Traditionally in Japan, Shibari and Kinbaku have been taught one-to-one, passed on from Master to student, with the latter learning by observing and “stealing” techniques and concepts. This traditional system of transmission has advantages, in that alongside the technical aspects (Kata; 形) the student will also acquire a solid foundation of the psychological and philosophical aspects (Gokui; 極意) of tying from the particular Master.

Atemi-ryu (当身流) is a developing Shibari (tying; 縛) and Kinbaku (tantric binding; 緊縛) system, developed by Luke Crocker inspired by such notable artists as Osada Steve, Kazami Ranki, Akechi Denki, and others. Because of his eclectic background in many fields of interest including extensive research into classical Japanese martial arts, Atemi-ryu is unique in that it provides solid techniques in more than one aspect of Shibari and Kinbaku, including subtle and sensual bondage, stage performance, and ergonomics.

The system is designed with a menkyo (licence; 免許) curriculum, like in classical Japanese martial arts (predating the kyu-dan “blackbelt” systems). There are requirements to pass each level, with criteria including technical competency, speed and efficiency, flow, communication, and aesthetics. Each level teaches techniques and concepts that are then built upon in subsequent levels. The techniques taught are not designed just for “kinky and freaky” tying, but rather growing towards the students competency equivalent to that of a professional Japanese rope artists.

This is divided into four levels by tiers of difficulty.