This is the final blog on this experience. All that's left is a few words about the dojo anniversary party on Saturday night.
The Copenhagen shibari dojo is two years old. Our congratulations go to its founders and members.
The night was marked by two performances by members of the dojo and by a tying demonstration by Yukimura Haruki Sensei which used all the techniques taught during the teaching days in the week. A little while later the grand master tied again, and I'm sure that there was not meant to be any kind of show element, however there was an audience.
As the evening progressed a number of people moved onto other events nearby. We however were happy to stay at the dojo and enjoyed the company and some tying of our own.
A final treat of the evening was that grand master Yukimura tied again another two times utilising techniques and ties that were not in the lessons. Having the opportunity to observe these sessions was an education in itself. A great end to a wonderful experience.
We were to leave Copenhagen with nothing but good memories of our time there. Of wonderful people and wonderful lessons learned.
The last mention here must go to clover without whom this trip would not happen. As birthday presents go, this one was something special.
What a really good learning experience does is open your mind to new possibilites, possibilities you hadn't suspected before. Further it gives you a way into those new experiences.
One thing that I think is worth emphasising is the tremendous contribution that the interpreters made to this class. In a large part due to the fact that not only were they there because they spoke excellent Japanese but also they were students of Yukimura Sensei and therefore understood what they were translating and could also spot the mistakes that we made during the day. They were very much part of making the day what it was.
Through watching videos of the grand master tying I had some idea of what Yukimura Sensei was about but learning from him showed how easy it is to fail to understand what someone is really doing from just watching. I had thought that a large part of what he was doing was not so to speak 'in the visible range' and that proved to be the case. I shall certainly be re-viewing his videos with new eyes now.
This might be disappointing to some readers but one thing I'm not going to do in this blog or anywhere else is describe Yukinura Sensei's techniques or the content of the lessons. This is his information and method to teach as he chooses and to publish at his discretion. I think that just like the first time I met Osada Steve Sensei the repercussions of this day's learning will spread through all my tying and also that it will take a long time for the full consequence and implications of these lessons to be fully recognised.
Yukimura Sensei seems to have quite a definite on screen persona (I want to qualify that by pointing out that I have definitely not seen everything he's done by a very long way) This is not the case of the man in person. It's quite fascinating to see him turn it on when tying. There's certainly no denying the effectiveness of his techniques. One thing that really struck us was that great emphasis was placed on the both safety and the role of the bottom in a scene. Bottoms were not expected to simply be passive objects to be tied, far from it.
So finally I am very happy to have had this opportunity to learn. This is the first time the grand master has taught outside of Japan. I for one am very happy he did. If even only for one day it was wonderful to have this chance to learn.
Note on language: I don't speak very much Japanese and generally don't gratuitously use Japanese titles, terms etc. unless I know for certain what they mean and mostly if there isn't an appropriate English alternative.
Yesterday was filled with sad poetry
Today I cannot remember a word
How brief are these beautiful moments
How brief are life's joys
As a wonderful opportunity approaches to learn with Yukimura Haruki I can't help thinking about learning itself and what an exciting thing it is for me. An opportunity to learn, to move forward, to benefit from the experience of someone who has so much experience, has done so much and earned such respect. I'm excited in a way I can't explain. I am so looking forward to it.
But wait a moment you teach all over the world, perform all over the world. And you're going for lessons?
Absolutely I'm going for lessons. This guy has so much experience, is so good at what he does that learning from him makes absolute sense. If I can reap the benefit of only a fraction of that experience and knowledge then I can leap forward past years of work coming to my own conclusions, conclusions I may never have concluded. Lessons I may never have sumbled upon.
Learning is never finished there is always something you can learn, there are always people who's experience and perspective can give you something new.
I hope that in 20 years from now I'm feeling this way and saying "I'm off to have a session with..."
I feel that both of these are really about trust. When it comes to trusting your well-being with someone, trusting someone to the extent you can be helpless with them you have an absolute right to be picky.
In fact I'd go so far as to say that if you're not being picky you're not really looking after yourself.
I would urge all rope bottoms to 'be picky' about who ties you up.
I hear people argue that they don't know what's good rope and what isn't. Well, this is a health issue, educate yourself. Being suspended by someone who thinks they're really great right up to the point where it turns out that they only thought they were is a risky business. You don't know if it's good rope work or not? Find out. Learn, arm yourself with the knowledge to protect yourself. Seriously I see so many models work with terrible riggers it's just crazy. I wonder what the level of safety concerned conversation before these shoots was.
Tog: I want to tie you up and then hang you up with washing line.
Mod: Do you know what you're doing?
Mod: OK then.
(the above quoted conversation is a 'joke' and not a real quote, it is used here for the purposes of satire whilst illustrating a point) *
Am I taking crazy pills or did you ought to extend some more concern over your personal safety? Yet clearly some do not take that care as is evidenced by the pictures of said models in the horrendous rope suspensions perpetrated by some photographers.
Learn, protect yourselves. Be Picky!
* Tog = Photographer Mod = Model
The purpose of great bondage is not to take a photo of it, but to take the person being tied on a journey.
Today I read this post on Facebook by Mark De Viate
The purpose of great bondage is not to take a photo of it, but to take the person being tied on a journey.
I think we too often loose sight.
A great photo by a great photographer is just that.
A great bondage scene is judged best by the participants.
If you're familiar with my writings you will know that it's a view I very much agree with. It's always however well worth repeating the point.
I love doing shows, and pictures, they're great to do and a different type of experience. They are though things that we do because we do bondage anyway and the reason that we do bondage is about what it does for us personally.
It's sometimes easy for people to miss this because what people see of what we do is naturally enough the images and the shows. They're going to have to be very lucky to see what we do on a personal level (though some have).
This week we shall (thanks to clover) be going to study newaza with grand master Yukimura Haruki.
I am SO excited to be doing this. It's a wonderful opportunity to learn from one of the very best! It's always exciting for me to have an opportunity to learn so as the date approaches I'm really starting to feel the excitement.
Clover surprised me with this trip for my birthday treat, how cool is that? I'll be blogging about the experience afterwards but for now... how cool is that?
Yesterday I made a bit of a difficult decision.
On one post there was a series of comments that basically was going down a road that was unproductive. The point of the article was I felt being missed and the context of the comments within it misunderstood or ignored. Comments became increasingly personal. The arguments put forward were tangential to the actual issues of the post.
So, to continue arguing with someone and allow a discussion that seemed would result in regrettable comments. Or... to simply close the discussion.
I have decided simply to close the discussion.
I was a bit torn on this. In one way I wanted to get my point across, on the other I increasingly feel that I just haven't got the energy for the pointless arguing. That is you have to argue to get someone to even understand what you were actually saying and why therefore the argument being had is not in point of fact about what the post was about.
With that out of the way I want to make a more general point.
I have recently been getting less and less involved in discussions in forums because of the endless arguing over definitions and the way people 'see' things or the world or what everything means to them.
One result of this is that I've been blogging a lot more. Why? Well because I still have thoughts I want to express, but I want to express them without getting drawn into time wasting arguments that are neither thoughtful nor informative. So frankly I'm just not going to. I don't have the time or energy.
It can seem overwhelming when people speak of the potential dangers of rope bondage.
The thing is however to be aware of the dangers so that you can avoid them!
You should not let the risks frighten you but they should make you properly cautious and exercise due diligence to reduce the risks, to be informed about them. To realistically know what they are and if you're prepared to accept them.
Crossing a busy road for instance can be dangerous and someone just walking out without any awareness of the dangers is quite likely to have a nasty accident. However if you are aware of the dangers, real though they are, you can avoid them.
Crossing the road is always more risky than not crossing the road. Doing bondage is always more risky than not doing bondage. In neither instance is it possible to totally remove risk but it is possible to reduce it to a manageable and acceptable level.
After all crossing a busy road has probably more likelihood of imminent death for the unwary than bondage. And yet... we still cross the road.
... and bungee and sail and race and climb and...
Does this all make it sound terrifying? Good, there's a real point to that, but! You do cross the road every day, you learn how to do it safer, skydiving sounds terrifying but with the right know-how, well how many accidents do you hear of? That's right there are still some but they're blessedly few. Due to knowledge, due to learning, due to people having built on the experience of those before them.
And when we do these things we learn something about them, usually from someone with good experience and reputation; in fact we seek them out. So that when we jump from the bridge, out of the plane or fall off the cliff we have maybe some idea how to deal with it, how to be safer than if you just went ahead and tried without learning anything first, without benefiting from the experience of others.
Would you really pack a parachute and trust a life to it without really, really learning all you could about how to do it properly first? Would you really just guess at how it probably went and just jump?
Would you really tie someone and hang their life on a rope without really, really learning all you could about how to do it first? Really?
This is a variation I came up with while wanting a tie that could be done in bed without having to pass rope under the body while the person being tied is lying face down.
I've called this nemui shibari because I happened to know that 眠い(nemui) is the Japanese for sleepy. This may btw. be a terrible name for this but it's what I made up off the top of my head because the tie was thought up while tying someone who was sleepy.
My sincere thanks to Hajime Kinoko san for correcting my Japanese in the naming of this tie.
The first time I taught this tie was at the London festival of the art of Japanese bondage. It's not often that you get to show a tie to the Japanese so I was very happy to be able to do so.