One of the great things about RopeFlix is that you no longer need to limit yourself to watching a handful of videos from one or two bakushi. This opens up a whole range of opportunities to understand what is going on in a variety of different styles when it comes to tying. One of the most important, and elusive, is what people often call “rope connection.”
Without going into details, when I watch Western rope artists tie, I am often struck by how different it feels compared to watching the Japanese. It has nothing to do with the ties or the models. The ties are often very accurate in the representation of a particular style. The models are just as beautiful. So what is the difference?
What I have found to be missing in the recent import of kinbaku to the west is the head space created by Japanese bakushi and as I look through my favorite videos, that head space usually seems to happen in the first five minutes.
While many people tying are doing the first wraps of their takate kote in anticipation of what is to come, whether it be floor work, suspension, or other types of play, the Japanese style of tying takes those first few minutes to create an entire world that will animate everything that follows.
When you watch Naka Akira tie, for example, you will notice he is never in a rush to get his model tied. There is a play of proximity and distance. The timing is never regular. There are breaks and unpredictable starts and stops. You can watch the effect the rope is having as his model is sinking deeper and deeper into the experience. He is watching, monitoring, and making choices about what to do and when.
Most important, you can watch, as he ties, how he is soliciting and evoking his model’s submission in rope. It is in those first five minutes that the rope scene is created. It is those moments that make all that is to follow possible.
Compare that to Yukimura Haruki, another bakushi who elicits a powerful sense of surrender from his models. That too happens in the first moments of the tie. Each element, the taking of the hands, the tying of the wrists, and the wrap of the gote, are all managed with great care and attention.
Those first five minutes shape the scene and the tie.
In both cases (as well as the ties of many others in Japan) it is all done with subtlety and nuance. There is no dramatic throwing of the rope, no heavy breathing, no dramatic pauses or wild flourishes with rope. It is not a performance (even when it is being performed either live or on video).
In the West, we often see heavy dramatic actions. Wide sweeps of the hands, over emphasized gestures. The throwing and wrapping of rope for dramatic effect.
Compare those actions to the subtle progression of Naka Akira tying Kawakami Yuu: