"The Way of Rope" or "Nawa-do" by Tatu
December 1999 / Revised January 2006
(An essay on the Spiritual Component to Japanese Rope in D/s)
My focus involvement in D/s for many years has been in the area of Rope Art, particularly the Japanese style sometimes referred to as "Nawa Shibari" or more accurately, "Kinbaku". My attraction to Japanese Rope is for many reasons, but at the root of it all is the spiritual component to this art that sadly few ever know or understand. It is my purpose in this essay to inspire others to seek a soul journey along with their D/s, not necessarily with rope, but in any erotic power exchange endeavor. I began this journey long ago, and have experimented with many ideas, religions and philosophies. My D/s does not involve pain, but sensations; so some who are into pain for pains sake will not understand nor care much about this writing. Yet for those of you who are seeking a sensual / spiritual dimension to their BDSM, then you may be interested in what I am about to say.
To understand Japanese Rope Art or any spiritual component to D/s, one needs to understand something of the eastern cultures. Both my undergraduate and graduate studies were in fields related to social studies; history, psychology, and sociology. I became enamored by what I was learning of far eastern world. I ended up taking most of my major history electives in eastern studies. I was fascinated by concepts so foreign to my own. For example the heart of our western culture is greed and egotism. Foundational to eastern cultures are a sense of gratitude, indebtedness, and humility.
Let me interject at this point that this essay is not about Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, nor even Christianity..... I'm not talking about religion at all. I have tried religions and found no peace.
What I am talking about is the emphasis on soul tranquility, a harmony and peace of life, with life.
So when I do rope bondage, at its soul is not rope and restraint, but a journey. In my opinion, to do rope bondage and experience its fullness, one takes an inward journey. The Master takes his subject on a sensual - spiritual journey, guiding her to personal enlightenment of her sensual - spiritual experience.
Chado - The Way of Tea
I do rope like the Japanese Tea Ceremony, "Chado" (pronounced Cha-no-yu). While the essence of The Tea Ceremony is about drinking tea, it is also the combination of all the elements - the preparation, the setting, the cups, the flowers, the candles, the aromas, the flavors, the guests, the host, the savoring of the moment. In the same way some see Chado as a ceremony or performance, some make the same mistake with Japanese Rope Bondage. It is a journey and an experience..... a way. So it is for me with Japanese Rope Bondage, it is ...
...."The Way of Rope".
Some time ago I adopted the "four principles of Chado", as a personal way for my spirit, my D/s. I adopted the use of these four words as a part of my signature in my communications with others.
The nature of who I am and what I do in D/s is expressed by these four kanji characters,
WA = Harmony KEI = Respect SEI = Purity JAKU = Tranquility.
is made up of all the different things that make up our world. Harmony is seen in the way people act and behave among one another. It is seen in the way the oriental places great emphasis on aesthetics, the gardens, tea flowers, tea bowls, bonsai, candles, colors, aromas, etc. In a tea ceremony the participants communicate in silence with each other through every element in the setting as the host uses them to call out a sense of harmony in the tea room. While there is never total agreement on all matters of life, we celebrate the harmony of kindred spirits. So should we celebrate the harmony of our individual D/s bents.
People must respect all things, all matters without involving their status or position in life; that is, people must not judge or discriminate. In the way of tea, all participants historically crawl in a lowly position into the tea room, all kneel and enjoy the harmony together. Without respect there is no community. This does not mean all agree, but we are willing to celebrate our uniqueness with one another without being threatened or ashamed.
Purifying spirits is very important since the ideal spirit of the ceremony is one where there is truth, and honesty with ones soul. To share the fullness of the moments, all participants look inward introspectively, and judge their own hearts and motives.
Only after the first three concepts (harmony, respect, and purity) are discovered, experienced and embraced, can people finally embody tranquility. This was the teaching of Rikyu the great 16th century "Tea Master".
The Way in Japanese Rope Art
Step 1: Bathing.
The journey may begin with a ritual bathing of your partner or each other. (You may even wish to seed the encounter hours or even days before. Sharing small hints of what you have in mind for her.) Elements that go into this ritual beginning are candles, aromas, quiet meditative music, warm water, soft soaps, soft caring touch.
Step 2: Massage.
Now is the time for massage and anointing or special ritualistic oils and aromas. A number of people today can teach you about mixing oils for various needs and purposes. In your prepared space.... with candles, soft music, a loving total body massage is given to one other.... Remember it is the oriental who developed shiatsu massage, acupressure, acupuncture. Massage of the body is a vital ingredient to the way of rope.
Step 3: The Setting.
If you have not, now you move to a space that has been prepared for the rope bondage moment. Again, a room only lit with candles, music, candles arranged, the soft ropes..... take your time. Technique and safety is discussed elsewhere, for our purpose here.... think of applying each rope slowly with care, love and purpose. Bind her with thoughts of the rope massaging her from all directions, the knots strategically placed for maximum pleasure. Slide the rope gently across her skin. Listen to her sighs, her moans as she offers her weak attempts at struggle. Smell her scents. Taste her ecstasy. Witness her surrender to you. Willing, wanting, desiring your touch. You take her inside herself.... a mental journey. She hears nothing but your voice and you take her to a place of peace, harmony, purity and tranquility. Once there, she is able to access her inner pleasure sensors, and with no shame enjoy her divine electricity. You control her pleasure, you allow her to explode in ecstasy at the proper moments.
Step 4: Coming Down.
Loosen her bindings, but do not take them off. Allow her to crumple to the floor in your lap. Stroke her tenderly, speak to her softly, bring her back slowly. It is important that you take appropriate time to do this. There is nothing more disturbing to the whole journey, than to rush out of it, or have the moment disturbed by an unsensing observer. These are bonding moments between, Sensei and his charge. Don't be surprised if she rebels at the idea of taking her torso harness or ropes entirely off. She feels naked and insecure at the thought of being without them. Let her sleep in them or wear them under her clothes.
Walking the way in everyday D/s
Walking the "way of tea" or the "way of rope" is not easy because the way of tea is a life which people seek tranquility through harmony, respect, and purity, yet this is not the way of most in our world. For many their way is full of chaos. Many people simply just have no desire for tranquility. They are not at peace or in harmony with themselves, or anyone. Their lives are lacking purity. Their pasts are tainted with secrets, hideous shameful events for which they have never dealt successfully or tried to be honest and true with themselves or others.
How do these differences in mindsets manifest itself in our D/s community and play?
Be warned, if you are seeking the way of tranquility, there will be those with no peace who will target and test you in every way possible. Some will just become outright unscrupulous in their attempts to undermine you. You must understand you will be different, and some people don't like that.
One who follows the way of discord, greed, and ego while doing D/s may very well develop a worthless or low value submissive philosophy. They see a definite superiority of classes in their D/s. Doms are gods, subs are doormats, not real flesh and blood with feelings and emotions, they are pieces of meat to be used. They organize their environments almost in godfather fashion. Seeking to control and manipulate with their power.
Often these Dominants are not Dominants at all but domineering jerks, trying to demand respect. Low self-esteemed individuals (Dom and subs) are attracted to this style because they feel they can get instant gratification for what they lack in character. Because of their low self-esteem they can feel it necessary to be critical and unkind to others, capable of using very destructive words and deeds. They do this because in order to make themselves feel good about themselves, they compensate for their lack of self-esteem by attempting to lift themselves up by knocking others down.
On the other hand, with a mindset dedicated to the way of tranquility at work in D/s, there is more likely to be a mutual love and respect at work between Dominant and submissive. Dominants with this mindset have no need to talk down to their submissives. They see them as wonderful people, special, unique to be cherished and cared for. They understand the beauty of the service given to them and respond with great love and affection. There may be correction and punishment, but never given in rage or anger or fear, but with love and discipline. Respect is not demanded by the Dominant, he doesn't have to prove himself to anyone. He knows his Dominance is an energy, that either a submissive senses and responds to, or not. He does not have to resort to egotistical b.s. in order to find his needs fulfilled. Respect is given by the submissive because she has sensed the energy of loving leadership and been treated with honor and mutual respect. With that she sees her Dominant as worthy of respect and service.
....harmony, respect, purity and tranquility
(c) 1999. "The Way of Rope" (English) or "Nawa Do" (Japanese) is a phrase coined by Tatu. All rights reserved. Usage must refer the reader to Tatu Publications as copyright owner of this phrase.