When Rope Gets On our Nerves

A few weeks ago, I had my first experience with nerve impingement during a tie. Considering I’ve been in ropes regularly for the last two years, and was first tied around six years ago, I am honestly surprised that this was my first time. As I always say: doing shibari is really a pretty daft thing to do. 

For me, the experience wasn’t a bad one. I attribute this to a number of factors, which I will go into in more detail below. However, a lot of people aren’t so lucky, so I thought it was about time to speak to ropey people about their experiences. 

This blog post is anecdotal first and foremost: I have simply asked people to share what happened to them. They also share their advice for people who tie, but this article is not everything you need to know, and it is definitely not a substitute for doing your own research. Shibari is fun, but it comes with risks. It’s important for you to know the risks, and how they fit within your own risk profile.

And before we get into it, here are two really useful resources for comprehensive information about nerves:

Alexa (aka @alexahamartia)

What was your experience of nerve impingement/ damage?

The first sensation was a shooting pain down my right arm (I’ve had sciatica in recent years so can definitely confirm this was nerve pain). My rigger untied me slowly so as not to allow all blood rushing back and I couldn’t use the smallest fingers on my right hand. I was able to manually move them but there was stiffness and very little movement on their own. Because I was not in the UK at the time, I went to my GP as soon as I got back. They confirmed it. I did exercises for my hands every day and after 6 weeks, I started to regain some movement.

Why did it happen?

I was in a TK in a side suspension and we were doing a transition class (at EURIX). The transition gave a bit of a drop and rotation to my body and I almost slid a little. I think my arm got caught in an up line.

Could you have prevented it? If so, how?

I’m not sure I could. He was technically competent as a rigger and, due to it being a sudden impact, I wouldn’t have felt it coming on.

I’ve learnt more body awareness and my communication has grown from here (as someone who loves to be tied) and I pride myself on my active communication now.

The up line getting caught was a complete accident and the lighting in the room was poor for atmosphere. I don’t hold anyone responsible for this.

Anything else to add?

It took me years to get over my fear of TK’s.

I’ve finally found a tie that works well for my body and practicing that. Learning to be patient and listen to it.


What was your experience of nerve impingement/ damage?

So I started noticing a loss in sensation in my left little finger one day, there wasn’t anything specific that lead up to it. It felt as if the finger has gone to sleep but I could still move it and use it to grip but… it felt odd. After a few weeks I noticed that loss of sensation spreading to my ring finger on the same hand. I went to my GP who referred me to a neurologist, who suggested I get a nerve conduction test. It’s now about 2 months, I regained sensation in the ring finger but haven’t recovered it in the little finger.

Why did it happen?

From having done rope for a while, being aware of common nerve damage ,and speaking to rope friends I was aware it might be an ulnar nerve impingement, possibly from a TK or consistent compression over time. The nerve conduction test confirmed there was ulnar nerve damage and degeneration, possibly from compression of the nerve anywhere from the elbow to the wrist. I understand from the doctors that this is also a common issue for people with desk jobs who rests their arms on tables. As there wasn’t a specific event I could point to that would have led to this, I suspect it might be a combination of my work and rope that has lead to some sort of constant compression of the ulnar nerve.

Could you have prevented it? If so, how?

I don’t think I could have prevented this – I have always been aware to do nerve checks when in rope and to alert rope partners when I experience rapid loss of sensation or if a tie feels ‘off’. Unfortunately nerve damage can happen due to consistent pressure or compression over time and it is part of the risk involved with doing rope

Eleni (aka @kink.and.cuddles

What was your experience of nerve impingement/ damage?

I was in a tenshi, and I could feel that my left arm was tighter and less “comfortable” than my right. I asked my rigger to dress it, which she did, and it felt much better so we went up into a suspension. Quite quickly, though, I could feel that something felt “off”. I was feeling some of the usual tingling, that I’ve come to recognise as lack of circulation (something that is within my risk profile), but I could also feel a difference between my hand as a whole and the left hand side of my hand (the palm and my little finger). When I checked the strength in it, by squeezing it against my thumb, it didn’t feel right. I got my rigger’s attention, who also checked my strength and then released my left arm as quickly as she could. Within a few minutes my hand had returned to normal.

Why did it happen?

My ulnar nerve was being pressed on by the ropes in the tenshi position.

Could you have prevented it? If so, how?

In this situation, I think I probably could have. I have explored arm ties much less than ties on other parts of my body, partly because I have been nervous about nerve damage. I knew the left arm felt different to the right, but after dressing I thought it would be alright. Ideally, I probably would have asked for it to be re-tied, which would likely have prevented it from happening as my right arm was fine the whole time. 

Pen (aka @kinknamepending)

What was your experience of nerve impingement/ damage?

I’ve had a few different experiences and in some it was easier to tell than others. The ‘worst’ one I had resulted in shoulder drop, which I think is less common. I had no idea it had happened until we were doing aftercare: I went to raise my arm and it was really difficult to lift it above my shoulder, or raise my shoulder itself. I’d get to a certain point it felt like there was a sticking point where I had to use other muscles. I had numbness from the exact point where the wrap had been across the shoulder on both sides, but it was just one side that I had the muscle/ motor impact. It took over a month to fully recover the movement, and even longer for the sensation to come back. I did cheerleading at the time, so I was out for a month. 

Why did it happen?

I was in an inverted hashira, so a lot of my weight was in the wraps across my neck/trapezius muscle, which is where a bunch of different nerves essentially exit the neck vertebrae and branch out. We had a single wrap, rather than two, so that’s already higher risk, along with the position. We talk often about wraps, and about body positioning, but something we don’t really speak about is whether or not the muscle and the fat around that area is condensed or stretched. In this tie, my hands were tied to my ankles, so the muscles in my shoulders were about as elongated as they can get. They had the least amount of protection, which is something I hadn’t thought about before when thinking about nerve injury.

People are able to squat three times my bodyweight across their shoulders, but part of the reason why they’re able to do that without damaging their spine or their nerves is because they engage and contract their muscles, so they’re protecting the nerves underneath. 

Could you have prevented it? If so, how?

There were no signs that I could pick up while in that particular tie but… I’m more experienced now, so I’m able to notice it a lot easier. That was a tough tie – there were tears – but I didn’t know that there was injury until afterwards. 

I think now I’m starting to notice when something’s a problem before it becomes a problem, and I think that probably comes with experience. When you first start you’re like, “It feels tight!” But tight doesn’t necessarily mean bad [and loose often doesn’t mean good] so it’s kind of hard to tell. I’ve never had actual wrist drop, just temporary issues, like starting to lose movement, which comes back the moment you untie. I’m usually okay with letting my feet and legs go numb, and to an extent my hands. I’m not super experienced with this, but like strapados, for example, as long as the movement is there it’s ok. But…numbness due to lack of circulation can make it hard to tell if there is targeted sensation loss that might be due to nerves.But, again, this is down to everyone’ individual risk profile.

And, then the other thing is checks (see below!) If I was in that position now, I wouldn’t just check my hands, I would check areas that I am more concerned about, or parts of my body that are taking the brunt of the tie. Like my shoulders… could I shrug my shoulders? Probably not actually, given the ropes, but can I move the muscles as if I intend to shrug my shoulders? Do I feel like I could make this movement, even if that movement is restricted?

And there is something to be said about being aware of the risks versus actively worrying about a nerve injury and holding tension in a tie . If you’re tense, you’re pressing harder into the rope, so you’re potentially increasing your chances of said damage. It’s a fine line!

Alex, aka @latexdancer 

What was your experience of nerve impingement/ damage?

I experienced a full wrist drop caused by a partially loaded TK. I have poor circulation so I lose sensation in my fingers often, but that time it was different. Usually I get pins and needles in my fingers and they get cold and then I gradually loose sensation. That time I had the injury I lost sensation and movement after a short period of time and it just felt somewhat „different“. I had complete loss of movement and sensation for about 12h, then it came gradually back over approximately 1 week

Why did it happen?

it happened at a life drawing session, I was in a TK and the bottom wrap was just in the wrong position. I was in the position (a partial suspension with not much weight on the TK) for approximately 7 minutes, luckily I realised that something was wrong during that and came out of it instead of transitioning into full suspension.

Could you have prevented it? If so, how?

probably. I’ve been in a TK a lot of times and I know exactly where my wraps need to be. When we tied this one I wasn’t paying attention, I guess I would have noticed the placement of I had. Additionally,  then the adrenaline of performing made me notice it potentially later than I could have

Anything else to add?

I went to see my physiotherapist straight after the injury to ask for advice – she recommended a variety of gentle stretches and a stress ball to get my grip strength back. If you are compensating through using other muscles, you can put some heat on to relax those, immediately after the injury some ice on the arm can feel nice, but eventually neither heat or cold have any impact on the actual nerve, so trust your body instincts as of what you feel you need and don’t rely on the internet!

Some tips for preventing nerve issues in rope

I think it’s important to note (again) that shibari is inherently risky, and most people who do it will have some experience of nerve damage/ impingement at some point. However, there are definitely things we can do to reduce the impacts, and ways to make sure we are at least practising consensual, risk-aware shibari. Here are some tips from our community.

Don’t rush 

Starting out with shibari can be super exciting and we can very much get caught up in what is known as “frenzy”. However, like with all kink, it’s super important to take your time and prioritise safety. With all things, we pass through stages of conscious and unconscious competence and incompetence… ultimately we don’t know what we don’t know. The problem with a hobby like shibari, is that unconscious incompetence can be really quite dangerous. 

It also takes time to learn what’s normal for your body/ your rope bottom’s body in rope, and thus to be able to gauge when things aren’t right. Slowing down and taking your time to do your due diligence is super important.

Educate yourself about nerves

Until you experience some sort of nerve issue it can be really hard to know how it feels. Alexa says: “Educate yourself on nerve injury vs circulation and what different nerve injury can look like. Be aware that even though we can mitigate risk, there is always the chance of nerve damage and it should be more talked about.”

Dion adds: “There is a very fine line between loss of sensations due to blood flow being cut off and a potential nerve impingement. Sometimes nerve damage can show up days/ months/ years after.”

For me, even though I hadn’t experienced it before, because I had done my research and listened to people talking about their experiences, I found I was able to spot the signs and — now that I do know what it feels like — I feel more confident going forward. 

Learn from reputable teachers (and prioritise in-person teaching if you can)

There are so many different ways to learn shibari — in-person and online workshops; videos; books — and we all have our preferred learning styles. It can also be quite expensive.

Coming to some beginners classes are a great (and cheap!) starting point. Pen’s advice:  “If you’re going to tie beyond doing a beginner jam, you should get some form of in-person tuition, whether it’s a workshop, or private tuition.” This learning can absolutely be supplemented by less hands-on learning, but real-time conversation is hard to beat. 

“Also,” says Alexa, “Learn a good gote and single column tie from some good educators.”

Carry out checks regularly

There are certain standard checks that can be done to check nerves like: pressing your fingers against your thumb to check strength, and making sure you can move your hand backwards and forwards at the wrist. But there are also other, more comprehensive, checks that can be done preemptively, or if the bottom notices something that worries them. 

“I’ll raise my thumb to check my radial nerve, but I won’t just test movement of my radial nerve, I’ll also test sensation,” says Pen. “So, if I’m in a TK I’ll run my finger across the back of my thumb and my thumb across the back of my finger. If it starts to feel numb to the touch, then I know that there’s a problem. I’m now at a point where I believe I’m starting to know where the problem is, in terms of exactly where the wraps are sitting in a TK: I can feel where the nerve was being compressed if, for example, the wraps are slightly too low.” Another vote for experience, then!

“Another thing,” Pen continues, “ Is for the rigger to check skin sensation both above and below a wrap to test for any differences. With my shoulder drop, I could see the red line where the wrap had been. I had sensation directly above it and below it I had none. It was as clear cut as that.”

Make checks fun/ part of a scene

Making these checks a part of the scene is important too, so they don’t impact on the mood unless they really need to. They can become instinctive, like a partner placing a hand in yours automatically means you will squeeze it. 

K says: “I think being in the habit of just doing your checks, both as a bottom and as a top is super important. My partner will do this casually. Like when he’s moving around me he’ll touch my hand, or an area that might be in danger of being affected, and quite often  that’s enough for me to be like, ‘hang on a second’. Or, if we’re doing a silly scene, he’ll play ‘This little piggy goes to market’ on my foot, which is so embarrassing but doesn’t break the mood. If you’re in the habit of it, checks are so quick to do that they shouldn’t impact the scene at all. Also, rope is so much about nonverbal communication, so, as a top if you notice your bottom increasing the amount of checks they’re doing you might check in.”

Obviously, there are times when a rope bottom might verbally ask for their rigger to check a certain body part for movement, strength or sensation. But incorporating checks into every scene can be subtle and seamless, and often sexy. 

Play and lab

“As a beginner it’s really, really hard to learn the difference between the nerves and circulation, not least because you’ve got this whole world of other sensory things going on,” A says. “My advice is to separate out lab-time (practise time) and playtime, and use lab time to scope out sensations as much as figuring out certain ties. Labbing should be as much about the bottom as it is about the rigger: whatever you’re labbing, take time for the rope bottom to feel how things feel when you have more cognitive processing ability than you might have during play.”

Trust your judgement

As above, sometimes rope bottoms can feel fussy or needy if they’re asking for too many adjustments – I know I’ve felt like this! But, says Alex, “You don’t need to justify coming out of a tie. I remember debating with myself about that specific TK, thinking: ‘Oh it’s probably just circulation, I’m not even suspended, I’m probably okay,’ knowing that I definitely wasn’t. So I guess my advice is: if it feels wrong, it likely is.” If your rigger makes you feel like an inconvenience for communicating, then that is a huge red flag. Which brings us on to…

Make it safe to communicate

Checks and time to practise are all well and good, but if there isn’t a culture of communication between you and your rope partner, there could still be difficulties. “I always feel comfortable and safe to be like, ‘Hey, there’s a problem’ when I’m tying with my partner,” says Pen. “And, importantly, it doesn’t always end the scene. And when I tie I try to really reinforce that point that I’d rather they tell me, we change something, and then we carry on, so long as it’s safe to do so.” Often, an issue might be solved by a small adjustment. 

“I remember when I first started bottoming,” Pen continues, “I really wanted  to please the top you, to be the perfect trouble-free bottom. But now I think the perfect bottom is someone who can advocate for themselves, not someone who can do crazy shit.”

And ultimately, have a plan for the worst-case scenario

For most people who do rope, some form of nerve issue will happen at some time: “It does not inherently indicate a bad rigger and shouldn’t be used as gossip,” says Alexa. “However, don’t just throw yourself into ties with anyone: vet people for technical ability and other things, like their previous experiences and how they dealt with them.” Communication and transparency are important for learning purposes and, as a community, we don’t often like to talk about the things that go wrong as much as we talk about the joys. Sharing experiences can be powerful and really help people understand what to look out for. 

Pen, who is in medical training, says that — to the best of his knowledge — nerve injuries in shibari rarely result in the severing of a nerve that results in permanent injury. Instead, it is usually the myelin sheath that is damaged due to compression. These will usually heal within three months, and much more quickly if the compression of the nerve is noticed quickly and the ropes are removed. Longer-term damage is usually the result of prolonged compression.

Dion adds: “It’s important to maintain open honest communication with your rope partners and to plan for worst case scenarios because rope is inherently risky.” What would happen if you or your rope bottom lost the use of their hand for three months? 


And once again, some resources:

If nerve damage does occur it is best not to ice the area for more than a day or two as this will slow healing. It’s worth visiting a medical professional and being honest about how the injury occurred. Physiotherapy-type exercises may also help speed up healing. 

Please remember this is an anecdotal resource. 

What we Got Wrong About Rope

Before we try something new it’s rare not to make some form of prejudgement. Shibari is no exception but it’s likely that your first experiences will blow any preconceptions out of the water. Watching rope in porn — which is many people’s first introduction — is often not the best representation of tying IRL. 

We asked our community what their misconceptions of shibari were, and how their opinions changed once they tried it. Here’s what they said.

Shibari has to be sexual

Shibari can be sexual, and for a lot of people it is. But, for many, rope doesn’t come with a side of sex. My rope journey started out in the bedroom but once I’d experienced it I knew I needed it, with or without the sex. So I made this my mission. Now I have a wonderful — platonic — tying relationship that gives me so much joy. @mindful_life_thoughts says: “Like most things in BDSM rope appears sexual at first. But getting to know you Anatomie stars virtually really opened my eyes as to how amazing shibari and rope work is: calming, almost meditative, and how it puts you at peace, with different sensations on restraints. Suspension is fascinating and I can’t wait to eventually learn!”

Shibari is all about knots

For @magic_thumbfl there was a preconception that shibari was all about learning patterns and knots: adult Scouts, if you like. Actually, shibari involves very few knots. It mostly relies on creating friction that works to hold the tension of the rope against the body. It’s a great hobby for people who enjoy puzzles. Once you understand how rope works and have a grasp of the fundamentals, it’s basically a body-shaped jigsaw.

Shibari is boring

“I got told about it when I first joined Fet,” says @_spellbound_girl_. “I remember saying, ‘That sounds boring!’ Wrong!” Shibari isn’t for everyone: if bondage is a speed sport then maybe handcuffs are the right choice for you; no shade. However, if you’re interested in more of a process, being creative with restraints, or exploring restriction in a non-sexual way, then definitely give it a go. There is always more to learn from both a rigging and bottoming perspective. 

Shibari is only for certain bodies

Traditionally we see see a specific body type in rope: slim, flexible, usually white or East Asian, and most often female. For @dionthebunnycat seeing super flexible bodies made her assume that her body didn’t belong in rope. The message @nizlyn_artist got is that it’s impossible to shibari with a disability. Luckily this isn’t true! Recently there has been a shift towards diversity in rope that celebrates a variety of different bodies tying and being tied. Our view is that rope should always fit a body, not the other way around (Almost) any tie can be adapted for various needs and, if for some reason one can’t, there is always an alternative that does work. 

Shibari is gendered

Much like above, it has traditionally been far more common for men to be riggers and women to be rope bottoms. Nowadays, this isn’t really the case. The number of women and nonbinary people who are stepping into the rigging space is increasing, and men are also much more receptive to being tied. It turns out tying preference and gender aren’t intrinsically linked! In fact, when you’re learning shibari, regardless of gender, it’s a really good idea to experience both sides. For a rigger, it’s helpful to know how rope feels, and for a bottom it’s useful to have some knowledge of the technicalities. Maybe switches really do have the best of both worlds.

Being suspended is effortless

Gem (Elle_Gee83 on Fetlife) says a huge misconception about suspension is: “That it’s somehow effortless, serene and floaty like flying. It’s one of my biggest bugbears with rope photography, especially as a fat rope bottom who does a lot of suspension. Like, it’s beautiful, but what it feels like and what it looks like are a world apart. If I had a quid for every time I rolled my eyes at the ‘omg she looks so blissful’ comments.” While there might be moments of serenity in a suspension, the reality is far more raw than the images we might see. Being suspended is rarely painless or comfortable, and it can be downright excruciating, but there are so many reasons people do it.

Shibari is all about suspension

People often become interested in shibari because they’ve seen an image of someone being suspended; that becomes their goal. I relate: when I started being tied I was desperate for suspension. Now… my rope partner and I have made a conscious choice to make our rope sessions less prescriptive, and focus more on floor ties and partial suspensions. It’s much nicer to play around and enjoy time to be creative, and have suspension as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’ during our shibari sessions.

Rope is for riggers

“I thought that the person in rope is ‘lending’ their body to the rigger, and remains disconnected/ neutral about it,” says @m.i.n.e.r.v.a.l. “My confidence as a bottom really started developing once I started self-tying for pleasure, which showed me how rich the experience of being in rope can be. That’s when I started noticing the connection between the rigger & the model when I would see people tie together. I also read Somatics for Rope Bottoms, which I approached from the angle of ‘how to feel safe in rope’ but the book ended up being an excellent guide toward being more connected to my rigger when bottoming.”

Risk and Reward: Do you know your kinky risk profile?

In our last blog post we explored safe words, and safe words can’t really be discussed without discussing risk and risk profiles. It’s our risk profile that informs when we want to nope out of a scene, or even agree to it in the first place. And, while I’d hazard a guess that a lot of people who are into kink and/ or shibari have a fairly high tolerance of risk, we are all very different. We are also different from moment to moment. 

Your risk profile is what informs the “RI” in PRICK (Personal, risk-informed, consensual kink) and the “RA” in RACK (risk-aware consensual kink). Having an idea of your attitude to risk can be a super helpful part of exploration. Knowing that you are someone who is likely to jump in with two feet and worry about the consequences after is useful information: it can help you consciously create a support network, which might simply look like a few friends that you commandeer to use as sounding boards. 

So what is a “risk profile”? How do you figure out yours? And what does it mean when you do?

What is a risk profile?

Risk profiles are most commonly associated with finances, and health and safety. As an ex-teacher, I spent my life filling in “risk assessment” forms to make sure my students were safe in different situations. When you come to a workshop at Anatomie, the teacher will have gone through a similar process.

In money terms, investment risk profiles are often described on a scale from “aggressive” to “moderate” to “conservative”. A conservative investment means your money is safe, there is minimal risk and low return;  aggressive means significant risk but the potential for greater reward long-term.

While there are no agreed terms for risk within kink, again it’s a continuous balance between risk/ safety and reward. Your kinky risk profile relates to how willing you are to participate in different activities in relation to the types, severity and likelihood of the possible risks. It allows you to identify the things that cost more long-term than the opportunities provided by play.

Whether you know it or not, your risk profile subconsciously determines whether you say “yes” or “no” to opportunities you’re faced with, in kink or elsewhere. 

However, a powerful psychological tool is the Johari window: the idea that in order to grow — and work successfully with others — we are required to bring parts of ourselves from the “unknown” into our “known” realms. This is where I invite you to reflect on your experiences and start to bring your thoughts and attitudes to risk from that subconscious, intuitive decision-making place into a more conscious and intentional space.

Why create a risk profile?

Safewords are great, as is knowing our hard/ soft limits but some people genuinely do enjoy playing (safely!) without these things. Risk profiles allow us to go a step further into practising PRICK with or without. 

A risk profile allows you to consider all the possible things that might go wrong, in order for you to determine whether they can be on the menu at all. 

A risk profile provides context for your limits. For example, a limit might be “I don’t want visible marks on my face or neck”. Your risk profile could be much more specific: “I need to be able to wear x, y, z pieces of clothing to work this week,” which allows a more solid framework for where marks may or may not be allowed. 

If you do a certain type of work, where specific body parts are necessary (e.g. sports, walking, writing) you can use your risk profile to ensure those body parts are prioritised in any first aid, but also take extra precautions to protect them during play. “I must be able to use my hands for work,” is much more useful than, “Don’t tie me in a TK.”

Furthermore, knowing these things about yourself allows you to research the things that could help keep you safe, and ask questions of play partners to gauge their own understanding of the things you need them to be aware of. 

How do I create my risk profile?

There are two ways to create a risk profile: working backwards from the things you need to protect, or working forwards from your kinks.

Working backwards

Firstly, list down the things in your life that you need to protect at all costs? E.g. work, friends, relationships, family, hobbies, children/ contraception, pets, travel

Then, consider the things that you need to be able to do or have in order to do them. E.g. working limbs, ability to take contraception/ access to regular medication, ability to make money, protecting personal and professional reputation/ career progression

Research or learn in order to make sure you know how to protect these things. E.g. ways to avoid nerve damage in the body parts you need to protect, understanding ways to play that mark/ don’t mark.

Communicate the information that’s needed before play and ensure any emergency plans are put in place should they be needed. 

Working forwards

Start by creating a list of the things that are highest on your to-do list or the things you do most regularly.

Choose one, and brainstorm all the potential risks you can think of, and try to go all the way to worst-case scenario not matter how unlikely that might seem.

Some things you might want to consider:

  • Legality (for example in the UK, people “can’t” consent to ‘bodily harm’) 
  • The consequences (e.g. to reputation) of being found out in some way, e.g. a surprise trip to the hospital 
  • Arousal, and how this could distract you, e.g. when driving, or at work
  • Personal feelings and triggers
  • Past experience (sometimes kink will the “cone of uncertainty” model, in which the more you do something the less risky it becomes. Sometimes it will not, and negative past experience will make you more wary.)
  • Safety/ danger: there is a huge range of kinks, many of which are, for all intents and purposes, physically safe but some of which aren’t
  • How your feelings on the day might impact on your desire
  • Your perception of risk vs the reality
  • Physical condition/ medical conditions

Next, use a scale (for example, 1-10 where one is extremely unlikely and 10 is almost certain) to mark how likely each one is to happen. You might realise some are conditional, in which case list the conditions and their relative score underneath.

Then, mark or highlight (traffic light colours are a good way to do this) whether each risk is: acceptable as it is; unacceptable as it is, but acceptable with some safety measures; or unacceptable risk.

If you deem something to be unacceptably risky, note down why this is.

Over time, you will build up a visual risk profile that you can use to inform your decisions, especially if you are someone who is inclined to be more of a risk-taker.


While I’m not suggesting you should steal some risk assessment forms from work and fill them in for every scene you do, it is worth spending some time thinking about the things you have engaged in, or would like to engage in, and consider the potential risks. 

Many facets of kink are inherently unsafe, and we know this. But… there are a ton of reasons as to why we park our reservations and go ahead and jump in with both feet (one of these being kink frenzy).

I know… dissecting our kinks doesn’t sound very sexy! But I for one didn’t honestly consider the risks of certain things I’ve done. My risk profile has changed significantly in the nearly-a-decade I’ve been kinking. That’s partly down to experience (especially when things have gone wrong) but also down to being more intentional and really making sure that I set things up to feel as secure as they can possibly feel. This helps me to enjoy the things I do way more.

Considering the risks means specifically thinking about ‘worst-case scenarios’ as well as scenes that go without a hitch. And this doesn’t mean you don’t do things… it just means you’re prepared for when things go wrong (because it almost always is “when” rather than “if”). 

Having honest, open conversations about potential risks — which could lead to putting additional safety measures in place — might actually make you feel even more excited about doing the things you want to do.

Should we Use Safe Words in Shibari?

Part of kink 101 is learning about safe words. They’re such an important part of exploring safely. However, where shibari is concerned, does this translate?

Traditionally, safe words are used to slow down or pause play. This works pretty well for the most part. Popular safe words are words that aren’t often used in play. For example, “pineapple” (although no shame for incorporating pineapples into your play…) or graded systems, like traffic lights. 

I’m a huge fan of safe words. I think they can be used effectively in all sex — whether it’s kinky or not — and everyday life. Want to pause an argument? Safe word. Need to leave an event early? Safe word.

Most kink play is able to stop immediately: if you’re doing impact play, you say, “Pineapple!” and play can end. However rope — especially suspension — isn’t like that. It takes time, and often an increase in discomfort, before a rope bottom can be untied completely. 

So… what do we need to consider when keeping ourselves safe in rope, and how useful are safe words?


The first thing to note is that shibari is inherently dangerous and a pretty daft thing to do. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement but practising risk aware rope is imperative. There are a number of safety acronyms that float about, but my favourite one for rope specifically is PRICK: Personal Responsibility Informed Consensual Kink.

According to House Cat and Anatomie teacher @mouseinrope, risks in rope can include: 

  • temporary or permanent nerve damage (e.g. wrist drop); 
  • vomiting; 
  • passing out (which can mean your bladder and/ or bowels empty involuntarily); 
  • temporary or permanent skin marking; 
  • bruising, abrasions and/ or rope burn; 
  • strangulation or breathing issues in tight rope; 
  • joint damage; 
  • risk of falling. 

In addition to the physical risks, there are also psychological responses that can include anxiety, fear, and trauma. These are common reasons for rope scenes to end; it’s not just about physical discomfort or pain. . 

Knowing the worst-case scenarios is important. Most of them happen rarely — partially due to practising risk-aware rope — but many can’t be easily predicted and happen too quickly to avoid. Instead, it becomes about managing the aftermath: something everyone who practises rope needs to commit to.

When do you use your safe word, and what does it mean?

If you decide you’d like to use a safe word in rope, be specific about what it means given the nature of shibari. In kink, “Red” can mean stop play immediately and play can stop immediately. However, as mentioned, stopping in rope is rarely immediate. I often find that localised pain or discomfort can increase before it decreases. Coming down from suspension means weight is often distributed in ways that add pressure to body parts that are already at their limit, and the actual act of blood rushing back after being stopped can be incredibly painful. As a rigger, you also need to make sure you have the energy to untie. 

@carponoctum_3’s safe word in rope is “Mercy”. It means: “Don’t stop, but I need a position/ intensity change asap.”

If your safe word means you need to start untying/ be untied now, then make sure you leave enough time and energy for this to happen. What that looks like will be an individual choice, and likely dependent on the day itself too.

Be precise

Many people find safe words to be too vague. @mili_ficent explains: “A single word or colour doesn’t provide enough information to convey the issue or figure out how to safely address it, whether that be a change or to end the scene. Instead, communicating that ‘this element is causing xyz’ means all people in the situation understand the issue and can take the most appropriate action.”

Using traffic lights in combination with body parts is @kassdelimon’s advice: “I get spacey when bottoming so am not able to articulate long sentences. So, for example, I’ll say ‘left hand yellow’ meaning I’m reaching my limit of pain/numbness.”

So, while safewords can be a good indicator that something isn’t right, in rope they need to be combined with more precise language relating to body parts, sensations and urgency. 

For example: 

  • Left finger, red / My left little finger feels numb and I need it to be released now
  • Waist, yellow / The rope around my waist is too tight but I’m ok to wait a minute or two
  • Pineapple/ I don’t feel like I can sustain the rope on my right arm because it’s pinching just above the elbow

“The time taken to untie and the range of potential issues a bunny could be experiencing means you need different, more expressive communication,” concludes @justanotherrigger.

Labbing vs playing

Often in kink words like “Stop!” and “No!” aren’t recommended safewords because they can be used contextually to mean the opposite. This might translate to rope scenes too. So choosing a safeword that isn’t a word you use out of context is important. This is why the traffic light system is so popular.

But again, it all depends on what you’ve agreed with your partner. @finding.glow prefers to keep it simple: “Stop (or anything remotely similar) simply means stop.

There can be a line between ‘labbing’ and ‘scenes’ though, which @a_sadisitc_rigger describes: “I think in “scenes” using a safe word is very important; when labbing it might be easier to say what the problem is immediately.” 

In scenes, a safeword can be a great way to break flow if necessary. It can open up space for the rigger and bottom to discern what needs to happen, which will inevitably need more communication. In rope, a safeword alone isn’t really enough.

Labbing is a great opportunity to get to know each other as rope partners and opens up a forum for more direct, ongoing communication.

Actively learn to communicate

However… communication can be hard! When we’re in rope, or tying, it can be challenging to admit when something isn’t sustainable or doable. Especially if we are usually able to do it, or we see other people looking effortless in or tying a similar tie. 

There are also potential challenges around using a safe word. Some perceive it as a sense of weakness. Others ‘collect’ safewords and feel they’ve only had a successful scene if someone’s had to nope out. Neither of these are true. Not every tie needs to end with empty tanks all round and there is no shame in having to end a tie before its perceived end point.

“Safe words aren’t safe because the person may unconsciously fawn, says @sucampesino. If you are a people-pleaser it’s important to practise communicating your “No”. In rope a safeword (or equivalent: “I need to come down now.”) may be used more often than in other kinks, where they really should be a last resort. But it can still be difficult to articulate this if you are not used to doing so. It took me months to feel confident to admit that I was unable to sustain something in the moment. But, when I did it, levelled up my rope practise. You need to get comfy saying no

@kaoru.neve, a House Cat at the studio, says that a rope bottom communicating how much time they have left in a given tie is: firstly a skill that the model develops over time. This can be months or years depending on practice. Secondly, she notes that it isn’t accurate to real time “as both rigger and model live in a separate time world.” However the number is still useful to communicate. “For example: “I’ve got 2 minutes left,” vs, “I’ve got 5 minutes left,” vs, “I’ve got 15 minutes left” signals different things to the rigger and elicits different responses depending on their confidence, rope skills, and complexity of the tie.”

Take joint responsibility

Committing to take joint responsibility is a great way to relieve some of the pressure. However, it’s important to note that models can go non-verbal in rope, or simply sink into a space in which communication means they lose their headspace. In this case the immediate responsibility will fall to the rigger to check in.

Especially when labbing, bottoms can agree to communicate feelings and sensations in good time, and make sure they are self-checking hand movement. Riggers can ask questions or encourage self-checks from their models.

Some verbal check ins: 

  • Is that a good pain noise or a bad pain noise?
  • How does x feel?
  • On a scale of 0-10 how painful is x?
  • I know you dislike x, I will move you out of it in the next 30 seconds

It’s also important to note that the less well you know someone, the more you should be communicating. 
For @annabones and @fredhatt it’s important to figure out the right time and right language to use when giving/asking for feedback, or your experience risks turning into an interrogation  scene.

The more you demand communication-wise from your partner inside the rope, the less likely they are able to sink into a pleasurable headspace and produce endorphins. Fred and Anna use “soft” check-ins during rope play. Fred asks, “Are you happy?” (instead of the more alarming, “Are you ok??”) or simply places his head close to hers regularly throughout. This method allows Anna to relax, knowing that Fred will regularly provide opportunities for her to give feedback if needed.

Alternatives to verbal communication

There are also many reasons to have a non-verbal alternative to a safe word: anxiety and “rope space” are just two. 

Su explains: “Anxiety stops the ability to use a safe word. Anxiety affects our breathing and hinders our ability to communicate. If your brain is distressed it has to choose between saying a word or getting more oxygen through the same throat. The later wins.”

@clover.brook and her partner @wykd_dave use a strategy they call “PAC” or Positive Action for Consent (they wrote a full piece on Feltlife a few years ago:

Clover says “Having a positive action for consent might be more beneficial for bottoms who feel they could have a freeze reaction to something happening mid scene.” This is also potentially a useful strategy for people playing with heavy D/s dynamics or those who go into a deep headspace when in rope. This strategy is essentially the reverse of relying on the person in rope for “active communication” so demands less of the bottom. 

In Clover’s words it works like this: “If my rigger places their hands in mine I would squeeze back in response to let them know I am okay, my circulation is fine and my nerves are good and I am comfortable to continue with the scene. If I do not squeeze back in response to the initial check, where my rigger has placed their hands in mine for a response, they will untie me. No response equals no more scene. No questions asked, I will be untied. The discussion comes later.”

“This takes the responsibility to initiate a safeword (which can be hard to do a lot of the time) or indicate what the issue is away from the bottom. With this method, all you have to do is not respond.”

In summary

Safewords are quite a divisive topic. If you choose to use them in rope, use them wisely!

  • Be risk aware: rope is inherently unsafe 
  • Agree what your safe words are and what they mean
  • Safe words can be useful to break flow, but often aren’t enough on their own
  • Ties take time to come out of and can get more painful before pain stops: account for this
  • Noping out of a tie is nothing to be ashamed of
  • Good communication is imperative, but can also take time to learn
  • Adjust communication to accommodate labbing vs scenes and choose when and how to communicate as appropriate

Have thoughts to add? Email us at enquiries@anatomiestudio.com.

Into the Blues: when you drop like a hot potato

A little while after I started exploring kink, I realised I would have a sort of “come down” after sessions. I didn’t usually notice it straight away, because I was often hazy and peaceful and wrapped up in the afterglow, but a few days later it would hit. I’d start to feel sad and tearful. Sometimes I’d feel shameful about the things I’d enjoyed. I’d be tired, for no real reason, and struggle to concentrate on work. And I would often “act out” in my dynamic.

It took me a long time to realise that this was likely a form of “drop”, and that it was quite a normal thing that happened. Drop — most commonly associated with submissives/ bottoms, but (like kink frenzy) more indiscriminate in reality — actually happens to us in a lot of different situations. It’s basically the fall from a high, so think of anything that gives you a high and there is a possibility to “drop”. It’s a phenomena that’s been officially observed in actors, directors and Olympic athletes, but is definitely not theirs to claim.

So let’s delve into drop, so you can focus on your drop lifts.

Why do we drop?

We drop, in essence, because of that experience of a high and the subsequent return to reality. Who wouldn’t find that hard to manage? (Rhetorical question: I don’t want to think about work when I’m reliving sensations from the scene I had two nights ago.)

But there are actually two waves of drop: the feelings that come within minutes after a scene and those that come in the hours/ days/ weeks that follow. 

Drop One

The first wave is likely chemical and/ or hormonal. When we have an intense scene, it is thought that our bodies react accordingly by producing hormones and chemicals, like adrenaline and endorphins, which help us physically manage (and often even enjoy) the experience. However, once the scene ends, our parasympathtic nervous systems kick in, in order to counteract the cocktail of chemicals that have flooded our system This can result in deep exhaustion, incoherence, and extreme changes in body temperature to name but a few possible symptoms. [asibdsm, 2013]. 

This is likely to last minutes, though, not days. So what happens after this? 

Drop Two

Sprott and Randall have an hypothesis. They posit that the lingering effects of drop may be the psychological effects of loss. But what have we lost?

Well, sex in general is thought to be an example of a “peak experience”: an experience that takes us to new, previously inexperienced heights. The nature of BDSM and kink mean that they are likely to intensify our encounters, whether sexual or not, making them more likely to fit into the “peak experience” box in our memory banks. And this certainly resonates with me. It’s part of the reason so many budding kinksters experience frenzy: the desire to feel those same “peak” feelings that once felt are forever chased.

So, what we lose is the feeling that these peak experiences give us.

In the days after, we might grieve the high: the feelings; the escapism; the connection; the fact that we have to clear our email inbox when what we actually want is to be back in it. We might feel guilt and regret, we might immediately start planning our next scene, we might be extra irritable. And these are all very similar to the non-linear stages of grief we associate with loss.

The other thing we may grieve is the person we were before, or during, the scene. For many of us, BDSM is a formative experience: it changes our very sense of self. 

Ultimately we don’t really know what drop is, but I like to think of it in these terms, as a process of grieving the experience, or the reaction to a change in identity. And I like what Sprott and Randall say in their conclusion: “Perhaps the later drop is a sign of growth, but a growth process that involves negative emotional experiences as part of the change. Drop becomes the felt aspect of the challenge of incorporating the peak experience into one’s life. [It] may be a healthy process and not be a sign of something going wrong.”

How to spot drop

Drop looks different for everyone and these lists are absolutely not exhaustive.

In the minutes after a scene you may:

  • Shake
  • Be hungry or thirsty
  • Become hot or cold
  • Be incoherent
  • Feel deeply exhausted
  • Be tearful, or laugh uncontrollably

In the days after, you might experience any of the following:

  • Feelings of loss, disconnection and insecurity
  • Irritability
  • Guilt, shame, or embarrassment
  • Anxiety
  • Melancholy, or tearfulness
  • Emptiness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Preoccupation with thinking about the scene

How to manage drop

For me, having a rational explanation for drop helps me to manage it in and of itself. This isn’t the same for everyone, yet no one is exempt from the drop monster knocking at your door, even if you’re an experienced kinkster who’s never felt it before. 

From experience, drop can be more likely to happen:

  • After particularly intense scenes
  • After scenes that involve physical exertion
  • In committed, emotional relationships or if there was no emotional connection 
  • If something went wrong (even if it was managed well, but especially if it wasn’t)

So here are some tips. But remember that everyone is different, and only you know how drop is likely to affect you. 

Notice the feelings

If drop arrives, in whatever form it might take, try and key into the feelings. Give them space to breathe. Notice if they’re the same as, or different to, feelings you’ve had in the past. While the feelings may not be positive ones in the moment, noticing them is the first step to processing them, and can help us understand our aftercare needs better going forward. 

Acknowledge and accept the feelings

Once you’ve noticed them, acknowledge and try to accept them. Oftentimes, if we don’t do this, we spend unconscious energy rejecting them and end up making ourselves feel worse in the long run. Accepting our feelings actually removes the power they can hold over us and allow us to move through them more easily. 

Practise good aftercare

Aftercare is an important part of kink and BDSM and while practising it doesn’t mean drop won’t happen, it does give you support. Aftercare is for everyone too: while the sub/ bottom is often the one immediately in need of attention, Dom(me)s/ tops will also often experience drop. Communicate with each other in the hours and days after your scene. Those feelings you noticed and acknowledged? Share them with one another.

Talk to friends

If you have friends who are also kinksters, reach out to them too. The likelihood is they will all have experienced drop at some point and will be able to hold space for you in yours. And, if they haven’t, perhaps they will be more equipped to recognise and manage it for themselves if the time comes. Sometimes, just being heard and knowing we’re not alone in our feelings can help us to feel better. 

Self-care the shit out of you

Aftercare is important, but we also have to take care of ourselves. Only you know how best to take care of yourself: whether it’s planning activities to distract yourself; stocking up on your favourite snacks; working from bed; watching that movie, the one that never fails to makes you laugh (or cry); or getting on the treadmill. Do whatever you need to do to manage your feelings.

Prepare to drop (and rejoice if you don’t)

Pretending, or assuming, it isn’t going to happen, doesn’t really help. While it’s not helpful to fixate on drop it is a good idea to prepare for the droppiest drop of all time. That way you can celebrate if it doesn’t happen, or if it’s even a little bit less droppy than you prepped for. Brace yourself for those feels, get ready to share them with friends/ partners, and ride the wave.

Nine Unexpected Positives of Choosing Shibari As your Next Hobby

It’s January. The time of year where people often make resolutions, set intentions, and pick up new hobbies. 

Often when we start out with something new, we have some idea of what the benefits of it might be. However, there are almost always advantages that come as surprise bonuses. 

So here are a few reasons why we think shibari should be your 2023 hobby of choice. 

Boost your confidence

Amongst other things, learning a new skill can help develop confidence. When you take up shibari, you will learn a practical skill, one that you will see developing over time. When you see yourself improving at something there is a sense of achievement that will likely lead to an increase in confidence. Click here for our top tying tips

The perfect party trick

If you would like to go to sex- or kink-positive parties, shibari is a great way to settle into a space, especially if you’re socially anxious, or more introverted. It can give you a focus — tying a friend, or self-tying — and help you find your feet. It’s the perfect conversation starter too.

Develop communication skills

Communication comes up a lot in chats about shibari because it’s a great way to develop communication skills: stating needs and actively listening. It’s also useful where learning to read and respond to non-verbal cues is concerned: so much communication in rope happens without words. When you learn rope, you are learning a whole new language, too. It’s pretty wonderful.

Explore intimacy

Shibari is about sex, right? Well, yes, sometimes. But actually you’ll find that many people separate the two: it’s perfectly possible — and wonderful — to enjoy rope without sex. However, rope is generally physically intimate, whether  you’re tying with yourself or another human: be prepared to get up close and personal in the best ways.

Find community

One of the most surprising things about learning shibari is the friendships you’re likely to make. Attending events, like rope munches, jams, or classes, brings likeminded people together. If you’re new to it it’s super easy to bond with other people who are in the same situation and you’ll probably find that your rope friends will become friend friends in no time at all. Mouse, House Cat at Anatomie, says: “Rope brought me community and the best friends I’ve ever had.”

Body positivity

Traditional pictures or shibari are often of straight-sized, able bodied humans. Come along to real life rope events and you’ll soon realise that those pictures aren’t representative of the actual shibari community. Bodies of all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities belong in rope and exploring your own and other people’s strengths and limitations is a fascinating part of learning shibari. 

Sense of self

If you are curious about rope, there’s probably a reason. Leaning into the things that speak to us can do wonders for our sense of self and identity. When you learn and experience something new, something that interests you, you create new memories and shape new behavioural tendencies, which develop your personality and support your self-conceptualisation.

Tap into playfulness

As you get more proficient at shibari (whether you are tying or being tied) you will find that the muscle memory takes over and this will free up room for playfulness. Rope should be fun, but it can be easy to get caught up in perfectionism. Some of the best rope isn’t the most beautiful to look at, instead it’s all about the experiences of the people involved. Shibari has allowed me to tap into my playfulness in a way I’m so grateful for. 


Life is so busy, and rope is an opportunity to slow down and be in the moment. If you are tying, it’s a chance to focus on something and quiet your brain; if you’re being tied you can sink into your body and get out of your head. Mindfulness was one of the things our community love most about shibari. Lee, another one of Anatomie’s House Cats, says: “I love the way rope brings you into the present moment. For me it removes worrying about the past or future, and grounds me in what is happening now.”

Structure for (some) people with ADHD

Finally, rope might be the perfect hobby for some neurodivergent people. Kaoru (yes, another House Cat!) has this to say: “The space that rope creates between two people is, by nature, more structured and with clear negotiations. Making things explicit and clear helps my ADHD. It effectively allows me to be close to someone and gives me a form of intimacy that doesn’t necessarily have to be something else. It’s just us, in the moment. When I’m bottoming I can let myself go and allow my brain to quiet, and when I’m tying I kick into hyperfocus and only we exist.”

However, this may not be the case for all neurodivergent people so if you would like to try shibari take it slowly and make sure you are in a safe environment, with people you trust. Self-tying is a great way to start.

In conclusion

There are so many reasons to try a new hobby, and if shibari intrigues you, then why not learn rope! If we’ve whet your appetite (and you live in London), check out our events listings, or come along to a beginners rope jam. If you’re further afield, have a look at our YouTube channel for some inspiration and take a look at Shibari Store to kit yourself out.

Related reading:

This article is an opinion piece based on the voluntary contributions of team members and community members. If you’d like to get in touch about any of the content, please email us at enquiries@anatomiestudio.com. We are always excited about incorporating others thoughts and perspectives into our posts.

Introducing The Wheel of Consent: When “Hell yes!” and “No way,” just aren’t enough.

Consent has become something of a buzzword over the last few years, and rightly so, really. It’s super important in everyday life, let alone when you’re tying someone up. 

My thoughts and feelings about consent have developed a lot over the time I’ve been exploring kink. I’ve written about it many times, for various reasons, but my understanding is continuously evolving. 

And while I am generally wary of “shoulds”, I firmly believe that anyone who engages in kink or shibari needs to be willing to spend time educating themselves about consent. The popular tea analogy is a great start, but it falls far short of an understanding that includes the nuances and complexities kink inevitably throws up.

The purpose of this blog post is to share a resource that I think is fundamental for an in-depth understanding of consent. A resource that was shared with me in my training (as a clinical sexologist) but that I wish I’d had access to when I was starting out: The Wheel of Consent.

Let’s talk about the Wheel of Consent

The Wheel of Consent is a tool that was created by intimacy and touch expert, Betty Martin

There is a lot to say about The Wheel of Consent, so I’m going to give a super basic introduction to it. This is a great starting point, but it’s worth spending some time watching the videos too, as they go into a lot more depth than I will here. 

It’s useful for understanding interactions, as well as our own tendencies, when it comes to consent. 

What is the Wheel of Consent?

This is a simplified version of The Wheel of Consent:

It is split into halves: who is “doing” (you or the other person) and who the act is “for” (you or the other person).

It is then split into quadrants depending on who is doing/ who the act is being done for or to: giving, taking, accepting and allowing.


You are doing, and the act is for them. It’s an action to benefit someone else.

Example: You’re a rigger and you know your bottom likes a certain type of tie that you’re not so keen on. You offer it to them, as a gift, because you know they like it.


They are doing, and the act is for them. It’s an action to benefit yourself.

Example: You’re a bottom and you really like a certain kind of tie that your rigger doesn’t enjoy. You ask them to tie you like that and they agree to tie you for your pleasure.


They are doing and the act is for you. You are benefitting from the actions of someone else.

Example: You are a bottom, and your rigger offers to tie you in a way that they know you like, but they don’t enjoy. You accept their offer.


They are doing, and the act is for them. You are allowing someone else to act as they wish.

Example: You’re a bottom and your rigger likes a certain type of tie that you don’t particularly enjoy. You allow them to tie you this way for their pleasure.

While it’s easy to think that some of these are “better” than others, they are all perfectly valid reasons to do something.

How can The Wheel of Consent help?

Rather than placing value judgments on the different quadrants, The Wheel of Consent requires us to be radically honest with ourselves. However well we align with our partners, it’s unlikely that we align so completely that we are able to say an enthusiastic, “Hell yes!” to every single thing they enjoy, every single time they want to do it. 

Informed consent is much more complex than “Hell Yes, or No!” and the Wheel of Consent gives us a tool to help us navigate, and communicate, when we’re not feeling a “Hell yes!” but still want to play.

It’s also useful to notice where we sit on the wheel at different times. The different quadrants only really become an issue if we find that we’re sitting in one of them more than any of the others: Are we most often taking, or allowing our partner to act the way they wish? Or are we always the one giving, or constantly accepting our partners’ gifts without reciprocating?

The Wheel of Consent is a great tool to bring into relationships of all different kinds as it opens up conversations that otherwise might be had.

However, in order for the wheel to be useful, it’s super important to understand yourself first and foremost. 

Some other great consent-related resources

Kink Frenzy: When you say, “Yes!” to walking red flags (and what to do about it)

When I started exploring kink and BDSM, it was literally all I could think about. As clichéd as it sounds, it was on my mind from the moment I woke up to the moment I (eventually) fell asleep. 

Almost a decade later, I still experience this obsessiveness on occasion; usually when I discover something new, or explore something for the first few times. I also see this happening around me a lot. I notice the feelings I had in other people — that feeling of I want it ALL, and I want it NOW! — and I often wonder if it’s something they are aware of.

I was aware of it, but I didn’t really know what to do with it. I also didn’t know what it was, or why it was happening. Now, I have a name for it: frenzy. Knowing that it’s an actual thing really helped me, and made me wish I’d known about it at the time. Not because it would have changed it necessarily, but self-awareness and understanding your own risk profile are necessary tools when navigating kink.

What is frenzy?

In nature there are two kinds of frenzies that we most often hear about: feeding frenzy and mating frenzy. Kink frenzy is likely a human form of the latter: an intensely primal and animalistic response to temptation. While it’s most commonly associated with new submissives, it isn’t something that discriminates: if you’re human and you discover a new kink (hello, rope!) you are prone to jumping in head first. 

Frenzy is the feeling I’ve described above: of wanting to do all the things immediately. However, along with that comes a significant lowering of an individual’s risk profile. 

This is why it’s important to spot it. If your risk profile is reduced, you are more likely to put yourself in positions that you might, at best, regret but that, at worst, may put you in danger. 

How might I recognise frenzy?

While the feelings associated with frenzy might just feel like good old fashioned enthusiasm, the key part of frenzy is the lowering of inhibitions that leads to potentially unsafe situations.

In a nutshell, you’re likely in some form of kink frenzy if:

  • You’re feeling desperate for whatever-it-is, and struggling to go without
  • You’re doing things you would normally deem unsafe, and justifying them to yourself
  • You’re saying ‘Yes’ to relative strangers — even walking red flags — just to scratch an itch
  • You’re not being totally honest with close friends about what you are doing and with whom
  • A disproportionate amount of your time is spent thinking about and/ or doing the thing, and you are struggling to focus on other things that you would normally spend time and energy on
  • You find yourself in positions that don’t feel fully emotionally or physically safe
  • You feel shame or distress about some of your behaviours

What do I do if I notice signs of frenzy?

Kinks should be enjoyed — it’s basically the reason we have them — and recognising frenzy is a key part of this. Noticing it can help you make safer decisions while also getting your needs met.

If you notice signs of frenzy:

  • Seek out a community that “gets it”. By being open about your feelings and behaviours with trusted friends you’re a lot less likely to put yourself in danger. Share your plans and locations and sense-check your decisions.
  • Make an effort to make time for things that aren’t kinky, just to try and rebalance your time a little.
  • Spend some time putting all your energy into researching your kinks. This is a great way to engage with them without putting yourself in danger. And, often, this will dilute the frenzy a little.
  • A little self-awareness goes a long way! Figure out your boundaries and limits (and notice if, how, when and why they shift, because they will). Explore your kinks yourself: work out what you enjoy about them to help you know what to actually look for. Understand that “kinky” doesn’t mean “anything goes”.
  • If you have access to a community, reaching out to trusted “service” tops and bottoms is a great way to fulfil your needs. And, if you don’t, and you have the funds, paying a professional is the absolute safest way to do so.

Finally, knowing what safe, healthy behaviour looks like (for you) is fundamental. The kink community has a number of acronyms to guide us. They are all similar but have subtle conceptual differences, so pick the one that you like best and try to keep it in mind!

The Six Principles of Sexual Health — that sexual encounters should: be consensual; be non-exploitative; be honest; share values; include protection from HIV/ STI’s and unwanted pregnancies; and be pleasurable — is another great resources for helping to define what safe sex is.

In conclusion

While kink is about exploration, being sex- and kink-positive doesn’t mean ‘anything goes’. In order to practise kink safely, and to enjoy it fully, we have to respect ourselves and our boundaries. Part of this is understanding kink frenzy and being able to recognise it in ourselves (and people close to us). 

I wish someone had told me this when I was starting out.

Talking Shibari: a guide to rope-related vocabulary

Learning shibari can feel like learning a new language. Here’s our guide to the most common rope-related words you are likely to hear as you start out.

Roles in rope


The rigger is the person who does the tying. Some people prefer to use the word “Rope Top”, not to be confused with “Dominant”, which implies that a more formal power exchange dynamic is at play. 

Bottom/ bunny/ model

The term “rope bunny” refers to the person being tied. However, the term is controversial and has fallen into disuse over the years as the rope and kink scenes have diversified. Many do not relate to the “cutesy” nature of the word. In recent years “bottom” or “model” have become more commonly used in rope circles. The use of one over the other seems to be dependent on the individual community, with some preferring “bottom” — a more kink-related term — and some preferring “model”, which is devoid of kink connotations. Some feel the term “model” denotes more “passivity” in the equation, while others consider this to be the better and more professional term as it is used in other circles without the implication of passivity.  


A rope switch is someone who enjoys tying (rigging) and being tied (bottoming). 


A spotter is someone who will watch a rope scene, to check for warning signs of something going wrong, or step in to support if something does go wrong. Many scenes don’t require a spotter, but if a rigger is attempting something new, or higher risk, they may ask a person (or three) to spot. Spotters are commonly used (and highly advisable) for self-suspension scenes and even performances.

Technical terms

At Anatomie, we tend to use 6mm jute rope in lengths of 7.5m, that are doubled over on themselves to tie. Jute creates great friction, is not stretchy like some other materials, and tends not to burn skin. This length is popular as it means you have a working end that is roughly two arm spans: enough to work with, but not so much that it gets in the way.


The bight is the middle point of the rope, where it folds in half. When tying you want to be as accurate as you can with where your bight is (i.e. as close to the middle as possible) to make joining ropes easier should you need to. 

Working end

The length of rope you are working with is called the working end. We focus on the section of the rope closest to the bunny when tying. This is what connects the rigger to their rope bottom when tying and creates intimacy. It is usually taut, in order to maintain this connection. The rest of the rope, the length you are not using, is usually slack.

Stopper knot

At each end of the rope is a knot: these are called stopper knots. We call them stopper knots because they can stop the ends from unravelling , and because they are used to join rope by stopping the joined rope from slipping off. There are a variety of stopper knots: overhand knots, thistle knots, matthew-walker-knot, and more.

Image via @theaccidentalrigger, used with permission


In rope we call body parts — or other things you want to tie, like bed posts — columns. Any of the following could be a column:

  • A single wrist, ankle, thigh etc.
  • Two wrists, ankles, thighs, or a thigh and a wrist, an ankle and a thigh, a wrist and a bedpost etc. 
  • The waist, or chest
  • The neck (not advised)

Single column tie

Each tie starts with an anchor point: usually a wrap and a knot that secures the rope in place to allow you to start your tie. A single column tie is normally two wraps around your chosen column and a simple knot (often a granny or reef knot) to secure it. The knot you choose will determine the direction of your working end (see below: Granny knot).

A single column tie, tied with a granny knot

Double column tie

A double column tie is similar to a single column tie, but tailored more to columns that are made up from two body parts (e.g. two wrists, two ankles, a wrist and an ankle, etc.) with the addition of a wrap (a cinch or “kannuki”) that runs between the two to prevent slippage. 

Double column tie


In shibari, knots are mainly used on anchor points (single- and double column ties). Here are some common knots that will be demonstrated using videos and images rather than words:

Reef/ square knot

A single column tie, tied with a reef knot

Granny knot

See above: Single Column Tie

Left: reef knot; Right: granny knot

Somerville bowline/ Myrtle hitch

Somerville bowline

Quick release 

Instead of the knots above, a quick release knot can be used to enable to a rigger to release their model from their tie more quickly.

Quick release knot


Simply put, wraps are when the rope wraps around the body/ columns. They can be used as part of a more complex tie, accompanied by frictions, or they can be used to create an experience just with a single- or double-column tie and the working end. 


The other components of most ties are frictions: these are the points of contact between your working end and your existing wraps. They rely on the friction of the rope (and the skin) to help maintain the tension of your wraps and can be used to change the direction of your tie. Frictions should always be tight so remember to pull each part as you are tying it so there is no slack. They are really all you need to know in order to freestyle.

Again, the best way to demonstrate frictions is with images.

Counter tension/ reverse tension

A counter, or reverse, tension allows you to change direction and to move back the way you came from..

Counter- or reverse-tension

Full stop

A full stop enables you to continue tying in the same direction, while keeping tension. 

Full stop

Half moon

We can use a half moon when our working end meets an existing wrap/ line at a 90 degree angle, creating a “+”. 

Half moon

Munter hitch

A munter hitch is a slightly more complex and secure way to continue in the same direction; it requires a “T” shaped intersection of rope.

Munter hitch


The x-friction is most commonly used when two lines cross as a “T” or an “+” shape. When doing an x-friction, it’s important to make sure the friction is tight at each step to ensure this happens. 



A hitch also requires a “T” shaped intersection, and allows you to change direction so you are moving perpendicular to the direction you were going. 


Lark’s head/ Lark’s foot/ Cow hitch

A lark’s head is most commonly used when joining ropes. 

Lark’s head

Locking off

When we create an upline (see next) we have to make sure that the rope is connected securely to the suspension point and the model. We call this locking off

Upline/ suspension line/ mainline

The upline is the line of rope that connects the person in the rope  to the suspension point.

Tying off

When we have a length of leftover rope after completing a tie, we can use it up in a variety of ways; this is called tying off the loose ends.


In traditional Japanese shibari, the untying is as much a part of the process as everything else: it signals the end of the connection, and the connection should be maintained until the last rope is removed. We can do this in two ways, neither of which sound that appealing but luckily they both feel great. “Peeling” does what it says on the tin: you “peel” the rope off the bunny slowly. “Flossing” involves using your whole arm span to gently pull the rope across the bunny’s skin as it loosens. 

Rigger finger (Crochet hook)

When tying, rope often has to cross itself and sometimes the tension makes it tricky to move a rope underneath another. Rather than pushing the working end through, we tend to use our index finger to hook the rope and pull it through. Pushing is much more clumsy, and doesn’t feel great for the bottom. 


Tension is one of the most important — but also most difficult — elements of rigging well. There is some level of personal preference in tension: some bottoms prefer rope to be tighter, some prefer it looser. However, tension is much more integral than this: it is necessary to maintain the integrity of any given tie, and is even more necessary when suspending to avoid slippage. 


Tying usually takes on one of two purposes. Labbing is when a tie is planned in order to practise technicalities.


The other option, playing, is tying for fun!


Often we tie with other people, but when we tie ourselves it’s known as self-tying. It can be a great way to practise, but it’s also an opportunity to connect with ourselves. 

Safety basics


Shibari can be intense. It’s worth considering some form of aftercare for both the rigger and the bunny. Check-ins post tying are also really important.


Drop is one of the reasons aftercare is important: after an intense scene, which involves a lot of adrenaline, our bodies can “drop”. This is when a participant in the scene — and it can be the Top or the bottom, or both — experiences a low mood, and sometimes feelings of guilt, in the aftermath. 


Tying can cut circulation to body parts off. However, while this can look quite dramatic (limbs can turn white or deep purple depending on whether blood is pooling or cut off) and feels like intense pins and needles, the length of time is important. While different tissues respond differently, your limbs and extremities become unsalvageable after six to eight hours without blood. Most ties last a fraction of this time. It’s important to note that if, and how long, a person is comfortable with circulation being impeded is a part of their own risk profile and should always be respected.


Shibari is a way of communication in and of itself. It also requires negotiation and extensive discussion. It takes a while to learn what you like and what you don’t in terms of ties: body parts you like to have tied, positions you feel safe and unsafe in. 


It goes without saying that shibari needs to be undertaken consensually. Like all kink and BDSM play, a surface-level understanding of consent really isn’t enough. Here are a some resources about consent that are worth exploring:


A feeling many of us are used to: frenzy is the desperation to do all the things, all at once, RIGHT NOW. Discovering shibari, or kink more generally, often sparks a period of frenzy, in which our decision-making skills are impaired, and our risk profile is lowered, in the desperation not to miss out. It’s a hard thing to be aware of while you’re in it, but the best way to manage it is to rely on a trusted group of friends/ peers that can help you “sense check” decisions in a nonjudgmental way. 


Often when tied, body parts can go numb. This is called ‘paresthesia’. It is due to compression of the nerves and isn’t usually dangerous. However, again, it’s down to a person’s personal risk profile and their knowledge of their own body. It’s important to note that shibari can cause long-term nerve damage if the correct checks aren’t done during a tie. Nerve damage, rather than compression, results in certain movements being inhibited, and the power of the grip lessening in the person being tied. If the arms are tied (especially in takate kote-style ties) where the radial nerve can be exposed. If compressed  it limits the movement of the thumb and fingers. Checking that the thumb can touch all fingers at a usual pressure (even if they feel numb) and checking the movement of the thumb towards and away from the hand is important. This should be done often by riggers and bottoms as a team. However in instances where the bottom is inexperienced, where the  power dynamics involved, and/ or where the person being tied is “spacing out” and has less awareness of themselves, the responsibility may — and should — fall more on the rigger to perform these checks.

Read more about nerves in rope here


Sometimes when people are tied they sink into a headspace that renders verbal communication almost impossible. It’s useful to have a nonverbal “safe sign” as a back-up to a safe word (see below) but also useful to discuss nonverbal tendencies before tying.

Power exchange

Shibari is ultimately a power exchange. It can take a lot of trust to allow someone to tie you up. The Wheel of Consent is a great way to explore power dynamics in any given relationship, and to ensure any power is exchanged with consent.


Ongoing communication is necessary in a rope relationship, but it’s important to have a safeword that cuts through and stops play immediately. Traffic lights are a well-used safeword: green for continue; orange for pause/ slow down; and red for stop. 


On a practical level, when tying it’s important to have a pair of safety shears on hand at all times to ensure that ropes can be cut if necessary. Typically, shears are useful in cases of fainting and/or when things such as fire alarms go off. 


Asking for “references” before tying with someone new might sound a little ridiculous, but it’s a great way to keep yourself safe (again, as a Top and a bottom). It’s a lot more common in the rope community than you might think!

Common ties

Shibari ties, in Japanese, are not named after specific sequences of knots, wraps and frictions. Instead, they are named after the part of the body or the shape they create. To this end, there are multiple possible ways to any given harness or shape. Shibari is a puzzle, and it lends itself to creativity.

That said, there are some more common ties. Here are two examples.

Takate kote

The takate kote, or box tie, is a version of a gote tie: gote means “back hand”, or “hands behind the back; and takatekote means “high hand, little hand” — or  “hands angled upwards, forearms (tied)” — and is associated with a specific lineage of shibari. It is often used as a harness for suspension.  


In Japanese, futomomo means “thigh” (“the fat part of the leg”) and a futomomo tie is one where the ankle is bound to the thigh. Again, they can be used for suspension, but are great for all kinds of play. Here’s one example of a futomomo

Written by Kink and Cuddles; photography, videos and edits by Anna Bones.

With thanks to @and_so_is_lola for video editing, and @theaccidentalrigger for use of stopper knots image.

What Skills and Qualities Should a Good Rope Teacher Have?

In my past life I was a primary school teacher. I quit a few years ago to pursue other interests, but I always said that teaching was in my soul. And what do you know? Here I am, embarking on a whole other teaching journey: teaching shibari to adults.

As a trained teacher, I am so aware of the skills a person needs to educate young minds, but transferring this knowledge to kink education is a different kettle of fish. While there are certain skills and qualities that make someone a good teacher, regardless of who or what they are teaching, there are also particular things to consider when teaching rope to grown ups. 

So, if you’re looking to learn shibari, what should you be looking for in your teacher(s)?

A good rope teacher…

Is patient & empathetic

When we asked our community what makes a good teacher, the most common answer was patience. 

People learn in different ways and at different rates: this needs to be understood by a teacher. Many teachers have been tying for years, they know what they’re doing intuitively. This is great, but can mean they forget just how challenging things they view to be simple are to those who are just starting out. 

Has enough relevant experience

Shibari is a pretty daft thing to do, really. Learning from a teacher who knows what they’re doing is unbelievably important. 

It’s best practice for newer teachers to start out by co-teaching with someone more experienced. If a teacher is teaching alone, or is teaching more advanced skills like suspension, transitions or rope that intersects more with kink, then their experience should reflect this.

Enjoying these things in your spare time – even for a significant period of time – is not the same as having the credentials for teaching. According to our community, a good rope teacher has spent a lot of time learning, but also credits who they have learned from. 

Teaches to their ability level

When learning a new skill — and here I am talking about teaching itself — there are four levels of competence:

  1. Unconscious incompetence: not knowing, and not knowing you don’t know
  2. Conscious incompetence: knowing you don’t know, and understanding the value of knowing it
  3. Conscious competence: having knowledge, but having to work hard to recall or teach it 
  4. Unconscious competence: when knowing and doing become second nature

Of course this also applies to learning shibari itself. But teachers are human and can be in the “unconscious incompetence” stage. This happens when people try to teach too much too soon and, as above, when teaching a skill like shibari, this can be dangerous.

It’s also super important that they are not teaching above their own skill level, and that they know what this is. A good teacher is self aware.

Is a lifelong learner

Good teachers never stop learning. They will continue to learn, because the more they learn the more they realise they don’t know. Experience and citing prior learning is one thing, showing they are still learning is quite another. Look for teachers who are still actively learning and improving their own personal practise in order to share up to date knowledge with their students.

Furthermore, teaching itself is one of the best ways to learn. Author, Robert Heinlein says: “When one teaches, two learn,” and honestly this is so accurate. I learn so much from my students every single time I teach.

Shares and models best practise (and the reasons for it)

With experience and continued learning comes ever-increasing knowledge. And so a good shibari teacher should be sharing — and modelling — best practise at all times. According to our community: a good rope teacher never demonstrates a bad or incorrect technique

There are often multiple ways to do the same thing in rope: ties are generally more about the position of the body rather than a specific set of knots, wraps and frictions. Therefore teaching shibari is most often a combination of teaching the relevant knots and frictions, safety elements of tying, and the relational skills that it takes to be a competent rigger.

You should leave a class or course knowing key skills and how to safely apply them in a variety of ways.

Teaches from both Top and bottom perspectives

Since shibari most often includes at least two people — unless you are self-tying — rope teachers have the unique job of teaching from two perspectives. Ideally you’re looking for information about bottoming as well as Topping.

Whether this comes directly from the model, or from the rigger (who ideally has experience as a bunny too), knowing things to look out for from the perspective of the person being tied is imperative.

Appreciates mistakes

Shibari is deceptively tricky, especially when you’re starting out. A good teacher will greet your mistakes and confusion with patience (see above!) and will likely anticipate some of your misconceptions before you even realise you have them.

Getting good at rope is basically about one thing: practising. It’s about developing the muscle memory that allows you to access the unconscious competence level of learning. Part of this is also about making mistakes — safely — and understanding how to resolve them yourself. Your teacher should support you through this, not get impatient. They may also share mistakes they’ve made, and how they resolved and avoid them.

Is well prepped for class, but adaptable

It almost goes without saying, but a good rope teacher should be well prepped for class, but not afraid to make changes to suit the needs of their students. And this is where experience comes in… without experience a teacher might have a plan and feel unable to deviate from it. An experienced teacher will be able to read the room to meet the students where they’re at, rather than where they want them to be, in order to show them the next steps.

Breaks complicated concepts down into digestible chunks

And, as I’ve mentioned, shibari can seem super difficult at the start… explaining what the different parts of a tie do, and breaking more complicated ties down into manageable chunks, is good teaching.

Starting out can also be like learning a whole new language: bights, stopper knots, frictions, futomomos… 

It’s important to know the correct words for things, but it’s also important not to overwhelm new students. Good rope teachers will introduce just enough jargon to support their learners’ journeys, and use the terms correctly and consistently in their demonstrations.

Hones their communication skills 

Teaching is basically communication. Breaking complicated concepts down is one thing, communicating them is quite another. Rope teachers will use words and demonstrations to share their knowledge — ideally in differing ways to accommodate different learning styles — they will allow time for students to practise, and they will use active listening skills to understand challenges their students have.

My favourite model of active listening is the traditional chinese character “ting”. Ting combines ears, eyes, heart, mind, and undivided attention to ensure we listen properly. 

Is able to engage their students without too much effort

A large part of teaching is making learning fun, and about your “stage presence”. This often comes from confidence: it is hard to learn, but can definitely come with practise. Some teachers might choose to share anecdotes about their own practise, others may employ humour (a popular trait with our community), but being open and approachable is what’s truly important.

With shibari, this goes further: the best teaching duos demonstrate good synergy between rigger and model and don’t try to “perform” for the class in any way that goes beyond what they are teaching.

Is passionate about both teaching and their subject matter

That’s not to say teaching is about acting… a lot of teachers of adult sex and kink education teach because they are passionate about their content. This passion is usually obvious in their personal practise, and is something to look out for: does what they’re teaching bring them joy?

Scott Hayden — a teacher of teachers — says: “Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.” I am inclined to agree. Teaching about sex and kink isn’t for everyone and a good teacher will be at ease when talking about more risque content and, by proxy, make their students feel at ease too. 

But there are different motivators for teaching. After teaching for years in different capacities, Anna Bones, owner of Anatomie Studio,  thinks the most common motivators for teaching are money, passion, and/or power. None of these reasons are inherently good or bad, but it’s something to consider when choosing a class or a teacher. 

Have we missed anything? Comment below 🙂