Rope: Collaborator or Antagonist?

October 28, 2022

Big picture thinking about your scenes.

If you are the one casting rope in a scene, are you helping your partner to stay in position? Or are you keeping them from getting out of the position? 

If receiving, are the ropes supporting you in a position and working with you? Or are the ropes a force opposing your movement and will? 

It’s helpful to consider which of these two major intentions or themes the ropes and ties are serving for you. The same ties and positions will impact the bondage experience in vastly different ways based on whether the ropes are collaborative or adversarial to the receiver. This can also shift during a single scene, depending on what best serves the players. 

Whichever end of the rope you are on, give some thought to the following questions: 

Is the function of rope in this scene supportive, or restrictive? 

Are the ropes relieving you from strain or pain?

Or are they intended to create intense sensations, pain, or discomfort? 

Are the ties meant to emotionally comfort, or challenge?

Is it a combination of any or all of the above, depending on the body area or specific moment of the scene flow?

Consider these examples:

Perhaps you and your partner decide that tonight’s fun is consensual play of a fantasy non-consensual scenario (CNC or “consensual non-consent”). Fantasies of captivity, alien abduction, interrogation, ravishment, superhero vs. super-villain; any of these might incorporate bondage, with the ropes serving the ‘evil’ desires of the captor. If the ‘captive’ wants to thrash about, to find thrill in exuberant loss of control, the ropes become the force which they may struggle and fight against. If loss of choice and control excites, the ropes take away autonomy in the most delicious ways.

On the other hand, you might need a bit of help during play.

Do you want to hold your knees and legs up, but an old injury makes that excruciating after a while? In this situation, the rope serves as the extra support making the position sustainable, reducing the likelihood of reinjury, and allow the scene to play out without premature stoppage. 

Are you hyper-flexible or “double-jointed”? The bondage could help you to keep from overextending, reduce microtears in the muscle, or prevent reinjury, by holding you within a body-safer range of movement.

What??? Was I just cautioning about super-bendy-Gumby-bondage? Yes, you read that right. Let’s take a small detour here and talk about super flexibility.  

An Important Tangent about and for Super Bendy People

It’s common to think that being flexible is always great for rope bondage and we should stretch often and regularly – and generally speaking, stretching is good, especially for those of us hunched over a keyboard all the time.  But for folks who are flexible beyond what our joints and connective tissues were designed for, and who frequently challenge the limits of hyper-flexibility in bondage, there are downsides and risks. These aren’t discussed often. Why? We generally don’t notice them when they happen.  With occasional overextension of the connective tissues or tiny distress to muscle fibers, the body usually repairs itself well. We’ll experience these as a bit of aching and not think much of it. After a scene, when we’re all high from good brain chemicals, there’s no way we’ll notice these. The problem, like any joint injury, is the cumulative damage. Think of the connective tissues as like rubber bands. Keep stretching them beyond their design and eventually they’ll lose their plasticity and break or crumble. The same goes for our bodies. Here, repetition does not make better. Repetition may lead to recurring injury or worse.

Hyper-mobile people might push their threshold repeatedly, knowingly or unknowingly. Or the partner binding them might do so, in the excitement of playing with a partner with such a unique physicality. Or they might want to take this opportunity to experiment and challenge their own skills.  Let’s acknowledge that we humans can be achievement-oriented, external-approval-seeking, downright competitive, or hooked on the dopamine hit from the likes and comments in social media. ‘Let’s make more amazing photos to wow them!’  ‘Them’ in this case equals Internet strangers. 

Whether in vitam or in virtualis, this happens in any enthusiast group, from yoga to travel, break baking to cosplay, and the rope bondage subcultures are no strangers to this phenomenon.

Some “double jointed” people who love bondage might not feel sufficiently bound until they reach their movement threshold. For them, the ropes can create a substantial and satisfying limitation of movement while reducing over-extension. Others still might not feel sufficiently roped until the tying partner gets to make the shape they envisioned. For these individuals, it’s especially important to set practical movement boundaries, even if these are well within their real and current mobility range. 

Some good advice from my friend, a kink-friendly physical therapist, is to work on core strength, sensible weight training, and to be aware of how your body is bending and to try not moving into the hyper-flexible range. 

It’s a good idea to seek out kink-friendly physical therapists and medical professionals when you can. It makes it easier to explain how your injuries happened or ask how to prevent them during your favorite activities.

Movement and Rhythm of the Ropes

How the ropes move, how the one casting moves, and rhythm of the rope will vary between Collaborative and Antagonistic rope scenes. 

Fast or slow?

Light or heavy touch?

Lighter or heaver weighted rope?

Steady and rhythmic or irregular and intermittent?

Soothing or jarring? 

Cinch small or cinch big? 

Bold, large movements or delicate, measured movements? 

Fold in what you know about the receiver’s emotional interpretation of different sensations.

How might you mix the Antagonistic and Collaborative rope skills to create heightened excitement and enjoyment? 

Imagine a scene where the participants want it rough and feisty, maybe a ‘captive warrior’ scenario, but the body needs support, a bad shoulder perhaps. How can they combine helpful rope and adversarial rope? 

Here are some other hypothetical situations. See if you and your partner can come up with Collaborative-Antagonistic hybrid solutions.


Collaborative need

Antagonist need

Sprained wrists

Damsel / lad in distress scene

Poor balance, gets dizzy easily

Predicament bondage

Delicate skin that bruises easily and can’t be marked or have any skin damage

Rough tied-up sex

To feel adored and held

Hard limit on light touch -- “It creeps me out”

Wants to maintain dominance over the scene and partner while receiving rope to relax

Needs sight taken away to stop over-thinking

Mildly claustrophobic: hard limit on blindfold or wrists bound

Wants to feel loss of control

Wants to play without staying in wheelchair and needs help keeping track of leg position 

Wants to struggle and feel powerful against the restraint

Have fun creating more juicy hybrid scenarios!

The Rope as a Play Partner, or Another Member of Your Play Scene

Finally, as you incorporate the ideas of Collaborator versus Antagonist rope in planning your scenes, let’s take another perspective. Imagine the rope as an active member of your scene, with its own unique talents. How might it participate in creating delight with you and your partner? How does this change the potential of the scene?

Ménage à trois avec corde, anyone? 


Midori's Bio

Trailblazing educator, sexologist, artist, and irritant to banality, Midori founded Rope Dojo and ForteFemme: Women's Dominance Intensive. She penned the first English instruction book on Shibari titled, "Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage" in 2001, paving the way to the popularity of rope. Dan Savage calls her the "Super Nova of Kink," while others affectionately call her Auntie Midori for her cool, tell-it-like-it-is, funny, reality-based teaching. 

She is also the author of "Wild Side Sex," "Master Han's Daughter," and "Silk Threads.”

During this pandemic, learn, laugh and enjoy her special online classes, events and art at



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