Though I’m very much tempted to write out my own commentary of this resource here, I will simply link to the translation and commentary that i am working off of HERE.

Ryōte kubi (両手首) Both wrists binding, double column. Demonstrated by Yukimura Haruki and Kawakami Yuu.

All that being said, it is from the exploration of this idea and the implementation of using just a single rope, that we will explore the possibilities of what can be done with just one rope. This will demand exceptional resource management, ingenuity, and some nice tight ropes!

Atemi’s Rope Resources


Because it’s always a challenge to find resources on learning rope bondage, this is my collection and recommendations:


Douglas Kent‘s Complete Shibari

An example from the book

What I consider a must for beginners. Has a great section on safety, and tons of step-by-step photos for the fundamental forms of ties and great advice throughout. Currently a two book set “Land” and “Sky”, with land being focused on tying from the ground, and Sky focused on suspensions.

Master_K‘s Beauty of Kinbaku 

The book cover.

The most comprehensive publication on the history and influences of shibari, kinbaku, and Sadomasochism in Japan. Includes biographies of the 30 most influential people in the practice, one of the most comprehensive glossaries on the subject, and a short step-by-step guide on two forms of classical chest ties. I recommend this for the enthusiast and the obsessed, not so much use for the casual and the curious.

Fujita Seiko‘s Zukai Hojojutsu 

The book cover

The book that started it for many people, the largest publication on the subject of the Science of rope arresting techniques found in the classical martial arts (and a few modern ones). 328 pages, 864 illustrations, and some rather hard to find explanations about the usage of rope on the battlefield and in other situations. I’m personally translating this publication, and it’s not yet complete, but will be rather through!

Video Platforms

Esinem‘s Online Shibari Classes

A wonderfully put-together online learning site providing excellent video and transcribed learning content for monthly fees (price varying with each module). His research on nerve damage is second to none, the safety course is free, and the courses specifically on box ties are quite thorough and provide a very acceptable learning curve.

Yukinaga Max‘s Kinbaku Videos

Yukinaga Max, a student of both Yukimura Haruki and Osada Steve of Yukimura-ryu and Osada-ryu. His content is focused on defining various difficult to understand Japanese concepts found in Kinbaku. the thing I emphasize in his videos is his great energy and how he handles rope.

CMARA‘s Online Hojojutsu courses

Though not launched yet, the Classical Martial Arts Research Academy (CMARA) is planning to host online course in Hojojutsu (rope arresting techniques) through their site. They also currently publish research and articles on the subject as well HERE.

Acquiring Products

Other sources

On Yugen in Kinbaku


“Kinbaku is, in a word, the extraordinary. More accurately, it is the dissimulation of the ordinary. While it neighbors the everyday, it is different from the everyday; an act that draws out a separate reality. That is why it must be done here, where we all enjoyed supper together not long ago, but also why it cannot be the same as it was then. An expression of Yūgen.”

(from a lecture of mine in a advanced kinbaku workshop)

Yūgen (幽玄) itself is very difficult to explain in Japanese let alone in English. Yū (幽) generally means something dim or subtle, or “hazily perceived”. Gen (玄) infers “something hidden deeply in principles” or “mysteries not easily understood”. In Taoism, it expresses things that are profound, unfathomable, and subtle. In my own experience in the art of kinbaku (tying deeply; 緊縛), the sense that best fits the aesthetic of Yūgen is like observing the gentle drifting of incense smoke in a dimply lit room. There is a sense of things moving slowly and subtly, yet with a certain profound weight about it, not physical, but insubstantial.

In the act of rope bondage, and it’s many facets, there are times when you are simply tying someone like a parcel, sometimes decorative, sometimes sadistic, and that’s all very good, they are facets that make up the art. For myself however, I am deeply drawn to the presence of a scene.

CutieTie wearing a lovely black kimono and bound in the Yukimura-ryu Gote (雪村流後手)

When the lights are out, and the room is dimly lit by candles, her hair is disheveled, and clothing ruffled, the rope being the only thing to hold it in place.

When the only sounds in the room is the creaking of the jute and the rasp of her breathing.

When the very air is heavy, and you dread swallowing your tea in fear of making too much noise and shattering the moment.

This is an expression of Yūgen in Kinbaku.

When you strive for what can be called kinbaku, one must bind deeply (binding the mind; 心緊), and to do that, the senses must be coerced, simple force is not enough, subtlety and elegance are requisites. Seduce the senses, light incense, burn candles, lower the lights, touch and caress, smell the rope, have the model take in the whole experience; build the illusion, for once they are in the illusion you can shape it fully.
All the same, “There is nothing to attain. … The imagined world is seen through.” (The Heart Sutra)

Shibari Education at the Dojo

Public Education

A shot of a Friday night class at Shibari Dojo.

Classes at the Shibari Dojo are conducted in a rotating curriculum format and as such, it doesn’t matter when you start, you will be able to pick up rope and start at any time,  and if you stick around long enough, you will have completed the whole curriculum!

Classes are three hours long and are generally made up of three ties with an underlying lesson involved. Images of many of the ties can be found on our DeviantArt page here.

Some of the concepts that we cover include:

  • Safety – Friction burn, avoiding articulations, identifying nerve pathways and tying around them, and what to do in emergency situations, how to monitor a partner effectively, nerve impingement, circulation, and emergency procedures, and more.
  • History – A brief timeline of hojōjutsu, shibari, kinbaku, and S/m in Japan and the world.
  • Rope types – Nylon, cotton, silk, hemp, and jute, and their applications, pros/cons.
  • Rope Ergonomics – Speed, efficiency, and flow.
  • Breath Work – “Lengthening the breath/energy”, refers to matching the riggers and models breathing to the movements.
  • Body Ergonomics – The rigger utilizes ergonomics (shoulders level, no unbalancing of the self, no unnecessary tension in the body).
  • Manipulating Cadence – Modulation (of voice), variation, variety, Liveliness; full-bodied – From Osada-ryū meaning to change and adapt the cadence of the technique.
  • Japanese Aesthetics – Systems such as Tenchijin, Shingyoso, and Mizuhiki.
  • and more!

It is important to note that these classes are fully clothed; the purpose of the class is one of education and learning, and while our space is a body positive environment, certain things tend to distract from learning and as such we attempt to minimize such distractions. We do occasionally have other events where clothing is optional, but for classes [comfortable] clothing is mandatory.

The event listings for these classes can be found on Facebook, FetLife, or Google Plus.

Private Education

A shot at one of our private classes (posted with permission.

Private classes are more geared towards folks who want a certain level of privacy in their practice, a customized curriculum, focused instruction, or even if they would like to learn our curriculum from beginning to end!

The current policy is is to schedule  an appointment for a minimum of two hours, as any less and there wont be enough time to practice and make your money count!

In order to book your private class, contact us though Facebook Messenger, FetLife Message, or via email!

Workshop Education

Generally once a month or so we host a themed workshop, focusing on a specific principle in the practice and presentation of bondage. The workshop spans 3-6 hours and specific ties and demonstrations are applied to transmit the intended concept as best as possible.

The schedules for these workshops can be found in the previously mentioned social media pages.