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Shibari performance at Extasia 2015

My partner Yoko Sumii and I will do our first Shibari performance together at Extasia in Basel next weekend (28-29.11.). We are already very excited how it will be and are this week still intensively rehearsing.

If you want to watch us, we’ll be on the main stage on Saturday at 5:30pm and maybe a second time on Sunday at 3pm.

Addendum: It all went well, although a little more experience certainly can’t hurt me, and I’m already looking forward to the next time!

By the way, this was also a nice example of “Engi” on the part of Yoko, if you’re interested in the theory behind the performances… and here’s another report on Extasia as a whole.

It certainly won’t be our last Shibari performance!

Extasia 2016

In 2016 we were again at Extasia, but this time only on Saturday and not on both days. The Extasia took place from December 2 to 12, Friday to Sunday. Star guest this time were Micaela Schäfer and also Lena Nitro was again part of the party.

The Extasia the year was unfortunately not quite as nice as in previous years. Previously, it was always in the ice hockey stadium, on thick rubber mats directly on the ice. That made for cold feet for several hours, but the location was bigger than this time in the exhibition hall. A lot of booths were accordingly no longer represented there and there also seemed to be fewer visitors than in previous years.

After we had already performed successfully at the Porny Days at the end of November, the greatest pressure had naturally already given way to a certain routine, so that we could concentrate more on the joy of the performance.

Yoko and I were nevertheless excited, because unlike the previous year, this time we had the time slot in the evening at 9 pm. Primetime, so to speak, and only our second joint performance, or rather the second joint choreography.

Bühnenelement Extasia 2016
Stage element, Extasia 2016

Also this year the stage held some surprises. As usual, there was a smaller structure on the stage, on which the red interview sofa stood. This structure provided a step that was about 50cm high… and exactly above this edge was the hanging point! Shocked, Jack the Rigger got to work and in cooperation with the organizer, a stage element was fitted with matching feet literally overnight from Thursday to Friday.

Without this we would not have been able to perform, because otherwise the people who were tied up would have had to work permanently with one leg over the abyss and the suspended models would have been lowered back down to the ground directly over the edge. Unfortunately, this was really not well prepared, which was also due to the fact that the organizer was not really clear what our performances would look like.

Futomomo
Extasia 2016 by Elena

For the second time we had Elena with us to photograph our show. Her second assignment at the edge of the stage, surrounded by all the professional photographers (and those who think they are). At the beginning, the others were still magnanimous and let her have a comfortable place right in front with the hint that they would anyway photograph “rather other things” than what was to be expected from a bondage perfo. The performance went well, much better and looser than in 2015.

Back then, Yoko had to keep hissing to me in the middle of it, what comes next now, because I was so nervous that I somehow could not keep part of the flow right. But with the extra experience behind me, this time it really went with a lot of commitment and passion.

Extasia 2016 by Elena
Extasia 2016 by Elena

But as soon as Yoko and I got going, the generosity was quickly over and Elena had to keep the camera steady despite bumping elbows and pushing snaps. Well, it looks like we have met the taste of the majority. Well, that’s not surprising, Yoko is a gifted performer and you can always count on her to captivate the crowd.

In general, I found the experience completely different, standing on the big stage. It was satisfying and stimulating, not just a “sporting” challenge, but real shibari. The difference to the more intimate sessions in the Juku was of course there and clearly noticeable, but it was simply a shift in emphasis, not something qualitatively completely different.

In this respect we are looking forward to the next opportunity to show our Shibari to an interested group!

Review: Osada-Workshops 2018

Yoko während der Live-Performance mit Osada Steve in der Harukumo-Juku

In August we had Steve as our guest for the first time. After Yoko and I had been working towards this for almost two years, the time had finally come for Steve to visit us in Switzerland and finally bring the famous Osada workshops directly to us.

At the Juku we were able to accommodate him and this is also where the one-on-one lessons took place. Yoko and I supported the lessons by taking photos for the learners and videos if requested, so that the learners and their models could fully concentrate on the lessons.

In terms of content, the focus was on the interaction between the captivator and the model. Subtlety, restraint and the understanding of his counterpart were the important contents. Mostly they were tied on the floor, with only two to three ropes, and numerous techniques were inspired by Yukimura-ryû.

It was a great honor for me not only to have Steve with us for so long, but also to witness how the learners engaged in these challenges full of curiosity and openness.

Osada workshops are a great opportunity to get familiar with the style in a small group. In addition, ide group dynamics play a big role in these workshops, so that the experience is even more intense.

It also allows us to give access to Osada-Ryû to more people than if we only organize individual lessons.

In addition to the individual lessons, we also had the workshops, of course. We were able to offer two one-day workshops and one two-day workshop, so that there were enough opportunities for our Swiss friends and acquaintances as well as for our friends abroad to learn from Steve.

In addition to the workshops at the Juku, Steve also taught two day workshops at Secret56 on a third weekend. We have been close friends with the makers of the Secret for a long time, and when we had the confirmation in early 2018 that Steve would come, we of course immediately sought contact. By networking, we were able to offer an even larger group the opportunity to learn directly from Steve without having to go to Japan.

The workshops at Secret were designed for larger groups than at Juku, so that during the two days, in addition to Yoko and myself, Vinciens and Kenyade from Vienna were invited as co-instructors. In this way we were able to maintain the high quality of care and ensure that all participants were ideally looked after.

We all learned a lot in these three, almost four, very intense weeks. It was the biggest project of the Juku so far, and even if we had to improvise a little here and there, everything went very well. In any case, we are already excited about what the still young year 2019 will bring us!

Osada-Instructor Harukumo

On April 20, 2019, a dream came true for me. After many years of training and education, I was personally appointed Osada instructor by Steve. Since this day I belong to the officially authorized to teach and can finally pass on my acquired knowledge to you.

Übergabe der Osada-Instruktoren-Lizenz, Tokio, 20. April 2019. Danke an Steve, Michael Ropeknight und Yoko Sumii.
Receiving the Osada-Ryû instructors license on April 20th 2019 at Studio SIX, Tokyo

This is a milestone in my development as a performer, but also as a teacher. After Yukimura-sensei already gave me the mission in 2014 to teach his style and to continue performing in his spirit, now comes an additional responsibility.

How it all began…

The road was long and began already in 2005, when I was a guest at Studio SIX for the first time, and for a long time it was not at all sure whether I would ever learn to do Shibari. After a first workshop in Germany I had doubts whether I had the right feeling in my fingertips.

But my time at Studio SIX and the commitment have borne fruit!

It should be said that Harukumo helped me since 2005 as a man for everything in the dojo, and over the years worked his way up to the model student and role model.

Read: after 14 years of intensive study of Osada-Ryû it is evident that an instructor’s license is not handed out to somebody who just took a remote class.

Osada Steve

The future Osada-instructor

So with the new mission to further popularize Osada-Ryû we start into a new time. As an Osada instructor, I will offer classes and workshops based on Osada-Ryû from now on. The concepts and ideas are bubbling up and we are already preparing the first exams.

It is our goal not only to make Osada-Ryû better known, but also to spread it further. This way of captivating allows such wonderful moments that I can not wait to share my passion with others.

Yukimura-Workshop in Helsinki

In July 2018, I gave the first Yukimura workshop of my career. And that still abroad, in the far north of Europe! How it came about and what happened there

Poetry in Ropes – Introduction to Yukimura-Ryû

In spring 2018 we met Nagor from Finland at Studio SIX. We were immediately sympathetic, and the intensive, joint work in the main dôjô of Osada-Ryû quickly brought us even closer together. Since then, we have been in regular contact.

During one of his visits to Juku in 2018, the idea came up to organize a Yukimura workshop in Helsinki. The shibari scene there is small but dedicated and dynamic, and Nagor plays an important role in the organization. As an organizer, teacher and contact person, he is doing pioneering work and is still an outstanding performer and teacher.

Preparation of the workshops

While Nagor and his Shibari partner Feline started to advertise in the community and to put together a group of participants, I developed a workshop program. On the one hand I wanted to teach essential basic elements of Yukimura-Ryû, but on the other hand I wanted to leave enough room for the participants to make the techniques their own.

Teilnehmer Yukimura-workshop in Helsinki 2018

I then coordinated the program with Nagor again, and off we went. All in all, we were practicing for seven hours (!) on a Sunday in Helsinki at the old Club X. It was an exciting experience to see how differently the individual couples handled the techniques. The essential aspects were quickly internalized by all, which was facilitated by the fact that Nagor and Feline supported me excellently.

Originally, the workshop was designed for five couples, but because the demand was so great (and Nagor and Feline assured me that they knew the group well and they would support me) we ended up with seven couples on site. Wow!

What we learned

Club X isn’t really designed for larger shibari events, so we had to improvise a few hanging points, but in the end we had enough room for everyone.

Yukimura-Ryû we also immediately began with the first practical exercises. I was impressed by the seriousness and conscientiousness with which the participants dealt with the techniques.

The dynamics were incredible and what started as a practical exercise quickly developed a momentum of its own and after a short time you could already see how the new learning content and the participants’ own experience and knowledge complemented each other.

It was a wonderful experience and I hope to be back in Helsinki very soon!

Osada-Workshops Review

In September, Osada Steve visited us in Switzerland. In workshops and private lessons, some new techniques were taught and existing knowledge was deepened. These Osada workshops were really special and we are especially proud to have done this twice in a row.

First of all, we would like to thank all the participants. It was great to work with you. Above all, it was great to see how you experimented with the techniques. Much of what was discussed was primarily a question of correct application.

Teilnehmer des Osada-Workshops 2019
Participants of the OS-workshop on 07th September 2019

The range of experience that you brought with you was quite wide, so it was not always easy to maintain the pace within the group. This is one of the reasons why we like to work with smaller groups, so that there is always a contact person available to help. We hope that we were able to implement this accordingly.

The main focus was on communication with the other person, which is always a particular challenge when the pattern becomes more complex or even goes into suspension. It is exciting every time to see how the individual couples approach the exercises with their own experiences and goals, and what comes out of it when that combines with each other.

Content of the Osada-Workshops

What did we actually do during the workshops and what was the idea behind it? Basically, there were two blocks in the workshops. The first 3 hours we spent with floor techniques.

Harukumo beobachtet Osada Steve beim nterricht

Intensive watching and observation are an important part of the work in Shibari. This is called “Minarai”, learning by watching. Only those who watch the teacher intensively can hope to eventually recognize and understand the subtle hidden techniques.

Osada Steve, 2019

Floor techniques

One part of the floor techniques were intensive greeting-shibari-patterns. These help to understand the mood of the partner as well as the way your partner communicates. In this way, you tune into each other, like two instruments that have to be brought to the same pitch. In addition, the flexibility of the partner as well as one’s own dexterity are trained. The smooth transition between the individual forms also allows for a gentle start to the Shibari encounter, so that one can better leave everyday life behind.

Die Händes des Meisters. Osada Steve betrachtet die Lernenden

In preparation for the suspensions that followed later, upper body restraints were then practiced, which had one thing in particular in common: The arms were fixed to the side next to or in front of the body. There are always situations in which it is not so easy to keep the arms behind the back for a longer time, and through the shown patterns (among others the praying mantis pattern (“Kamakiri-shibari”) not only new images but also much gentler patterns can be unfolded.

Another trend that has been making its way from Japan to the West for some time now is the use of pulleys. Pulleys allow to prepare complex patterns already completely, and then to bring the body gently into the air with reduced effort. A classic example would be the Ebi-zuri, but this is also an interesting variation in many other moments. Especially if at the beginning of the encounter no suspension was planned, but a stable pattern develops, a suspension can be realized spontaneously.

For the first time, I managed to intimately connect with my partner. That was something I have been struggling with for quite some time.

G., Teilnehmer im Workshop vom 14.09. 2019

Thanks for these wonderful days!

We have received a lot of positive feedback and we are very happy that we were able to provide our participants with a good time and many exciting new experiences. The courses were international, with participants from Germany, Switzerland, the USA, Finland and Poland, all in the course of just over two weeks!

It was an intense time with little sleep and many hours of inspiration that we will remember for a long time. Many thanks to all of you, with your energy, commitment and drive you made these days special. Without you it would not have been possible to hold these great events and we look forward to seeing you again soon!

Shibari as Art

Shibari is art… or at least it can be. Sometimes Shibari is also in the service of art, like now in June 2021, when I was asked to help out with a shooting for a bachelor thesis at the Lucerne School of Art and Design.

For the bachelor thesis a person in a green morphsuit should be tied up in front of a green screen and photographed. Well… green in green, without facial expression, the body completely covered? I was skeptical at first, but after exchanging a few messages with the artist, I was convinced.

There are many possible associations invoked. A human being becomes a figure without identity through the suit. Gender, age, religion, ethnicity, all this becomes invisible and disappears.

The figure is also a projection surface and the gaze of the audience fills this void. The figure is tied up, thus doubly at the mercy of the audience… but at the same time it has actively placed itself in this position.

An interesting game between visibility and invisibility, helplessness and subjectivity. A great experience and I am very glad that I could be part of it!

Shibari styles: Yukimura-Ryû? Osada-Ryû? How is it different?

I get asked all the time what actually makes up each shibari style or how they differ. The answer to this is not always simple or easy to give, but when I was talking to my Ukete about this very thing the other day, she said it so beautifully that I asked her to write it down.

Osada-Ryû is certainly one of the most famous styles, and Yukimura-Ryû has also found its home in Harukumo-Juku.

The following texts are exactly as she sent them to me and I would like to make them available to you as well with her permission. My understanding of the Shibari styles has greatly expanded through this conversation.

Yukimura-Ryû

This type of bondage is a great challenge for me and represents submission. The interaction is often reduced to a minimum and the signals that come from you to me are subtle. When I close my eyes, I often feel completely alone. Because you leave me alone in my head. I have to endure the “silence” and pay attention to every little thing. And every time I have to decide for myself whether I wait or not. Whether I try something or not. Each instruction I do receive from you feels like a release. A salvation that you control, and like one dying of thirst I receive it. You are the center of what happens, or doesn’t happen.

It becomes very difficult when you force me to turn away from you. I can’t see you, I can’t feel you, and when I try to turn my face towards you, you push it away with your foot. Yukimura-ryû hurts in the soul, not physically. The emotions take place in my head. And you, as my Bakushi, know that. Why else the comforting words and gestures? When you start touching me again and our interaction finally increases, it is overwhelming and characterized by a very special kind of pleasure. I am at a loss to finding suitable words to describe my feelings in these moments.

Because this way of tieing is so intimate, it feels all the more revealing when you push my top down and everyone can see it. Especially when I’m only wearing a handcuff. I could get up and walk away. But I don’t. There would almost always be enough room to turn away. The shame is not in being exposed, but in giving up. Somehow, one allows it to happen. It’s a voluntary submission and everyone can see it. In retrospect, this is often difficult for me to accept. Sure, you would stop or sanction me, if I left my assigned space. But I haven’t thought that far in this moment for a long time.

Osada-Ryû

This way of tying represents devotion for me. It becomes quiet in my mind. It is like a release. It is the compression, the helplessness and the pain. All that takes the place in the head where otherwise the thoughts are.

They are anchor points on which I can concentrate so strongly until everything around me disappears. The others in the room no longer exist. Only this situation and these feelings that you then trigger.

It’s liberating because I haven’t had the responsibility for a long time. I can let it happen. This also means that I can allow the desire and the passion. No matter who else is present. Boundaries no longer seem to exist. It’s like a rush that hits me completely unexpectedly and I absolutely don’t understand where that comes from. It is no less intimate than Yukimura-Ryû. But I can find safety in the ropes and in helplessness. You don’t submit, you are submitted. For me personally, it’s much easier.

5. Todestag Yukimura-sensei

Heute ist Yukimura-senseis Todestag. Am 3. März 2016 ist er seinem Krebsleiden erlegen, und heute jährt sich sein Tod bereits zum fünften Mal.

Yukimura-sensei war ein Mensch, der auf vielfältige Weise begabt war. Ein besonderer Lehrer, der etwas ganz eigenes zu geben hatte. Niemand hat das subtile Spiel mit den Emotionen durch das Seil so sehr perfektioniert wie er. Sein Stil ist einzigartig und hat eine Tiefe, die ihresgleichen sucht.

Alles, was uns heute bleibt, ist, sein Andenken weiter zu tragen. Sein Wirken beeinflusst das Studio SIX in Tokio, oder auch das Four Elements in Königswinter und wird natürlich auch bei uns unterrichtet. Sein Andenken lebt auch auf im Netz weiter, wo es eine lebendige Fangemeinde gibt. Anlässlich seines Todestages möchte ich ein paar Dinge mit Euch teilen, die mich immer bewegen, wenn ich an meine Zeit bei ihm zurückdenke.

Ein Mann vieler Talente

Yukimura-sensei, Kopenhagen 2012

Neben seinem Shibari-Unterricht war er auch ein begabter Kalligraph. Seinen Schülerinnen und Schülern, denen er einen Namen gab, hat er auch immer eine Kalligraphie mit ihrem Namen gemacht.

Er hat sich sehr viel Mühe um seine Lernenden gegeben. Seine stille Aufmerksamkeit hat ihn ausgezeichnet wie kaum einen anderen Lehrer, den ich kenne.

Seine Lektionen waren ruhig und konzentriert und Seine Art zu unterrichten war sehr japanisch. Er hat nie viel gesagt, aber seine Lernenden stets ermuntert und gelobt, auch wenn man selbst nicht so recht wusste, was man gerade tat… oder ob man wirklich verstanden hatte, worum es bei diesen feinen Details genau ging.

Er wartete geduldig darauf, dass man es verstanden hat… den Weg zur Erkenntnis mussten wir aber selbst gehen.

Lesson im Studio in Ebisu, 2014

Das war oft sehr schwierig, weil man natürlich nur durch das direkte Wiederholen der Übungen irgendwie herausbekommen musste, worum es eigentlich geht. Welches Potential die Techniken haben und wie sich alles durch die eigene Haltung, die eigenen Gefühle und die Situation an dem Tag verändert.

Sein Stil enthält viele Eigeneiten. Das Spiel mit dem Nawajiri gehört dazu, und auch die minimalistische und elegante Seilführung, die oft unterschätzt wird. Und natürlich das Spiel mit den Emotionen, das er immer mit bunten Metaphern aus dem Theater erklärte.

Ein Stück Familie

Es war normal, dass bei den Lessons auch mal Freunde, andere Modelle oder weitere Lernende dabei waren. Wir alle haben immer eine Kleinigkeit mitgebracht, ein paar Kekse, etwas Kuchen, Mochi oder so etwas, wie es in Japan üblich ist. Das wurde dann wähernd der Lektionen gereicht, Yukimura-sensei hat dazu Tee oder Kaffee angeboten. Es war ein bisschen wie Familie.

Übergabe Instructor-Zertifikat, 2014

Sein Studio war nicht nur ein Ort, an dem man in privater Atmosophäre unterricht nehmen konnte, sondern auch eine Begegnungsstätte, an der man sich über den Weg lief.

Diese Atmosphäre, dieses familiäre und vertraute Miteinander, hat mich inspiriert. Man war ein Teil von etwas Grösserem und wurde so akzeptiert, wie man war. Zu seinem Todestag muss ich jedes Mal wieder an all die kleinen Momente und Gesten denken, die meine Zeit bei ihm so unvergesslich machen. Dieses Zusammengehörigkeitsgefühl, über verschiedene Kulturen, Generationen und Kontinente hinweg, wollte ich in der Juku auch haben, und an jedem 3. März, am Todestag von Yukimura Haruki, werde ich wieder an dieses Ziel erinnert.

Sensei, wir vermissen Dich. Es gab noch so viel zu lernen von Dir… aber keine Sorge: Wir geben alles, damit das Yukimura-Ryû weiterlebt!

Yokozuri-Kurs mit Osada Steve

Und es geht weiter… am kommenden Sonntag, 21. Februar, ist der Online-Kurs mit Osada Steve. Er wird den Yokozuri zeigen, eine der klassischen Suspensionen im Shibari und im Osada-Ryû.

Der Yokozuri ist eine der Suspensionen, die wir alle am zuerst lernen. Ich habe sie 2006 oder 2007 glaube ich das erste Mal gemacht. Der Vorteil ist, dass bis zum Abheben immer ein Fuss auf der Erde bleibt. So lässt sich leicht testen, ob das Oberkörper-Muster stabil ist und ob Ukete sich wohl fühlt.

Trotzdem erlaubt der Yokozuri viele verschiedene Posen und Bilder, so dass eine grosse Flexibilität entsteht. Ausserdem sind von dort aus verschiedene Progressionen möglich, so dass eine grosse Vielfalt und Abwechslungsreichtum möglich sind.

Eingeleitet wird der Kurs mit einem Interview von mir, das ich mit Shibari Bremen führen werde. Er betreibt das Osada-Dojo in Bremen und ist ein reger Vertreter dieser Shibari-Schule.

Tickets wie immer über Eventbrite… sehen wir uns?

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