Nawa no Kankaku (Connection of Rope; 縄の感覚) is a term at Shibari Dojo that is used to label that subtle sense of depth in kinbaku. I first happened across the term while training in the Bujinkan. There was a blog article by Duncan Stewart where he tried to describe the lessons of Masaaki Hatsumi on kankaku as thus:
“We shouldn’t move just like we are tying someone up with a rope. It’s far deeper in significance as always. The concept is that we are tying our opponent up with our soul or Tamashii (魂). Being captured by ones soul or spirit can be likened to being wrapped up my an invisible cord or rope. The feeling of restrictiveness and entrapment is the ultimate aim of obtaining Nawa no Kankaku.” – Duncan Stewart
This is a very difficult thing to grasp as it is very subtle and seems to play on the mood of the moment, it appears as though you cannot force it. Well in actuality it’s not something you conjure through your dominance of the situation (that’s something else). Instead you draw the feeling out into the space (kukan; 空間), like luring or seducing it; you don’t want to scare the feeling away. As Hatsumi once put it:
“Don’t think of trying to make it work. You don’t have to make this work. Don’t be tied up in whether it works or does not. No one ever teaches you that it’s ok if it doesn’t work. It’s ok if it doesn’t work, because you can change. You can keep going.”- Masaaki Hatsumi
Performing a tie, knot, or achieving a desired position of the model is a very low aspect of kinbaku, these things should be automatic at a certain level, the next level is to be able to lure out the kankaku, to create that connectedness, to manifest intimacy.
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 Osada 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.
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?
This is the official launching of the Shibari Dojo, located in Barrie Ontario, and home to Luke Crocker (Atemi).
Though I began my shibari journey in October 2012, when I was commissioned to translate a short document on hojojutsu, it wasn’t until October 2014 when I really took the art seriously. Since then my practice had quite literally saved my life while going through a very dark time. It was because if this that I was able to commit deeply to realizing and understanding the art, and now I can never wait to have a length of jute or hemp back in my hands again!
Having a long time background in education and a great passion for academia, I decided to begin doing what I love for my profession, and in June 2015 I opened up shop!
I first began by selling rope for the purpose of hojojutsu, and soon after found people asking about classes and workshops. Though I was quite unsure about whether I was up to the task of teaching something that I felt to be completely amateurish in, it seems that not only did the students enjoy the workshops, but they enthusiastically practiced what I gave them. Accordingly, I have begun teaching private classes with considerable success!