FAQ + WHAT IS SHIBARI?
WHAT IS SHIBARI?
So, what is this shibari rope bondage thing anyway...? In short... shibari refers to the Japanese style of rope bondage that has become popular in BDSM and kink communities around the world. The word "shibari" simply means "to tie" in Japanese.
The main thing I would share about shibari is that the focus is on the pleasure in the tying process rather than simply getting to an end result. The ties are often designed to highlight the unique beauty of the body being tied, and applied in a way which creates a sense of trust and vulnerability. This style of rope requires a high level of skill and knowledge to perform safely, especially suspension, as it involves placing pressure on specific areas of the body and manipulating the rope in precise ways to avoid injury.
Shibari is connected to "hojojutsu," a method used to tie, capture and torture prisoners in feudal Japan. While it focused on efficiency to restrict prisoners, modern shibari has evolved into a practice emphasising aesthetics, sensuality, and vulnerability alongside the restriction.
It is important to note that shibari as we know it today is different to hojojutsu and the transformation was not direct. Shibari draws inspiration from various sources, incorporating Japanese aesthetics, traditional arts, and contemporary BDSM practices.
It is often used as a form of erotic play, but it can also be used for artistic expression or personal exploration. There is no "right way" to practice shibari -though acknowledging the historical and cultural roots of any practice is important.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A ROPE EXPERIENCE SESSION?
Every session is a unique experience, and each individual I meet brings their own distinct qualities and preferences. Because of this individuality, the nature of each session can vary widely.
Regardless of the content of each session, the format will generally follow a similar structure. Some pre discussion will happen either via email or over a quick phone call after initial contact to talk about what you might be seeking from a rope interest, what I can offer, if this aligns and then if so try to arrange the session day.
On the day we will start our meeting and simply have a chat about how you are emotionally, how your body is feeling physically, what you might be interested in trying as well as any limits or concerns you may have. A thorough yet relaxed negotiation takes place, and we plan how we'll communicate and check in during the tying. We'll also address the aftercare you may need following the session.
It's perfectly okay if you're unsure about your preferences or what you'd like to try. This is something we can explore together. The tone of the session can vary, depending on our mutual agreement – it can be serious, playful, silent, or communicative. It can be sensual, comforting, erotic, challenging, creative and more - there's no one-size-fits-all approach to rope sessions.
After our negotiation and when we both feel ready, we move on to tying. This may start with some gentle movement, touch or breathing to ground. The timing can be flexible – continuous tying or breaks in between, guided by your comfort and desire. I will encourage you to communicate if you want to pause, adjust, or change a tie. Some people also enjoy incorporating sensory play elements such as wax play, blindfolds, or different sensations. Depending on our prior discussion, we might explore partial or full suspension.
Post-session, we take time for a debrief where we discuss how the session went, what you enjoyed, and any questions or thoughts you have. If there's agreed-upon aftercare, we address that too. I may follow up with you in the days after to see if any physical or emotional needs have arisen.
Any other questions about sessions? Be in touch!
IS IT DANGEROUS?
Yes. Rope bondage, like any BDSM activity, carries risks that should be considered before engaging in the practice. Different styles of rope of course have different levels of risk - but there is no such thing as being 'completely safe' - all we can do is be aware, informed, mitigate risk, and communicate well to stay in connection with ourselves and one another.
Here are some of the risks to be aware of:
Nerve damage: Our body has areas which are stronger and more able to take pressure and compression, and parts which are more vulnerable where bones/nerves are more exposed. If the ropes are tied too tightly, badly tensioned or in the wrong position, they can put pressure on nerves and cause nerve damage, resulting in numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation. This could be a temporary effect of a few minutes, but if not paid attention to or responded to could last in long term damage. This is why it is so important to practice rope with partners who are honest about their skill level, capacity, and able to understand how to do proper nerve checks to mitigate this risk.
Restricted blood flow: If the ropes are tied too tightly, they can also restrict blood flow, which can lead to swelling, discoloration, and more dangerously - mask a nerve injury which could be taking place.
Joint pain or injury: Rope bondage can put stress on joints and cause pain or injury, especially if the ropes are twisted or placed in awkward positions.
Emotional distress: Rope bondage can be emotionally intense, and may cause anxiety, fear, or other emotional reactions. Sometimes people are not aware that they have reached a boundary or intense feeling until they are in that moment, it can be hard to predict. It's important to communicate openly with your partner to develop ways to check in, and have a plan in case something begins to not feel ok - what could you do to support someone to ground in the case of any trauma response?
Accidents or falls: If the person being tied is suspended, raised off the ground, or put off balance there is a risk of falling or other accidents. If the area you are tying in is messy or limited, it could also cause the rigger to fall. Equipment can also fail, please check and rate hard points before suspending. It's important to use proper equipment and techniques to minimize this risk, move the body safely, and be aware of your surroundings.
Whilst these risks will always be present, we can mitigate them by learning proper techniques, understanding how to adapt and respond to different needs in the moment, and be in communication with one another. It is much more important to look at and be present with the body and person in front of you than to just try to follow a pattern or tutorial. It's also important to communicate openly with your partner, talk about needs and desires, to establish clear boundaries, and to have a plan in case of emergency.
I'VE NEVER TRIED ROPE/KINK BEFORE - DO YOU SEE BEGINNERS?
Beginners welcome! Yes - it's a pleasure to have the opportunity to introduce people to this practice. We'll begin by considering your specific needs and interests, ensuring that we start from a point and pace that feels comfortable and appropriate for you. Working with individuals who are just beginning their journey is something I genuinely enjoy, we can make sense of this exploration together.
I understand and enjoy the fact that people are drawn to these practices for a variety of reasons. Some people are drawn to the aesthetics and artistic aspects, while others seek sexual exploration and playful experiences that fulfil their fantasies. There are also those who wish to develop an embodied practice that fosters a deeper connection with themselves. Each of these motivations is valid and significant.
This awareness of different needs, perspectives and desire is especially relevant when meeting others who are on this journey of exploration. It's crucial to engage in clear and open discussions before engaging in tying or play together. This helps manage expectations and desires, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and respects each other's boundaries and intentions.
As a professional - this is also my role in sessions - to connect with and facilitate an experience catered to your specific desires and needs.
HOW MUCH IS A SESSION/LESSON/CLASS?
I do not have set rates on my website as my sessions, classes, workshops and events are bespoke and personalised. Please contact me with details of your needs and wishes to discuss rates.
That being said - I want all of my work to be accessible and therefore can offer sliding scale for anyone who needs financial flexibility. Be in touch to discuss this.
WHAT DO I WEAR FOR A ROPE CLASS/EVENT/SESSION?
The truthful answer is there is no 'right' thing to wear for rope. Some people prefer the feeling of rope on their bare skin, others enjoy the contrasting sensation of fabric as well as rope on their body. That being said, the only thing which doesn't work too well for doing ropes in would be stiff fabrics such as tight denim or stiff fitted clothing that makes it hard to move. Floaty fabric is ok as long as it is not too slippery as rope needs some friction to be able to hold (eg. lycra isn't the easiest to tie over). Some people opt for comfy light fitted clothing or a flowy bottom half (trousers or skirt) that is light and easy to tie over, though really it is up to you.
I DONT GET IT - IS THIS A KINKY THING, A MEDITATIVE THING, A TORTUROUS THING?
Both and neither - it is truly up to the individuals practicing what this means to them and that may also change from day to day. For some people rope bondage is an erotic, kinky, sexual practice whilst for others it is something which helps them ground into their body and they find it more of a meditative relaxing thing which isn't sexual for them.
Whilst it is truly up to the individual - it is also important not to decontextualise the origins of rope bondage, shibari or kink - and to understand that it would be factually and historically incorrect to gloss over the connection of BDSM and sexuality to these practices. There is sometimes a push as things become more mainstream to make them palatable and more 'acceptable' which can mean stripping away some aspects of a practice.
I would urge people to google origins of shibari and rope to also understand the context and culture that it played in Japan as well as in the USA in more western bondage. We must also acknowledge that these practices and imagery do stem from very real violence and practices used to transport prisoners or torture/inflict pain in a non consensual way, historically and still currently. We must understand the privilege to play and explore consensually in this way.
There has also more recently been a push towards kink as a 'healing' practice. I think this can be dangerous as it can take some of the powerful cathartic realities which can be experienced through these physical practices, and claim that people are doing 'healing' without getting to the real root cause of their issue, trauma or difficulties. Not to mention someone who is a not a licensed mental health professional cannot claim this as therapy. This is not to say that kink, BDSM or rope can't be meditative or therapeutic - but it is never a replacement for therapy or healing in the traditional sense.
CAN I DO ROPE AS SOMEONE LIVING WITH A HISTORY OF TRAUMA?
Firstly, it's important acknowledge that rope bondage is not a substitute for therapy. I always advise working with licensed professionals, such as therapists, to address and process trauma. While rope bondage can be an exploration that can feel liberating, transformative and empowering, its purpose isn't therapeutic in nature.
I think everyone can explore kink, regardless of background or history, it just might require more careful consideration of boundaries and the support needed to feel safe and secure.
Being aware of your trauma history can be powerful when engaging in physical activities like rope bondage. It might bring to light triggers or responses you hadn't recognised before, or bring you into contact with emotions or feelings which are challenging.
Choosing to explore rope bondage with an understanding of your trauma history can guide you to lean towards teachers or practitioners who adopt a trauma-informed approach. This means they recognise how trauma can affect the body and responses and teach in a way that respects individual boundaries and needs. For me, working in a trauma informed way is important and central to my approach.
Thinking about potential triggers, ways to ground, communicate in rope, and taking things gradually and slowly is crucial. Negotiation and transparency about needs, and working together with the person tying or being tied to co-create and both be accountable for upholding consent and safety is paramount.
A partner who values your well-being will take the time to discuss and respect your boundaries.
In my experience, professional sessions can offer a safe space for exploration. Working with a professional can help you set and uphold boundaries that align with your needs, and support you to focus solely on your experience, checking in with your body and boundaries, without expectations or commitment to another person's desires or needs.
WHAT KIND OF ROPES SHOULD I BUY?
Types of rope vary in diameter, length and material. You can find cotton rope, jute rope, hemp rope, nylon rope, silk rope... and I'm sure others too. There is no rope 'better' than the rest, it is truly down to personal preference and weighing up the pros and cons of different styles based on what you are also trying to do. Traditionally in shibari we use natural fibre ropes to tie. The length of the ropes are usually between 7.5 to 8 metres in length when folded over, this is optimal length for being able to tie parts of the body smoothly and efficiently without getting tangled or having to pull around endless amounts of rope. The diameters range from 4mm up to 6mm generally - thinner rope can be good for tying smaller body parts such as fingers, toes and faces - between 5.5-6mm rope is usually suitable and comfortable for regular harnesses and tying.
I tie with natural fibre 5.5mm jute rope bough from Learn Shibari
There are many different vendors who sell rope - I would recommend starting out with 3-4 lengths to see how you like it before investing in a fuller set of 10+ lengths. Rope can be expensive so it's good to take your time to figure out which materials you like.
In more western style bondage it has been traditional to use nylon and synthetic ropes whereas in Japanese Shibari it is typical to use natural fibre jute. I like to use different types of rope based on what I am doing and the purpose. There is not one true way to tie nor is there one true rope - each to their own.
Natural fibre rope also gets better with time and use, the more you use it the smoother and softer it will get. Some people chose to treat their own ropes from scratch which includes a process of frictioning, burning and conditioning the rope to get it to a stage where its more comfortable for tying. Most ropes will come pre-conditioned or semi conditioned. To ensure your rope stays in the best condition you could also treat it from time to time yourself with burning off any fuzzy bits or oiling it with a natural oil such as camelia or jojoba oil.
A google search will bring up more information about how to treat natural fibre rope and how to store rope, as well as what types are available and why you may or may not prefer different materials. Happy researching!
I'M NOT SURE IF THIS IS FOR ME - I DON'T LOOK LIKE THE PEOPLE I SEE IN THE PICTURES...I DON'T FEEL REPRESENTED WHEN I GO TO EVENTS
It's true that if you do a google search of shibari or rope bondage, the majority of results returned will show able bodied, mostly skinny, white, cis people with eurocentric beauty standards. This is not the case in practice and shouldn't be painted as the norm - rope and kink is for anyone who is curious and consenting. Rope and kink can be adaptable and accessible to your needs and desires.
Equally - rope and kink do not exist in a vacuum. The rope 'scene' is not a utopia or perfect by any means, sexism, racism, classism, ableism and all forms of systemic oppression exist in these spaces. By being honest and aware of the structures that exist we can begin to dismantle them and do things differently.
There are individuals and spaces which are more progressive and radical than others, I am happy to provide references or direct anyone to resources if you want to find more Queer, Black or POC teachers/ events.
Want to learn more? I am here to answer your questions.