Where should I start learning shibari?

Regardless of your skill level, you might find the sheer number of shibari tutorials and courses leaves you spoiled for choice. So, where should you start? Well, this section is designed to guide you depending upon your goals and current level.

Goals

To know how to get somewhere, it is essential to have some idea of your destination, else you are just wandering aimlessly. So, let's look at where you think want to go and why, sometimes, it might not be the right place.

Firstly, I assume you are here to learn about shibari. Shibari means many things to many people, so I'd suggest taking a look at 'What is shibari?' and 'What I wish I'd known about learning when I started shibari'. It will give you a better idea about what we teach and whether that is what you wish to learn. In short, Nina and I use a simple method we have devised to teach shibari based heavily on the work of some of Japan's most respected masters. From my earliest exposure to shibari, I have always felt the real essence as being the effect it can have physically and emotionally, rather than just a beautiful means of restraint. Thus, this is at the core of what we teach from day one.

Japanese rope bondage is something you never really stop learning, so your goal will depend on how deep you want to go. Some of you might just want a few ties and techniques that can be quickly learned for a bit of bedroom bondage, while others might be prepared to put in the work and dedication to become very adept and even eventually go on to perform or teach. Indeed, many of you might already be well into that journey.

To help identify the skill level, all material is tagged as beginners, intermediate or advanced. You can marrow your search of the content by using the Category drop-down menu on the Courses page. Some tutorials are tagged with multiple levels as almost everyone can benefit. You might already think you know a particular tie but we feel sure almost everyone will learn something new and valuable.



I'd advise under-estimating your skill level as we have more often noticed students over-estimating their rope skills, than under-estimating. One important thing that I have learned is 'You don't know what you don't know'. Since we have based our teaching on over 25 years combined experience and tution from some of Japan's most acclaimed kinbaku masters, we will help you discover these secrets and provide a simple, logical way to learn.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that simply being able to reproduce a facsimile certain ties is enough. You might achieve restraint but it needs to be technically correct to be safe and tied with feeling to have the full effect. There's no need to get complicated as even the most simple rope-work can be made to feel amazing with the right techniques. Like sex, good technique and passion always beats just knowing 101 positions and nothing more. This why we firmly believe that the best way is to learn good technique from day one. Sadly, all too often this is something many teachers reserve for advanced classes, when it should be at the heart of everything you do and not something you have to wait years to learn.

Shibari for beginners

If you have absolutely no experience in shibari, in addition to the recommendations above, take a look at the free videos, especially 'Bondage Safety' and 'Negotiating Consent' for obvious reasons.

If you want to learn some basics and a good selection of ties, a great option is 'Japanese Rope Bondage: Tying people, not parcels' which is an upgraded and enhanced version of my best-selling DVD tutorials of the same name. You get access to a very comprehensive course with a whole year's access, working out at only about $1 per week. If you just want to test the water for even less investment, you can try Part I on is own.

More recently, we produced a completely new beginners' course, 'Shibari: The Easy Way'. In this, we teach using our ingredients-based method which shows how simple components can be used to develop your creativity and create your own 'recipes' (ties). You will also discover how to create the physical and psychological effects which are the real secret of shibari. As I like to say, "It's not just about knots". The best value is the Special Bundle (includes full 'Tying Techniques' series) with lifetime access and 20% off your first order at ESINEM-Rope to get you started.

The 'Tying Techniques' series, included with the 'Shibari: The Easy Way' (special bundle) is also highly recommended for those of you who already know some basic ties. It will not only help make sense of what you are doing but it will ensure you tie with communication, efficiency and effectiveness. You will be amazed mall changes can make a massive difference.

Deepening your mastery of shibari

The temptation is to widen your repertoire with as many ties as possible, however going deeper rather than wider can be far more rewarding. Depth will help you gain the understanding and confidence to be creative but also hone your technique to make every rope count. For your partner, the magic will always be in how you tie, not the tie itself. So much of that comes from knowing how to handle the rope, your partner, how to pick up and take advantage of cues. Quite simply, learning how to use your tools masterfully. However, if you are tying for a shoot or a show, the tie itself will play a big visual part but also capturing the emotion is what makes it special. The subtle aesthetics of the ties will be something you will also learn, with much of it being down to a few rules which make sense when you know them..

Whilst all our tutorials and courses are much more than step-by-step guides, some are designed to concentrate upon developing your understanding of how, where and why you should use the basic ingredients, rather than just how to follow a recipe. We believe in the old adage that if you give a man a fish, you will feed him for one day but teaching him how to fish can feed him for a lifetime. So it is with shibari. Building the right foundations and understanding them makes the whole subject simple and very logical. These are our recommendations:

Widening your experience

It's very easy to get carried away with collecting ties. As I said above, there's more to tying than just creating pretty patterns. The engineering, aesthetics and, most significantly, how you make it feel are essential parts. In fact, we think the latter is what shibari is all about. To miss out on that would be a tragedy. It is better to master a few ties than fumble through a few dozen badly, so don't take on too much at once. Make sure you can tie the patterns well and also comprehend how and why they work before moving on. Perfect practice makes perfect.

Below, you'll find tutorials on the core ties and patterns, each with variants and a full explanation of how the basic 'ingredients' are used to build them:

Very quickly, you will see how the ingredients are repeated and can be swapped to different effect. You will realise that shibari is very much like a construction kit. At first, you might just build the models in the instructions but soon you will be inventing your own using the knowledge you have gained. You won't have to ask "How do you tie that?" again since it will usually become obvious.

Advanced shibari techniques and suspension

As I mentioned aearlier, we generally tend to over-estimate our skills. I have done it myself, many times before I realised what I was doing. Bear this in mind, pay attention and build your skills carefully. When it comes to advanced subjects, like semenawa (to over-simplify, sadistic tying) and, especially, suspension, the stakes are much higher. It is easier to cause serious injury, or even death, through ignorance or simple lack of experience. When you are doing suspension, you are juggling a lot of balls so there's always a risk of a slip up.

If you plan to progress to suspension, mastering the base ties is an absolute prerequisite and a good comprehension of the risks and appropriate skills are vital. As the 'Suspension Techniques' course is structured and relies heavily on knowledge in previous sections, we strongly suggest working through it sequentially. Unless, you have strong basic skills, you should definitely not skip the first part which lays out the fundamentals. Anyway, we'd be surprised if you didn't learn something, regardless how long you have been suspending.

Ideally, our 'Suspension Techniques' course should be used as an adjunct to competent face to face tuition. However, the key word is 'competent'. Whilst there are some world class teachers, it is not alway possible for everyone to access them or even know who they are. Bear in mind, a lot of people have jumped on the teaching band-wagon, not all have the experience or the teaching ability. Let the buyer beware! Do your research by asking people who can demonstrate their skills who is a competent teacher, rather than random on-line enquiries as everyone's an 'expert' on the internet ;-)

If you can't attend a class, try to have your skills checked by somebody who knows what they are doing. That said, we have given you the means to assess the safety of your own work. This is why we emphasise the 'whys' behind the ties.

We believe video tutorials have many advantage over live workshops. Our courses give you a whole month, more if you need it, not just a few hours, to absorb and practice the content. It is all to easy to get home from a workshop with an imperfect recollection and start practicing the wrong thing or have missed some vital point. With our tutorials, you can easily revise every last detail; re-playing or pausing as often as you like without holding up fellow students or feeling a fool.

Other than suspension, we also cover:


What next?

We are constantly expanding our range of tutorials, so keep checking back. We have further parts of 'Performance Techniques' planned and we seem to be permanently on the penultimate part of 'Suspension Techniques'. We hope the venture into other languages with the Italian version of 'Shibari: The Easy Way' will be the first of many.

The success of the school depends entirely upon giving you what you want, so tell us. We welcome your feedback and suggestions.