What is NOT shibari/kinbaku?

It is very likely that you have read one of the many sensationalist articles on shibari that perpetuate a misconception of this discipline.  During our lessons, we emphasize that our students get a realistic idea of shibari/kinbaku as accurate as possible and the theoretical part turns as important as the practical part. But without going into too much detail, let's clarify the erroneous preconceived ideas that we see most in beginners' workshops.

It is not a martial art.

Martial arts are fundamentally about defending or subduing an attacker. Shibari is an erotic discipline of communication and play. Nothing to do with it.

It is not millenary.

In fact, it appears in the first half of the 20th century. It has an inspiration in multiple Japanese cultural elements that can be found in other periods, but it is only an inspiration, not an evolution.

It has nothing to do with hojojutsu.

Hojojutsu: The military discipline of capturing, transporting, torturing and killing prisoners from the Edo period. Saying that shibari comes from hojojutsu makes as little sense as saying that the people who practice BDSM today come from Torquemada. The use of rope is common to many other disciplines.

It has nothing to do with samurais.

And much less with the distorted idea of samurai that most of us Westerners have.

You cannot practice alone.

Neither with a chair or a mannequin. The goal of shibari is communication between two people. No matter if you are able to make the most complex pattern of the universe on a mannequin, your shibari will be worse than someone who badly tied his partner's wrists and made them smile.

It is not an acrobatic exercise.

No matter how impressive might seem the pictures of languid girls suspended from high in impossible back arches with their arms loose, thinking about the shopping list or trying to hold out until the photographer shoots, that's NOT shibari. In shibari it is possible to reach aesthetically pleasing positions in suspension but they are always the result of a game between two people and never the objective. And we've never seen a Japanese master start with anything other than tying the model's hands.

It's not for perfect bodies.

You neither need a lot of elasticity. Anyone can do shibari, especially if you take care of your body so it stays healthy. If someone trains especially to get tied up, it is very likely that has not clear what it is about.

It is not "asexual" (or rather, not sexual).

Shibari is intimately linked to sexuality and eroticism. Approaching shibari in a different way can be very complicated and even dangerous, as Margot explains in this article: Where is the problem in promoting "asexual" shibari?

It has nothing to do with patterns.

This is one of the most common problems in Westerners, especially beginners. To think that shibari has to do with patterns of ropes around the body. The patterns are, again, the consequence of a game, a tool, a medium, a result. Giving importance to the patterns or the ropes when doing shibari is as if a painter gave more importance to their brushes than to the work itself.

The Western obsession for patterns has led many people who want to take advantage of this fixation to make books, video tutorials and workshops on patterns, completely anti-productive for a correct learning of shibari.