What is Shibari: The BDSM Basics of Rope Play

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What is Shibari?

Shibari is the traditional Japanese practice of rope binding. But answering the question “what is Shibari?” isn’t everything – this is a bit more complicated than your average sailor’s knot. While rope play is nothing new in BDSM, it has become more fashionable in recent years – especially with its depictions in movies and erotic photography.

What is the history of Shibari rope play?

The Shibari art stems from Hojojutsu. This was a type of martial art used by the Samurai in Japan’s from about 1600 to 1800 and was actually first used to restrain and often torture prisoners with rope or cords. Seeing as prisoners were intricately tied according to their crime, Hojojutsu served a practical use as well as a symbolic purpose.

Although this eventually disappeared, however, the style of rope use became popular again in Japan’s BDSM scene. This often painful, sensual, and sexual art of tying became known as “shibari” or “kinbaku.”

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We-Vibe Tango X

To heighten play or even just to warm things up, try a mini vibe like Tango X to make everything hyper-sensitive.

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We-Vibe Nova 2

If your scene includes tied hands, it might be fun to add extra stimulation from a rabbit vibrator like Nova 2.

How do you do Shibari Bondage?

If you want to try Shibari, here are some of our best tips:

1. Do your research!

Rope play, while often fun, can be dangerous. Accidents happen so it’s important you take the time to make sure you know what you’re getting into.

It’s also vital that if you are doing this with a partner, you trust them. As with all BDSM practices, trust is fundamental to both of you enjoying yourselves and having a good time.

2. Learn from teachers and partners

While it might be worth reading a few guides, a lot of the time the best way to learn comes down to face-to-face practice. But before you start matching with people you find online, make sure you do a little research. If you’re already part of the BDSM community, it might be worth checking in with a friend, who can recommend a partner or guide.

Another option is to check out some Shibari art and social media accounts that offer a lot of info around the topic, with quite a few accounts on Instagram that can offer guidance around the basics.

3. Take your time

It might be tempting to try the most complicated thing you can think of straight away, but it’s going to end up uncomfortable and even sometimes painful. Start slow and work out what you like.

Some people like to have restraints in terms of their hands being behind their back or other people are more into suspension from special beams. The point is, you don’t really know what your type of Shibari is until you explore.

It’s also only through time and experience that you will come to understand your body and your partner’s body well. So make sure you begin with an over-cautious attitude to safety. It’s better to be extra safe than too relaxed and have something easily preventable go wrong.

Check out safety guides online and handy videos like the one below to find out everything you should be looking for during scenes and play.

Your Shibari lexicon:

  • Bottom: The person who is tied up
  • Floor-play: when you use the rope while on the floor
  • Lab time: All of the time spent researching and practicing skills.
  • Rigger/Top: The person who ties their partner up
  • Rope switch: A person who likes to play as both as a rigger and as a bottom.
  • Scene/Scene time: The time you spent using skills you’re already confident with.
  • Self-tie: A person tying their own knots
  • Single column tie: the basic foundation knot
  • Suspension: Hanging from a height or special beam, which is often just for advanced practitioners.

Which kind of fetish do you prefer? Find out here!

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