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Sensuality in Kinbaku: Exploring the Intimate Art of Semenawa

 

Notes from a recent conversation with a student and friend on sensuality in rope.


Question: How can you make rope more sensual for the person being bound?I don't mean necessarily sexual, but sensual. I've noticed as I tie more ladies that if there is some mutual attraction, the rope sessions tend to be better and more intense for the person being bound. If there is zero attraction, the model still enjoys being bound, but there is some element missing.


Below are some of the elements that I personally feel are key to sensuality in kinbaku. This is my personal opinion only. First, regarding sensual versus sexual, I think the below sums it up quite nicely (referenced from site)


“There is a clear distinction between being sensual and being sexual. Being sensual can exist on its own but you can’t experience and explore sexuality without engaging with your senses. Being sensual allows us to experience things as we interact with them, it allows us to notice if something feels, sounds or tastes good and lets us know if we want more of it.”

 

—Attraction in kinbaku

While there are many techniques to create sensuality in kinbaku, as an intimate practice I think attraction will always have an influence. Sometimes the energies of two people align naturally fluidly, whereas in other cases they may clash or just no align. Sometimes a connection may feel explosive despite having just met, and other times the intimacy may be something that develops very slowly as we explore, discover, and slowly start to reveal more about ourselves to the other. Energies, pheromones, whichever way you see it attraction will always have a degree of presence; however, this also demands us to question what we mean by attraction. While I can only speak for myself, attraction is not limited to sexual attraction. I have developed many deep and powerful relationships through rope with people whom I do not feel sexually attracted to or aroused by but am intimate with in other ways.


—Creating a sense of security

Another major element is a sense of security and surrender. As humans we have a many reflexive defenses ranging from innate physiological responses toward danger to socially constructed defenses that we have unconsciously (or consciously) created throughout our lives. On a physical level, if we are not physically supported or feel unstable our muscles will reflexively contract, and our senses will remain on high alert. Even as you sit there reading this blog from your computer or phone, you are engaging numerous muscles to maintain your posture and defend your body from injury. If you were to disengage these, then you would fall to the floor like a ragdoll and most probably hurt yourself in some way. The mind and body are inextricably connected, and therefore creating a sense of emotional security also comes from rope that binds that body in a way that it is securely supported and enables the person being bound to disengage or “surrender” physical control.

Even with seme-nawa or more strenuous kinbaku, ultimately the capacity to “surrender” is largely contingent on being secure and supported. I think this relates to sensuality in many ways. The more we can surrender, the more sensitive we become to any external stimulation, including touch and pressure.





—Feeling that the person tying is in control and knows what’s going on.

 While verbal communication and checking in other person during a kinbaku session is important for safety, if we, as the person tying, rely too much on this then it can be counter-productive to creating a sense of security and intimacy.  Allow me to explain.


Here’s a situation:

You just arrive home from work, you had a super tough day, you are exhausted, and you just don’t feel like to talking to anyone (by the way, you enjoy drinking beer).

1) Your partner comes up to you and asks you what’s wrong, expecting you to give detailed response, or

2) Your partner picks up on vibe, grabs a beer from the fridge and places it the coffee table next to your favorite sofa. Maybe they even put on your favorite CD that you always listen to when you are stressed.


My Question:

Which response allows you to “surrender” your worries and stresses for the day, and relax?

Which response makes you feel like your partner “knows you”?

Which response feels like it has a nice uninterrupted flow?


My Point:

Picking up on these subtle clues and reactions, discerning their meaning and any possible danger areas, and being able to react immediately and fluidly without interrupting the rhythm or mood of the session is a powerful skill when it comes to building closeness and intimacy, both of which are important aspects of sensuality. In other words, proactively reading between the lines and acting, rather than constantly probing, or waiting to be told*.For example, if my partner, who has been lying still on the floor as I continue to bind her, suddenly starts shifting her wrists, attempts to roll over, or lifts her head and glances around, then I would know that something isn’t “right.” If she has been lying on her side for a while, then there is a high chance that her arm is going numb from the weight of her body. Maybe her nose is itchy. If she has a weak lower back, then I would place my hand on her back and watch for any subtle response or reactions to confirm if there is any distress there. Without asking I would make adjustment to fix the presumed “problem area” and then watch her following responses to check that there are no additional or lingering issues that need to be addressed (if needed I would slip in a quick “all good now?” at a timing that doesn’t interrupt the flow of the scene).


—Rhythm

This follows on from the above. A particular rhythm or flow is closely connected to sensuality and the way we experience sensations. I’m not going to go into this too deeply, but this is noted in many practices such as massage, tai-chi, acupuncture, and yoga, which focus on the body, sensations, or energies. For me, kinbaku is not about meditation (for some people it is, and that’s fine too), and therefore I don’t subscribe to any particular “practice” when it comes to rhythm or breath in kinbaku. Finding a flow that works for you and taking care to avoid any unnecessary interruptions or distractions is sufficient, I think.



—Is sensual always soft? Can seme-nawa be sensual?  For some "soft and sensual" tends to be used in conjunction with one another. How can we sensual while assuming a more assertive and commanding tone in our physical interactions?

This is very subjective, but personally I think that “soft” does not necessarily equal “sensual” and vice-versa. What many people call “soft” rope tends to be quite loose, which can be equally dangerous when it comes to peripheral nerve injuries as the ropes will tend to move, slip and be of uneven pressures. More to my point, “soft” rope is also less supportive which brings me back to the above mentioned point of support/security to enable actual surrender. (It’s amazing how often we think we are relaxed but are unconsciously holding tension throughout various parts of our body).

 

At the risk of over-simplifying the topic, I think that sympathetic-parasympathetic nervous response and the way it relates to pleasure and arousal can serve as a guideline (note; I use the word guideline because this is in no way comprehensive). Stronger or more assertive kinbaku, such as seme-nawa, can involve sensuality when practiced with the right combination and intent. In other words, we are oscillating or combining parasympathetic and sympathetic engagement; commanding and reassuring application of rope; and assertive and soft touch, to stimulate the senses but without fully over-engaging fight-flight responses.

 

*Kinbaku can be dangerous and can cause injury, so verbal communication is recommended in the beginning or if tying with someone you don’t know well. Always check in on vital signs, and make sure that any possible causes of injury or danger points are addressed immediately.)


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