Some Common Terminology

As with any community of specialized knowledge and skills, the rope bondage community has its own jargon, for better or worse. Below, we’ve made a list (not meant to be comprehensive) of some of the more common terms you’ll likely encounter when rope-bondage enthusiasts get together.

A Note on Japanese Terms

In communities that include Japanese-inspired rope, the problem of jargon is made even more difficult by the adoption, Westernizing, and abbreviating of many Japanese terms. (For instance, “TK” as the shortened form of takate kote, which is broadly understood as a “box tie.”) To complicate this further, Japanese practitioners don’t typically codify the names for their ties. Instead, the terminology tends to be descriptive, and so refers to either the body parts being tied, the position of the body, or the way the final tie looks. For example, what many in the Western rope world call a “futo” is an abbreviation of the word “futomomo” which is derived from the most common description of that tie: “ashikubi futomomo shibari” … which simply means: “I’m going to tie (shibari) your ankle (ashikubi) to your thigh (futomomo).” Many Japanese practitioners lament the Western need to have definite names for the various ties.

Despite this, different rope communities will take different stances on their preferred terms and how strictly those terms are enforced. In our courses that address Japanese-inspired ties, we try to provide both a simple, descriptive English-language term for each tie as well as the most common Japanese term for the tie and its corresponding kanji (when possible).

For example, when we consider a “futo” in our Rope 201 course, we list it as: folded-leg tie (ashikubi futomomo shibari) 足首 太もも 縛り

Our reason for this is that our advanced courses are focused on the fundamentals of Japanese-style rope bondage. However, we make no claims to be experts in Japanese (the language or the culture), and we have no requirements that you learn any particular name for what we’ll be practicing. We just want to give you the tools and resources to help you navigate the world of Japanese-inspired rope bondage.

Common Non-Japanese Terms

  • Anchor Point / Hard Point – a secure option used to secure up-lines in a suspension
  • Band – one or more pieces of rope across the body
  • Bight – usually the mid-point of the rope folded against itself; any loop of rope made by folding it against itself
  • Carabiner (‘biner) – a coupling link with safety closure used in suspension, either attached to the rope on the body or to the anchor point
  • Cuff – two or more wraps, usually around a wrist, ankle, or leg
  • Floor Work – rope bondage without any suspension lines
  • Friction – any point where the rope is held in place by crossing on itself in some way
  • Harness – any pattern of rope tied in a way that’s designed to hold the body and support its weight; typically “hip harness” or “chest harness”
  • Hitch – a method for attaching one rope to another
  • Load – to apply force to a tie (and the body in the tie) through some means of pulling on the rope (either using the top’s hands in floor work or by using other rope in suspension work)
  • Rigger – a term for someone responsible for suspending loads professionally; adopted by the rope community to mean “rope top”
  • Partial Suspension – using rope to lift part of the body from the ground
  • Ring – typically, a metal or wooden ring used for suspension
  • Rope Hank / Bundle – a single piece of rope, usually folded in some way to make it compact, portable, and accessible
  • Rope Top – the person doing the tying
  • Rope Bottom – the person being tied
  • Rope Bunny – a term of endearment for “rope bottom” … which some bottoms don’t find endearing at all
  • Running End – the part of the rope you’re actively tying with
  • Suspension – using rope to lift the body from the ground
  • Up-Line / Suspension Line – the line running from the body to the anchor point; used to lift (fully or partially) the body from floor
  • Tails / Standing End / Working End – the part of the rope you’re not actively tying with; the part opposite the bight
  • Tension – generally speaking, how “tight” the rope is pulled and/or applied to the body

Common Japanese Terms

  • Asanawa – rope made of bast fibre; typically jute or hemp
  • Bakushi / Kinbakushi – rope artist
  • Ebi – literally “shrimp”; a type of tie that folds the body inward
  • Hishi – diamond-shaped patterns in a tie
  • Hojojutsu – ancient martial art of capture and restraint using rope
  • Ichinawa – an approach to tying that relies on a single rope (vs. ipponawa)
  • Kannuki – a cinch that tightens and/or holds other ropes in place
  • Karada – body; generally refers to a variety of body harnesses
  • Kinbaku – literally “tight binding; see Origins and Approaches for fuller discussion
  • Matanawa – crotch rope
  • Nawa – rope
  • Nawagashira – the “bight” of the rope
  • Nawashi – maker of rope; rope artist or expert
  • Newaza – floor work; rope bondage without any suspension lines
  • Ryu – style or way of doing something; a school or approach
  • Semenawa (zeme) – torture rope; bondage that intentionally inflicts pain
  • Sensei – teacher or master
  • Shibari – literally “to tie” or “weaving”; see Origins and Approaches for fuller discussion
  • Tengu – a type of tie that folds the arms and secures them to the side of the body
  • Tsuri (zuri) – suspension
  • Wabi Sabi – philosophical approach that accepts transience and imperfection; beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”
  • Yoko Tsuri – side suspension
Additional Resources
The list above is nowhere near comprehensive. The links below will expose you to even more terms: