A lot of people ask us how to learn rope and how to progress in rope once they’ve picked up some of the basics, so we thought we’d write a post about it!
The truth is that rope can get quite addictive! In the studio we notice that rope tends to attract a lot of ‘brainy’ people full of intellectual curiosity and technical minds, so it’s not unusual for people to want to keep accumulating knowledge.
This is true whatever your intention and inclination is in rope. For some, shibari is very much an extension of their kink and sexuality and a tool to enhance intimacy and connection, for others it’s more about the ‘pretty patterns’ and the artistry, the aesthetics of the bodies bound in rope, and for others still it’s the circus-like acrobatics that appeal. In fact, this reflects the variety of backgrounds of our attendees at Anatomie – from academics, to actors to circus artists.
Our mission is to facilitate rope education and knowledge in an environment that is inclusive, safe and positive, so we welcome and embrace all of the facets of rope and what it means to different people. Whatever your interest, at its core, rope is something that brings people together and it’s about partnership, trust, communication, friendships, love and connection.
So, how do you learn rope? And how do you get good at it?
If you live in London, you’ve very lucky as there is a thriving rope community with events for all budgets and levels of commitment. A good way to dip your toes in the water and discover rope is by attending practice events – not only do you learn things, but you also get to make friends in the community. At Anatomie we have two practice events per week and they cost a mere £7 per person, and one all day event one Saturday per month (£12).
Our Tuesday Rope Jam is open to all levels and is for open practice. This is a great evening to see what rope is all about, you can chat and make friends with our regulars in the upstairs mezzanine (tea and coffee are free), or sit in our giant bean bags in the gallery, read some books from our library corner, and watch over what people are doing in rope. You’ll be able to see anything from fancy suspensions to playful floor work – and even people treating their jute rope and geeking about it! There is usually always some level of peer to peer teaching so you can just join in and pick up some basics.
Since rope is really about people and making connections, this is a really relaxed and easy way to make friends and be part of the local community.
Our Thursday Rope Jams are perfect for absolute beginners as we do a full introduction to the space, its etiquette, and we teach a 1,5 hour total beginner taster class. Things you will learn on Thursdays include specific ties and patterns, how to control and properly tension rope, how to tie with intention, specific hand movements useful for rope, details about frictions and knots, aspects of the history and context of shibari. We try to change it up so every Thursday will be a bit different with different teachers and material. Most of the emphasis on our Thursday classes is to open your mind to what rope can be all about (‘it’s not about what you do but how you do it’ is something you will hear us say over and over!).
We emphasise that shibari is a partnership activity, it’s about much more than making pretty patterns on people, it’s about telling a story, it’s to make the rope speak and be meaningful, to do it with intention and make it feel good.
A lot of people turn up on their own on Thursdays, and a lot of first timers to the studio come on Thursdays so there is a lot of opportunities to both tie and get tied, and most importantly make friends!
If you come to enough Tuesday and Thursday evening jams, you might feel you want to learn more and progress further in your rope journey. In this case, we recommend attending classes and workshops. Start with classes that are geared towards beginners, and here you will learn in a structure way all the basic and classic patterns, ties, knots and frictions. We have a full day beginners class every month on a Sunday and you are welcome to book as a couple (or pair/duo), or as a solo attendee (you’ll pair up with one of the other solo attendees and switch during the class).
Rope is all about muscle memory though so if you don’t practice, you’re likely to forget it all! So in this case you might enjoy taking advantage of our Tuesday and Thursday rope jams as a place to practice what you’ve learned. This is especially valuable because you’ll have a lot of people around you who can give you tips if you forget some aspects of what you’ve learned (including the teachers who are almost always at the jams) and you can always ask others around you to show you more things to build on what you’re learned.
If you’re still thirsty for knowledge after that, well, keep going to classes and workshops and most importantly, practicing! There is literally an infinite amount to learn about shibari, not just on the technical aspects, but the more psychological, philosophical and even historical aspects of the practice. Sometimes when we can we will have a Japanese presenter over and they will be able to add information about the more abstract details of the practice of shibari, such as interesting aspects about aesthetics, linguistic nuances and other more complex concepts related to the interaction between rigger and partner, and cultural differences between East and West that come into play in rope scenes. Other times we will have European presenters who are innovating and breaking away from tradition in some very exciting ways.
Whatever your goal or interest, there is plenty of scope for learning and making this practice something of your own, and most importantly, plenty of scope to be part of a community and make connections with amazing people.
Join us next time and get started!
Have questions? Message us.
Want to buy a good Japanese shibari tutorial book? Get this one!
Aside from Anatomie Studio, in London you also have Peer Rope London (the original rope meet and the oldest running rope event in London), which runs once per month on a Sunday at the Resistance Gallery, Hackney. You also have Hitchin’ Bitches, which is the female rope group (open to anyone identifying as female and to male rope bottoms). They meet once per month on a Saturday at the Flying Dutchman, Camberwell.