Category: Yukimura-Ryû


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.

Collar exercise

The collar exercise is a Nawajiri exercise. Bakushi puts on Ukete a rope collar consisting of two double layers, which are loosely placed around the neck and closed in front with a normal knot.

The collar must be loose enough to be turned around the neck and must also have enough distance from the neck and face so that the short bight does not touch the body. This would be distracting and make the exercise more difficult.

The collar exercise begins in a sitting position after the collar is put on. Bakushi takes the nawajiri in hand and begins to communicate. There are three factors that are played with. The first is the angle of the rope, the second is the tension of the rope and the third is the distance between the hand and the collar.

Contact via the Nawajiri in the collar exercise

Bakushi and Ukete communicate with each other through the rope. Each change of a factor thereby produces a reaction, and this reaction points the direction in which it continues. Bakushi and Ukete thus establish their joint communication, while the nawajiri connects and extends the two bodies.

Slight changes lead to reactions. Communication arises.

The exercise becomes more intense when body or eye contact is deliberately avoided, so that the only connection between Bakushi and Ukete is the Nawajiri.

This exercise is a good introduction to a shibari encounter and allows for intensive aisatsu-shibari. The quiet interaction helps with concentration and trains listening skills. One’s mood and feelings come out and a connection between Bakushi and Ukete is created.

Bakushi changes the parameters with calmness and concentration. After each change, Bakushi waits and intensively observes the reaction of Ukete, which is now expressed. Only when this reaction is complete, Bakushi gives the next impulse.

This game is unlimited in time and is not only a good warm-up exercise, but also a possible start to an intense shibari encounter.


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.

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.


Kemono shibari (獣縛り) is one of the basic patterns in Yukimura ryû. It is reminiscent of a trapped animal that has had its legs tied together. It is one of the classical ground techniques (Newaza, 寝技). It is already taught at the beginner level and is constantly being refined.

Kemono shibari from a lesson at Yukimura Haruki’s studio in Ebisu, Tokyo, in 2015.

Maete-hikiage shibari

Maete-hikiage shibari (前手引き上げ縛り) basically means “Pulling Game”. In this exercise, performed in a sitting position, the wrists are tied together in a Yukimura handcuff and the rope is deflected through the suspension point (Shiten, 支点). Then Bakushi exerts traction on the rope, guiding Ukete’s arms upwards.

However, the goal here is not to simply stretch the arms completely directly, but to create emotions between Bakushi and Ukete through communication via the rope. The point is to find the balance point between Bakushi and Ukete. The communication takes place exactly at this balance point.

In the process, it can go back and forth depending on how the dynamics and communication unfold.

Maete-hikiage shibari. A nawajiri exercise from the Yukimura ryû.

There is no specific goal and no time limit because it’s all about togetherness. The Maete-hikiage shibari is a warm-up exercise that helps Bakushi and Ukete to adjust to each other.


Nawajiri is the term for the longer part of the rope. It is also called the “running end”. The nawajiri can also be the end of the rope just before the knots. It can be actively used for communication with the model and plays a great role as a real and metaphorical connection between the bakushi and the model.

The work with the Nawajiri is an essential part of the training. Especially in Yukimura-Ryû it plays a prominent role. This minimalist style emphasizes tension and requires great sensitivity and experience.


Tension literally means “tension”. Usually it refers to the rope tension, i.e. how tightly or loosely it is tied. In Yukimura-Ryû, however, it also refers to the emotional tension in the model and the bakushi. Both aspects influence each other and can be used to create intense moods.

The complex relationship between the rope tension and the emotional tension opens up its own playing field, which can already be used to design entire sessions. As in many other cases, the parameters tight/loose tightening and low/high emotional tension can be combined at will.

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