More than 7 months ago I started my shibari journey under Haru Tsubaki Sensei tuition. Along this time I’ve been able to understand that practice, common sense, and even being conscious of our way of breathing are key to be able to improve ourselves in this ropes art, and that it can even help us balance in many other aspects of our lives. I really thank her for having the chance of being part of the Dojo, and also the wonderful group that have built and keeps on growing and forming as newcomers join us under the respectful, warm and friendly essence it has. I would also want to thank my Sensei for the many things she taught me, for her charisma, for her understanding, and for her patience of correcting me over and over again my mistakes.
Seven months doing Dojo classes may seem a lot for some people. It’s not. I feel like I’ve just started and I have lots yet to learn. However I considered important to share my opinion in this writing as I feel necessary to make publicly known some risks the models may go under if they expose to rope suspensions under some people’s hands.
One of the facts I’ve learned during this time is that when you suspend someone, the body weight will lay directly over the ropes. Imagine you’re having some part of your body strongly pressed by a long period of time… That pressure, if done in an incorrect place, may lead to some blood congestion in that place, after that you may feel a tingle or numbness in the area, and if it keeps going for a while, the area may change it’s natural color due to the lack of blood circulation.
What usually happens to some people is that some ropes may end pinching their skin or folding one over the other. This is unnecessarily uncomfortable and painful for the rope model. If the tying is not even it may lead to the whole weight to be hold by half the surface, overcharging double or more pressure in that part of model’s body. It may also happen that due to suspension’s natural movement a small part of model’s skin got trapped by two ropes if they’re badly placed or if they’re not correctly tensioned. That’s very painful and leaves some ugly unneeded marks on the skin. With time and practice at the Dojo I’ve learned that a good rigger always watches for the ropes to be even and with the correct tension, also verifying that they’re not overlapped or pinching any part of model’s skin. This takes some time to learn. It may seem simple and easy, but I can assure you that only after practicing it over and over again and analyzing each time the outcome, you’ll be able to understand it. I do always verify for marks that I may find in my model’s body when untying, so to be sure that I did no mistakes in my tying, trying always to learn a bit more for the next time.
Other important thing that I’ve learned is that if you find the marks on the skin to last more than some minutes, it’s a clear signal that something went wrong. It never happened to us, but we’ve been able to see different kind of marks. Some of them were more persistent, other lasted a few minutes, all this depending on how we tied. This taught me we need to be extra careful in several parts of the tying. We also had the chance to listen some people coming to the Dojo as models telling us some stories about impaired limbs movement due to other rigger’s rope sessions where they were not being taken care of us much as we learned to. I feel this an important point to stress as some people may like to wear some souvenir from a session like marks or bruises after a spanking session. But this case is completely different, as a a bad placed rope may provoke an irreversible nerve damage, or slip and choke somebody, or lead to an unsuspected fall, or break a bone, or provoke a drop in blood pleasure, or a muscle strain, or a faint, or dizziness, vomits, etc, etc, etc…
On the other hand, a rope may be pinching a nerve. This may hurt a lot if rope position is not corrected to an area were no nerves are pinched. But when the rope presses a nerve and simultaneously it also presses a blood vessel, it slowly generates a growing numbness in the area. It may be mistakenly confused as the symptom that pain is receding or that you may be baring it better. This is the worst case as it is provoking (without us even knowing) a nerve injury that would end with an impaired limb or to a strangely dropped finger in many cases. In such case some fingers may feel like “dead” for example. If it’s a minor injury it may revert after a few days or weeks with medical treatment. Worst thing we can do in this case is to force the same or any similar injury again, as it may turn it into a chronic nerve damage.
Other thing that I’ve learned is to be always aware of model’s skin color changes, breathing rhythm changes, and model’s movements in general. It’s crucial to understand the non verbal model’s language and to verbally double check if necessary.
In the learning path you start doing comfortable ties. I’ve heard many times the models saying “I can take a nap here…” or just “I can stay a long time in this tying”. This brings a lot of easiness to your mind as you know you’re doing the things the right way. My Sensei always said me that if you want to do a sane suspension, you first have to think it to be safe by doing a properly tied studied basic structure. At this point of my training I think that if I wanted to give the model some pain I would first do a comfortable base tying and would be very conscious of what I’m provoking in time and manners.
This art was developed in Japan along many many years and it comes today to us with the wisdom of how to use ropes over the body so there is no health risk. Even with many months taking classes at the KinbakuMania Dojo, I do still feel as something somehow unwise to suspend someone without the support of somebody as Haru Tsubaki Sensei, who has learned this art from the Masters who had inherited this ancient knowledge.
Sometimes you may do a mistake, and it’s good to learn from this experience. The good thing is that if you do a mistake at the Dojo, it’s always under control, and you learn how to deal with emergency situations in the group with the guidance of the Sensei, so everybody would learn the best ways to react in each case. We all learn from everybody’s mistakes.
I wanted to write this article aimed for the rope models. Be conscious of the risks of being tied and watch out in which hands you trust your body. Love yourselves a bit… Some minutes of “glory” may not worth to put your health at stake.
reviewed by: Haru Tsubaki