Book Review: Rogue Hojojutsu

One might expect that the “rogue” in Rogue Hojojutsu refers to the criminals. Those who found themselves in Hojojutsu bindings were certainly rogues. But those who practiced Hojojutsu were often far worse than criminals.

Those who practiced Hojojutsu weren’t highly respected samurai. Hojojutsu was practiced on rogues… by rogues.

The Hojojutsu truths aren’t as simple or glamorous as the myths. But, at least to me, the reality is MUCH more interesting.

Douglas Kent

Douglas Kent’s Complete Shibari: Land (Volume 1) and Complete Shibari: Sky (Volume 2) should already be well-thumbed in any self-respecting rope enthusiast’s library. Hot off the presses, his latest is Rogue Hojojutsu, and not only is it quirky, with a variety of demons, monsters and aliens modelling the ties, but it’s gloriously well researched as well. Of course, it could only be done with the magic of illustration, which he does with his partner Kaymie.

He’s dug up a surprising alternative history of the original rope work art-form that is the origin of shibari and kinbaku. It’s far less cedar-lined tatami dojo and honourable samurai, and much more about the gritty realities of dealing with a whole range of criminal low-life by police who were “considered filthy, spiritually ruined, and to be avoided at all costs” in the fragmented Japan of the Tokugawa-era.

There’s some well-illustrated safety guidelines and tips on modifying ties before the book launches into the 88 different ties with front and back illustrations, step-by-step instructions using an easy to follow icon key, and stories and information.

88 ties might not sound like a lot, but most have one illustrated variation and some have countless possible variations, so really there is a lifetime of practice in this book.

If you’ve ever tried to wade through the 1930 grandfather of Japanese rope books, Essence of Torinawa, you’ll recognise many of the ties in Rogue Hojojutsu. But while Essence of Torinawa shows you the end tie, it’s often almost impossible to work out how they got there. The clear instructions in this book are a godsend.

And, if you have been baffled by Essence of Torinawa, then you’re clearly a hardcore rope lover and this book is for you.

Actually, everyone from novice to know-it-all is going to find something new and interesting in here, and it’d make an ideal, quirky and fun gift for a friend too.

It’s USD30 on the Douglas Kent Rope website






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