Enzyklopädie Page 2 of 4

Jô (丈) is a unit of length equal to about 3.03 meters. It belongs to the Japanese Shakkanhô system, which was adopted from China. In the meantime, however, this unit of measurement is hardly used anymore.


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.


Kata-ashi-zuri (片足吊り) means “one-legged suspension”. This refers to a partial suspension in which one foot or leg remains on the ground. The kata-ashi-zuri is often used as a precursor to the yokozuri.

Kata-ashi-zuri, Harukumojuku 2021

This pattern is an important part of the 5th Kyû in Osada-Ryû. The main load is on the upper body while one foot remains on the floor. Ukete can thus feel directly if the upper body positions are correct. Furthermore, Ukete can lift the second foot independently and test the suspension.

Bakushi can create many different images even before a full suspension begins. The kata-ashi-zuri thus offers a variety that few other patterns can brag with.

The pattern is modular, which means that all suspension ropes are independent of each other. This increases safety, as every critical point is directly accessible at all times and can be adjusted, corrected or undone.

The ropes and the body form opposite triangles. This symmetry between body and rope creates an aesthetic connection between the two worlds. The appeal of this pattern stems from this connections between symmetry, shapes and the combination of body, rope and clothing.

The kata-ashi-zuri can be done on a fixed suspension point (for example a ring) as well as on a bamboo.

In a suspension point, the ropes between the upper body, thigh and suspension point form the upper half of a hishi. The lower tip of the hishi is the foot on the floor and the attachment points of the ropes to the torso and thigh form the horizontal points.

Kata-ashi-zuri, K2-Salon, 2016


Kazari (飾り) means “ornament” or “decoration”. This is anything in a shibari pattern that has no technical function. A typical example is the diamonds (hishi, 菱). Also, the creative “tucking away” of the nawajiri after the completion of a technical component is a kazari.

Osada-Ryû TK with 3 ropes and Kazari

Excellent bakushi spontaneously create a creative and aesthetically pleasing kazari. At the same time, they interact with their partner. You can see how experienced someone is by how well both are done at the same time.

In order to learn this, experience is needed. The basic patterns and basic techniques must be understood and mastered. When a bakushi understands the logic of rope flow, spontaneous creativity also develops.

A shibari pattern always follows the same structure. With these decorations, you can vary these patterns and change them visually. Thus, from the same basic techniques always creates something new.


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.


Ken (間) is a measure of length equal to about 1.81 meters. It is part of the traditional Shakkanhô system, which originated in China and defines units of measurement for lengths, volumes, weights, areas and money.

The reading “Ken” for this Kanji is rare nowadays and hardly used anymore. It only applies to this measuring unit.


Kujirajaku (鯨尺) is a larger kanejaku. It is still used today, for example, to measure lengths of yukata and kimono and hakama. It is a measure from the textile industry, which is measured by the length of a whale’s whiskers. Kujira means whale, so the unit of measurement is named after the animal from which the baleen was taken. These were used as ells in the textile industry. The kujirajaku is about 37.9 cm long.

It is part of the traditional Japanese Shakkanhô-system of measurements.

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.


Minarai means “learning by seeing”. This technique is used in many Japanese crafts. In the early days, an apprentice watches the master without actively doing anything himself. Only through the active and concentrated watching he already learns something.

When the student pr apprentice starts actively doing something for the first time, the body has already developed a feeling for the correct movements. Of course, these movements cannot yet be executed correctly. But the learner feels how it should feel and can correct himself better.

The same principle applies to shibari. If you watch an experienced person closely for a long time, you can learn a lot. Once you actively pick up the rope, your understanding of how it is all done will already be within you. Since shibari is often seen on stages and at private events, every opportunity to watch it should be utilized. Fans of certain Bakushi sometimes travel long distances to take advantage of every opportunity to watch them. Every performance is a chance to make minarai.

Attentive and focused watching plays a big role in Japan. The connection between eye and hand transmits a feeling for the “right” movement. Shibari is especially suitable for this kind of learning because it follows its own rhythm.

At the same time, however, this can create problems. If the movements are too clear and predictable, the bakushi can not surprise the ukete. Even the (uninformed) audience can thus recognize the style of the bakushi over time. In part, techniques have been developed in response, the purpose of which is not obvious, so as to preserve the element of surprise.

Page 2 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén