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Shibari: A kit of parts

Posted on Tue, 3 February 2015


 It seems to me that there is too much emphasis on learning patterns without understanding the engineering. Of course, the major problems with 'painting by numbers' is that simple errors are overlooked and it fails to develop safe creativity. If one merely learns form without understanding function, how can one spot mistakes, e.g. poorly compacted frictions that are not effective, incorrect tension? 

I don't deny the  benefit of perfect practice making perfect, i.e. building muscle memory, speed and flow. However, this often means simply ingraining mistakes if any errors are made.  Unfortunately, this is often not the student's fault since he has either been taught incorrectly or without sufficient depth, e.g. 1hr TK lesson.
The more I learn, the more it seems that shibari is largely a kit of tried and tested components that you put together like a construction kit using certain rules. In fact, if you reduce it as far as you can go, it's pretty much a bunch of single columns ties closed in by a friction or knot. For example, a typical OS 2-TK has a single column closed by a knot at the wrist, another for the first wrap closed by an X friction, cinches are 2 more closed by a brake and the lower wrap a further one closed by a half-moon. This works with pretty much any sensible frictions, however. In essence, with slight variations, this is an universal format for a gote. Once you understand this, you begin to appreciate what each component is doing, so long as functionality is maintained, the exact format may be varied. This is pretty much how I tie these days.
The recent shoot with Rosy Pendlebaby is a good example of this in practice. The 'bitsa gote' was built on the fly at normal tying speed without big pauses for deliberation. 'Bitsa' because it was bits of this and bits of that :-)
Here's how it was done:   I saw a triple wrap in a Sugiura photos so took that as my starting point, closed it with an X friction. Tied on the second rope as per old style and used more or less Kazami's frictions thereafter. Finally, a central 3rd rope was added. I don't recall any specific influence there (possibly Naka-san and a few others) but the techniques were all pretty standard. Any quandaries during construction were solved by following the route the rope wanted to take. Given that all the functionality was fullfilled with the benefit of the support of an extra upper wrap, the feedback was unsurprisingly positive.
We will be focusing on expanding upon these theories and producing tutorials in the near future.