Category: Shibari terms Page 1 of 3

9 Gates

The 9 Gates are the theoretical and philosophical core of Osada-Ryû, because they describe the essential elements of teaching. All techniques are related to or express these concepts. The basic principles of the 9 Gates shape the teaching and approach in Osada-Ryû.

They permeate all kyû, every pattern and every technique.They also connect the individual schools in Tokyo, Vienna (run by Vinciens), Königswinter, Bremen, the S56 in Vogelsang and of course the Harukumo-Juku in Koblenz.

9 Pforten des Osada-Ryû
  1. Tachi-ichi, 立位置 – (Position(ing)) – Describes the position and attitude of Bakushi and Ukete.
  2. Ma-ai, 間合い – (Proximity) – Describes closeness and distance.
  3. Sabaku, 捌く – (Rope Handling) – Elegantly guide the rope with efficiency and little friction.
  4. Urawaza, 裏技 – (Hidden Techniques) – Interactions between Bakushi and Ukete, but not recognizable from the outside.
  5. Ki, 気 – (Energy) – Life force or energy flow describing the exchange between Bakushi and Ukete.
  6. Kankyû, 緩急 – (Tempo & Rhythm) – Dynamics and rhythm that fill the shibari encounter with tension.
  7. Kan, 勘 – (Intuition) – Intuitively anticipating the next steps, and emotional states during the shibari encounter.
  8. Muganawa, 無我縄 – (Empty Mind) – A special state of mind.
  9. Kuden, 口伝 – (Oral Tradition) – Oral transmission of knowledge by the sensei.

This content is difficult to teach theoretically because it depends on the interaction between the teacher and the learner. In each technique and pattern, these elements can interact differently and create new and interesting interactions.

Since each level of training focuses on different of the 9 gates, indiviudal emphases are set and adapted to the development of the learners.

Aibunawa

Aibunawa (愛撫縄) means “caressing rope”. It is the opposite term to Semenawa and is one of the core concepts in Yukimury-Ryû. It describes the way the rope is used, namely tenderly and carefully. The goal is to reduce pain and unpleasant sensations as much as possible.

It is about gentle stimuli and subtle interactions, so that a harmonious togetherness unfolds between Bakushi and Ukete. It is about loving and gentle interaction that helps bring out sensuality and deep emotions. This way of doing shibari is the trademark of Yukimura Haruki.

To me, shibari is an emotional exchange between a man and a woman. That´s unique to Japan – to express love and emotion entirely through the medium of rope. So Shibari is not how you do this tie or that tie, it’s how you use the rope to exchange emotions with another.

Yukimura Haruki

It can be significantly more difficult to do Aibunawa than Semenawa. Semenawa requires clear guidance, and Ukete knows what is expected. The physical challenge of it already generates a lot of tension and intensity and helps to get into the right mental mindset.

Aibunawa, however, leaves more space and demands more cooperation. Depending on the the preferences of Bakushi and Ukete, it can be advisable to focus on Aibunawa or Semenawa.

Ambivalence as Style Element

Aibunawa generally requires less rope and is tied more loosely than Semenawa. This allows the illusion that escape from the rope is still possible, while, however, the subtle skills of Bakushi always lead Ukete further. The hierarchy is hidden, not suspended or undermined, and the more Ukete understands how inescapable the situation is, the more intense the experience becomes.

Aibunawa thus has an ambivalent meaning and deliberately plays with this ambiguity.

Aomuke-zuri

Aomuke-zuri (仰向け吊り) means “supine suspension”. It is one of the simplest and safest suspensions taught. It allows clear, straight lines and is a good base for transitions, for example into Sakasa-tsuri.

Aomuke-zuri, Osada Steve, Studio SIX, Tokio
Aomuke-zuri, shown byn Osada Steve in Studio SIX, Tokyo

The basic position is horizontal. It is important to distribute the weight appropriately between the main hanging rope, the corset hanging rope and the ropes at the ankles.

The pattern is an integral part of Osada-Ryû and is taught as one of the first suspensions. The basis is the Tasuki Takatekote with a corset around the waist, but alternatively a hip harness can be used. However, since the corset is built faster, it is very suitable especially for performances.

The Aomuke-zuri allows many variations. That is why this pattern is a popular basic variant, from which creative transitions are often executed.

The relative safety of the basic technique is a plus point here. This allows the next step to be planned with a little more calm and deliberation than with other suspensions.

Aomuke-zuri, Variation des Themas, Harukumo-Juku 2021
Aomuke-zuri, Variation, Harukumo-Juku, 2021

Aomuke-zuri seem of something stiff, because there are only a few oblique lines in it. But this is quickly changed by the transition to the Sakasa. Ukete also has many possibilities to pose. This makes aomuke forms very interesting and versatile.

Bakushi

A variant to this term is “Kinbakushi” (緊縛師), but it is less common. Japanese is a very economical language and terms consisting of a long series of kanji are usually shortened as much as possible. So, “Bakushi” ist the abberviated, more efficient form of this term.

Bakushi is on the one hand a self-designation, but also a role description. The Bakushi has, in a shooting, a performance, or a session, a clear task. It is the competence in handling the rope that distinguishes a Bakushi.

Osada Steve, bakushi from Germany. He has been shaping shibari in Tokyo and now worldwide for over 40 years. His style and teachings inspire not only the Juku, but also numerous other enthusiastic Shibaristas. Meanwhile, his style is also taught by his instructors in Germany and some particularly gifted learners, for example in Argentina, the USA, Australia and Northern Europe.

Yukimura Haruki, bakushi from Osaka. He spent most of his career in Tokyo. His style is characterized by subtlety and sensitivity. The great secrets surrounding the soft movements now continue to be taught in schools all over the world. Unfortunately, he passed away in the spring of 2016, so his legacy is now in the hands of his instructors.

Of course, there are numerous other bakushi, each with their own style, in which they express their individual styles and preferences. From performances on large stages to small, intimate chamber plays, everything is represented. Crossovers with other forms of art are also becoming more common, for example dance, tantra or yoga.

Bu

Bu (分) is a traditional Japanese measure of length, equal to about 0.303 cm. It is part of the Japanese Shakkanhô system, which was adopted by China and is a general system for units of measurement.

Daruma

Daruma (だるま) is the shortened form of Bodhidharma. This is considered one of the most important Zen monks, around whom numerous legends entwine. He is said to have once fallen asleep while meditating and this lack of discipline is said to have annoyed him so much that he cut off his eyelids so that this would never happen again.

He embodies discipline, devotion and the unconditional will to achieve a goal. However, Zen is actually about overcoming any worldly desire. So there is a tension between the lucky charm, which is supposed to contribute to worldly success, and the idea behind Zen Buddhism. The pattern named after him also requires devotion, discipline and the ability to suffer. Thus, it is physically demanding and emulates the mediation posture.

"The moon through a crumbling window" in the "A Hundred Aspects of the Moon" series. Bodhidharma, by Yoshitoshi, 1887.
“The moon through a crumbling window” in the “A Hundred Aspects of the Moon” series. Bodhidharma, by Yoshitoshi, 1887.
Daruma dolls in Japan

Daruma dolls are popular and often bought in Japan. Whenever someone prepares for a big challenge, the person gets a Daruma doll. This is supposed to spur and instill discipline. They are considered lucky charms and are supposed to help their owners succeed…. and who can’t use a little supernatural assistance?

When you buy the doll, both eyes are white. First, one pupil is colored when the wish related to the doll is made and when the goal is achieved, the doll gets the second pupil colored.

The Daruma pose is reminiscent of Daruma sitting while meditating. The ability to suffer comes into the pattern through suspension. And Ukete brings the discipline to endure this pattern in elegant and easy posture. The suspension is demanding, but aesthetic. However, Ukete has fewer opportunities for self-expression here than in the Aomuke-zuri or Yoko-zuri, for example.

Daruma shibari, Harukumo-Juku 2021

Engi

Engi (演技) means “performance” of Ukete, that is, the active participation of the model. The emotional expression is thus intensified. This is also a challenge for Ukete, because the guidance by Bakushi leaves more room.

The term goes back to ancient theatrical traditions, such as in Noh theater. The artist Zeami Motokiyo describes one of the highlights of the performance as “letting the flowers blossom”. By this he means the emergence of a special intensity in the actor’s performance. This is particularly difficult to achieve in Noh because the actors always wear masks. Thus, they cannot use their facial expressions, but can only express emotional states through their movements and their voice.

Similar to noh theater, shibari is about expressing emotions through engi. The minimalism of the yukimura-ryû resembles the mask in front of the face of the noh actor.

Only through years of practice it is possible to perfect this engi. On the one hand, the communication with the bakushi, on the other hand, the expression to the audience plays an important role. Only through the dynamic between Bakushi and Ukete also a suitable Engi is created.

Ukete must find the balance between his own Engi and the guidance of Bakushi. The space allocated to Ukete must be respected, but should be fully explored. To achieve this, slowness is important, as this gives Bakushi enough time to intervene should Ukete exceed the limits of space.

Hashira

Hashira means “pole” or “pillar”. It includes a whole group of shibari patterns, all of which are done on an upright pillar or beam. Combinations of an upper body pattern and a hip harness are usually used. Many different poses are possible once a solid structure is made for hanging. Hashira patterns are from the advanced range and are taught only in the second third of the training.

Inverted suspension with strappado. In addition to the pose, the weight distribution between the arms and the waist rope is crucial, so that a secure suspension is created. The Hashira should also not be too close to a wall, so that there is enough space to work on the other side. The ideal width of the Hashira is 10 to 21 cm, so that the support surface and the stability of the Hashira is maximized.

Upright Hashira techniques can be combined with any upper body pattern. The more free space there is, for example, on the legs, the more possibilities you have for visual design.

Due to the high technical demands, it is particularly difficult to maintain communication with the partner. In addition, the column restricts the range of motion. The back of the patterns are not so easily accessible. It is also important to bring the body as close as possible to the column so that the pose remains graceful and upright.

Traditionally, Japanese houses are built as wooden beam structures. These beam structures resemble European half-timbering. However, these beams are often freestanding within the rooms. Hence comes the possibility of creating corresponding patterns traditionally. The association with a traditional Japanese farmhouse, a minka (民家) are the stated goal here.

Kanejaku

Kanejaku (曲尺) is a traditional Japanese unit of measurement. It is hardly used in everyday life since the metric system was introduced. A shaku is about 30.3 cm, which makes it comparable to a cubit. In shibari, a shaku occurs in the shakuhachi pattern, for example.

Since the Kanejaku is the “normal” and most common length (other than the Kujirajaku), it is often referred to simply as “Shaku” (尺).

The next smaller unit is Sun (寸). One Kanejaku consists of ten Sun.

Kata-ashi kaikyaku

Kata-ashi kaikyaku (片足開脚) is a basic pattern in Yukimura ryû. It is a newaza technique from the 4th kyû. The kata-ashi kaikyaku is an advanced form that requires some technique and experience. It consists of the Yukimura handcuff and the Yukimura gote.

Bakushi thereby puts the body sideways. Then Bakushi fixes the leg above at the suspension point. In this way, the pelvis is opened, creating a subtle play with rope tension and exposure of ukete. While Bakushi varies the position of the leg, the nawajiri serves as a line of communication.

Basically, the kata-ashi kaikyaku is a partial suspension. However, this is often not perceived as such, because the body is almost completely on the floor. However, the form language actively uses the suspension point to draw triangles and diagonals. These are reflected in the position and posture of Ukete’s leg and body.

Kata-ashi kaikyakue, low position

Although the basic posture is relaxed, seme plays a role. Bakushi raises or lowers the ankles, creating tension. Kotobazeme is also an important factor. This pattern is often performed with ropes that are only 4mm thick. This creates more pressure on the places where the rope touches the body and the impulses through the rope become clearer.

Kata-ashi kaikyaku, high leg

Another important point is the pose. Especially the upper leg, which is fixed only at the ankle, plays an important role. The interaction between the partners must be right to create graceful and sensual impressions. A challenge here is the non-verbal communication, which is mainly done through the Nawajiri. To emphasize one’s own feeling correctly, so that the other person feels it as well, is the prerequisite for a harmonious rhythm.

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