Melbourne Rope Dojo Code of Conduct

The practice of shibari is a physical practice. By necessity, it involves physical contact between people. There are aspects of the practice which can be intimate and sexual. There are also aspects which can involve pain and physical endurance.

The way we practice shibari involves exploration of connection, feelings and non-verbal communication between people.

Given the above context, this document has been developed to guide all physical interactions between teachers and students, but also to set out some of the principles and practices to encourage responsible conduct and characterise the culture of the dojo. It is hoped it may also be adopted as an approach between students. The document has been developed with input from students of the dojo and members of the broader community.

The dojo has an overarching ethos whereby it seeks to:

Promote responsible and ethical conduct

* Ensure that all teachers are familiar with the code of conduct
* Brief all students on the code of conduct at induction to beginner classes and regularly thereafter
* Monitor whether teachers adhere to the code of conduct and address instances where this may not be occurring
* Be open to receiving feedback on the conduct of teachers from students
* Review any feedback from students and provide a clear, timely and fair response
* Involve an impartial third party for the purposes of mediation if any issues are not being resolved to the satisfaction of the student(s)

Maintain high standards

* Ensure all teachers are appropriately qualified and trained
* Ensure the physical facilities provided are fit for purpose
* Keep online resources up to date

Provide a safe environment

* Maintain a respectful attitude towards all students at all times
* Encourage students to be respectful of one another
* Provide a safe space to learn new ideas, concepts and techniques and make errors and mistakes in that learning which can be constructively reviewed
* Conduct appropriate technical checks on suspension points
* Engage in transparent and fair processes to resolve any issues raised by students


The following principles guide the day to day activities of the dojo:

* Informed consent
* Communication
* Inclusivity
* Ethical conduct
* Respect
* Transparency and accountability

Informed consent

There are three main types of interactions between teachers/presenters and people being tied for the purposes of demonstration. These are as follows:

1. Technical demonstrations of how to tie certain patterns. These demonstrations are done with minimal physical contact, rather contact is limited as much as practicable to holding rope but may involve some limited contact.

2. Demonstrating points of connection and communication. This involves intervening in the practice of ties to show how the person tying may engage in deeper communication with the model and create different types of feelings. These demonstrations involve physical contact such as hands touching limbs, hair, torso (not involving touching breasts) and neck. There may be pushing or firm holding as part of these demonstrations. These are short in duration (i.e. a few seconds) and are for teaching purposes.

3. Demonstrating an entire tie as an immersive experience. This involves engaging in prolonged connection and communication with the model and using different types of physical contact (e.g. touching, pushing, stroking, holding) both with rope, hands and other parts of the body of the person who is tying. This type of tying can range from slow, sensual tying through to hard, physical tying which can cause pain.

There is a blanket rule that no physical demonstrations include touching of the breasts or genitals of models. Similarly, no physical demonstrations involve the model being made to have contact with the genitals of the person tying. There is no nudity permitted during classes. Class participants may inform teachers that they wish to opt out of any or all of the types of demonstrations described.

During the first attendance of the class participants will be asked if technical demonstrations are ok, and to please inform the instructors if there are particular acts are omitted from the demonstrations (e.g. touching certain areas).When teachers approach students to give demonstrations showing connection (types 2 & 3), they will always verbally describe the type of demonstration that is intended to be given (i.e. which of the above categories it falls into) and ask permission to give that demonstration with a particular person. Permission will clearly be asked of the person being tied and they will be given time to respond. If they don’t respond in the affirmative or they opt out, the demonstration will not occur. Students will be given opportunity to request that certain acts are omitted from demonstrations at this time.

This is a suggested script for this type of communication:

1. “This is the type of demonstration that I want to do”.
2. “Are you happy to participate in this type of demonstration?”
3. If YES – “Is there anything that you DON’T want me to do?”

Participation is voluntary. Students will not be coerced to participate in demonstrations. There will be no negative impact on learning or other consequences (e.g. being treated differently) if students opt out of practical demonstrations.

Communication

We will engage in clear communication with students during any interactions that we have.

Prior to workshops, this document will be emailed to all registered participants. We will give clear briefings at the beginning of workshops on what will be taught, how it will be taught and the expectations of teachers and students.

Our guiding documents will be available on our website and communicated to all individuals who enquire about weekly classes.

Students are actively encouraged to ask questions and seek clarification if they feel that something has not been clearly explained.

Inclusivity

We endeavor to run a space which is open to people of all ages (18+), genders, sexualities and cultural backgrounds. We actively work to ensure that our teaching is not gendered. We regularly review our practice to check in with this principle.

Ethical conduct

We commit to adhere to this code of conduct as the basis of how we conduct ourselves and ask that students consider incorporating this approach into their own practice. We undertake to regularly review this code, both periodically and if situations arise which suggest the code is inadequate or in need of reform. We will involve students in the further development and review of this code and regularly engage in discussions in weekly classes on how we may act ethically in what we do.

We explicitly work to a ‘do no harm’ principle as the underlying philosophy of our space.

Respect

We respect the experiences of our students as diverse and individual. We respect choice and informed consent. We ask that students respect one another and the space. We respect those who give feedback, especially when it is critical. We commit to engaging with this feedback to improve our practice.

Transparency and accountability

We will actively involve students in the ongoing improvement of our space and classes/workshops. We will give public positions on specific issues or incidents if requested to do so. We will do our best to respond to any feedback from students.

In the first instance, we ask that students report any issues, incidents, concerns or feedback directly to dojo management. These could include breaches of this code of conduct or any other issues that may arise. If students don’t feel comfortable with directly contacting dojo management, they may contact the appointed Safety Officer, who is a student of the dojo but does not work for dojo management. This Safety Officer can be contacted via the following email: mrdsafetyofficer@gmail.com. The Safety Officer will then liaise with dojo management about the issue reported.

Those making a report may do so via any of the following methods:

* Written via email (or other direct messaging service) to dojo management or Safety Officer
* Verbal (via phone or similar)
* Verbal (face to face)

The dojo may respond via the following methods:

* Written via email (or other direct messaging service) to dojo management or Safety Officer
* Verbal (via phone or similar)
* Verbal (face to face)

The dojo’s response method will be guided by the preference of the person reporting the issue. The person reporting the issue may also request that an impartial third party be present during any phone or face to face discussions or may be copied into all email communications.

Those making the report may request anonymity if they wish to do so. This should be done via the Safety Officer. In the case that anonymity is requested, then the dojo will make a written response (inclusive of any planned actions in response to the issue raised) to the concerned party, which will be communicated back via the Safety Officer.

Any initial response by the dojo is not considered final and further correspondence may be entered into by the concerned party and the dojo will make further responses as requested. If an issue is not being resolved to the satisfaction of the person reporting, then that person or dojo management may request the Safety Officer to assist with resolution through acting in a mediation role with all parties.

The dojo will endeavor to engage in a fair and transparent process with regards to resolving any issues.