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What is kokoro?

In Japanese sometimes it is hard to translate words to English, some won’t translate and we have no equivalent for them. Some will translate, but either sound ridiculous in English, or just plain don’t make sense, or sometimes they translate but the meaning is not there, such is kokoro.


An understanding of what kokoro means can improve your scenes and help in understanding Japanese culture.

So what does kokoro mean? If you have ever taken martial arts you may have heard “Shin, Gi, Tai”, “Shin – kokoro, Gi – Technique, Tai – Body “. Usually when we translate the first symbol it gets translated as “Mind”, it’s not wrong …… but it’s more than that or its not ‘only that’

Kokoro originally means heart. But not ‘the heart’.  Here I’m going to quote from a Kendo instructor.

Yes, in means mind. But as I said, it is not only “mind”. The mind is psychological and it includes thoughts as well.

It originally means heart. If you hear “the hearts of the city”, what do you think it means? Yes, in means “the center of the city”. The heart is very important in our body. It is the center of our body in a sense that if the heart stops we die.

We have the word “brain dead”. What is it? The brain is dead but people are still alive. I am not going to get into an argument on whether or not one is considered as dead/alive if the brain is dead. What I meant is even if their brain is dead, they’re still breathing.

But if your heart stops, we don’t call it “heart dead”. We call it “dead”. There is why it is very important to relate kokoro to our body. They are inseparable.

“…….We are talking about our emotions/feelings.


I am sure in kendo training you are told to give everything you have once, twice or more. What do you think it means? Do they give their physical strength that they have?

Now why do you think we shout before, during and after our strike? We are trying to encourage ourselves, trying to charge ourselves up so we can bravely confront our opponent standing right in front of us. We need really a strong heart, i.e. fighting spirit. And also I would like to add soul here.

Kokoro are mindemotionsfeelingsspirit and soul. I must add mentality as well. And if you know Japanese, you may think there are different terms for each word. Yes, it is true we have different Japanese terms for each word.

The term, kokoro, can have various meanings depending on how we use it. For example, when I say, “your kokoro is dirty”, what do you think it means? Does it make sense if I say your mind is dirty? It means you are selfish and do not think about others and apply very dirty tricks to gain whatever you want.

What do you think it means if I tell you to keep your kokoro stable? It means “stay focused and calm”.

  • “Strong kokoro” means “strong mentality”.
  • “Kokoro is weak” means your mental strength is weak. 
  • When your kokoro dances, you are excited.
  • When you change your kokoro, it is very close to “changing your mind”, which means you are changing your thoughts.
  • Put your kokoro in something means you put your soul, feelings and thoughts in it.
  • Stop fighting because you kokoro is snapped in half, it means you’ve lost your fighting spirit.

I think I gave you enough information about how the Japanese uses the term, kokoro. And I hope these examples help you to understand the concept of kokoro.

right in the

Ok so, let’s take this in to the context of rope.

We tie each other. Is that the ultimate goal?

Well for some maybe, just trying to get that one picture that will make them go K&P, or seeing how may rope “scenes” they can do in one night, or how many people they can have line up to tie with them.

The ultimate goal for me is kokoro, here is what that looks like and why it is the second tenant of #DerpNawa. Kokoro is connection, kokoro is yourself. Yeah …. You …. Up until this very moment you have been alive, and hopefully will continue to be. You have a lot of experiences, good, bad , neutral , exciting, terrifying, joyful, sad, and all of the other emotions that we have wrapped up in this sack of meat we walk around in, you have had experiences in rope as well …..All those experiences what do they culminate in?

You. Your spirit. Here. Now. That is kokoro.

When I tie, I try to reach out with the best of myself, the best that I have, all of it you know , let the Chi flow …… knock the other persons socks off …. Let it wow them, let them feel it, open yourself. Like the conversation metaphor that Barkas put forward that I happen to strongly subscribe to. This is my part of the conversation, my heart , my spirit, my mind, I’m coming at the other person with the best I have, showing them my humanity, my experiences, my personality, my characteristics, laying myself bare, and receiving the same in return. (Hopefully) that is kokoro; that is connection. That is the woo-woo I subscribe to.


Sometimes rope is more like a fight than a conversation, like a kendo fight, Sensei tells me that his sensei would sometimes describe rope in the martial arts term Shoubu, which describes the moment where all is won, or lost, the deciding moment.

He also insists the rope is a conversation and as with any conversation, there can sometimes be a winner and a loser, sometimes during the discussion after a lesson he will pinpoint the exact moment I lost, I let the other persons “kokoro strike” me and take my center, my focus, my intent. And the “battle/conversation” is lost.


Yeah ….. Sometimes …… sometimes Giggles kicks my ass ……..


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The Rope Type Sideways Stare

Some thoughts on rope types.

I remember my very first rope kit.  The stock &  real estate markets had just tumbled,  I had just been laid off,  and I was broke.

After my first weekend in a public dungeon talking with people in the community,  leaning some safety,  and practicing a few ties with some rope someone let me borrow,  I was super excited to get my own.

I wanted the best and as much of it as I could get,  because after all,  having more rope means you can do more things with it,  right?

So I began searching online for ‘bondage rope’  and came across a few people selling it,  mostly outside of the US, and damn it was expensive,  $300-$400 for 8 pieces plus international shipping.  Well shit,  that’s wasn’t going to work.  So I started looking for other options.  What I found was cotton rope. Awesome!  They sell that at Wal-Mart,  and off I went.  I came back with a $6 spool of cotton clothes line.  Yep,  my first ‘rope kit’.

It’s been more than a hand full of years since I wore that cloths line out and my journey has taken many twists since then.

From that cotton clothes line,  I have used hemp,  nylon,  paracord,  synthetic natural fibers, silk scarves,  neck ties, shoe strings and I’ve heard of and seen people use fishing line.



Personally,  I love the weight and feel of Jute in my hand when I tie,  Giggles likes the feel of it on her skin more than anything else we have used,  so that’s what we stick with.

I have noticed more and more,  people who use rope other than Jute,  are sometimes (not always)  looked at sideways,  if it’s hemp,  nylon,  or cotton.  When  I attend classes or intensive,  I see the almost palpable under eyebrow stares.  ‘What are they thinking bringing (hemp,  nylon,  cotton)  rope to this class?  Don’t they know this is Japanese Bondage,  and that the only right way is with Jute Rope.  Wow’.

Just jute rope huh,  hmm.  Yeah,  don’t get me wrong, I have what I like,  I am in the fortunate position that I make rope,  it’s kind of nice when people buy it, but….  ‘use what you like,  use what your partner likes,  use what you want,  use what makes you happy.’

What does it matter,  Why do people care what type of rope you use,  are you and your partner having fun? ,  yes! Than fuck it.

I say that with one important caveat,  use what makes you happy,  but know the limits &  capabilities of what you like can and can’t do.  Doing only floor work with no attachment points with 25lb breaking strength cotton clothes line?  Cool!  Doing a multiple person suspension from a bridge over a gorge in the middle of the Himalayas?  Not so cool.  Know safety,  use a little common sense,  and go for it! Do what makes you happy!

And of course if Jute Rope happens to make you happy….. Check out our Beginner Rope Kits,  kits in Fox-Blood Red,   Original Sensually Bound Jute Rope KitsRaw Rope ,  and our Custom Rope Kits or just pick up a single piece.


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Fascinating Video Interview with Akira Naka

Fascinating Video Interview with Akira Naka.


In this interview Naka-San talks about his style,  tying someone for the first time,  &  Yukimura Haruki.  I found this amazing,  big thank you to KinbakuToday

If you don’t subscribe to them,  you should!

Find the video interview HERE


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Something about Ego in Bondage


Ego –  #BearCave #freshlyspun 

Who has an ego in rope bondage?  Everyone.

So,  I really want to rewrite this to make it a little less…. ‘businesses-y’ and  more bondage focused. I just haven’t had the change yet .  So stay tuned for updates!

Ego is defined as a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. We know self-esteem plays a major part in our success / progress. Whether we are starting our rope journey or we have been doing this for decades, the belief we have in our ability to achieve success is deemed as a main contributing factor. We need to believe in ourselves to succeed / progress. But when does our sense of self-importance get in the way of our progress? Does it prevent us from connecting with other people, creating goals to get to the next level or keeping up and learning a new skill?


In my journey , giggles &  I have worked with very successful tops & bottoms to identify and overcome obstacles, both on the rope side of life  and the people side, obstacles that get in the way of their continued progress & success. I read a book recently called “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday, which focuses on the definition of ego being “an unhealthy belief in our own importance; arrogance.” For anyone experiencing a roadblock in front of their next level of success, the book offers some tough love to think about.


  1. Silence can breed accomplishment.
    When we talk about all the amazing things we’re going to do next, it’s possible to spend all our time and energy just talking about it and never actually doing anything towards that goal. “hey I just had the worst/best idea ever!”,  “I’m going to make it on K&P 10 times this month”, “ I’m going to practice every night”, “I’m going to start doing 9 suspension scenes a night in the dungeon”, “ I’m taking every class at FIRE”, ….. And then “ I’m gonna do this, and I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do that,  I want a hamburger, no a cheeseburger, I want a hot dog, no a chili dog, I want a coke….. ”

Talking makes us feel like we’re making progress towards the goal. Does this ring a bell for anyone? How are your new year’s resolutions going for you? We all have big goals, and they are hard and scary, so it’s natural that we want to do everything except what we need to do. If we stop talking about them and focus our energy and wrestle with the actions, we might move forward.


  1. Is it about the doing or the recognition?
    Often times we fall in love with the image of what success looks like, but what we need to do to get there is usually not so glamorous. We should ask ourselves: what is our purpose? What do we want to accomplish? Will I be more “fulfilled”,  if I just do this, or does everyone have to know I did this? Think of all of the anonymous donations to charities and hospitals. They don’t need to scream it from the rooftops, they just do it.


  1. Become a student.
    Ego can prevent us from continuing to learn and improve by making us believe we don’t need to. Learning a technical or soft skill, in the rope community or not, allows us to continue to evolve. You can’t get better if you think you are the best. Learning something new is hard, humbling, and puts our ego in check. If rope brought you Into this community, try to learn something different like fire play, or knife play,  wax play, or how to target with a single tail. Stepping out of our comfort zone to learn something new or be open to constructive criticism and even failure is the embodiment of getting out of our comfort zone which will only make us better people.


  1. Getting out of your own head.
    If ego is confidence, it can get in the way of our ability to learn and make positive decisions. Ego tells us the world is looking at us. In our social media driven society,  read ‘fetlife, Twitter, instagram’ , where the more “likes/loves” we get the more important we feel, it’s easy to be paralyzed by your next decision. Ever heard of “K&P”? Are we too concerned about how many “loves” and views our posts, photos, blog, podcasts or whatever,  get; to live in the now? Are we too in love with the vision of our self that prevents us from what we need to do? To make the necessary decisions & sacrifices to reach our goals?


  1. Hard Work.
    While we should always be cognizant of the difference between being busy and work, there is no substitute for hard work. Work doesn’t end once we get our first big break (being asked to perform,  or teach, or travel or whatever); some might say that’s when the real work starts. Ego is what counts the hours & effort we’ve put into something and asks “hey, hey, when am I going to see the fruits of our labor.”  This journey, if you are serious about it, is a lifelong journey whose light cannot dim once we achieved some success; there, right there, is where we fall in to the grip of ego.


I never recognized the roadblock described above as a symptom of my own arrogance. In fact, like a lot of people I work really hard to build my confidence and believe that I can actually be successful. But in my own self-reflection, I realized much of that might be holding me back from accomplishing my goals and doing bigger things. What has been your experience walking the thin line of earned confidence and ego? How do you know when you’re being confident or arrogant?

Individual egos vary wildly.  With that, the approach to how we leverage our ego varies wildly, too. When experiencing a roadblock to what’s “next,” and there is no real black or white reasoning as to why, perhaps a review of these five elements can help determine if your ego is getting in your way.