Alternative tsuri line connections

Posted on Sat, 26 April 2014

There has been a recent trend to divert from the orthodox doctrine of Osada ryu and Ichinawa-kai (2/3-rope TK)for connecting the tsuri line typically for a face-down suspension. In this and like methods, it is attached by what is essentially a single column tie taking in both wraps from either side of the stem. This is certainly an extremely well-tried and tested technique as is evidenced by its adoption as the gold standard by pros and amateurs alike worldwide.

However, the fashion seems to be changing. From what I understand, Kinoko and Otonawa now do it differently. Ah, I hear you say, if Ichinawa-kai teaching as changed, it must be the way to do it now, right? Let's see why and what is going on. This is where the devil is in the detail and why reverse engineering can be so dangerous. Whilst, these gotes might superficially the same, they have very different properties.

The standard 2/3-rope TK is not best suited to take the suspension load on just the upper wrap or stem. If you load the stem, much of this will transfer to the wrists but, most worryingly, the entire suspension relies on the integrity of the wrist tie. If that knot fails, the stem is no longer anchored at one end and can pull out. This is not mere speculation, I spotted this start to happen when a student was performing a suspension. The wrist tie had started to come undone and the stem had already begun to form an inverted V between the two frictions! Luckily, I was there and able to give the heads-up before anything untoward occurred. Kazami Ranki, amongst others, addresses the wrist tie security issue by tying with a long bight which he then traps in the upper friction. This also creates a stronger stem.

On the other hand, if you suspend by only the upper wrap of this type of gote, you are likely to find to very little of the load is taken by the lower one, thus creating an imbalance in the distribution of the tension.

So what's happening in the Ichinawa-kai new edition? The method devised by Kinoko and Otonawa reinforces the stem and locks both wraps together with an X-friction. The effect is to consolidate the upper and lower frictions into one and produce a very solid stem. This seems to distribute the load between the wraps in a more balanced manner if the suspension line is taken off the top one. It has certainly well received by the models upon whom we have tried it. They have reported that it transfers just the right amount of load to all the elements of the gote.

Anyone who has studied the old-school methods will have seen plenty of suspensions that are not off the wraps. So what's the difference? In general, these gotes tend to lack a clearly defined stem and will typically feature a central friction which binds both sets of wraps together. The result of this it to create more interdependence of the wraps as they are not clearly separated as in the 2/3-rope TK. Thus, when the tusri line is taken from this central friction, it tends to distribute the load more directly to both wraps. As the cinch lines might also be included in this friction, it is wise to allow extra slack in them if the gote is likely to pull away much. Of course, the sheer density of the final friction/knot, which usually comprises the remaining rope from each part of the gote, means there is little chance of just the wrist line being taken in the tsuri connection.

As I hope you can see, it is important to have a good understanding of the engineering and the reasons why things are done the way they are. This is why it is important to get proper tuition in these matters and not rely on the Chinese Whispers version. When experimenting and devising new variations, it pays to consider what effects changes might have. Sometimes, a very small alteration or omission can have an unforeseen effect.