Felix Dartmouth’s Shibari blog

Welcome to my shibari blog.  There is no commercial content on this site.  If available, my commercial site (Archives BBS) is located at www.archw.com. I have a keen interest in shibari and have turned my attention from the fetish-oriented photography and video of Archives BBS to actual shibari practice.

On the difference between Japanese and Western Bondage

I responded to an extensive post about the difference between Japanese and Western Bondage.  I am not reproducing their post, but in my opinion, it didn’t cover a key characteristic, which I am remarking on below:

I looked through the above responses, but I don’t think I found the following technical points that I see as the key differences between shibari and “western bondage”.

The tying in Shibari almost always starts at the “bight” of the rope, forming a single column tie around a limb. From this point, the doubled rope will form a pattern, such as a TK, a futo, a karada, etc. Because a single column tie will not collapse on itself and compress the limb, and because a doubled rope wrapping necessarily has more surface area than a single rope, shibari has a more “huggy” feeling that western rope application, in my opinion. This is often evidenced when I tie a new bottom in a TK and they remark, “This feels really good!”

By contrast, many western ties often begin either with a larks head, where the line has to be drawn all the way through the bight of the rope, which is awkward and time-consuming, and can effect rope burn, or a tie can start in the middle of a length of rope, and then individual lines are wrapped in opposition, and after a certain amount of wrapping, the opposing ropes are joined with some type of knot, such as a square knot.

You will almost never see a Japanese tier pulling 15 feet of doubled rope through a larks head, wasting time, boring the bottom, and risking rope burn.

In shibari, “knots” are really not that much of a thing. Sure, the single column tie and the double column tie does involve a knot, but ties usually finish with a “hitch”, and not a “knot”. Rather, “frictions” are used at key junctions to maintain the integrity of the bondage structure.

Properly done, a larks head start can be made to be non-collapsible, but I find that many ropesters will omit this very important step because they have not been taught how and are just going on the seat of their pants. So, many ties will begin with a collapsible band, crushing down on the column. Not good.

Another characteristic of western bondage, which I consider very disadvantageous, is that many Western tiers will “cinch” between two columns, which is taught in the Boy Scouts in the “lashing” instruction, which is used in building camp-sites, etc. Lashing between the wrists is a perfect way to cut off circulation and people who conceive of two wrists crossed behind the back as a pair of sticks to be lashed together, can cause considerable harm, and the tie will lack sustainability.

It’s not much fun playing in bondage when your wrists get tingly, and you have to ask your partner to release you after a few minutes.

Again, by contrast, a well-placed TK, or double-column tie behind the back can be sustained for a very long, time, making for fun and extended play, possibly in the hours. And, well-placed single column ties on the wrists and ankles can make for an extremely sustainable spread-eagle on a bed, again, sustainable for hours.

I guess you can tell which I prefer, no sense hiding it. I’m always ready to hear arguments to the contrary, however.”

Witnessing an intense tickling scene

I have to agree that is indeed a great story.

I witnessed a tickling scene that affected me emotionally it was so intense and amounted to a type of torture that contrasted markedly with the serene shibari rope suspension scenes that I am used to.

The young lady (whom I had recently met and consider a friend) was strapped to a tickle board by leather straps at her ankles, knees, waist, above her breasts. Her legs were spread wide.

Her arms were up to either side of her head, strapped at her elbows and wrists. There was no leather strap at her throat, and she was not gagged.

The tickling started at her feet at first very slowly and moved up. Apparently, the person who had negotiated for the tickling scene knew exactly what he was doing.

Soon she was writhing in agony, screaming and gasping for breath, completely pinned by her straps, which had no give whatsoever. The actual tickling continued for a full 45 minutes. The tickler was extremely skilled, bring her to extreme peaks and then allowing her to recover, so that the tickling could begin again.

I was genuinely concerned for her well-being and safety, but we were in a venue where safeword protocols were strictly in place, and there was had no indication that she had called a safeword.

Her arms were unstrapped, and then her wrists were strapped together and pulled up above her head, exposing her underarms. As the tickling continued, she began to jerk in a convulsive manner barely able to scream.

Finally, it stopped. She was slowly unstrapped and taken to a nearby bed for aftercare. She was clearly exhausted; totally spent. I think she received excellent aftercare that allowed her to return to reality and physically recuperate at least partially from the ordeal.

I had to question my own reaction. I was emotionally completely spent – I felt she had been taken extreme advantage of, even though there was no safewording and I knew the scene had been carefully negotiated. Thus, I couldn’t square my feeling she had been taken advantage of with what I knew to be the structure of negotiation and consent that was in place.

I would say my experience with this type of scene (as an onlooker) is moderate to advanced. I have watched very intense impact scenes, and I adore shibari.

This tickling scene, however, was the most torturous scene I have ever witnessed.

I kept my emotions inside, hopefully, appropriately so. I contacted my friend afterward and expressed my concern, but didn’t receive an answer.

One of the things we say here is “Go get a cookie”. I was not a DM there, just an onlooker. I never heard a safeword, either a “yellow” much less a “red”. They say if a scene is too intense for you as an onlooker, go get a cookie. This indeed was my “go get a cookie” moment.

Mechanical lifting advantage: Jute or Hemp?

(posted in the “shibari” group on Fetlife 8/10/2018)

When lifting either partial or full body weight, using a ring, and an Austrailian bight, I have never had difficulty achieving reasonable lift without using carabiners or pulleys. I had been using jute, which has been well treated and used over the past year or so, but not at all worn out.

Recently, I have had experiences where I was pulling up a hip harness, after a TK was locked off, and haven’t been able to achieve lift. Things just seemed stuck. I carefully examined the ropes I was pulling up on, and the rope that went down to the Y-attachment to the hip harness, making sure it was not jammed in any way, and everything seemed good, but I wasn’t getting the “mechanical advantage” of lift.

The weight/size of my bottoms has been not a factor in this difficulty. I am a fairly strong and fit person.

Then, it occurred to me that I had switched from jute to hemp for my uplines, reasoning that hemp is higher rated for strength. That switch was where this problem first began.

Is this a thing? Hemp is more “floppy” and “frictiony”. Maybe the jute, which is stiffer, lends itself to achieving this mechanical advantage.

(Note that I never, ever, ever rely on a single line to lift a tying partner!)

I am really loth to use mechanical devices, like carabiners or pulleys near the body, and stick to strictly natural Japanese technique. The downside of using these devices is obvious from a safety standpoint – they release suddenly and catastrophically. (Of course, I know it’s always up to me to keep the “brakes” on).

I frequently tie on a single right, using 3 – 4 uplines. I want to be able to easily raise/lower and then raise again any part of the body, or the entire body, confidently and smoothly, so the experience of my partner is serene and fulfilling.

Should I go back to jute for uplines?

Has anyone else had difficulty with hemp achieving mechanical lifting advantage or should I look somewhere else for the problem?

Rope Drop – dealing with it

Call it rope drop, bottom drop, top drop (this one rhymes!) whatever you call it, it’s a real bummer!

Have you ever had this happen?

(switching to 2nd person writing, which I almost never do)

You go to a weeknight tying event.  You meet a great friend a do a scene onstage.  You’re in a great mood, she’s in a great mood. The rope co-operates, the scene is hot, the patterns work well, and the imagination is firing on all cylinders.  Suspensions work, ground-play works, you have a great connection and intimacy, both sexy and fun! So much laughing, enjoyment, and pure bliss!

It’s a great night!  Great pictures, compliments from onlookers, you’re on cloud 9, and so is your partner!

Sure, you’re out a little late, but there was no alcohol involved and you feel great the next morning – you practically wake up glowing.  That next day you exchange texts with your rope partner about the great time and talk about which ties you liked best and how wonderful the whole night was.  All the next day, you are practically floating! Continue reading “Rope Drop – dealing with it”

Strappado Armbinder

I recently was asked to assist in a photo shoot in Houston Texas.

Model (Instagram - sweet_amber_xoxo) bound in strappado armbinder.
Model (Instagram – sweet_amber_xoxo) bound in strappado armbinder.


















Here is another image:

Amber in Strappado Armbinder, image by Mark Richard Hudson
Amber in Strappado Armbinder, image by Mark Richard Hudson, bondage by felixdartmouth




















I had been interested to try a shibari strappado armbinder that I had seen described in the following YouTube video:

I found this video interesting because of the “fast” nature of the tie and the difference between this method of executing a shibari strappado and other methods that I have been taught.  Notice that Moco Jute describes this as a tie for persons with “limited flexibility”.

A common element in this tie described in the Moco Jute video and the tie I did for the shibari shooting is the single column tie to start the tie at the wrists, behind the back, but it quickly departs in method from that point.  4 – 5 wraps are made around the arms and then secured over the shoulders and behind the neck.  From that point, the line is simply used to gather the line between the arms, pulling them together.  Having practiced this only once before the image above, I ran into problems with having a band near the bottom’s “funny bone” and my partner and I had to consequently quit the tie.

In the case of the model Amber, her arms and elbows were very surprisingly flexible.  Her elbows and forearms could easily touch behind her back so after the horizontal bands were made around her arms, the loops between the arms, gathering the bands pulled her arms completely together and hardly left room for inserting additional loops.  As you can see, the tie is extremely strict and restrictive.

There are many women for whom a classic takate kote is not accessible for various physical reasons, but there is no reason why they should be deprived of the tight and fulfilling bondage experience that they and their partners desire.

Please feel free to comment below your own experiences.