The new Suspension Frame

So, two days ago, we finally got the suspension frame set up at the studio, and it is a glorious beast!

But being the silly bugger that I am, I’m overly concerned as to what to call it…

hidatorii
Torii gate at Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village

The things that inspired it was a combination, of the Japanese-styled Torii, European-styled gallows, and classical illustrations of what was used in Japanese suspension torture.

Initially, I was going to simply call it a Torii (鳥居), but the design itself eventually shifted towards something more like gallows, and being endlessly inclined towards the Japanese language, I turned to the dictionary, for which I found the term Kōshudai (絞首台).

tombstone_courthouse_gallows
Gallows in Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, Tombstone, AZ.

The problem with Kōshudai, however, is that it literally refers to gallows and the activities therein:

  • ” (絞) means to strangle;  constrict;  wring.
  • Shu” (also read kubi; 首) refers to the anatomical neck.
  • Dai” (Tai or several other pronunciations; 台), is a pedestal; or a stand.

So this specifically refers to a pedestal for hanging or strangling the neck – not quite what we do or want to encourage.

There is also the late Yukimura Haruki‘s term kamoi (鴨居)[1], however, this is specifically the frame for sliding doors in classical Japanese houses, for which he made considerable use of in his work. Thus, this term is further away from what we are looking for than even the gallows.

033-kamoi
A photo of a kamoi over a sliding door.

At this point, Kōshudai seems the closest to what were dealing with in regards to shibari and kinbaku, where the body is suspended by rope in various formations.

Notes:

[1] Kamoi (鴨居) Means lintel. In traditional Japanese house it’s the beam where the top of sliding doors (fusuma; 襖) or paper windows (shoji; 障子) can be inserted and slide. It’s really easy to find pictures of people tied up to the kamoi.

 

 

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Atemi self-suspending off the new suspension frame!
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How Hemp Rope is Conditioned

Today I live streamed the whole process as to how I condition hemp rope for Shibari and Hojojutsu on Facebook! 130~ people came across it today!

Schedule Updates and Memberships!

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Classes are on a brief hiatus at the moment but should be starting up again in June! And because Atemi’s day job is changing hours, we’re going to have better availability! That being said, we need to decide what nights and times works best for everyone, so please consider filling out this poll so that we can get classes lined up to best suit everyone’s needs!

As a sort of bonus, we are expecting to have two classes or more a week, and as such, the value of our monthly membership option has improved! That is to say more classes for the same price: so that’s an average of 8 classes for $100* – a pretty sweet deal I think!

If that sounds like your cup of java, then come sign up by clicking clicking HERE and we’ll see you next class!

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* Yes, this membership applies to you and your partner: If the Top is the account holder, whomever hey bring to class is covered by their membership, and if the Bottom is the account holder, whatever Top they bring is covered!

     Oh, and being a member gets you product discounts on rope, accessories, and more! Just, saying…

A Story of Swords, Rope, and Romance

As a researcher of the classical Japanese martial arts, I tend to get lost into massive libraries that house antique documentation of everything from the martial arts and warrior-ship, to that of flower arrangement, tea ceremony, and many other things.

“Meiwa Masamune Katana no Chinsetsu” (銘者正宗刀珎説) was written by Ikku Jippensha (1765-1831)

I always find it interesting to take notice of depictions of rope restraint in classical Japanese literature. and this evening while looking for another document (on matters of yinyang and the five elements in the late 18th century, which I didn’t find…), I stumbled upon an interesting chronicle narrating storied of he famous Japanese sword smith, Gorō Nyūdō Masamune (1264–1343). He was basically an almost mythical figure, known for his unparalleled craftsmanship in the hand production of swords and daggers. Though my findings regarding this chronicle as a while is better suited for my other website, there were two lovely illustrations involving rope restraint.

This publication, “Meiwa Masamune Katana no Chinsetsu” (銘者正宗刀珎説) was written by Ikku Jippensha (1765-1831), and depicts some fabulous illustrations regarding sword smithing and metal work, sword combat, and even two cases of rope restraint. This is currently located at the Waseda Uniersity in Shinjuku, Japan.

A depiction of a samurai to be put to death over the theft ofone of the famous Masamune swords.

This first illustration is a common depiction in this form of literature, where one man is at sword point while being bound in rope. I won’t pretend to know the narrative here as this form of literature is rather above my head in several ways in regards to translation, but knowing that this book is about Masamune swords, and based on some of the illustrations leading up to this (the bound man is seen taking an unmounted blade from a carrying case; shiro-saya 白鞘), I deduce that he has been captured for trying to steal a Masamune sword, and was of course caught, and would be put to death.

However, later he is depicted in a servants position (sitting on his knees to the left of the individual) to a swordsmith, who based on his stature, could be presumed to be Masamune himself.

And closer to the end of the book, he is depicted as being in an intense sword fight where a bandit is making off with a woman. A page later, he is rescuing the woman who is tied to a tree with rope; the bandit is on the other side of the tree, looking away.

A woman tied to a tree and about to be rescued from her captor by a warrior with a Masamune sword. 

It is interesting to note that in these depictions of samurai being bound in rope, it is common to see the same tie; involving just the wrists and biceps bound, while women often have the rope going right around the upper torso (above the breasts). Though the use of rope serves both as a literary tool (inferring a sense of shame or disgrace), and an expression of lifestyle (in that Japan is a very rope-centric culture), it is interesting to note that the sexes are separated by the forms that rope is depicted as being used on them.

Considering the amount of ties presented in the encyclopedic Zukai Hojojutsu by Fujita Seiko (providing hundreds of illustrations of body ties), it is a little bit of a surprise to note that comparatively few would fit the image of what is shown in these chronicles, where from the front, only the rope around the biceps, and sometimes neck, can be seen. Yet in these chronicles, it is almost exclusively this tie that is seen on men. It is stylized, yet simple.

On the other hand, women are usually depicted as having just a length or two wrapped around their upper chest. This style, I think, would be more expected considering that one cannot expect the illustrator to be versed in either shibari or hojojutsu.

Theme of 2017: Kinbaku Jizai

kobo-jizai-kinbaku-shibari

Anyone who knows me, knows well how I like to ramble about martial arts, well, a quarter of the way into the year and I have finally decided on what he theme will be for 2017! This year’s theme is indeed inspired from martial arts, though its roots are extremely Buddhist and zen influenced…

The context

I often hear from various folks and all walks of life that they cant tie because they don’t have a place to practice their ties, or their partner isn’t sufficient for what they want to practice, or perhaps the type of rope they have is no good. Well in the spirit of rising the bar, I have to utterly Proclaime BULLSHIT! And not just to be an ass…

The thing about art is that it is to be an expression of oneself, one’s own feelings, or in the case of bondage, the expression of a certain sort of connection between two individuals. In the initial stages of exploring the concept of connection, having a medium in hand is often a nice stepping stone, but what happens when you don’t have your favorite rope, your favorite practice space, music, or even model? Is that it? is your art and capacity to express yourself null and void?

Freedom (jizai) from such attachments

kinbaku-jizai-cutietie
An example of “making it work”.

Kōbō (Kūkai Shōnin) would not choose where he painted his illustrations or calligraphy nor what brush he would use. A slip of the brush is not easily forgiven on the battlefield. Thus, one should pursue their practice (keiko 稽古*) with many people packed together, in environments that are not ideal, with rope they don’t favor, and un-reliant on the partner in question. Whether it is the body mechanics, rope, studio, or anything. Tie and receive freely . Consider the brush (fude; 筆) to be the hand of fortune and opportunity (fude; 富手).

The Theme of Kinbaku Jizai 緊縛自在

Thus, the theme of the year will be a focus on being able to tie regardless of the circumstances. I personally have used each of the excuses above to prevent myself from being inspired to tie, and I personally find them all unacceptable. This year is to be the year of tying freely!

“To express love and emotion entirely though the medium of rope. It’s how you use the rope to exchange emotions with another.” – Yukimura Haruki