I have previously posted two TK variations designed to transfer load from the arms to the chest. I won't repeat the justification for why you might want this, but will briefly remind you: these ties are hopefully safer than traditional variations, but still may be highly dangerous, particularly if misused; pay careful attention, use good judgment, and above all seek qualified in-person instruction before attempting to use these for suspension.
Over the past year and a half or so, since originally publishing a CTK, I have continued to experiment with various designs based on the same principles. My currently preferred variation generally requires at least 3 ropes, due to an unusual start which I'll explain the reasons for at the bottom, once you've seen what I'm talking about. While any variation using half-hitches in the way this one does may be considered a Version 3 CTK, this 3-rope design (3CTKv3) is to be strongly preferred over prior 2-rope designs (2CTKv3) which were never published, but have been shared with parts of the US community.
Thanks to Alice Kingsnorth for modeling in these videos, and to all those who have assisted me in development and testing of this tie.
Notice how loose the horizontal wraps around the arms are. This is intentional and significant; in-depth discussion at the bottom.
You may find that the initial diagonal ropes in front tend to get caught under the lower wraps on some people with breasts, creating uncomfortable overlap at the corners of the ribcage -- if that becomes an issue, you can pop them up over the breasts at this stage; any slack that creates can be taken up during the final finishing steps in the last video, below.
What's Going on with All That
About the Funky Start, and Wrap Tension
It may occur to you that the half-hitch pattern could be used with a more normal 2-rope TK, by starting the first wrap in the usual way directly after the wrist tie, then locking that off in the back to establish the stem and proceeding similarly. And in fact that's where I started at with the version 3 designs. The difficulty that emerges, however, is that in order for the chest-loading function of the tie to be effective, the initial tension on the around-the-chest portion of the tie has to be high relative to the tension on the over-the-arm part; in the reverse situation, the over-the-arm part will tighten as slack in the around-the-chest segment is used up upon loading, putting pressure on the outer arm, where we don't want it.
In earlier variations, the around-the-chest part could easily be made arbitrarily tight because the cinches were added at the end and could really be cranked down. With this setup, however, making the under-the-arm cinches start tight is counterproductive -- they need to be tensioned during the addition of the half-hitches, which is difficult to do with great effect (although you should always engage them as much as you can). So that makes it extra important to tie the over-the-arm wraps loosely (they should be much looser than in a traditional TK).
The problem you get then is that, with the regular start to a TK where the stem turns into the topmost wrap via a simple 90 degree turn, reducing tension on the top wrap also makes the stem too loose; making a taut enough stem to provide structure results in a top wrap that is too tight. So the purpose of the initial over-the-shoulder pattern is to establish a strong backbone for the tie which is independent of the tension on the top wraps. The particular pattern used is not crucial to this function, but the one shown in the videos is the best I've found in terms of providing comfortable shoulder support and thus becoming an otherwise useful element of the tie, unlike the over-the-shoulder ropes in the version 1 ("long") variation, which are not load-bearing and tend to get in the way
About the Arrangement in the Back
The unusual positioning along and locking to the stem of various segments of the tie is in service of several objectives. Firstly, it's crucial for side suspension that slack can't be transferred between over-arm and under-arm sections; thus we wrap the stem to lock off each of those transitions. Relatedly, we need to make sure that when we apply tension to one set of outer-arm wraps it can't, through deformation of the stem, eat slack in the opposite outer-arm wraps without tensioning the under-the-arm wraps; so we interleave the two, instead of placing all the under-the-arm parts below the over-the-arm parts on the stem, and combine them into one big lock together. Finally, when we gather everything together into those big locks, the top and bottom most ropes are going to be pulled in toward the center, tightening them; so we sequence things such that those are under-the-arm wraps, which we want tight, not over-the-arm wraps, which we want loose.
A Caution About Side Suspension
When using this to suspend from the side, watch that the top-side under-the-arm wraps don't get caught in the half-hitches next to them and pulled up against the inner arm; some practitioners believe pressure in that area may contribute to nerve damage incidences. Also watch out for the upper hitches lifting so far they dig into the arm; that is less likely to be dangerous as long as they're hitting the bicep, but can anyway at least be uncomfortable. If that's happening, you may need to adjust hitch positioning and/or overall tension.
The two pieces of the finish here -- bracing the over-the-shoulder wraps in the front, and the circuit around the back -- are independent of one another, and both optional; I find them especially helpful if I'm going to be doing a long suspension that moves through several positions, but depending on your needs you might decide to omit either or both, or do something else entirely with whatever rope you have left. In many real world scenarios I probably wouldn't bother adding a rope just to finish the last stabilizing munter as I did here. Finally, do as I say not as I do when it comes to neatness; I saw a couple places in there where a twist worked its way in, I can only plead the awkwardness of staying out of the way of the camera.
This is a column tie specifically designed to be easy to learn for people brand new to rope. It is an adaptation of a tie I learned from Nell, who learned it from Max, who developed it based on earlier work with yet murkier origins. As far as we can agree, the most historically accurate and descriptive name for this would be the Double-Modified Fishermen's Bend.
Thanks to Nell and Max for help producing the video, as well as introducing me to the original concept, although I hasten to add that what I present here is not Max's canonical version of the tie, and any pitfalls should be solely attributed to my own tinkering with it.
It's also worth noting that none of the three of us use this in our daily tying -- various more advanced column ties are quicker with sufficient practice -- but this is a good place to start if you're just looking for something easy to tie someone to the bed with.
You might notice that in the single-column video I do four wraps, and in the double-column video I do two -- there isn't some special math there that you should do half as many wraps for a double column as a single. It's just however much you need for your bottom to be comfortable, with the rope that you're using, but not so much that it bunches up all crazy...and modulated by how well you misunderestimated the amount of rope you needed. Always use at least two wraps, but don't stress over the exact number.
Update: While much of this information is still relevant, there is now a newer version of this tie published
There is some debate in the community over the relative safety of the takate kote for suspension; regardless of how you feel about that, you may find these variations useful. The general idea is that by adding a few well-placed knots, suspension load can be shifted from the arms to the chest, while maintaining the general look, feel, and experience of a normal TK. Most bottoms seem to find this more comfortable, and my hope is that it will prove safer.
First of all, watching these videos does not make you qualified to do this tie. These are intended for an audience already familiar and comfortable with tying and suspending with TKs; no attempt is made to cover the general safety information necessary to use these responsibly.
Second, while I have solicited feedback from a number of other riggers, and done extensive testing on a small number of bottoms, TKs are complex ties, these variations are new, and there may be hidden dangers which won't come to light until they are used with a particular bottom or in a special situation. So don't just take my word for it that they work; pay attention, communicate with your bottom, etc. Adapt them as necessary; no TK works for everybody.
Most importantly, don't let the chest-loading aspect lull you too much into complacency; placement of the arms wraps is still important, and radial nerve injury is still possible; most especially, on the ground, someone can injure themselves struggling in these just as easily as in any TK.
Also, some thanks:
To RopeBoi and Ay for beta testing and encouragement; to Amy Morgan for showing me how to do the original long version without making a total mess; to Mike West for showing me the trick for making the overhands in the short version; and most especially to Nell, for hour upon hour of patient testing and feedback, not to mention modeling in all the videos below.
So here we go. This is the variation I now use most frequently:
Here's an alternate way of doing the stem for that:
Here's the original, 3-rope version of the tie, which still has some advantages, and is probably easier to get right:
Here's some information on how to attach support ropes, to either variation:
Finally, I know some people are going to object that these ties are too slow and complex. So here's a clip (sorry for the quality, never intended to publish) from a performance rehearsal, in which I do the shorter variation in just 4 minutes, into a complete suspension in under 6:
I know this has been a bit of a marathon post, congrats if you got through all of that in one sitting, I don't know that I could.
It's my hope that people will take the ideas in these ties, and continue to explore and change and adapt them. If you give these a try, and especially if you come up with a new variation, please let me know! I'm sure there is plenty of room for improvement.
I mentioned when I first posted the RSB that I considered it particularly useful for tying someone who was struggling, because it didn't require leaving room to pass a line under the cuff. However, if you're going to leave someone in a tie for a while, or if you're going to suspend with it, you don't want the cuff too tight. I recently had exactly this situation come up in preparing my performance for Citadel's post-pride party/demos, where I wanted to do a "take up", tying a struggling bottom into a puppet suspension.
It turns out, you can actually tie the RSB onto a moving target in a way that maintains space between the cuff and the limb. Here's a quick, unscripted video, just to show putting a bunch of column ties onto someone who's resisting:
And here's an illustration/explanation of what I was doing, there:
Personally I've never found any particular need for this -- I don't usually want to release a column tie while loaded -- but there was some previous discussion in which people were bemoaning not being able to untie a Somerville Bowline while under tension.
So if, for whatever reason, you want an ultra-quick-release column tie, here's a simple modification:
This has, I think, everything you could want in a quick-release knot -- when in the "locked" configuration, it would be very hard to release accidentally (and in fact you can tug on the bight all day long) -- but when you want to release it, it takes no force at all to unlock and then a single good yank not only releases the knot, but simultaneously unthreads the wrap passing under the cuff.
I'd say this is pretty inarguably easier to release than a Boola Boola, while also remaining more secure (if anything, it's even less likely to capsize than a normal Somerville Bowline).
Lochai also has a nice still shot of the (unlocked) finished knot, up here, that he did from my original textual description a couple weeks ago.
I've been sitting on this for a while, mostly because I'm not set up to do video, and people seem to prefer that to photos, but I finally gave in and just shot something off quickly with my phone gaffed to a tripod:
This is a fairly tricky knot, and finicky even once you know it, but in certain situations it is invaluable, most especially this one:
You might ask "but why can't I just do half hitches around the leg, like everybody does?". And the answer is that, if you really load that, from the standing line end, it tends to pull on just the first wrap, and cinch down -- it's not a real column tie. You'll notice that the tutorial I linked that image from then goes on to run the line back up to the harness, which is the usual way to avoid the issue; but with the RSB, you don't have to go back, you could end your rope at the cuff, or do another cuff further down the leg.
When I demonstrated this a while back at the last CT Grue, someone asked me why not just use this all the time instead of the normal Somerville Bowline -- the main reasons are that it's not as quick and easy to tie, and that it's easy to wind up with it too tight, or to wind up pulling unevenly on the first wrap if you're not careful how you lay it up. However, one reason you might want to use the Reverse SB even at the beginning of your line, is if you're tying on someone who's struggling; more about that here.