I’m struggling with the naming of things. I wanna use the most correct term for everything but how does one decide what is correct and what is not? I’ve never been very attached to naming things correctly until now. As the project grows into a ressource for all, I don’t want my work to propagate falsehood so I research everything, and want be very very sure of myself. It seems there are many words that are commonly used in the bondage world that means something different when checking more formal sources like sailing, climbing, macrame, or knitting web sites and books. This research has been hard and time consuming but there are so many learnings along the way.
Early in my journey I was struggling with using Japanese vs English. It was clear from the start that all the different names would be mentioned, but which one to use for the titles and further down the road? In the day to day I generally use the Japanese terms because most of my teachers are from Japan or learned from Japanese people. Sometimes I don’t even know the English word as it is not my native language. Things need to be consistent, having chapter names in two different languages was really weird. So I made a survey on fetlife and twitter: box tie or ushiro takate kote shibari or takate kote or mune nawa or TK? I was really surprised that “box tie” was the highest recurring answer considering TK is definitely the most used expression. That was eye opening on people’s expectations and it started an interesting discussion on what are the most inclusive terms. I want the project to be agnostic of style, it’s both Japanese and western bondage. I then entered a rabbit whole to find out about all the terminology in English. Surprisingly, a lot of the ties done in Japanese bondage also exist in western bondage, and they generally have names. The best ressources were gay bondage websites and channels. This forced me to explore a world I would not have traveled to otherwise. I learned so much more than a few words, lots of new ideas came from that research and from there my references became more broad. The Japanese origin is never too far as many western names are simply a translation of the Japanese ones.
I’ve been using “working end” to describe the part of the rope that we haven’t tied with yet, until @Topologist made me realize that it should actually be “standing end” and that “working end” actually means the opposite of what I wanted to say. Even more funny, since I switched my web site to say “standing end”, I occasionally get people asking me why I don’t call it “working end”, it seem widespread in the bondage world to invert those two expressions. The fact that we generally tie with the bight and pull the whole rope through (instead of making knots with the short end) also makes these terms not as precise. Now I’m wondering if I should not just use “tail”. If I do that I will have to redo a ton of things.
This made me realize how important it was to know the name of all the building blocks in rope. I use these term so regularly but that doesn’t mean I truly understand them. Validating these has been quite a journey in itself, what’s a loop, what’s a turn, what’s the difference between a single hitch and a half hitch. This last one has been keeping me awake for some times considering how contradicting the information is on the internet. The reality is that at such a low level, the differences are subtle.
Some things have more than one name. Lark’s head, Cow hitch, definitely the same thing. I need to decide on one. One is more formal than the other, one is just a bad translation of a french name, one is more used than the other, which one to use? I had a similar problem with chain sinnet vs daisy chain. Most of the formal sources seems to go with whatever the Ashley Book of Knot uses. I love how this book has a similar approach to mine, listing all the names, but sticking up with one afterward. It felt like the right thing to follow it’s lead.
My friend @SweetZephyr is very passionate about climbing. During a review of my draft he went: “I know everyone calls this a Munter hitch, but it’s not”. I already had doubts about this from my research, but he had a very good point: the purpose of a Munter hitch is that it moves in belay systems, the purpose of that cross friction used in bondage is to be structural, static… More research brought more confusion, every web site contradicts each other and sometimes themselves. Looking into the Ashley Book of Knot, our friction is there under the name Crossing Hitch and Crossing Knot, used in the same way we do in bondage. The Munter tied in the way used in climbing… remarkably absent. More research, who was Mr Munter, oh he was actually calling it Italian hitch and it definitely always had the additional turn used in the climbing techniques. Then why are so many sources saying the crossing hitch and the Munter hitch/Italian hitch are the same thing, including wikipedia? I think I found why. It’s good practice to document knots with links to the Ashley book of knot, the Munter hitch was not there, some people wanted an ABOK number so bad that they used some poor logic to justify that crossing hitches and Munter hitches are the same thing. As of today, I believe they are different techniques with different purposes.
I’ve been trying to find ressources about cinches outside of the bondage world without much success. The word “frapping” seems actually more correct, but I have found so few instances of people using this in bondage context I don’t feel comfortable using it. Especially since frappings are generally very tight and cinches have a varied degree of tightness. Also the word cinch may not be the most formal, but it is not incorrect per say. So sticking with cinch unless I find something new.
There are those knots I use all the time, different names are used in different communities but nothing very systematic. Sometimes it’s kinda there in the Ashley book of knot, but it doesn’t have a formal name. Using a technical would look something like “Double loop with half hitch locking over slipped half hitch” and it fells pretty terrible. Reading some internet debate, I learned that lots of Japanese knots are named after their function or shape, I like how logical it is. For exemple “Quick Release” is a function of a knot I often use, let’s call knots by what they do. The only downside seems to be that the same name can designate different things.
I fear this is not over, I had the Ashley book of knot for Christmas and I’ve barely started reading it. Every time I realize a mistake I need to find and replace in over 450 pages of writing and it just keep on growing. There was so many words I was using incorrectly. Good thing I had only one chapter published, it wasn’t so hard to go back and fix everything. Now… standing end or tail? (Actually tail already refers to something else, too bad!)
Somewhere in the sky between Sweden and Belgium, the combined page number of the rope 365 google doc reached 450 pages. Spring by itself is now at 275 pages. The high pace of posting the list of exercices every week also forces me to polish things ahead so that number is climbing quite quickly. As of now, the lists of exercises for week 1-7 are already up.
I managed to get most of week 2 done. I captured all the pictures before leaving, and all the text and picture editing while traveling Iceland and Northern Europe. The only thing missing now is that I’m missing picture references for some ideas I had on the road. Now that I’m home I’ll complete the few missing pieces and finish posting week 2 this week-end. A lot of the content is already online, check it out! Is my naming of things accurate?