Tiger Block Print by Kuniyoshi Utagawa (1798–1861)


Kinbaku (shibari) is the centuries-old art of Japanese erotic rope bondage. Simply put, Kinbaku is the technique of safe, sensual, dramatic, and erotic bondage raised to a high art form in Japan. In Japanese the words Art, Japanese, Erotic, and Bondage have a multitude of meanings depending on who is speaking and who is listening. What is art to you? What do you find erotic? How does culture affect our perceptions? How does it feel to tie or be tied? How do you do it safely? These questions – and the answers to them – are why the study of kinbaku is so exciting. Each of these four elements plays a part and the most satisfying experiences hit on all of them.


Master “K” and zElement founded Spring Tiger Ryu: The Arts Ryu of Kinbaku in 2013

Master “K”
Co-Founder, Spring Tiger Ryu

Master “K” is an author, rope master, and educator. He has studied the art of Kinbaku for more than 50 years and as a student of Yukimura Haruki under the given name Haru Tora (Spring Tiger) is the first certified instructor (first class) of that renowned master’s “caressing” style of  Kinbuku in North America. Master “K” is also the direct and named successor to legendary movie rigger Urato Hiroshi.


He is a renowned authority on his subject whose rope work has been seen around the globe. Some of his most recent work includes: partnering with performance artist Millie Brown for her filmed project Pendulum, working with elite fashion photographer Michele Comté for various magazine layouts, including GQ Italia and Interview Germany and he also designed and did the rigging for the 2016 film The Neon Demon (a clip can be found here) starring Keanu Reeves and Elle Fanning, the 2019 music video Goldfingers by French recording artist Iliona Blanc (April 2019 Los Angeles International Film Festival premiere) and the 2020 comedy short Wives of the Skies directed by Honey Lauren and winner of over 100 film festival awards.


He is the author of Shibari, the Art of Japanese Bondage (2004) and The Beauty of Kinbaku (or everything you ever wanted to know about Japanese erotic bondage when you suddenly realized you didn’t speak Japanese (2008). The latter book was translated into Japanese as A Cultural History of Kinbaku (2013), is now in its third printing in Japan and a second edition of the English text was published in 2015 (available through Amazon and booksellers worldwide).


His articles can be found on thebeautyofkinbaku.com and include a series of interviews with legendary Kinbuku/rope masters (Meetings With Remarkable Men) and a comprehensive series on Kinbaku and Art. Master “K” has been a teacher of Kinbaku for over 40 years; information about his classes can be found on this site and Master “K” Classes.

Co-founder and Director

zElement was raised in a home with strong Japanese influences and an affinity for the culture, people, and traditions of Japan. She became interested in the art of Kinbaku after seeing a series of professional photographs taken in Europe in the 1990s. After moving to Southern California in 2010 zElement met her sensei, Master “K”, assisting and then studying with him.


As a named student of Master “K”, she is responsible for programming all public events for his dojo through their co-created organization, Spring Tiger Ryu.


zElement and Master “K” founded Spring Tiger Ryu: The Arts Ryu of Kinbaku in 2013 and, as its Director, she researches, co-develops, and produces the wide range of events activities and classes held at their Beverly Hills dojo, finding innovative ways to incorporate and mix traditional Japanese art and history with the art of Kinbaku.


Personally, she focuses on Grandmaster Yukimura Haruki’s celebrated Newaza (caressing) style of Kinbaku, working with male and female models and subs, as well as the curious who reach out to her for information.


In 2018 she began researching the physiological and psychological differences that impact the female dominant/male submissive relationship in Kinbaku. This is a unique program created for the many Western female dominants now coming into the rope scene whose interests vary markedly from the traditional male Dom/female sub relationship. With Master “K”, she created a one-of-a-kind program of Kinbuku study for female dominants interested in the energy-connection that can be achieved through rope-play.


zElement has begun to grow her involvement in mainstream Kinbaku projects with Master ”K“ including, a 2018 live demonstration at the Hollywood, California ACAC Art Gallery, Visions of Himeros exhibit featuring erotic art of the 21st Century and the short fiction film, Together Alone, written and directed by Jolene Kim (Release date 2020).

We are lucky to have a variety of staff photographers, assistants, and models that you will meet at all of our events. Please ask any of us for more information or help at any time.