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The Ying & Yang of Kinbaku

Some recent thoughts and observations....

Ying and Yang are mutually dependent yet contradicting forces. Ying does not exist without Yang, and without Yang does not exist without the Yang. Their existence supports the other while relying on its oppositional force to form and maintain an equilibrium.


At the same time, these forces are dynamic and continuously changing. When Yang, the “active” or assertive force, reaches its peak it transforms into Ying, the passive “still” force, and vica-versa. In seme-nawa (kinbaku) we seek to engage these dynamics to bring forth a state of surrender. While many people misunderstand “seme-nawa” as a torturous form of kinbaku, it more about

binding and constraining the body, and applying pressures and sensations that, while active and sometimes assertive, serve to coax a state of surrender or “stillness.” In the same manner, surrendering can bring forth empowerment. It is an exquisite balance between being assertive or commanding, and being intimate and assuring. Yet, just as these forces are salient and blurring, so is our physical and emotional state. Our limits and desires, our physical condition, is continuously changing; there is no constant. Seme-nawa is thus about tuning into our partners and responding to each moment and to our partner’s physical and emotional rhythm. Assertiveness that offers a sense of security; intimacy that offers to take the reins of control and allows our partner to surrender that control.


Technique and rope “patterns” in seme-nawa, or any other style of kinbaku, provide us with a basis to respond to our partners. But just like a pattern for making clothes, the binds are just a general pattern framework that require fine-tuning to create a “custom suit” for our partner in that moment. There is no one-size fits all. Moreover, these adjustments are extremely subtle and often not observable by an onlooker. It is less about designing an entire new bind or pattern, but about making minutest of adjustments to the pressure, how the rope is applied to the body and skin, how the body is held, and so on. Just like pinch of salt can bring out the full flavors of dish, if added at the right moment and in the right quantity, so can the smallest adjustments to rope handling or application completely change the experience of the person being bound.



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