The Randa Mai (乱田舞) Interview, Part II


As promised, the second part of Osada Steve’s post concerning the amazing and unique style of shibari as practiced by Randa Mai. This second installment is actually more of a running commentary of the master’s technique with accompanying photos to illustrate the text. KJ

As behooves a professional nawashi, Randa Mai always brings his own toys and equipment, his own girls, and his own music. There are his ropes (about eight seven-meter-long asanawa, the traditional Japanese kinbaku rope made of jute), one or two candles, one or two whips, one or two carabiner hooks. These tools are neatly prepared and put within easy reach on the stage. At the beginning of each show, the kimono-clad model will assume a slave position, mentally preparing herself for things to come, waiting for her master to enter the stage, all the while Randa does a final few calisthenics before joining his girl — barefoot as usual.

Randa Mai is not a brute, and he’s not in a hurry either. From the rear he puts his arms around the girl, slowly touching and feeling her entire body, hugging her, making her feel calm, loved and protected. He takes his time undressing her, puts her arms behind her back and commences with simple upper-torso bondage (takatekote), the main building block in shibari, using first one, then two ropes. This is done slowly, calmly, deliberately, without struggle, without any force. The girl loves to be bound and is ready to receive the rope.

Both partners are sitting on the floor. Randa is still behind his girl, hardly visible, as he wraps the rope around her breasts. As the excitement grows and the music increases a beat, Randa’s moves now accelerate, the knots being tied more resolutely, yet never violently. He makes the girl get onto her feet and secures her with a single rope (called the main suspension line or tsurinawa) on a hook hanging from the ceiling. By this time the girl has already started the journey into her personal dream world. The main suspension line will prevent her from falling and allows her to drift from consciousness as the nawashi now proceeds to apply a further rope to her waist in preparation for a full suspension bondage.

The upper body is now parallel to the floor, the girl herself hanging by the ropes, enjoying the safety afforded by a harness of hemp. Meanwhile, the nawashi is busy putting another rope around her left leg, pulling it up until the toes of the girl’s right leg barely touch the floor. As Randa Mai picks up the other leg and fastens it against her waist, the woman now becomes totally suspended and delights in the sensation of weightlessness while the nawashi is putting the final touches to this human installation — an aesthetically pleasing sight for some, a painful and alarming sight for others.

Ever turned on your feet like a dervish and, after stopping, lost balance and orientation? Well, nothing beats hanging suspended by ropes and being turned in mid-air. Slowly, Randa Mai turns his girl whilst the rope bearing the main load is being wound up like the spring of a clock. Once the master lets go, the body will rotate counterclockwise in ever faster circles. Powerless, helpless, an out-of-body experience, under the complete control of her master, the woman now enters an imaginary kingdom that only she can visit, and to which only her master has the key. Perhaps later that night she will rest in her master’s arms and whisper to him about her journey and share her discoveries of the unknown, discoveries only a few lucky masochists are ever privy to.

An exceptionally joyous Randa Mai may choose to express his playful mood by jumping onto the human carousel, to both the surprise and delight of the audience. If there were ever any doubters that the rope could safely hold the woman, Randa is up there to prove or disprove any theories of gravity.

But the show must go on and a good nawashi owes it to his fans to present more than one technique. With approximately forty minutes to fill, the girl is now lowered and de-roped only to have four new ropes applied to her ankles and wrists, finally being pulled up hunter-style like a captured animal. It should be mentioned that hanging in such a fashion causes a large amount of strain, especially to the wrists, so the model is well- advised to gain extra support by grasping the ropes with both hands. Contrary to the previous suspension bondage, the girl is now fully conscious as she must handle the strenuous and painful position by smartly adjusting her center of gravity. Good for her that she’s such a cute and tiny little girl and that her wrists and ankles only have to support her lightweight 45kg body. Whatever your size, though, you want to avoid hanging in such a position for too long, especially if you are not the athletic type. Of course, this hanging position does offer a few gratifying opportunities for her master: Legs up and wide-spread, pelvis exposed and receptive to penetration, hands up and breasts lying bare to be sprinkled with hot wax or receptive to the master’s whip.

This is the horror-type of submissive situation and when the pain comes hurtling towards the alabaster-white skin of the girl, she can only wriggle and fight so much. But this is just the start of the tanuki technique, where the woman is suspended by all fours, the back up-facing. This is achieved by her master forcing her hips through her arms, the result being an even more painful position.

While certain types of bondage, even suspension, can be endured for relatively long periods, the tanuki (badger) technique should only last a minute or two. And when the act is over, the model will be exhausted, elated and tired, but happy.

Fewer people would be watching his shows if every performance were identical. Thus, the nawashi always offers variety in his suspension bondage. The bondage aficionado will notice that the position of the rope’s knot on the right leg of the model is on the side of the thigh, taking into account the intended flying suspension pattern. Needless to say, one type of suspension can lead to another simply by adjusting and manipulating the various ropes under load — handling the gear not unlike professional yachtsmen or mountaineers.

The essence of Japanese rope bondage is the neatness and beauty inherent in the very application of a rope to a woman. A closer look reveals that Randa Mai also excels in this department. Should a technique have extra rope left over, there are dozens of ways to neatly fashion the loose ends into striking patterns.

Just to prove that there is more than one way to truss a person up, a tight bondage is woven around the sitting woman in a modified ebi (shrimp) style, before she is eventually heaved up with her back to the floor.

Perhaps just to provide a little extra eye candy for his fans, Randa Mai suspends his girl this time with the support of just one of her ankles. Such acrobatics may not be for everyone, and it takes a special kind of bondage to involve the heel so as to distribute the load around the foot as evenly as possible.

One of Randa Mai’s strongest points is his prowess in locating the weight balance in his subjects, his awareness of the center of gravity at all times so as not to require excessive strength to lift his girl, and also to spare his captive any undue physical stress. Consequently, all his techniques appear easy and his girl seems to float above the floor just like a feather. There is nothing awkward or unbalanced in his suspensions. Suspension is easy, but making it look good is what separates the men from the boys, the masters from the amateurs.


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  1. I have seen the work of Randa Mai on Asian Ropes and there is no doubt he is an expert in his field. However, I do question whether the models he uses actually enjoy the whipping he gives them. The models he uses seem to be in a lot of pain and appear to be really suffering; I just hope that I am being too sensitive about this and that the girls actually get some pleasure out of their experiences with Manda Rai.


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