BREAKING TOPICS: How to start learning Shibari

There’s a big difference between tying up someone or being tied up, the perspectives of the rigger and the model are different during Shibari. This post has a purpose to help you out if you are trying to become a rigger, but also can help you out if you want to become a model. From my personal perspective, I would say that learning how to tie someone up can be easier depending on the person. If you want to become a rigger you have to explore what you want to learn first. Use internet, meet other people and talk about it, it doesn’t matter if it is online or face to face, what matters is that you have a clear image of what you want to do while practicing Shibari. I highly suggest to start by having private lessons. Why? Would you ask, well, there are many reasons. Private lessons will be guided by a teacher that will give you a deep insight and preparation on understanding the basics. It will teach you how to reinforce contentment and the complexity found within ropes, which includes tension, restriction and technique. This information is basic and will reassure the people involved in the practice a safer experience. Shibari can’t be learnt from a YouTube video for free, maybe you’ll get an idea of the 1% of it but nothing more. When you are face to face with a rigger that supervises your lessons, you’ll learn further more than just mere technique, you’ll be provided with a personalized lesson that will prevent any misstep.

Maybe, because of the place you live in, you don’t have any private lessons accessible. Do not panic, since there are many other ways to start. The second option that I would suggest is to look for the closest community. If there’s none nearby you, look on your surroundings, nearby cities, any workshops for groups, events, any kind of interaction that may put you in contact with the closest community of Shibari. This could lead you to meet your first teacher. It may feel like there’s no Shibari community close to you but from my experience, there should be, we are all spread around, even if that community is more or less visible.

When diving in the web for more information or to get in touch with practitioners of Shibari, you may feel confused on where to start, well, a lot of people suggest fetlife.com. Be aware that this website provides mainly kinky content (quite explicit and hardcore) but it also has great users that may help you in your journey. You can also use Facebook or Instagram to ask about events or to talk to people to figure out if there’s someone in your country interested in teaching you or in the practice. This community is not as small as it may seem, we all know someone that knows someone, therefore it shouldn’t be really hard to find help.

Wasabi tied by Pauline Massimo, photography by Shatel Liao

Wasabi tied by Pauline Massimo, photography by Shatel Liao

If you are lucky enough, you may have a nearby community, where you can join rope jams (public events where people can freely join to practice Shibari). It is indispensable, since it has so many benefits such as working in your network and watching how other people more experienced than you tie. Keep a close eye to every detail and absorb all the information that you can. I also recommend to watch performances, even though it is true that those are not as regular as rope jams, they provide an artistic value to your perspective worth exploring.

If everything said above fails, there’s always the last solution: travelling. You’ll have to move around, as I did years ago. Every community tends to be very welcoming to new people, as long as you don’t act creepy. And, as I said, once you find a community, being it internationally or nationally, always attend events, classes, performances and jams.

Here is an important warning if you get over excited about Shibari: DO NOT learn too fast in a short span of time. You have to take your time and learn it step by step, practicing every new step. It is not easy to find your own pace neither to find your personal style, therefore take your time. Rushing into it (as a lot of people tend to do at the beginning), may lead you to dangerous mistakes. This is a social practice and usually involves other people’s safety apart from yours, please do pay attention to details.

At the start of your journey everything will be based on copying and adjusting that new information. Do not try to change something you don’t fully understand. The basics have a reason for being there and changing something when you don’t understand it may lead to disastrous endings. I would like to add a recommendation when working on Shibari: give credit. If you are going to imitate someone’s style, giving credit is a sign of respect and politeness to their knowledge and art, not everyone does it but I do believe everyone should.

Wabisabi tied by Pauline Massimo, photography by Shatel Liao

Wabisabi tied by Pauline Massimo, photography by Shatel Liao


There are online tutorials with good quality for a reasonable price. When considering this option never forget to investigate the teacher’s background, their school, style, how long they’ve been tying, if it is a hobby for them or a profession and the quality of their content. You are the one paying so always ask questions, interact with them, if you ask a clear question and they rumble around and don’t give you a clear answer, doubt them, its is not a good sign, they may not control their information. None’s perfect, I know, but when it comes to learning Shibari, you need someone who knows about it, not someone who imitates or repeats information without understanding the reason behind it. Be careful when someone says that their way is the only way possible to doing something, there are usually other ways, different needs, ways to adapt everything, schools and styles. In the end, the quality of their content will be on the precision for details, the attention that they give to you, how they can adapt to your needs, handicaps and inquiries.

When finally stepping into it and tying someone up always remember: communication is key. Even if you know the person or not, talk with them, ask them how they are, who they are, what they are looking for, which interest they have and share that information about yourself too. Always state if your intentions, like if you want to practice, play, if you are learning, etc. Medicaments can spoil the practice, as well as the intake of other substances, so make sure everyone is aware if those have been ingested by any of the people involved. Their state of mind and their health will affect the session; thus, communication will give you insight about how the session will go and make it safer for everyone. Personal preferences must be communicated before the practice, they are part of the consent, if you want to do something related to BDSM, role, using other objects apart from ropes, etc, it should be accepted by everyone involved and shared beforehand. It is different if you plan to use ropes on the genitals, with or without clothing, therefore, as said before, it must be verbalized previously. You can stablish these boundaries in a casual way, try not to make it a check list but more of a relaxed conversation so that everyone feels comfortable. During the session the communication must be still practiced, even if the feedback is not talked, you have to make feel safe the other person and if you make a mistake share it, just in case that other person can help or at least is aware of the danger. You have to know how to listen, constructive criticism may hurt you but it’s always for the best.

Once done the session, the aftercare is a must as I’ve said in a previous post. If you tie someone up, try to keep in contact with them because the emotional impact may last for a while and keeping tabs with them is helpful for both of you. Ask them about any physical problem, such as muscular pain, that they may have experienced during or after the session, it will help you correct any missteps and learn from it.

In the end, it is about having empathy and showing it.

Wabisabi tied by Pauline Massimo, photography by Shatel Liao

Wabisabi tied by Pauline Massimo, photography by Shatel Liao