It’s highly probable that after watching a good Shibari/Kinbaku session you may have developed an interest and curiosity on learning this beautiful art. There might be many reasons that drive you to wish entering this ropes world. So, if you had reached that moment where you wonder if you’d be able to embrace this rope passion, you might probably be interested on considering the following thoughts on the matter.
There are many ways to learn something. What varies in the end is the outcome, the efficacy of the chosen method, and the final result it delivers. It’s then that your choice is up to what do you expect as a final result.
If you wish to learn knots and techniques on how to do some fancy suspensions or complicated patterns, you’ll surely find lots of Internet sites with step by step details and video tutorials teaching you how to perform a good bondage. There are also many aerial acrobatic schools we can recommend you, which may certainly fulfill your objective. There are so many things I teach in my classes that are really impossible to learn from an image or a video (despite the quality of the one who is behind the camera producing it). In the same way I would not trust in learning Karate do or Aikido through video or by postal mail.
Instead, if you happened to perceive that there is something else behind this Japanese ropes art, if you were able to perceive the communication between rigger and model, if you felt that special energy that a good Shibari/Kinbaku session drives, let me advise you to spend a couple more minutes and keep on reading what follows.
The Shibari/Kinbaku as an art, as non verbal communication method between rigger and model implies an intrinsic journey of patience, dedication, effort, and in many cases an intimate predisposition for a personal evolution. It’s not just teaching knots, laces and techniques, but as any “do” 道 implies an internal search for personal development and/or enlightenment that would be the future driver and impulse for our own development as riggers. If you want to read more about this, you may want to visit the post Shibari Kinbaku (part IV): The Learning Path
It’s just because of this that I believe that there is no other way to seriously learn Shibari/Kinbaku as it was originally conceived in Japanese culture but through a Dojo ( “Do” 道 way, road, doctrine, principle & “Jo” 場 place, room, centre).
If you have the time and the resources needed, best Senseis can be located in Japan were the ancient Shibari/Kinbaku was born. Among them you can visit Yukimura Haruki Sensei and Osada Steve Sensei there. Both of them run their Dojos that are available for those who wish to learn this art. I’m glad to remark that I do know both of them personally and after long work, dedication and effort I’ve been honored as being recognized as their student. Needless to say that both of them are worldwide renowned bakushis (rope artists) and thus they’re your best choice if you can afford it. So, if you have the chance, don’t hesitate to go for the root itself of this art and meet these two generous and humble Masters that may surely transmit and nurture you with many Shibari/Kinbaku concepts in countless ways.
You’d feel a huge difference if you face this trip having some basic Japanese language knowledge. As for Osada Steve Sensei, you may receive teaching lessons if you can speak either English, German or Japanese. However if you chose to meet Yukimura Haruki, I’m afraid to say that you’ll only have the chance to communicate with him if you manage to speak Okinawa Japanese or if you hire an interpreter. There are many other renowned Senseis that have been interviewed by Osada Steve. You may find many of these interviews here in KinbakuMania.
Other worldwide renowned Shibari/Kinbaku bakushis that also live in Japan and I have the honour to meet personally are Miura Takumi Sensei, Nawashi Kanna Sensei, Naka Akira Sensei, Kazami Ranki Sensei, Arisue Go Sensei, Randa Mai, Hajime Kinoko, Otanawa, and Yagami Ren among others.
Secondly and as far as I know, the only “Official Dojos” outside Japan that are granted the license to teach Shibari/Kinbaku in a way that respects the traditional Japanese methods of teaching and learning are only these few at this moment: Copenhagen Shibari Dojo (run by Yukinaga Max and Tina in Denmark), Barcelona Shibari Dojo (run by Victor), Oslo Shibari Dojo (run by Einride y Kerstin in Norway). In these you’ll find perfect certified and licenced Yukinaga Shibari Do Kai instructors. In Copenhagen Shibari Dojo, you’d also be able to receive tuition on Yukimura-Ryu
All these instructors have to travel to Japan or Denmark in a periodic basis and receive tuition from Osada Steve Sensei and/or Yukimura Haruki Sensei and/or Yukinaga Max Sensei to be able to keep their teaching license valid. Due to this controlled system you can grant that the tuition received from these instructors is hereby traceable to it’s origin in Japan.
Since 2014 and given the authorization and certification I’ve received from my Sensei Osada Steve, I’ve opened the tuition area of KinbakuMania Shibari Dojo for those students who wish to start their Shibari/Kinbaku learning in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This teaching method is the same that is used in all Dojos around the world, and it’s based on respect, ritualism, honour, and in the “Do” 道 concept as a personal development path as in any other martial art. The method is the same either in private as in group classes.
If even these options seem too far or inaccessible for you, you might keep in mind that Osada Steve Sensei had already certified a few of his students, even when they may not have a Dojo, to be able to teach. In this way, the Japanese concept of the knowledge transfer method remarks that despite having a Dojo is important, it’s even more important the honour and the traceable learning path of the person who teaches you.
There is also a concept that has become highly popular, specially in Europe and in the US, and it’s the one called Shibari/Kinbaku Workshops. Many of the previously mentioned Senseis travel periodically and offer some Shibari/Kinbaku workshops around the world. Workshops objective usually trends to be the one of promoting and awakening interest in Shibari/Kinbaku art. This kind of tuition is far more bounded given the amount of people sharing the class and the variety of levels between participants. Starting level workshops can be an excellent choice for those who wish to do their first steps in this art and also meet and socialize with other people in the rope scene. However I should stress that given its time frame and the fact that they’re usually one shot events, they might be highly focused on the technique itself and would lack of that fundamental content that is usually transmitted in any Dojo. I would advice you that if you have the chance of assisting to any workshop, you’d rather complement it with any Dojo training afterwards.
There are also some advanced workshops where some Japanese Master goes in a tour visit and shows those who have some previous Shibari/Kinbaku knowledge the particularities of his style, his own techniques and concepts. These workshops are highly valuable for those who have a solid base in this art. However I would not recommend assisting to them without that minimal needed knowledge as to spare you from your own embarrassment.
Lastly, there are also many people that organize some “peer-to-peer” or “kai” 会 meetings where varied level riggers share their acquired knowledge with each other. Even when these reunions are a lot of fun and you may transmit some knowledge that you happen to catch easily than others, I would not count them as a “teaching method” by itself. The concept of “imperfect transmission” may lead that in many of these meetings those who are not entitled to teach, or those who barely got some technique or concept , involuntarily and unconsciously fail to transmit the whole concept of what they have learned, or do it erroneously. In that way we’re exposed for some chain transmission errors to happen in concepts that a Sensei would immediately correct. These kind of errors usually develop in “tying vices” that are so hard to revert later on.
Finally, I feel sane and wise to refresh and stress the importance of the Shibari/Kinbaku learning background of the person who is passing his knowledge, whichever method is used. There will always be discussions on which are the universally accepted basis considered as valid to “qualify”, “certify” or “license” in Shibari/Kinbaku. Fact is that, in the same way as in martial arts and any other oriental art teaching, there will be a constant need to distinguish those who keep their bound with Japanese Masters alive though their frequent effort in travelling and training in their origin Dojos.
Whichever your choice is, I wish you a enlightened and merry journey through your learning path in this awesome art.