For those of us that have a hard time finding practice partners for shibari

QueenLuci and Atemi tying for a photo shoot at Shibari Dojo.

There are always folks interested in getting involved in shibari, kinbaku, rope bondage, etc., and just about as many excuses as reasons as to why they can’t find a partner to get involved. First, I will say that if you already have a partner, this article isn’t for you: just come to classes, watch YouTube tutorials, and practice. For those of you who are without a partner, you’re at the right place.

So I hear a lot of folks concerned that they are old, unattractive, financially broke, or live in an area that makes rope events and practice inaccessible, and we will look at these each here.

Luke, I’m unattractive, how will I find someone who want’s to be tied by me?

This is a very common concern because our wonderfully developed Western culture has brainwashed us to believe that if we don’t have our looks and our youth, we don’t have anything. Well, I can tell you that this is very vividly not true, but it will be up to you to believe it. I can however promise you that this is not true.

There are plenty of examples of proficient rope artists that, regardless of their personal appearance, age, or disabilities, make it into prestigious exhibitions such as the Morpheus Bondage Extravaganza. The rope scene is quite literally made up of all types of people, and even many people who tie themselves! I can assure you with great confidence that it’s not your age or appearance that is in your way.

But, rope is expensive, I have no job, and can’t afford that expensive jute you guys are so fond of…

Indeed, jute rope can be pricey, but firstly, if you don’t have a job, then frankly you should redirect your attention and priorities for the time being (take care of your own living conditions before you even think about a luxury like bondage). Shibari doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to be jute, or hemp, or natural for that matter.

CutieTie in the “Plea” formation with a gag.

If you are attached to the idea of using jute or hemp rope, then simply go out to your local dollar store, pick up a couple of spools of jute twine, and make your rope yourself (this is way cooler than just buying ready-made rope, by the way); there are plenty of tutorials out there on how to make your own rope.

And keep in mind that you don’t have to use jute rope at all! many of my students like to use dollar store cotton rope (I don’t, but it really is by preference). Even the big Japanese artists don’t always use jute, and this article from Kinbaku Today details that in particular!

Now Luke, I live way out in the swamp lands without another soul for miles…

Well, you might not want to hear this, but sometimes it can’t be helped, either get a vehicle and make the transit, or relocate all together. If location is the problem and you can’t account for that, or others wont come to you, then it really can’t be helped and there’s nothing I can say or do besides encourage you to relocate all together, if this hobby, art, and practice isn’t enough for you to relocate, then it may not be in the cards for you.

Fine, how did you get into this?

Well, firstly, I started out with a divorce before the real practice started for me, and I had used practice as a sort of therapy for that turmoil, so I’m certainly not a special case of privilege or anything; I was pretty messed up when i got into this, and had lots of baggage to deal with. So where most people turn to romantic rebounds, I turned to practice.

I had gone on Facebook, FetLife, Twitter, Kijiji, etc. and put out an advertisement for practice partners. I emphasized that I was interested in getting good with rope, that it would be a platonic interaction, and made my complete intent clear. There was no sign or opportunity for concern that I was being creepy, had an ulterior motive, or any sort.

Atemi and Willcat at la Nuit des Cordes, Montreal 2015.

I also made it a point to go out to public events so that the local community got to know me and understood my motives. I emphasize trust building, humility, and transparency here.

At the same time I practiced tying everything I could: chairs, furniture, my coffee cup, etc. And I shared it on social media. This way everyone could see my level (which was quite low), my enthusiasm, and who I was. I even made a sort of online event of it, called it the #ShibariChallenge, and even encouraged others to participate! Now you can even see my early attempts by searching for that hashtag!

before long I was starting to get emails and messages about people who were interested in being tied. Every step of the way I made sure to be respectful and left no room for suspicion: I would absolutely meet new partners at a public place, usually a coffee shop. We would talk, often times for hours, about what we are looking for, what we wanted out of it, and reviewed safety concerns.

Only after all that would there be any tying. The point here isn’t having a regimented etiquette and rule system (though it’s good to have some sort of idea like this), the point is to make sure that you are trust worthy and your partner feels safe with you and without motive. Otherwise, you’ll appear as just another creeper, or worse, a predator.

This all sounds so needlessly complicated…

Well human interactions tend to be quite complicated, and then were dealing with the social stigma around BDSM-type practices. But, all this can be quickly reduced to some simple personal fidelity (that is  to say being truthful to yourself).

If you are interested in rope bondage because its sexy and you like to see attractive young ladies, then be clear and upfront about that both to yourself, and your potential partners. If you aren’t honest about this, then they will feel unsure about you, while if you are upfront about this, who knows, they might be interested in being pretty in rope.

While, if it is shibari as a practice, and the experience of learning and figuring out these things is what excites you, then understand that about yourself and be forward about that to your potential partners. That sort of sincerity builds bridges in such a way that age, appearance, and even skill level can’t slow down, much less interfere.

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