Rope Bondage: The First Tie You Should Learn

Difficulty level: Beginner

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Rope bondage is made up of many different ties; but the first one anyone should learn is the single column tie.

This one tie will form the foundation for everything else you do.


This post is more for people I’m sharing my knowledge with; but I also found it served to make my ideas on the subject a lot more concrete, to help me identify why I like these ties, and what I hate about the “standard” single column tie. By writing this post, I figured out what my three favourite single column ties were, and why.

One single column tie, at your service.

This is the first rope bondage tie I think anyone should learn, because it embodies the principles that you HAVE to know if you’re going to be tying people regularly.


The first rope bondage tie you should learn is called a single column tie.

Why columns? Because that’s what the human body is made up out of. Your arms and wrists are columns. Your torso is a column. Your legs are columns. So is your neck (but I highly discourage tying rope off around the neck, because generally speaking, people need to be able to breathe in order to go on living).

Rope bondage, shibari, whatever you want to call it, is all about connecting these columns with rope; decorating, restraining, caressing, seducing… all of the above or whichever you prefer to focus on.

So the single column tie is all about how to tie a single column, whether it’s a wrist, a leg, a torso, what have you. It’s your starting point, and will probably be the starting point in most ties that you put on your partner or that you end up in.

What I Would Use It For:

It’s very good for starting most rope bondage ties, as mentioned above. It’s a popular first step in many harnesses and leg ties.

It’s also very good for your basic “spread eagle” positions; when you tie each limb to the corner of the bed, or tie a limb to something else, particularly because it won’t collapse down. That’s important.


It is best for tying a single limb, or column; when tying two columns together, e.g. two wrists, if you used this tie it would be fairly easy for your partner to slide their wrists out of it (That can sometimes be a good thing).  For a more secure way of doing this, you should use a two-column tie.

How To Create The Tie:

This particular method is called the Burlington Bowline, invented by a rope geek named Tracker.

Now there are several different ways to do a single column tie; but what I’m going to do is teach you is the method that I use, and I’m going to explain exactly why I use this one and not a different one as I go.

Note: this method is based on shibari. There’s a lot of people who love explaining what shibari is, where it originated, etc – but that’s not important right now. You want to know more? Google that shit, I’m not stopping you. I just don’t consider it that important to what I’m teaching.

What is important is that shibari and shibari based rope bondage incorporate a simple method of rope tying that is fast, efficient, aesthetically pleasing, and all around very cool. It’s not nearly as messy as other styles I’ve seen, and while it can look complicated, it’s usually based around a set of very simple techniques and skills that get combined together to make something that looks and feels amazing.

Hence why I use it. I fell in love with the style as I learned, partly because of the aesthetic, and partly because it’s just so damn effective. So, the tie.

This (you can look at the picture below now) is known as your bight.

Your bight is the middle of your rope;  shibari and shibari based rope bondage use a doubled over rope. This is actually super efficient and quick, which will be demonstrated shortly. Most ties start with the bight.

Bight, not bite. That part comes later.

Take your partner’s wrist, (or whatever column you’re tying) and using your bight, wrap your doubled length around their wrist at least twice (this is where using doubled rope comes in handy, because means you don’t have to do it four times instead for the same effect. See? Efficient).

Twice over the wrist

You’ll note that I then take the bight, and turn it to a right angle over the initial two wraps.

At right angles over the two wraps

Following this (and after making sure I have enough bight) I take the bight beneath the wraps. Fun fact, having a line or loop go beneath the wraps actually prevents it from tightening down, preventing loss of circulation, bruising, abrasion, and painful rope marks. It’s an essential thing in ANY single column tie. Using a tie like this means you’re more likely to have someone come back to be tied again.

Pull your bight (loop) beneath the two bands

Pro-tip; in order to get the rope through, pull, don’t push. It may look like I’m pushing here; I’m not. That’s me holding the tie in place for a photo. Use your finger like a crochet hook, reach beneath the wraps, and pull your bight through. It’s much easier and less frustrating than pushing the rope.

Here’s where people start to scratch their heads when they’re first learning. It can take a few tries to get this bit ingrained. Holding your bight where it was in the previous picture  use the other end (aka the “working end”) of your rope to create a simple loop, as you see me doing here. Just make a simple twist, with the free end of the rope dangling to the inside of the loop, as shown here.

Make a loop

Now, take your bight, and run it through the loop.

That’s right. Just put your end in the hole (ahem). There we go.

Now run your bight underneath the two wraps again.

Yes, again. Make sure your loop stays open during this process

And finally, put the bight back through your loop, and using your working end, pull the loop shut.

Put your end in the hole AGAIN. (Oooh, yeah.) Now pull the loose end at the bottom of the picture to close the loop.

Bam! You’re done

Ideally, you’ll have less bight hanging out, but hey. There’s no need to be a perfectionist, as long as it works for what you want. Credit goes to Tracker at Innovative Fibre Arts for this knot.


I mentioned earlier that there are several different ways to tie a single column tie. I’m teaching you this one because this is the one I use, for the following reasons;

  1. It’s reasonably aesthetic – tied properly it’s quite neat and shibari like.
  2. The knot is quite flat; that’s important with erotic bondage. Bulky knots dig in and catch on things.
  3. I have never seen this knot collapse. Which is really important.

There’s another “single column tie knot” which is commonly used – often called a boola boola or sometimes a yuki knot, depending on who you talk to. With that knot, the bight only goes through the loop once – not beneath the bands and through again.

That knot has problems. The means of doing the tie is essentially the same, but when you use a boola boola finish, it’s often the case that the knot will somehow collapse.  Many insist that’s because it’s not being done “right”.

I don’t give a fuck. If a knot has to be tied “right” in order for it to not collapse, then I don’t want to use it – I want a nice, clean, reasonably “bombproof” knot that will not freaking collapse. I want  to be able to tie it and know it’s going to do it’s job even when tied in the heat of a very sexy distracted moment so that I can move on and do other fun things without worrying. I once heard that a rigger I know had tried to lift someone using the standard boola boola for a foot and ankle suspension. The guy uses that knot all the time; but this time the knot collapsed.

That concerns the hell out of me. This is why I use knots I’ve never ever seen collapse.

(Update: A guy named Tim asked me for a video on the Burlington Bowline going both over and under a limb; I’ve left it here as well for you guys to check out.)

The other single column tie I tend to use is known as the Sommerville bowline, or Struggler’s Knot.

Those are both really good ties; they’re both very quick when practiced and are both quite safe. The reason I teach Tracker’s Burlington Bowline first is because it’s a great way of pointing out important safety considerations for your single column tie. Come to think of it, I probably use all three about the same amount. The struggler’s knot is actually a tiny bit quicker, due to one less move, but the Burlington Bowline is more bombproof.

Last but not least; you may be wondering why this last picture on this post doesn’t quite match with the finished tie I just showed you.

The reason is, I’m about to teach you a last very neat trick for if you suspect you may need to get this or another column tie undone in a hurry.

Look at this picture again.

What you see there is the exact same tie I’ve just taught you, but with a nifty “quick release” aspect to it.

The last time I put the bight through, just before tightening the loop down with my working end, I folded the bight in half, so that the end was sticking out the right. Then I tightened the loop with my working end.

Quick Release Version 1.0

Let’s say your working end is still under tension, and you need to get someone out in a hurry, starting at the beginning of the tie. Yank that sticking out bit (on the right) hard, and your knot will loosen very quickly and you’ll be able to release their wrist or what have you first (note; you’ll often get a surprised or startled yelp from the tied person when you yank).

Any feedback, or other tips and tricks people have on the single column tie, I’d love to hear from you. If you’re looking for rope, then probably my favorite source of rope at the moment is Twisted Monk’s hemp; feel free to check it out.

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