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Interview: Sugiura Sensei on Gote Safety and Suspensions

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This month we welcome a special guest contributor to Kinbaku Today, Sugiura Norio.  Sugiura sensei has offered to provide periodic commentary, advice, and reflection for Kinbaku Today for a special section: Sugiura Speaks.

In a recent interview in Tokyo with Kinbaku Today, famed bondage photographer pushed back on the idea that the gote is unsafe.

“In my trips overseas, and from what I see on people’s Facebook pages and websites, there seems to be an increasing tendency in the West to steer away from tying the arms behind the back,” he observed.

“The argument seems to be that the gote is too dangerous. People seem to be advocating that we instead tie the hands in front, with the arms crossed over the chest.”

There is always an element of risk in shibari, Sugiura allowed. “After all, you are tying people, not objects. That’s why it’s so important to understand what you are doing and how the rope — and the model’s weight on the rope — impacts the body. But if people are getting hurt in a gote, I say the problem is not with the tie but with the person tying.”

Those who tie absolutely need to learn the correct construction of a gote, and how to place the rope to avoid the nerves, Sugiura said. They should also be sure their partners do appropriate stretching before being tied, so that tight muscles don’t contribute to stress on the nerves.

More than anything, those who tie shouldn’t rush to suspension, he urged. “Suspension isn’t the be all and end all. It should never be the goal. If you can’t do a very solid gote, you have no business suspending anyone, even in a partial suspension. That’s how people get hurt.”

“But where can you go from the arms tied in front, crossed over the chest?” he asked. “Nowhere. You can’t build on that.”

To see the magic Sugiura works with a good gote (tied by Naka Akira) check out his videos series Kinbaku Kinema and his behind the scenes videos in the Front Row Kinbaku series.