Posted on Mon, 31 March 2014
I was prompted to write this after reading 'Futo momo?' on Fetlife in which the poster very sensibly sought some advice on this popular thigh to ankle tie. He had tried to follow one of Hebari's tutorials using a rather sliipery looking braided nylon rope and wondered why it wasn't staying put. This is the sort of invitation to provide constructive critcism that I applaud.There are many pitfalls that 'those who have gone before' can point out and that only become evident with some experience. If you are using it to suspend, it is most definitley not one to learn by trial and error as the consequences of the later can be serious.
The the majority agreed that the rope was a big factor since shibari style ties tend to rely on friction provided by natural fibre rope. In fact, most ties are largely constructed out of frictions as opposed to true knots. Since they are structural components, they need to do their job properly. If the rope is too slippery or the friction not sufficiently compacted, it will fail in its purpose. Any tie for use in suspension should not contain structural flaws as the downside of getting it wrong could be tragic. However, in this case, it was a first attempt with no intention of suspending. Regardless of your purpose, I think it builds good habits to tie as if you are going to rely on it when you are learning. Sloppy habits can easily be carried over if they become ingrained. One should try to develop safe muscle memories as, especially in times of stress, it is likely to be those that will surface first.
The example raises a few key points that I come across regularly when observing this tie. As I already mentioned, frictions are all important, even more so with slippery rope. Here the friction nearest the knee wasn't doing it's job. Apart from compacting well, so it generates as much friction as possible, it's important to ensure the tension acts to close the friction and not pull it apart. This is always a rule when deciding direction, you should be closing and not opening the friction. This reverse tension is what keeps it together.
Many beginners begin the tie too far up the thigh, i.e. away from the crotch. Taken to extremes, simply straightening the leg would be possible forcing the tie over the knee. It's a simple question of leverage. The solution is to start higer up the thigh to create better leverage and so that the load is transferred better for greater security. As a self-confessed dirty old man, I see other advantages in tying closer to the crotch anyway ;-) Of course, how much decorum is employed in this will depend up how intimimately you know each other. Either way, it seems that a lot of models find the rope a bit more comfortable if you start a couple of centimeters down.
The shape of the leg and its arc of movement will be a very important factor. It is far easier to tie this securely on a flexible skinny person since the total circumference to be tied will be fairly constant and the angle acute. I just checked myself and found less that 1"/2.5cm difference from one end to the other. My limbs are long with little bulk, so fold up eaily and present a small and fairly equal diameter. This effectively means my calf/thigh provides a cylinder of fairly constant diameter. It is very easy to tie this shape.
If you are tying somebody with legs with greater bulk, there is more likely to be a greater differential. Muscle or fat can not only make a big difference to the circumference of the limb but it can also block movement. This then creates a far more conical shape to tie. The shorter and wider the cone, the more the rope will tend to head towards the point, in this case the knee. I wouldn't like to say where the practical limit lies but it is clearly a far harder shape to tie securely. Like the ability to overlap the wrists easily is required for a standard gote, so here flexibility can be a limiting factor. The tie should fit the person. If it doesn't, your only safe option is to change the tie as you can't change the person, certainly not in the short term anyway.
When tying more conical shapes, the only real solution is reverse tension, i.e. to create tension in the opposite direction to counteract, as suspenders do with stockings. You might do this by linking your futo momo into a 'gun-slinger- style hip/thingh rope. It's a sensible precaution when starting out, regardless of shape or flexibility, as it provides a reserve 'chute if the tie does head south. When you are 100% confident that your futo momo is not going to move is the time to consider doing without this safey net and not before.
Regardless of limb length and shape, one must take the maximum natural movement to achieve the tightest bend at the knee. Obvioulsy, if the model can bend their leg further after you tie off, your tie will go slack and become insecure.
This is a tie that requires firm tension and it's generally an area that can take a tight tie. Don't forget that the cinching/lacing of the wraps is not just decoration. They are used to add tension and security to the wraps. When I make the 'brakes' or frictions, I will usually apply opposite tension before I start in order to remove any slack in the wraps. That is, when cinching towards the knee, I will draw the wrap towards the crotch with the cinch line to tension the wrap before making my friction/brake. Note the tension and placement in the image below.
In suspension, the point of attachment makes a big difference to security, position and feeling. In terms of security, a point between the mid point and the second wrap usually provides the most secure point as this tends to distort the tie so it digs into the thigh and locks it into position. If you apply a force too near the knee, it will try to pull the tie off.
Try to load it so the pull is into the thigh, rather than the shin, as this is far less painful. Think how much it hurts if you knock your shin bone. This is one reason why, if you wish to 'bang' the rope on with some vigour, it is kinder to apply force to the more resilient thigh side than the shin. You can use this knowledge which ever way you choose, of course :-)
Whether you attach on the inside or outside of the thigh is a decision for you and will depend on the orientation you intend. I would strongly recommend experimenting by applying tension with your model still largely on the floor and, initially, with hands free so they can give assistance if need be. Inverted suspensions carry the extra risk of the head being the first point of impact if you screw up and a chance of a broken neck.
In all cases, one should ensure that that a good secure stem has been created as an attachment point and that the initial bight of the tie iself is locked off to prevent accidental opening.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT to use a strong main line and not 5mm jute, especially if it's the only line or you are doing any lifts. Lifting can increase the load by a factor of x1.7-x2.5! See my articles of rope breaks and load testing.
A single 5mm jute rope in perfect condition typically gives 100kg breaking strain (on a good day), so let's say two give 180kg allowing for unequal loading etc. Thus, a 75kg model could exceed this on a fast lift (2.5 x 75kg = 187.5kg). In other words, even with a light model you are already in dangerous territory. As Dirty Harry would say "Are you feeling lucky, punk?" but bear in mind that it is your partner that will take the bullet physically if it all goes wrong.