Thursday, October 25, 2012

A review of Esinem's Japanese Rope Bondage DVD Volumes 1 & 2

A number of weeks ago I was contacted by Esinem (aka Bruce) to ask if I would be interested in reviewing his new shibari instructional video Japanese Rope Bondage Volumes 1 & 2. Naturally I agreed. Bruce and I belonged to a shibari forum on Yahoo for a number of years. He would post photos of his performance work which always impressed me for both their technical excellence and his obvious passion.

He has also studied with some of the great names in the world of modern day shibari and kinbaku, such as Osada Steve, Arisue Go, and others. I was very interested to see how he would adapt their techniques to the West, and try and impart the knowledge via video.

In short, he has done a very good job of it.

The package consists of two DVDs, appropriately labeled as Volume 1 and 2.

The first DVD covers the basics (which I will discuss later on in this review), while the second builds on the knowledge acquired to create some of the more foundational shibari bindings such as the box tie (takate-kote) and related variants (including an interesting reverse box), ebi (or shrimp) tie, plus an introduction to safety ropes, floor based suspensions, etc. Full suspensions are not covered. They are much too dangerous for the novice and more properly belong in the realm of performance. The bindings presented are intended for private sessions to enhance the erotic interaction between participants.

This last point deserves some additional comments. One of the things I enjoyed about the DVDs was listening to Bruce discuss shibari, and watching his tying style, was how the powerful erotic dynamic is demonstrated. Even when he is in the middle of a tutorial, one can sense the energy exchange between himself and his model. Rather than being simply mechanical, it is evident that the rope becomes a conduit of communication. I couldn’t help but notice how even when he was doing something as simple as reviewing the basic form of a two column tie, that his model would often close her eyes and sway at the intensity of the experience. Both discs also contain a number of complete demonstrations, showing the entire bondage session from start to finish with a variety of both male and female models. Not only does this provide useful examples of how the various wrappings and ties can be layered, to create an almost endless variety of forms, but also how the experience is profound and meaningful for both the rigger and model.

Now, to the DVDs themselves.

Volume 1

The DVD begins with a section explaining Bruce’s motivation in creating the DVDs and how they are to be used. There is a lovely relaxed informality to these sections, which sets the viewer at ease as the other sections are approached. It seemed clear to me that this is less about making money, and rather more about sharing of his own knowledge and experience so that as many people as possible might experience both the beauty and power of Japanese bondage, and perhaps come to share his own passion.

There is an excellent section on safety, one of the most comprehensive I have ever seen in any shibari-related book or video. Of particular interest were the sections on nerve damage, things to watch out for, being careful of joints, and techniques to communicate issues without having to use words. Even for those who have some experience in rope work, I strongly recommend watching this section in its entirety. I learned a great deal, even though I have been doing rope work for well over 15 years.

I also appreciated the section on rope preparation and maintenance. While it is of course possible to purchase prepared rope (which he sells), there is something very satisfying in preparing your own. I must admit that even though I have had a preference for hemp in the past, I believe he may have convinced me of why jute may be even more desirable. I will certainly have to check this out soon!

The next few sections cover the most basic ties and wraps in shibari: the one and two column ties, tying a limb to itself, and a variety of techniques for dealing with excess rope. Each section consists of a number of parts which cover a basic discussion on how and why the form should be used, basic construction, step by step analysis, plus additional sub-sections on things to look out for, variants, etc. These are shown from different angles, very well lit, so you can see exactly what is happening. What makes these instructions especially valuable are many of the subtle, non-obvious, details which are highlighted, such as knot placement, hand position, tying from both the front and back, etc. Even something as simple as moving from the front to the side of a model when binding the wrists has many benefits.

While I was tempted to skip these basic sections, I was glad I did not. Once again I learned a great deal. In fact, I had my favourite rope model with me as I watched these videos for the second time, and I must have spent close to 30 minutes simply tying and re-tying the two column tie according to the instructions, learning the benefits over the technique I had been using up until now. For those of you who decide to purchase the DVDs, I would suggest you pay particular attention to the use of the left and right hand, how the rope is held, and how it is passed at different points in the tying. Bruce has an amazingly smooth flow (not surprising given his many years of practice) which appears deceptively simple until you try it yourself.

I’ve been walking around with a short piece of rope these days performing one and two column ties on almost everything I see!

The first DVD concludes with a video of a binding session from start to end. There is no commentary nor is any required. It provides an example of what is possible using the simple techniques shown. However, to really appreciate the video one must then turn to the second volume

Volume II

This volume starts in much the same way as the first. A brief description is given, including the motivation, and how it should be used. This is followed by a safety section which is an exact copy of the version in Volume I. If you watched it in Volume 1 you can probably skip it, but you may want to review it again, especially the section on nerves, joints, and things to watch out for.
As might be expected, the first form covered is the box tie (takate-kote). Bruce shows a fairly standard variant, and then includes a number of different alternatives depending on how much rope is available, or how decorative one wishes the binding to become. Of particular interest is the section on “things to watch out for” which shows a number of areas of the form where special attention is required, for example how best to avoid nerves, straightening the stem, etc.

After two or three variants are shown, the next position (or form) demonstrated is the captive, or shrimp (ebi). This is a very challenging position for many models, and Bruce speaks at length about how to be safe. Still, it is a very pretty form, and has many erotic possibilities. Lovely stuff really.

From here the DVD covers the use of safety ropes and some floor based, or partial, suspensions. This is where a single limb may be elevated, or the torso may be somewhat elevated off the ground while the feet remain on the floor. This form of shibari has many possibilities and it is unlikely that the novice, or even the intermediate rigger will grow bored or run out of ideas.

Speaking of intermediate I think it is important to point out that Volume II is not really designed for Intermediate level riggers, but rather continues on the foundations created in Volume I. However, it will certainly be of interest to people who consider themselves intermediate (such as myself). I learned a great deal, much of it subtle and nuanced about how certain of the basic forms should be constructed. I cannot overemphasize how valuable this was to my own techniques, and I have already started incorporating much of this into my sessions. For example, how to use the finger as a “crochet hook” to pull a rope through the binding with a minimum amount of difficulty. I know I will be watching this disc over and over again. There is a great deal to learn, not about advanced forms, but rather to make sure my basic techniques are the best they can be. My rope model has mentioned to me how much more comfortable she is now finding my bindings, as well as how the flow of my rope work has improved in a short time.
The DVD concludes with three videos of Esinem binding a variety of models, all of which are worth watching in detail.

So in the end, would I recommend this DVD set? Yes I would. It certainly is an excellent introduction to the subject and covers pretty much everything a beginner might want to know to get started. And, as I mentioned above, the intermediate rigger will also find a great deal of valuable tips and techniques. I think it represents a useful addition to the collection of English-based instruction on shibari, and I think Esinem (aka Bruce) should be thanked for taking the time and effort in putting it together.

Thank you, Bruce. I can’t wait for the next installment.

Copyright Mackenzie Cross 2012
All rights reserved

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Long-lived triads

Long lived triads

A common sexual fantasy for many men and women is “the threesome”. While the composition of participants may vary, the fantasy itself is generally the same – an evening of sexual delight and bliss exploring erotic positions and activities not achievable with only two participants. There is no need to detail the myriad of possible combinations. The porn industry and your own overactive imagination have done a much better job of developing the taxonomy of these threesomes than I ever will.

Yet for many who actually have the opportunity of being with two other partners at the same time, the reality of the experience is often far less erotic and sensual than their fantasy. IMO – much of this has to do with the fact that many of us find it a challenge to be perfectly at ease when there are three participants. Sex is intimate and personal, and when there is an emotional mismatch between the participants (i.e. if I am very close to one partner but not the other) it becomes a challenge to maintain a balance.

Many, if not most, threesomes are comprised of a couple and a “third wheel”. The couple may be involved in a long term relationship and might simply be looking for a third person to add a little “spice” to their sexual activities. This is not generally a problem if the threesome will only be together for a single night, but what if a longer-term relationship is being considered? Such a possibility represents a potential minefield of emotional and sexual dangers. Given the current rates of divorce, one can only assume that the addition of a third party, and the increased complexity of the social dynamics, will make the viability of the relationship very difficult indeed. For example, one party may feel jealousy, another might feel envy, another might feel insecure, another may feel alienated, etc. So while the sex may be great, the potential emotional damage is substantial, so much so that I believe most people avoid even the discussion of a triad in the context of a long-term commitment.

Even in polyamorous relationships these complexities are rampant. And while we don’t really have any statistics to help us understand how well these relationships work out, I can’t help but feel that most of them do not succeed, or do not reach their full potential.

Of course, some threesomes (and moresomes) do succeed. Certain religions allow for polygamy, which at least superficially gives the illusion of long-term viability. But even here I suspect there are many issues and problems. We just don’t get to see them. Or, put another way, when any of the participants in such a relationship feel trapped, it is nonetheless likely they will stay in the relationship, even if they are not being satisfied by it.

It sounds as if the deck is seriously stacked against any threesome (or triad) succeeding. Very few of them ever make it past the first one-night stand, and even when they do, it is mostly about sex.

My belief is that the D/s dynamic may hold the key to making this sort of relationship work. The nature of a D/s relationship seems to provide the ethical and behavioral foundations on which to base a viable and long-lasting triad.

Segue: I prefer to use the word triad, rather than threesome. As I explained in my previous blog entry, I define a triad as three people that work as a unit. I believe this best describes the sort of relationship I am speaking about.

Those who have read my writings know that I consider honesty, trust, and obedience to be the critical requirements I demand from a Submissive and that for a Dominant I consider honesty, trust, and responsibility to be critical.

Obedience on one side, responsibility on the other. Can these somehow provide guidance to making a triad successful? Beyond this, can the Submissive’s desire to serve and be found pleasing, and the Dominant’s desire to control and develop, somehow provide a solid framework on which a triad can flourish? Good questions. I will let you know as soon as I find out! However, what I can tell you, based on my experiences to date, is that the answer to both questions seems to be “Yes”.

The Submissive will obey, which means that she will stay in the triad even at the cost of her own emotional well-being. This must therefore be balanced by the responsibility of the Dominant to protect the Submissive, which can be a challenge (as in my case) if the triad consists of two Submissives and a single Dominant. Firstly, there is a natural desire to enjoy the service of two females. The sexual possibilities become broader, and of course there is the ego gratification of having two beauties at one’s disposal. Also, it is possible that the Dominant may become obsessive about the new female, and therefore become less sensitive to the emotional state of the other girl.

Vigilance is therefore mandatory. As the primary control in the relationship, the Dominant cannot allow his desire to overcome his responsibility. Difficult decisions may be required; decisions that may not please him, but still must be taken. At a minimum he needs to maintain a constantly open and honest communication with both Submissives. This will be a challenge for all parties. The payoff will not only be a more viable relationship, but the service of two girls who can focus all of their attention on being pleasing, rather than being distracted by negative energy and thinking.

Balance is also critical. Each participant will have different needs and desires. Often these will be in conflict and satisfying them may seem impossible. Yet, it can be done. The key seems to be in allowing empathy to develop between the participants. Each must recognize the needs of the other, and in so doing, be willing to make compromises. Compromise is inevitable, but the Dominant must be aware that the Submissives may appear to accept the compromise when in reality all they are doing is trying to please him at the expense of their own emotional well-being. Again, open communication is the key to avoiding this pitfall.

Bottom line: It is now my belief that long-lived triads are viable. They can be made to work, but it requires dedication, trust, empathy and understanding. Furthermore, I believe that the D/s lifestyle may provide an excellent foundation for the creation of viable triads, but the responsibility for their maintenance is mostly in the hands of the Dominant(s). For those seeking to achieve this balance they must be prepared for a fair amount of emotional challenges before balance is achieved, but there is a tremendous payoff when it does.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back after the summer break

Greetings all,

It has been some time since my last post. I have been wondering at my lack of motivation, since in the past I seemed to devote so much of my time to online writing, both here and in my personal communications. I suspect that part of the reason has to do with FetLife, where I spend much more time nowadays, but there are other reasons as well. For example, I am not currently mentoring anyone. In the past, I have found that mentoring tended to provoke or challenge me to address various topics in D/s, which provided the fodder for this blog. And while I have spent a fair amount of time over the last year in training a particular female, this has been for my own personal pleasure and therefore not really anything I felt I need to share. Beyond this, between my slave and my pet I have been rather occupied. Two girls can keep a fellow busy, which means less free time for posting.

Still, I can't help but notice that it has been over two months since my last entry, which is really too long.

(BTW - if any of you have any suggestions for topics you would like me to write about, or if you would like to share some of your own writing, contact me via email).

Speaking about training, I am happy to report that my rope work continues to improve. I have been devoting a fair amount of time to studying some of the more classical shibari ties and trying to emulate them with decent success. I have also been busy in the workshop and have built a nice whipping post, a wooden pony, plus mounted a beam in my basement for suspension work. If you would like to see some photos, head over to my FetLife profile page to see some examples of the sort of things I am doing. Very enjoyable, and fairly intense work.

I am also happy to report that I have received a fair amount of positive feedback con my first audio file "Destiny". So much so that I have decided to record another, probably longer one in the very near future. I even have some ideas for some free style, improv recordings which might prove interesting.

In other news, I have the bits and pieces of about three new stories which I have been working on. My problem has been finding the time, and motivation, to complete them. Again, I believe that the real world has been consuming much of my efforts and motivations lately, leaving little time for the writing of fiction. However recently I have noticed a growing desire on my part to sit down and write again so perhaps I will get back to these tales in the near future.

On the downside I believe my interest in mentoring and teaching has diminished a bit because of my activity on FetLife. Frankly, I am coming to the conclusion that the BDSM community in general, and those interested in a D/s lifestyle in particular, have too many different perspectives, too many different ways of seeing their relationships, for consensus ever to be possible. IOW - everybody is always right. Frankly I find this totally inclusive attitude (ie - "its all good if you are enjoying yourself") rather difficult to deal with. Perhaps I am getting too set in my ways?

But iae - this morning I do find myself with some things to write about and so I shall.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Self-Control Considered Sexy


Over the years many submissive women have given me some idea of what they find sexually attractive in a man. Interestingly, their notion of sexiness seems to change over time. In the beginning, they mostly look at physical appearance. In particular, they are attracted to men who are both tall and powerfully built. This makes sense to me since size can often convey a sense of dominance. I call this sort of attraction the “Biker Appeal” since more often than not these women seem to be attracted to the whole biker mystique – bad boys who do what they want, when they want, without giving a fuck about anyone else. In fact, the fantasy of being gang-raped by a biker gang is quite common (or so it seems…I have heard it more than a few times).

As the female submissive develops, she slowly comes to realize that this sort of appeal is only skin deep, and that physical size alone does not guarantee that a man will be dominant. In fact, there is probably no correlation at all. Hence, imo, there are many failed relationships, as the submissive discovers she needs more than an appearance of dominance, and ultimately she goes looking for it elsewhere.

At this point, there are many directions she can go in search of someone who can satisfy her need to submit. Some may look for experienced “players” whom they find at the various BDSM parties and conventions. Others may get recommendations from friends. Others look for it via an online experience on websites such as Second Life. There are many ways to go, each with their pros and cons, in the search for a dominant partner.

In my own case, many women have told me that they find intelligence to be sexy (which is a good thing since I don’t look anything at all like a biker!). I understand this as well. Since sexual arousal is so much of a mental thing, it makes sense that intelligence could be viewed as being sexy, particularly when that intelligence can be used to both provoke the submissive response as well as keep a girl in her place.

Of course, I have also been told that my voice is quite sexy as well. If you want to find out for yourself if this is true, try downloading a recording of me reading one of my stories. Then you can decide for yourself.

So there appears to be many things women find sexy in men. I would like to suggest another that I feel is particularly appropriate when it comes to a D/s relationship, namely self-control. By this I mean the ability of the male Dominant partner to avoid reacting impulsively, to control his emotions instead of the other way around, and to never allow any behavior on the part of the submissive to cause him to lose control of his responses.

In other words, someone a submissive can trust, not only to control her, but to control himself as well.

Why is this sexy? Well, firstly, what would be the major concern that any submissive might have during even the briefest of sessions with a Dominant? I would suggest it would be trust. After all, if you are going to consent to be bound, restrained, and placed in a fully vulnerable and open position, you would probably want some assurance that you were in the hands of someone you could trust to be responsible.

Beyond this, many of the masochistic Submissives I have met have a special fantasy about provoking their Dominant to lose control. I call this “playing with fire”. They know it is dangerous, and yet they do it. It has to do with a desire to see the inner beast in their Master. In most cases this would be a bad idea, but it doesn’t stop them from trying. Here we can see self-control is sexy because a) they can play their provocation games as much as they want in complete safety and b) they find it very stimulating to keep trying to do so.

Self-control is also sexy because it conveys a sense of discipline, which is generally always attractive to a submissive.

Also, in the same way that there is something sexy about a naked bound girl at the feet of a well-dressed man (suit and tie, of course), so too there is something very sexy about a girl screaming out of control as she is being worked, while her partner stays cool, calm and aloof. Or so I have been told.

And here is the crux of the matter: while things like appearance, voice, and intelligence may be sexy, these qualities are not unique to D/s. Self-control, otoh, while important in vanilla relationships, is absolutely critical in the Dominant partner of a D/s relationship.

Which is why I believe that self-control is very sexy indeed.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The other side of jealousy

The Other Side of Jealousy

In my last blog entry, I discussed the topic of jealousy as viewed/experienced by the Dominant. One of the comments I received in response used an example of the submissive experiencing jealousy towards her Dominant, which made me consider the other side of the coin. Like many things in D/s relationships, jealousy is experienced asymmetrically. Of course, in both cases I consider the root cause of jealousy to be insecurity, but the way it manifests in a Dominant is quite a bit different than the way it manifests in a submissive. And much of this boils down to a question of choice.

Simply put, the Dominant is the one who gets to choose whether or not to share the girl. Therefore, even if he chooses not to address the issue of his jealousy, he can stay protected by simply making sure that no one other than himself gets to enjoy the service of his partner. IOW - even if he is jealous he can make the problem go away (at least for awhile) by simply making sure that she is never in a position to be used by anyone else.

But in most cases, the submissive does not have this choice. If her partner wishes to try another submissive there is little she can do to stop him, short of ending the relationship (or perhaps threatening to do so). Of course, here I am assuming that the couple has NOT negotiated monogamy as part of their relationship.

True, she could rant, rave, scream, cajole, etc., in an effort to get him to change his mind, but many Dominants do not react well to such behavior on the part of their submissives. Therefore, this sort of technique will rarely work.

It seems to me that some other strategy might be required. But before we get into that, let us try to identify the reasons why a Dominant might seek out a second submissive.

1) He might find it pleasing. Enough said about that.

2) He might be curious. Perhaps he would like to try a threesome for the first time.

3) He might wish to further develop his girl. Perhaps he feels she is a latent bi-sexual, or perhaps he feels watching another girl serve him will teach her some valuable techniques.

These are mostly positive reasons, but of course there are other reasons as well.

a) He might be angry with her and goes off with another girl "to get even".

b) He may be losing interest in her, or becoming bored with her.

c) He may have fallen in love with another girl.

The first three reasons should probably not be considered a threat to the relationship, and if properly managed, might even enhance it. The second three reasons are all significant threats to the relationship.

So, what's a girl to do? One thing is certain - as long as she is consumed by the negative energy of jealousy it is unlikely that any positive resolution will be possible. She must somehow let go of her own suffering, step back and examine the relationship in depth, and then make a reasoned response (more on this later). It is only once the emotion has been defused and tempered that any clear thinking becomes possible.

My key to defusing these feelings is as follows:

1) If he is just curious or experimenting, it is unlikely to be a threat to the relationship. If, however, it turns out to be a threat, then perhaps it is time to learn about it.

2) If he has really lost interest, or has fallen in love with another girl, then there is nothing to be done. It is time to move on.

3) If the submissive feels that her partner is making a big mistake, then logical and rational arguments will work much better than screaming, sarcasm, innuendo, or "the silent treatment".

4) If none of this works, and if the submissive cannot find a way to let go of these feelings, then perhaps some sort of counseling is in order.

I strongly recommend that the submissive let her partner know about her feelings, let him know what she is trying to do with them, and ask for his help. Often some reassurance, some talk, some ground rules, etc., can go a long way towards helping.

And if all else fails, well, you can always write to me. Helping couples deal with these things is something that I do.

Hmmm... I have more to write, but I think this entry is long enough now. More later.

Be seeing you,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jealousy vs. Protection

Greetings all,

Picture this – a fairly new D/s couple are at a play party. Let us say that they have been together for perhaps a year or less, but feel very committed to each other. She has begged his collar, and he has accepted. Their relationship has been going along very well, and both are satisfied with each other.

At the party, the Dominant partner (let us call him Bill) is approached by another Dominant (whom we shall call Frank). Conversation ensues. Over the course of the conversation Frank extends many positive comments about Bill’s girl (let us call her Susan). Bill is flattered, of course. After a little while Frank asks Bill if he may play with Susan. This is the first time Bill has ever had anyone request this sort of thing. He asks Frank what he means by “playing”. Bill responds that it means both S&M play as well as some sexual play, perhaps a blow job or some such thing.

Bill refuses. At this point Frank says something like “If you were a real Dom you would share her” or “You must be very insecure” or “It is obvious to me that you don’t really own her” or something to this effect. Bill replies that Susan is not ready to play with others, and that she is under his protection, so she will not play with anyone else.

Susan says nothing, though perhaps there is a small glint of excitement in her eyes at the thought of being used by another. Or perhaps it is fear.

So here’s the question: Is Bill being possessive and jealous, or is he being responsible and protective? And, how can we tell the difference, or in particular, how can Bill tell the difference?

To my way of thinking only Bill can really answer this question. Only he is aware of his internal state of mind, and therefore he is the only one who can have any real idea of what the truth is here. Yet, if he is feeling insecure and jealous it is highly unlikely that he will admit this to anyone else. He may even hide it from himself. Therefore we need a more objective way to determine the root cause for his decision.

Let us step back for a minute and consider why the dominant partner in a relationship might choose, or not choose, to share his girl with another. To be clear, when I speak about sharing, this would involve having his submissive serve another in a sexual, service, or play session (or a combination of all three), which may be done privately, or in public. What defines it as sharing is that a) another will use her in a manner which is generally reserved for her dominant partner; and b) this use will be of fixed duration and probably have some hard limits associated with it. The Dominant partner may, or may not, be present during this shared time.

Why might a Dominant be motivated to share his girl? A number of reasons suggest themselves. Perhaps he feels she is ready for a new experience. Often, in the development of a submissive these sorts of experiences can be very helpful, particularly when there is a romantic attachment between Dominant and submissive. By sharing the girl, she is given an opportunity to evaluate the difference between being handled by a lover, as opposed to someone who is only interested in her service.

Another reason for sharing is that it may allow the submissive to be trained in ways in which the Dominant does not have experience. Or, it may be as simple as allowing the submissive to experience certain sensations which are normally not part of how the couple interacts. (I am thinking here of certain forms of extreme sensation play which require a fair amount of experience before attempting to do.)

The Dominant might choose to share his girl strictly to stroke his own ego. Perhaps he wants the other fellow to see the quality of his girl. Many fellows will allow a friend to try their new car, or perhaps a new shop tool. Why not one’s girl?

Or, it might simply please the Dominant to see his girl squirming under the hand of another. Some people find this quite exciting.

The Dominant might do it simply as a technique to show the girl that he is not that attached to her. By allowing another to enjoy her intimate services, he lets her know that she is nothing more than a “girl” to him.

Of course, not all the reasons are positive. A Dominant might give in to peer pressure. He might be unsure of himself and allow himself to be coerced. He might be angry with her and use sharing as a form of punishment. He might even be trying to end their relationship and is sharing her in the hopes that she will find someone else.

OTOH – why might a Dominant choose not to share a girl under his protection?

Firstly, it might be because he is being responsible. Perhaps she is not yet ready for such a thing (if ever). Perhaps he is concerned that her nervousness will lead to her failing and he does not wish to set her up for failure. Perhaps she does not yet reflect his idea of perfection and until she does, he is reluctant for others to experience her.

Perhaps he knows enough about her past and history to know she will not react well to being shared. Perhaps he is concerned that the other Dominant may not be responsible in handling his property.

Perhaps he is worried about her safety.

Or perhaps it simply doesn’t please him to share her at this time.

All well and good, but of course there are other reasons as well.

A classic reason would be insecurity, the root of all jealousy. Simply put, the Dominant is fearful that if he shares her, she will like the other fellow better and want to leave their relationship. Or, he feels that by sharing her, somehow their relationship will be made less special. Or, he is intimidated by the other Dominant, and doesn’t want to look bad in front of him.

As you can see, the generally negative reasons are always based around fear and insecurity. The generally positive reasons are based around responsibility, development, and empowerment. All Dominants really know their own motivation, regardless of whether they admit to it or not.

Protection of the submissive, in all its forms, always results in the girl feeling safe and empowered. Jealousy and insecurity, in all its forms, always blocks development and empowerment. I believe a submissive has the right (and perhaps the duty) to respectfully question her Dominant any time she feels he is doing something out of fear or insecurity, rather than a desire for her protection and development.

It is a tricky question, but one that I feel can be answered only if we are honest with ourselves.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rope work - Past and Current

Greetings all,

I have always had an attraction to bondage. Many of my earliest fantasies involved bound and helpless women. I couldn’t really say why I found these images to be so exciting. Perhaps it was some early event in my childhood or perhaps it is genetics. In any event, I don’t worry about it too much. Over the years I have come not only to accept this part of my sexual identity, but to fully embrace it. Part of this acceptance came from learning that there are many women whose bondage fantasies dovetail with my own. One of the happy consequences of this knowledge has been a plethora of females more than willing to offer themselves for binding, or as we sometimes say “to beg the ropes”.

I bound someone for the first time when I was 23 or so. I actually remember the binding. She was on the bed, naked and spread-eagled. I was intending to tie her wrists and ankles to the bed legs, which proved to be a problem because the bed didn’t have any legs. I ended up tying one of the ropes to her wrist, passed the rope between the mattress and the box spring, and tied it to her other wrist.

At which point my cock took over. I didn’t even remember about her ankles, just jumped on top and had some of my best sex ever.

My knot work was pathetic. The rope was loose, I had used dangerous slip knots, and she was able to free herself well before I was done with her, but it didn’t matter. Now I had tasted the reality of bondage and I knew I wanted more. Much more.

My next twenty or so years were spent experimenting with different forms of bondage. Ropes of course, but also chains, leather, plastic wrap, etc. Even before the Internet, there were plenty of BDSM-themed books around offering fodder for my creativity. Of course, the arrival of children meant that I had to significantly curtail the frequency of bondage sessions, although I can’t say it involved too much suffering.

I don’t really remember when I first encountered photographs of women bound in the Japanese Shibari or Kinbaku style. What I do remember is how I was captivated by the grace, beauty, and intensity of the simple hemp or jute ropes cunningly and artistically wrapped around the female’s body. I remember the expressions of rapture and passion on the faces of the models, ranging from utter perfect humiliation to a transcendent orgasmic release. Shibari is all about ropes, but not just the mechanical aspects of binding. In shibari the ropes also act as a conduit of interaction between the participants. Sexual and emotional energies flow and merge creating a special reality which can only exist within the framework of the ropes.

Or to put it in a somewhat abbreviated manner – I abso-fucking-lutely loved shibari from Day One. Still do.

Learning shibari is easier said than done, in particular if you are married with young children. There were very few books available, and those were mostly in Japanese. In addition, it was difficult to find any general agreement on what shibari was, or was not. Lacking any certifying body, almost anyone can call themselves a shibari master (nawashi, etc), and who is to say they are wrong? I did manage to see some performance videos, but these were mostly about suspensions (which I liked but knew were beyond my ability), or only showed the completed binding and not how it was done.

This meant that most of my early attempts at shibari were dismal failures. In fact, not only my early attempts, but almost all of my attempts for quite a few years afterward were perhaps best described as “learning experiences”. Ropes were too tight, or too loose. Knots became stuck and wouldn’t release. My partners were frequently able to escape. Perhaps most importantly, I was never really able to achieve the looks of passion on my model’s face such as those in the photographs I had seen. Because I was concentrating so hard on trying to get the binding right, I was never able to let myself open to the potential energy flow between myself and my partner.

Over time I came to realize that this interaction was much more important than the actual technique itself. This was a major revelation for me. It freed me from the tyranny of trying to get the ropes on correctly, and instead allowed me to be in the moment with my partner. So, while my rope work stayed sloppy, my enjoyment and pleasure in the sessions increased quite a bit.

Still, I have never lost my interest in trying to achieve some measure of competency in my rope techniques. I look forward to new sessions as opportunities for sexual pleasure, the expression of the D/s dynamic, and to improve my techniques.

Which brings me almost up to date.

Over the last six months or so there have been some wonderful additions to my collection of shibari “how to” materials, namely Douglas Kent’s Complete Shibari (which I reviewed in my last post), and Master K’s gorgeous “The Beauty of Kinbaku” coffee table book. I have also come into possession of a couple of shibari videos; one in particular by Mari Masato which has influenced me greatly in a very short time. While the video is in Japanese without sub-titles, I find they really are not required. The bindings are performed slowly, and are well lit and easy to follow. I have watched the video many times now, and with each repetition I have been more impressed with the simplicity, elegance, and cunning in how he uses the ropes.

Last weekend I had my first opportunity to try one of these bindings on a willing and flexible girl. It is called a shrimp (or ebi) tie. At first glance it appears simple, but there are some subtle aspects to it which require special attention. The intent of this binding is to keep the model perfectly immobile yet make it easy to position her in different ways for different purposes.

Even though this was my first attempt I felt comfortable and relaxed as I started the binding. The ropes seemed to flow onto her body. At one point I had to raise her crossed and bound ankles towards her waist. Staying close to her, I used both my thigh and body to bend her over. The sense of energy flow was intense.

By the time I was looping the rope around her neck to bend her over even further, I could tell she was deeply into the experience. She was still and calm, yet also profoundly aroused. I rocked her back and forth on the fulcrum of her ass; leaning her up against the wall, and then rocking her forward so she was sitting on the floor, her head bowed in a lovely expression of servitude.

After twenty minutes or so I judged that she’d had enough, even though all of her extremities were still pink and warm and she was showing no sign of distress. I brought her through about three releases, using tongue and fingers. The last one was done by rocking her back and forth on my fingers which were up inside her hole. Later, she would tell me it was one of the most powerful releases she had ever experienced, and it sent her off into subspace for a good 10-15 minutes. During that time I kept her cradled in my arms, lying mostly face down across my lap. Because of the way the ropes were tied I was able to release almost all of them one-handed, slowly releasing the tensions of the cords, without requiring her to move.

Overall I was very pleased with the results. The binding was not only pleasing to look at, but was perhaps my closest attempt so far to achieving the true shibari experience. I feel I have reached a new level in my rope work. I am looking forward now to trying new and more complex forms.

Any takers?

I just thought I would share.

Be seeing you.

P.S. Tonight, on the spur of the moment, I did a one rope shibari. It was a variant on a front hogtie. I more or less made it up as I went along. I was very pleased with the results.

So was she.

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