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Origins of Japanese Bondage 3

Origins of other japanese Bondages


Important notice. Although Kinbaku techniques originate from Hojôjutsu, the techniques in modern sexual bondage are far gentler and great care is taken to avoid injury.
Please avoid using rope tight around the neck and especially when doing suspension work.

Background of modern Kinbaku

Hojôjutsu or Torinawajutsu (skill of arresting with rope) can be traced back to the battle of Onin (1467) and evolved as a practice during the Warring States period (Sengoku Jidai) as Nawajutsu (rope skill). The objective at that time was to keep a prisoner alive so that they might later be willing to provide valuable information or, if they were thought to be valuable, as a hostage for exchange rather than bring him to court as a criminal. In neither of these instances was the long term health of the prisoner of particular concern, so a prisoner could talk a lot before someone took his life and, in the event of an exchange, you were going to cut that hand off to send with the ransom note anyway. The prisoner often suffered permanent damage or death in the process.

Its restrictive use was extremely painful and would often result in long-term nerve and circulation damage or death. Its punishment was psychological too, bending people into positions of humility with tightening rope around the neck if the victim struggled and hanging prisoners suspended in positions of complete helplessness. Hobakujutsu (skill of seizing/capturing/restraining) is another term used similar to Hojôjutsu and used in old as well as modern Kobudo (older Japanese martial arts) practice alongside Nawanuke no jutsu (skill of escaping rope). I have recently been told that some Japanese Kinbaku-Shi still use the term Hobakujutsu for suspension work.

Hojojutsu was used by the Bushi and Ninja as well as the Keisatsu-kan (police) for many centuries and included in Bugei Juhappan (18 warrior skills). It was seen as a complement to the other skills practiced like Jutte, Bo, Kusarigama or Kusarifundo, after students had learned unarmed combat like dakentai-, jutai-, koppo- or koshijutsu.

During the Tokugawa and Edo periods, the administration of law enforcement was conducted by the Machi Bugyo, who hired Yoriki with 2 swords as officers and Doshin with 1 sword as patrolman. They had control over various kinds of assistants that were not Bushi like Torimono, Goyoukiki and Okappiki. Yoriki and Doshin regarded the work of restraining someone beneath them and left it to their servants or constables whose job it was. In the city of Edo (modern day Tokyo), there were about 25 Yoriki working each for the two Machi Bugyo offices. Since police officers worked in groups of at least four, they could have one person secure the prisoner while preventing the prisoners escape and coincidentally shielding the performance of the technique from view. The art of tying prisoners was in demand all over Japan and perfected by many ryu in Japan at that point in time. There were four rules for tying a person:

Not to allow the prisoner to slip the bonds
Not to cause any physical or mental injury
Not to allow others to see the techniques
To make the result beautiful to look at
During this period tying a person was considered as a grave matter, not to be undertaken lightly. People felt that the shame of having a rope around their necks and knots on their person was disgraceful and considered for some to be worse than death itself. If the proper procedure for restraining a suspect was not followed, the person who applied the restraint could be impeached. If, however, the restraints contained no knots, they were not considered a bondage and thus were not disgraceful to conduct. The use of Jakuguchi ?? (loop at end of rope) is therefore frequently used in a kind of knitting way.

In 1742, Tokugawa Yoshimune was the Shogun in Japan and enacted Kujikata Osadamegaki (lit. "book of rules for public officials’) with 7 different types of punishment (Penal labor, imprisonment, slavery, exile, death, confiscation) and 4 kinds of torture:

Mutchiuchi (whipping) beating/flogging/whipping

Ishidaki (pressing stone) Kneeling on a corrugated surface and thereafter heavy pressing stones are placed upon the thighs

Ebizeme (constriction by rope) cross-legged sitting position and their chest and head are folded over and bound to the legs.

Tsurizeme (Suspension by rope) Suruga Doi (incident of Suruga torture) refers to a provincial type of tsurizeme and was invented by the local Machi Bugyo sometime during the Tokugawa period. This suspension form consists of tying the victims four limbs together behind his back in a bundle, suspending him from the ceiling by this single rope, and placing progressively heavier weights in the middle of his back or as weight hanging from below the stomach. Similar to Sakasa Tsurushi Shibari nawa and other provincial names and incidents.

Later during Meiji restoration many ryu ceased to exist; as a result, the Bushi was disbanded and formal standards were imposed by the new rule, e.g. the rope length was then set to 7 and 15 meters. As there was less use for the art, the number of practitioners fell.

Types of Rope

Though several types of ropes and cords are used in Hojojutsu, all are considered Torinawa (arresting rope). Silk ropes were primarily used for practice because it was easy to slip from bonds made of these ropes. Hemp, beaten until soft, and often linen, were most used for the actual performance of these techniques. The rope was typically 3-4 mm in thickness.

Hayanawa (Quick rope) was set to 22 shaku (app. 22 feet) or 2½ hiro (fathom) = 4.5-6.5 meters long and sometimes a hook, ring of metal or other metal piece is tied to one an end. It was very common that the rope was hidden in a sleeve so as not to alert the suspect and for the element of surprise. There was a general rule in capturing prisoners with rope that it should not exceed 10 seconds to perform.

Honnawa (basic rope/main rope) was set 66 shaku or 54 shaku or 5, 7, 9, 11, or 13 hiro = 6.5-22 meters. This was a required equipment for Bushi and used for escorting prisoners.

Kaginawa (Hookrope), the practices of rope with hooks, were used by the Kumogakure ryu Ninjas among others. In the three well known Ninja manuals (Shoninki, Bansenshukai, Ninpiden), you can find instructions on how to use the Kaginawa to climb trees and walls and to tie an enemy. There is no fixed length for a Kaginawa – the hook can be attached to any rope or chain. Very similar weapons were used by Ninja (and some Samurai) called Kyoketsu Shoge and another called Kusarigama.

Koshinawa (waistrope) about 5 shaku (feet) long, especially those of the Chinese type, (Kara Uchi No Himo) are fastened to a samurai's belt and used for securing prisoners. In addition, these ropes could be used for other purposes, Kura Gatame (securing a saddle), Shiba Tsunagi (tethering a horse), climbing a wall, securing a boat, or hanging up armor. Some claim that the Koshinawa later evolved to a chained version called Kusarifundo (used extensively by Edo Machi Bugyo and some Ninja Ryu).

Sageo (The rope that is attached to the sheath of a Japanese sword) was used to fasten prisoners. Tagaki Yoshin ryu has this practice, among others, due to it being a bodyguard school; therefore, it has lots of floor-work included. Similar to Kaginawa, you will find information in well-known Ninja-manuals such as Sageonanajutsu Seven techniques of Sageo.

Torihimo (Arresting cord) 2 hiro long cord used during Edo period to arrest. The cord was folded in two equal long parts and many different techniques were used. Often used with other weapons like Jutte, Tessen or similar old time Japanese police weapons.

Colour of rope

In old days there were traditions concerning the use of colours of rope, these traditions matured during the Tokugawa Era and has origins from China and Korea (Confucianism and Taoism). You might recognize the ideas in the building architecture across Eastern Asia. The most known traditions are:

Blue rope: spring - east - left - Dragon
Red rope: summer - south - forward - Phoenix
White rope: fall - west - right - Tiger
Black rope: winter - north - backward- Tortoise

Prisoners were forced to sit facing the direction matching the colour only to please the eye of the audience. In prison, the ropes were blue for a period of time in history and during the dog days (July/August) yellow ropes were used. Later, during the Meiji period, the colour of the ropes changed according to status:

White ropes: lesser crime
Blue ropes: serious crime
Purple ropes: a person of high rank
Black ropes: a person of low rank


More than 120 Japanese traditions (Ryu) have documented techniques for tying up prisoners and I do not have knowledge of them all. If you really wish to research, I recommend looking for Japanese books on the topic. I have discovered the following from the sources mentioned in the footnote on this page. These are the ryu (and more) that involved hojojutsu: Bo Ryu, Chokuji Goden Ryu, Eishin Ryu, Fujiwara Ryu, Ichi ryu, Ittatsu Ryu, Jittetori Ryu, Kiro ryu, Kito Ryu, Kurama Yoshin Ryu, Kurokawa Ryu , Kushin Ryu, Mitsuo Muteki Ryu, Nanbu Handen Hojo Jutsu, Ogawa Ryu, Seigo Ryu, Serishin Ryu, Sekieuchi Ryu, Shibukawa Ryu, Shin Shin Ryu, Shinden Fudo Ryu, Shinden Muso Ryu, Shintô Musô Ryu, Tagaki Yoshin Ryu, Takimoto Ryu, Takenouchi Ryu, Tenfu Muso Ryu, Tenjin Shinyo Ryu, Yoshin Ryu and Edo Machikata hojô (Edo administration of law enforcement rope arrest) are well known.

One very well known ryu is Ittatsu ryu which was founded by Suzaki Kinzaemon in 1723, later passed on as Shintô Musô Ryu and still used by Japanese police as Taihojutsu (arresting skill). The rope used in Ittatsu ryu is about 5 meters in length and a diameter of about 3.5 mm. Ittatsu ryu techniques are named Nawa Waza and include:
Ge no kata Ge no kata Jô no kata
Ichimonji hayanawa Hishi hayanawa Jumonji hayanawa
Hagai tsuke hayanawa Hishi nawa Jumonji nawa
Hitoe hishi nawa Jumonji nawa Futae hishi nawa
Shin hagai tsuke nawa
Bajo hagai tsuke nawa Kiko nawa
Ya hazu nawa
Tombo nawa Age maki nawa
Sumi chigai nawa Shin futae hishi nawa
Shin hagai tsuke nawa
Shin tombo nawa Shin kiko nawa
Munawari hitoe hishi nawa
Happo karami nawa Yagura hishi nawa Kiri nawa
Yagura hishi nawa

Some ryu have relations to others like Hinoshita torite Kaizan Takenouchi-ryu, Shinden Fudo ryu dakentaijutsu and Tagaki Yoshin ryu jutaijutsu, which is common in Japanese martial arts ryu and it seems obvious that they learned from each other in regards to techniques and mindset.
Some techniques were kept secret to ensure others did not learn the trick of escaping the ropes (nawa nuke jutsu). Most ryu have their own way of tying so knots, lengths and colour of rope varied. You can find scrolls and books mostly in Japanese about various ryu and how the tied, but they are rare outside Japan. The techniques have other names like Tasuki Dori or Toritsuke and many more. There are lots of old documents and scrolls to study.

If you wish to research more about Hojôjutsu I recommend you to visit the Shin Torimono no Densetsu - The Museum of Criminal Record at Meiji University.

Acknowledgement of sources

• Kobudo practice and oral transmission within Bujinkan Budo.
• Gomon Keibatsu shi (History of Torture and Punishment) by Nawa Yumio (last Grandmaster of Masaki Ryu)
• Jutte Torinawa Jiten: Edo Machi Bugyo to Taihojutsu - (Edo Machi Magistrate Office and Arrest Techniques) by Nawa Yumio
• Nihon no Gomon to Shokei shi (Japanese history of torture and punishment) by Nawa Yumio
• Zukai Hojojutsu by Fujita Seiko (last Grandmaster of Koga ryu Ninjutsu)
• Yoriki Doshin Jitte Torinawa by Yasuhiko Itattsu
• Torinawajutsu by Hiro Mizukoshi
• Shôninki by Fujibayashi Masatake
• Ninpiden by Okimori Naosaburo
• Bansenshûkai by Fujibayashi Yasutake
• Bugei Ryuha Daijiten (Dictionary of Japanese Martial Traditions) by Watatani Kiyoshi and Yamada Tadashi

This is the second edition of my paper about taking prisoners and arresting rope. The first edition was written in 2002 and given to in English, in Danish, and apparently Gian Filho in Portuguese. Copyright Knudemanden 2009 - All rights reserved. Edited by Esinem/Bruce Argue 2009 and passed on at the first London Festival of the art of Japanese Bondage.
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