What is shibari or kinbaku?

After many years of study and research, this is the most accurate definition we can give of shibari/kinbaku. Our definition tries to be as honest and as close as possible to its Japanese origin.

Shibari/kinbaku is the Japanese erotic discipline of communication and play through ropes.

Shibari/kinbaku is a discipline.

Discipline as a commitment to an effective method of developing skills or attitudes. It requires knowledge, skills, practice. But we also have to consider its origin, its cultural background, its different schools and systems. Shibari or kinbaku is not an art in the same way that picking up a brush does not make you an artist. With many years of study and training, with mastery of the basics and the necessary skills, and with the right creative ability, it can become an art.

Shibari/kinbaku is erotic.

Its origin is in sexuality and BDSM. Its evolution is closely linked to adult film and photography. Shibari is performed as a couple, in intimacy, in closeness and with contact. Separating shibari from its erotic component in order to monetize it in the West as an aesthetic or acrobatic activity is as unethical as turning yoga into an exercise. To understand shibari it is necessary to understand sexuality and erotic expression in Japan, completely different from Western.

Shibari/kinbaku is communication and play.

It is the communication between two people in an intimate way that fundamentally defines shibari, not the ropes. There is no point in practicing shibari alone, just as there is no point in playing tennis or chess alone. Shibari is a consensual play practice in which there is a cession of power that is difficult to understand without a knowledge of Japanese culture, especially with regard to sexuality and the expression of emotions. The rope is a medium and is NOT important. Patterns are not important. There are different paths and schools in shibari that can be more oriented to torment or semenawa (such as Naka Ryu), to the game on the floor and the care of your model (such as Yukimura Ryu) or sexuality in a more direct way (Yagami Ren Ryu), but in all schools is the link between the person tying and the person tied what defines the discipline.

Shibari/kinbaku is Japanese.

It is impossible to understand or learn shibari/kinbaku, or any Japanese discipline, without understanding the culture, the aesthetics, the mentality and the importance of many concepts that are completely foreign to a Westerner. If someone asks us for recommendations of a book to learn shibari, we will recommend "The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture" by Osamu Ikeno, and not a book of patterns that will only serve to show off to a public of null knowledge. Although many concepts that have to do with Japanese culture may seem difficult and foreign, the right way is to learn and accept these concepts as part of kinbaku, and not underestimate them and transform shibari into something foreign to its origins.

This is a very simplified view of what shibari/kinbaku is. You may also be interested to visit what it is NOT shibari and check if you have preconceived ideas.

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