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History of Shibari

by MorTis

 

Western vs. Eastern Bondage
Now there is generally 2 classification of bondage; Western and eastern (Japanese) styles. Both were created for different purposed orginally, and both evolved from different uses. Western bondage was created as a form of torture and inhumane imprisonment in mid-evil Europe usually used in physical prisons. Japanese style was a more humane form of imprisonment because they did not have physical prisons generally, and could be used for interrogation and punishment. There are many styles of each of these bondage forms in the modern day. The only technical different between the two is, western style tends to use a single strand of rope, where as the Japanese style tends to use rope doubled up. Modern western bondage tends to be used mostly for restraint for other activities, where Japanese bondage tends to be used for sexual humiliation, as it's the main focus.

Bondage in Japan.

Hojojutsu:
Originally kinbaku-bi started out as a form of incarceration in Japan in the 1400-1700's. At that time, the local police and samurai used it as a form of imprisonment. There were no jails in Japan, very little metal resources. But they had lots of hemp and jute rope. So rope was what they had to use to keep prisoner immobile. This came out or created part of the martial art called hojojustu and some other martial arts. Even today, police in Japan carry a bundle of hemp rope in the trucks of police cars incase they need it. Some other countries like Singapore still actively use rope for incarceration and transport of prisoners.

4 laws of Samurai Hojojutsu:
1. Do not let the prisoner escape his bonds
2. Do not cause any physical or mental damage to the prisoner.
3. Do not allow anyone outside the clan see your clans techniques.
4. To be Artistic about the design.

*Fiction writers romanticized the laws of the Samurai, like Cheverly (ok, that was kind of real, but only for nobles to other nobles), way after the fact. Now in reality samurai did not follow these rules, samurai were actually what we would call mercenaries and usually worked for who would pay them the most. But there is what was fictionalized.

The most common practices for torture and interrogation were
1. Flogging
2. Weight endurance: Kneeling on angled ground and weighting down with stones.
3. Long term lotus position tie. (legs crossed, head to knees, arms behind back)
4. Semi- and full Suspension. Arm behind back tied up, or fully suspension with stone weights
5. Japanese pony. I am not sure if this was an official used, but semi-suspend on a wooden pony, which put full body weight on the genitals.

Also there was a Japanese pony used. I am not sure if this was an official used, but semi-suspend on a wooden pony, which put full body weight on the genitals.

Now a major problem with this, is modern rope artist then to think these rules were real, which is a HUGE mistake! And it turns out Hojojutsu was actually designed to hurt and cause possible permanent nerve damage compression at pressure point if the captive tried to escape out of the rope. So using traditional style hojojutsu techniques can be very dangerous, and you have to be VERY careful with this. Why try to do work around to prevent this from happening.


Kinbaku-bi:
In the late 1800's and early 1900's a new form of erotic Hojojustu evolved. This was called Kinbaku-bi, which means "The Art of Erotic Bondage". I do not think there is any real documentation that states how this happen. But it did. I personally believe it's like how police tend to be kinky now, and use their handcuffs for sex, why wouldn't a cop back then do that same. ==B). I also have a personal belief that there has been some Hindu (Indian) yoga/karma sutra influenced that came over when the Hindi brought Buddhism into Japan through china and spawned Japanese Buddhism and Shintoism, but I have no proof of this at all! They both happened around the same time and have similar techniques, but it's a nice little theory of mine. ==B)

Photo books:
There have been photograph books that showed kinbaku-bi photography since the 1920's in Japan. Which I think is amazing, and I wish I could get my hands on some. This helped fuel the fire of kinbaku in Japan, where is an excepted part of life for many. In the 1970's there was a huge growth of these types of books in Japan, which is referred to as the "golden age" of rope bondage photography in Japan. I have heard this was influenced from the bondage magazines that come out in the 1970's in the US.

The Internet:
In the late 1980's and early '90s when the Internet became more public, it was easier to get an images of Japanese rope bondage.

Eventually Web sites that popped up about the subject in the mid-late 90's, and unfortunately one had incorrect information on subject, and called Japanese rope bondage "Shibari", Shibari is the Japanese word for "tie" or "bind", but has nothing to do with rope bondage, per sa. It mostly was a term used in engineering. If you went up to someone on the street and said the word "tie" to some one, they would just be confused. Talking to a Japanese person and saying "Shibari" would be the same thing, unless they were into rope bondage.

Shibari in America:
So with the influences of the web, Shibari has spread like wildfire through the US, at least the concept if not the practices. With a new generation and style coming out of American riggers (a rigger is a person who does the tying, or work with rope or cables etc). Since the late 1990's events have had instructors teaching Shibari. In the late 90's and early 00's some local bondage groups have popped up to educate (such as CRAM in Chicago, and a lot others), and as of 2004 a (inter) national Japanese rope bondage educational conference happed, which was a great success called, ShibariCon. Personally I consider Shibari to the 3rd generation of Hojojutsu/Kinbaku-Bi.

Modern Shibari in Japan:
In Japan, the Japanese riggers usually call Japanese rope bondage just "bondage", it's funny that Americans tend to use ethnic words for Japanese rope bondage techniques when they do not themselves. In Japan they call "shinju's" (which means pearls) just a "chest harness" and etc. But lately I have heard rumors that the Japanese riggers are starting to use the Americanized "Japanese" terms for what they are doing now. So I think that is very interesting that it's doing a 360 & feeding back into itself.

 

 

 


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Last updated: 6/24/03 Webmaster MorTis 2003
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