|the deviants' dictionary Factsheet Updated 1 Mar 1997|
|The lagellation Factsheet: Practical
compiled by Dirk, with Slakker and David Stein
FLAGELLATION: REFERENCE | SOURCESHEET
INTRO | FRAMES | INDEX
ENTRIES: A-D E-I J-M N-Q R-T U-Z
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Historical and personal accounts including 'real-life' CP and historical SM porn, currently under construction. Already posted: an account of Mrs Berkley and the Flogging Whores of Old London.
What's the Thrill?
Flagellation is both one of the most physical and one of the most psychologically powerful SM activities. It therefore provides a good illustration of the two intermingled pleasures of SM. On the one hand there is the element of role-playing, allowing in this case the acting out of punishment, powerlessness and religious sacrifice by drawing on real cultural traditions of flagellation and corporal punishment: parental, school and naval or military discipline, animal training, judicial corporal punishment from both past and present, slavery in the ancient world and in the pre-bellum US and so on. Some scenes may be elaborate and detailed recreations of 'real-life' scenarios: there are, for example, enthusiasts of British public school-style caning, Ivy League University Fraternity hazing and military flogging scenes. Most are probably less specific, perhaps drawing on real-life images to create individual fantasies from the participants' own imaginations. With role-playing, the importance of the activity itself may be largely symbolic, and its execution consequently mild, and in the majority of cases the intensity of SM beatings and floggings is much lower than in their real-life non-consensual counterparts.
On the other hand there is the sensation itself, which the bottom directly experiences and the top has the pleasure of being able to cause (see Flagellation Physics for an explanation of the physical aspects of this sensation). Beatings and floggings don't have to be painful: the wide range of implements and techniques affords numerous different sensations in experienced hands, and many of the implements, particularly crops and floggers, when used subtly, are capable of giving sensations most people would find pleasurably stimulating, in the same way we might enjoy a firm massage. And like massage, the point on the scale of intensity between pleasure and pain is variable according to individuals and contexts, giving wide scope for exploration and play. At higher intensities, many bottoms experience a changed psychological state, which is often attributed to the biochemical mechanisms that control our response to pain. And for some SMers, inflicting or enduring experiences that are unarguably painful has its own mental attractions and satisfactions. See also under Endorphins and Pain.
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Ways to Play
The exact way in which a flagellation scene plays itself out is largely a matter of the balance between the sensation and the role-playing aspects of the activity, as described in 'What's the Thrill' above. Some bottoms may want a scene in which the main attraction is the feeling of being punished: intense sensation may not be necessary or desirable and may interrupt the bottom's concentration and wreck the scene. Some bottoms may simply be after the sensation, and whereas some take pleasure in a gentle toying, others get off on painful and bloody floggings provided they are managed properly. Some tops get their main enjoyment from being able to dominate, others enjoy the reactions of a bottom in pain or ecstasy. Most people probably go for a mixture of role-playing and sensation, and the intensity of the latter will vary according to both the participants' needs and their mood at the time.
In 'real-life' CP, the intention is usually simply to cause unpleasantness and pain: the offender is sentenced to a certain number of strokes in advance and each is delivered as hard as the prevailing practice prescribes irrespective of the individual. And while there are some players who try to recreate this scenario in consensual SM, most find it difficult to get much enjoyment out of a finite number of merciless lashes, at least outside the context of an ongoing relationship or scene. Most play much more loosely, varying the treatment according to the dynamics of the scene and, in particular, allowing a 'warming-up' period of lighter strokes from which the intensity gradually builds. Warming-up helps most bottoms to get in the right frame of mind and also seems to alter the body's responses so that the harder strokes, when they come, are felt by the body in a different way.
One choice that needs to be agreed early on is whether or not bondage is to be employed. Restraining the bottom can be powerful in its own account, and helps some people to feel an important 'disavowal of responsibility' for what happens to them. It can also help in preventing the bottom from moving around too much, making the top's aim easier, so there is a safety aspect too. On the other hand, some bottoms pride themselves on the self-control of submitting to a whipping without being bound, and in role-play recreations of scenarios like school discipline it may be inappropriate. If you do use bondage during flagellation, it's usual to avoid anything uncomfortable or painful, particularly in intense scenes: a bottom struggling for the brainspace to cope with a good beating may not appreciate the distraction of chafed wrists or cramps: see Restraint under the Safety section below.
Also bear in mind that, unlike most forms of 'real-life' CP, you are not limited to using only one implement and one technique per scene. Each gives a different sensation and you can vary intensity, style and target area too. If a scene is pushing near a bottom's limit, sometimes a change in style or implement can wind things down just enough for the scene to continue. Most bottoms find that alternating between a more severe implement, such as a cutting whip, and a kinder one, such as a soft flogger, will enable them to go much further with the severe choice than they would otherwise.
Like everything else in SM, there are no fixed rules, though in the following sections we outline some important safety issues and look in detail at the way some of the more popular activities might be carried out. Meanwhile, to give an idea of the range of flagellation games, here are outlines of three possible scenarios:
Ralph gets home to find Holly dressed in her severest Mistress gear and instantly drops to his knees. She orders him to strip and then chains him down across their home-made whipping horse. "I caught you wanking last night, scumbag!" she snaps. "This'll teach you a lesson. Thirty strokes." Ralph groans. "Oh, no, Mistress, no!" he whines. "Not thirty, please." She strikes him sharply across his exposed arse with a leather-gloved hand. "An extra ten for arguing!" she snaps. Then she takes out a switch and smacks him smartly in the middle of the left buttock. Ralph ouches, though in fact she knows his threshold is not as high as some and has decided to make the strokes quite light. "Well, what do you say?" she demands. Ralph mutters something through gritted teeth. "What?" she hisses, and lets loose a slightly harder blow that catches him by surprise and produces a genuine ouch. "What was that, boy? Louder!" Ralph gathers himself and says out loud. "Two, Mistress. Thank you, Mistress!" Holly smiles and strokes his head. "That's a little better, boy," she says, "but unfortunately wrong. That last one was an extra for not bothering to speak out in the way you know I like. We've got another 39 to go -- and you'll thank me for every one!"
As usually happens between Leroy and Michel, what began as affectionate kissing and cuddling soon evolves into something more intense. When Michel's hand slides down and delivers a few playful slaps to Leroy's butt, he soon feels his partner's body becoming more pliant, and his head bowing down in a little gesture of submission. No words are spoken, but eventually Michel pulls himself free and, reaching below the bed, retrieves his stiff black leather paddle. It takes only a few nudges to move Leroy into position face down across Michel's thighs. Michel gently strokes the smooth curve of Leroy's buttocks; Leroy is breathing steadily and deeply, his face buried in the covers on the other side of Michel's lap. After a while, Michel makes the first light stroke with the paddle, and a tremor runs through Leroy's body. He begins a series of strokes in steady, slow rhythm, constantly moving the target. As the intensity begins to build and the first little noise escapes Leroy's throat, Michel smiles.
Yasmin and Sharon haven't seen each other for weeks, and sit chatting and drinking coffee for a good hour before finally moving into Yasmin's playroom. "Do you want to be restrained?" asks Yasmin. "It might help," says Sharon, "if you're going to be as heavy as you promised me last time." Yasmin smiles wickedly. "Well, in that case I'd better dig out my best restraints," she grins. "I keep my promises, darling." Sharon pulls off her T-shirt and undoes her bra, then leans forward on the St Andrews Cross; Yasmin fastens the loosely-hanging hands together on the other side of the cross with thick leather bands. "Better make this comfortable," she says. "You may be here for some time." She picks up a soft leather flogger first and begins to run it gently over Sharon's shoulders, taking quite a long time before warming her up with a series of direct blows. She's in no hurry; if she does this right she can build her friend up to take even her severest cat, and leave marks that will last for days. The flogger is starting to sting a bit now, and Sharon's breathing deepens as she waits for the endorphins to flow.
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General Flogging and Flagellation SafetyAs used here, flogging means hitting with a whip, cat, or any other implement having one or more flexible lashes. As far as safety is concerned, belts and straps are very much like floggers -- just don't hit with the buckle. Hitting with a paddle, cane, or other relatively inflexible implement is different from flogging, though what is said below about safe areas to hit and about bruises and hematomas is also applicable.
Breaking the Skin
Although an erotic flogging is rarely bloody, many kinds of flogging implements can open the surface of the skin, either by cutting or scraping previously undamaged skin or by causing the weakened skin over a bruise to break. Thin whips such as bullwhips, tightly braided cats, and thin-tailed quirts are most likely to cut, nylon-tipped whips and rubber floggers to scrape (abrade), and heavy, wide-tailed rubber or leather floggers and cats to bruise, but similar effects can also be caused by other implements.
The chief danger from breaking the skin is infection, which can occur in various ways. For the bottom, the most serious risk is becoming infected with a disease through blood or lymph (a colorless body fluid that collects in bruises and other wounds and can be exuded from a cut or scrape even if there is no visible bleeding) left on the flogging implement from a previous scene if it was inadequately cleaned (or not cleaned at all). Less seriously, an open wound is vulnerable to airborne viruses and bacteria and contaminants spread by hands and other body parts as well as the implement itself, so all cuts and scrapes should be treated with disinfectant (see Preventing Infection below).
Infectious agents might also be transferred from an open wound to the flogging implement, where they could be picked up later by the top, or by other bottoms if it is not cleaned before reuse. In a very heavy flogging, blood may spatter from some blows, but the droplets will usually land elsewhere on the bottom's body or very close by and are unlikely to cause problems by landing on the top or spectators.
The possibility of infection with HIV, hepatitis or other communicable diseases must be taken very seriously, but it should also not be exaggerated to the point of paranoia. In most cases only a tiny amount of blood or lymph is exuded, and even less is actually picked up by the business end of the whip, cat, or flogger. Moreover, the HIV microbe in particular dies quickly when exposed to air, though the hepatitis viruses and some others are much hardier. If you follow reasonable precautions in using and cleaning flogging equipment and use standard first-aid procedures in treating whatever wounds do occur, the risk should be remote or nonexistent.
Whip cuts can also cause scarring. Unwanted scarring can be reduced by proper care for wounds, but the risk cannot be completely eliminated in any especially heavy scene.
Bruises and Hematomas
A bruise results when blood vessels are broken under the skin. Most bruises are caused by the rupture of tiny capillaries just under the surface. The discoloration and tenderness to touch comes from the accumulation of blood, lymph, and waste products at the site of the wound as the body reacts to heal itself. Most simple bruises are not dangerous and will go away in time without treatment. More serious is a hematoma which results from bleeding between deeper layers of the skin or flesh and can range in size from about 1 to 12cm (0.5"-5") in diameter. On the surface, a hematoma looks like a very bad bruise. The site will be hard and hot to the touch, as well as very tender and painful, and it may be puffy. Small hematomas, like bruises, can heal by themselves if they're not abused further. Large ones can be very dangerous, since the pooled blood clots and hardens, putting pressure on adjacent nerves, undamaged blood vessels, and even internal organs. They need to be treated with medication to dissolve the clotting safely.
An incompetent flogging could panic or terrorize the bottom, and even a technically expert flogging may go well beyond a particular bottom's limits. Such emotional wounds may make it difficult for the bottom to enjoy subsequent SM action, and they can even generate psychic stress that impairs other areas of life. Granted, some tops deliberately try to instill terror, and some bottoms get off on it, but terrorization is an extremely hazardous technique. It should be used only by tops who know exactly what they're doing and how to deal with the results. Tops should also be prepared to deal with panic, which is almost always unintentional, by being able to calm the bottom down.
While cuts, scrapes, and bruises are occupational hazards and sometimes even the desired outcome of even the most impeccable flogging, bad technique or a missed shot, can result in damage to parts of the body that should not be involved at all, such as the eyes and the rest of the face, the nerves and blood vessels in the joints (especially the elbows and knees), the spine, and internal organs (especially the kidneys). Damage in these areas can be so serious, even life-threatening, that you should not think in terms of minimizing it. Rather, make every effort to avoid it altogether by following the safety rules below.
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Where and where not to hit
Hit only well-padded areas of the body. The more muscle and fat covering bones, ligaments, nerves, major blood vessels, and organs, the better. Remember that people differ in how well padded they are.
Even an expert can miss a shot, and some very experienced players use protective gear to shield sensitive and vulnerable areas. A weightlifter's kidney belt is useful for heavy back and buttocks floggings, a heavy collar, the wider the better, is advisable if the upper back is to be a major target, and a heavyweight hood can protect both the neck and head. If you really enjoy giving or taking heavy back floggings, using something to protect the spine is a good idea, but you'll probably have to have it custom-made: for instance, a leather collar and kidney belt joined by a strap that lays over the spine.
Clothing can absorb some of the force of the blows and most of the sting (and cutting potential) of thin whips, as well as protecting against stray blows to areas that should not be hit. Depending on individual preference, anything from T-shirt and briefs to denims to full leather may be worn. A leather vest (waistcoat) can make it a lot easier for an inexperienced bottom to take a back flogging, and a leather jacket may protect the kidney area and neck as well. Leather chaps can be a good protection for vulnerable parts of the legs and leather pants (trousers) can make even a heavy ass whipping tolerable for a novice.
However there are real disadvantages to flogging a clothed bottom. The top has to swing harder to give enough force. Also, without being able to see the effect of your blows -- reddening of the skin, visible cuts, bruises -- it can be harder to pace the scene. If the flogging is heavy enough to cause cuts despite light clothing, the fabric may stick to the cuts when the blood dries. And rough fabric and hard leather can wear away the ends of a fine flogging implement.
A stationary target is easier to hit accurately than a moving one, so it is usually preferable for the bottom to be securely restrained during a flogging. A "free" flogging, with no restraint, is not necessarily dangerous, but it certainly requires a lot of skill on the part of the top, and the bottom needs great self-control to avoid any movement that could cause a stroke to hit in the wrong place.
In most cases the restraint itself should not be uncomfortable or painful so that both partners can concentrate on the flogging activity. While many of us have an image of flogging that involves the bottom tied standing up, it is easier for most bottoms to sustain a long scene if their weight is supported in some way. A St. Andrew's cross or A-frame tilted off the vertical can be very comfortable, especially if the hands are tied downwards and not upwards, as can being restrained horizontally on a bed or table. Kneeling with the chest and head supported on a bed, bench, chair, etc. is also a safe and comfortable position, particularly for ass floggings.
Any setup for flogging should include sufficient lighting so tops can see where they are hitting and the precise effect of the blows. If the light distracts the bottom, use a blindfold or hood, but never risk doing a flogging in inadequate light.
How to Hit
Learn to hit where you aim. Most of the accidental injuries in flogging occur because the top did not have enough control to hit the part of the body s/he was aiming at and hit some off-limits area. Good flogging technique requires extensive practice on an inanimate object, such as a pillow, teddy bear, hanging towel, or upholstered chair: anything that can absorb the blows without damage yet also show where they landed. And you'll need to practice with each flogging implement you want to use. They all handle differently; no one can achieve acceptable accuracy with unfamiliar equipment. Although anyone can miss a stroke occasionally, until you can hit a precise target area with virtually every swing, you have no business using a whip on a person.
Hit with just the tip of the lash or tails, not the full length. The exception is when you use a short cat or flogger and are skilled enough to make the whole length of the tails land where you want them to -- something virtually impossible to do when the tails are longer than, say, 60cm (2'). For one thing, the end of a whip, cat, or flogger is easier to control than its body, and for another, if you try to land its body in a certain place on your partner, the tip is almost certain to wrap around and hit them somewhere else out of sight. And because the tip travels faster than the body, when it wraps it will hit much harder than the blow to the contact point that you can see. The result will usually be much more pain than you intended, often in a part of the body that you shouldn't be hitting at all (such as the side of the rib cage), and you could damage a vital organ in the bargain.
To avoid the spine when you're flogging the back, just land the tip of your implement on one side of the back or the other--don't try to lay it across the whole width. Don't worry if you trail the whip across the spine as you draw it back, as long as the primary blow avoids it.
Cuts, scrapes, and bleeding can usually be avoided, or at least minimized, by limiting the force of your blows, particularly with whips that can cut or scrape the skin easily, and by not hitting an already bruised or lacerated area again. Some tops immediately dress every cut they notice, both to protect it and to help them remember not to hit the same spot again. In general, you are most likely to break the skin if you hit hard again and again in the same places, least likely if you distribute lighter blows over a wider area. But a lighter, well-distributed flogging that lasts a long time can have a cumulative effect in terms of pain and stimulation very similar to that of a heavier, more concentrated flogging.
Always pay attention to what you're doing and the effects of your blows. Check for cuts and developing bruises, and avoid striking those areas again. Even if you think you're not wrapping, check the bottom's other side from time to time to be sure. The bottom, too, should remain aware of where s/he is being hit and how hard, so s/he can let the top know if targets are missed or limits exceeded. Of course, neither partner can keep a clear head if he's under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you make a mistake and hit where you shouldn't, or hit harder than you intended, acknowledge the slip for what it was and reestablish rapport with your partner by touching or talking to them. An error need not "blow" the whole scene -- no worthwhile bottom will panic because you're not perfect -- but s/he may need reassurance that you're in control and know what you're doing.
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First Aid and Clean-Up
Cuts and Scrapes
Even in a very heavy scene, blood flow from a whip cut or scrape should stop by itself in a few seconds. If it doesn't, press on the wound, using a sterile gauze to keep blood off your hand. After blood flow has stopped, clean the wound and the skin around it with sterile gauze soaked in Betadine or another iodine-based antiseptic (the best choice), hydrogen peroxide, or Hibiclens. Alcohol is not an adequate disinfectant in this case, and it will sting a lot more.
Once cleaned, shallow cuts and most abrasions should not be bandaged (free air flow promotes healing) and should not require medical attention if kept clean. Do not apply greasy ointments. If there is any reason wounds can't be kept clean without bandaging, bandage them loosely, using lint-free gauze pads that won't stick if more blood or lymph is exuded.
A deep cut, where the sides of the wound pull away from each other, should be held closed with a butterfly bandage (so called because of its shape) until you can get to a doctor, who may have to stitch it up. If a wound does not heal normally in a few days, or if swelling, discoloration, sensitivity to light pressure, or fever develops, there may be an infection -- see a doctor as soon as possible.
Bruises and Hematomas
Bruising is most likely to be caused by implements that land with a "thud" rather than a "crack," such as a very heavy cat as well as rigid, blunt instruments. These do little or no damage to the surface skin but crush deeper tissue and the blood vessels running through it. Bruising may not show up until some time after the scene. Small bruises do not need any special attention, though some think a light rubbing with Vitamin E can reduce pain and promote healing (cut open the vitamin capsules and squeeze it out for external use). For larger bruises, apply an ice pack to reduce pain and prevent swelling, followed by Vitamin E. Do not use heat, as this will increase internal bleeding and make things worse.
Large or very painful hematomas need medical attention. Also see a doctor if any pain develops deep inside the body or if other pain continues several hours after a flogging, as this may indicate damage to internal organs. Be sure to tell the truth about how the injury occurred to avoid misdiagnosis.
Avoiding Infection via Implements
Do not use the same implement on different bottoms in the same scene, even if there is no visible bleeding. Colorless lymph exuded from small cuts or scrapes can carry HIV and other viruses.
Clean the business ends of implements carefully after every scene, using latex gloves to handle equipment that was used in a bloody scene.
At a minimum, after a light to moderate scene with no visible bleeding, spray or soak the tips or ends of your whips, cats, floggers, etc. with hydrogen peroxide, wipe away the excess with clean towels, and let them air-dry for at least a few hours before reuse, preferably overnight. Just dabbing or wiping your equipment with disinfectant isn't enough, particularly with braided whips, because microbes can lodge in cracks and crannies. Rubber and plastic whips and floggers can be cleaned with a bleach solution (10 parts water to 1 part bleach is adequate). Leather equipment will have to be reconditioned with Lexol or saddle dressing after it's dry.
After a heavy flogging, and whenever blood is drawn, first wash any other soiled parts of the implements with water and a strong foaming cleanser like Simple Green (available at hardware and auto-supply stores), using a hard-bristle brush to clean out any crannies, then treat as above.
An implement that draws a tiny amount of blood can be made safe for reuse on another person if the procedure above is followed, but a whip that cuts someone's back to shreds should probably be reserved for future use on that person only even after cleaning. Some people insist on reserving all flogging toys for use on a specific person, but this is not a very affordable proposition for many people and in most cases is probably unneccesary if proper cleaning procedures are carried out. Some long whips have replaceable "crackers" at the end, and one that becomes saturated with blood should be replaced, not just cleaned.
Avoid using more water, disinfectant, or cleanser on a fine leather whip, cat, or flogger than is necessary. Don't soak the whole thing, for instance, and don't use the two-stage cleaning procedure when the simpler one will suffice. Over-cleaning will wear leather out very rapidly.
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Running the Scene: Some ExamplesWhat follows is one writer's ideas about how some of the more popular flagellation scenes can be run. As always, it must be stressed that there is no definitive 'how-to' of SM, but these accounts contain useful practical advice and ideas that might act as a starting point for someone's own individual thoughts.
FloggingNote: Descriptions of the varieties of flogger can be found in What to Use: Floggers. In this description, flogging implements also include Cats.
Types of Floggings
As a part of standard scene negotiations, the parties involved should agree on the basic nature of the flogging, as there are a variety of ways it can be approached. Some heavy masochists will want you to simply lay on strokes hard, fast, and mercilessly. Most bottoms, however, need time to build up endorphins and to adjust to the intense sensations they are experiencing.
Applied lightly, a flogger can mentally and physically relax the subject, very much like a massage. Blood is brought to the surface of the skin, the flesh is warmed and circulation is stimulated. It creates a very noticeable and distinctive state of mind and body, very near to the meditative state one reaches in transcendental meditation or other forms of deep relaxation. Heavy floggers are more effective if this is your goal.
Discuss goals and expectations with your partner before you begin. If you're not on the same wavelength, what could be a great experience is doomed from the start.
The bottom should be positioned with his or her back to the top. A standing position, leaning slightly forward, is most comfortable for both parties. Ideally, the subject can be restrained (or simply leaned) against a St. Andrew's Cross or alternatively s/he can lean against a wall, with both hands placed against it.
There are many possible postures for the top, and you'll have to experiment to find one comfortable for you. The most important thing is that you strike as accurately as possible. I often stand well back from the boy, with my left foot forward, in order to take a full step toward him and lay down a hard cracking stroke. It looks something like throwing a pitch in a baseball game, although lifting the leg is a little too dramatic even for me.
Hold the flogger in your dominant hand. Your grip should be firm but your wrist and arm must not be rigid, as a fluid motion assists in accuracy and control. Experiment to see where on the handle to grip. Holding the handle near the end will allow for the most forceful blows, but may be more difficult to control for beginners. The flogger should feel well balanced, and it should swing with a minimum of effort. Good balance is one of the differences between a cheap flogger and a good flogger.
Flogging in Progress
You will probably want to start out with light, slow, caressing strokes. Allow your bottom to become comfortable with the way the flogger feels. These strokes can be nearly anywhere on the body, although I would avoid the head and face no matter how light the strokes. An experienced bottom will use this time to psychologically prepare for the events to come. A sense of anticipation will probably rise in both partners. Enjoy it, feel its near tangibility, let the flogger kiss the flesh, linger lightly, stroke, tease and arouse. There's plenty of time for pain later - a good flogging must not be rushed or hurried.
Some bottoms expect to be pushed to their limits, or beyond. Sometimes a flogging is a challenge, a test of strength and stamina, and the bottom will respect you for pushing the envelope. My boy considers a good flogging one in which he is sorely tempted to safe out but does not. My goal, then, is to read his reactions carefully, and gauge my responses accordingly. I play along a razor's edge. Too tame and it seems trivial and senseless, lacking a certain je ne sais quoi like soup without salt, and at worst a complete waste of time. On the other hand, too fierce and the enjoyment can disappear just as quickly. The type of flogging we both enjoy requires a kind of nonverbal communication that comes only with time.
Obviously, this is my preference, but it is not a universal one. Your Mileage May Vary.
A flogging is a very intense experience for both the bottom and the top. The bottom, however, bears the brunt of the physical trauma. Realize that he or she may be experiencing a very intense emotional and psychological high; for some it can be a spiritual experience. You as the top are your bottom's anchor to reality, and their guide. You are responsible for them. You must bring them back safely to themselves.
When the time has come to wind the scene down, don't just drop the floor out from under your bottom, leaving him or her to come down unguided and uncontrolled. Instead, allow external reality to slowly reassert itself.
There are several ways to handle aftercare. You can simply lessen the severity of your strokes gradually, which will let the bottom come down. You can "talk" the bottom down. You can switch to a different flogger. The point is that you take the time to bring the bottom down slowly.
What do I do? I take a more intimate approach, which is extremely effective and enjoyable, particularly because a flogging is more than just an SM scene for Donn and I. I stop flogging when I know he is about to safe out and notify him in a clear, strong voice that "it's over, boy." Then I approach slowly to where he is hanging slack-armed from the cross, limp and worn out, shaking and shivering, chest heaving and face flushed, and invariably crying with great sobs that wrack his frame. I enfold him lovingly in my arms and let him collapse against me, knowing that not only is it over, but he has made it through -- that he has my approval and my love -- and that in my arms, always, he is safe. "Thank You, SIR! Thank You, SIR! Thank You SIR!" he says over and over, perhaps with more sincerity than at any other time. There's no other time quite so special to me.
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Note: Advice on choosing and caring for a cane can be found in What to Use: Canes. Some of the postures discussed under Spanking are also relevant to caning.
Before you begin a caning, there are a few safety precautions you should take. First, make sure the room is not too cold. Cold muscles are far more prone to serious injury, and will recover more slowly from the blows. The advice on warming up is equally relevant here, though because of the traditional place of caning in education, there are many more afficianados who prefer a set number of strokes.
The traditional and safest target is the buttocks. The Sulcus, the area between the bottom of the buttocks and the top of the thighs, is particularly sensitive. It requires a little extra caution, but it can also produce some rather interesting responses. And don't neglect the backs, or even the fronts, of the thighs: they are as sensitive as the buttocks if not more so.
Avoid hitting the tailbone or anywhere bone comes near the surface. Caning the upper back is not normally done and if attempted it should be carried out with care, avoiding the spine. Caning the hands is not advisable as they carry so many nerves.
Hints on Technique
You don't have to put a lot of force behind the cane to get a powerful, energetic stroke. A natural, relatively slow swing will produce all the force you require as long as you swing properly. Use your wrist to accelerate the tip of the cane just before impact - the proper swing is very similar to a racquetball (squash) swing, not a tennis swing.
There is an important reason to emphasize proper form rather than brute strength. Proper form is important in maintaining the accuracy and consistency of your strokes. These provide safety for the bottom. If your swings are all over the map and the intensity is out of control, sooner or later you will strike too hard or in an incorrect place. You could cause serious damage. Practice on an inanimate object until you develop real skill.
Backhanded strokes, as one would use in tennis or racquetball (squash), can be employed as well as forehanded. With practice, you should be as proficient with either a forehand or a backhand swing. Contrary to what many people think, a clean backhand usually gives a harder stroke than a forehand.
Speed of strokes can also be varied. They can be applied slowly, with lots of power and time between strokes for partial recovery. Or they can be applied rapid-fire staccato. Usually, the faster you go the less power should be behind each stroke.
Caning produces two forms of pain which are caused by separate parts of the stroke. The decompression caused when the cane leaves the flesh is, when delivered properly, distinct from the sensation of impact. By holding the cane down before releasing it, the two stages of pain can be further separated. A masochist bottom will appreciate the extra effort. Others will curse and cry and beg - maybe even simultaneously.
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AcknowledgmentsSome of the descriptions of implements are taken from Slakker's original ABC of BDSM. Thanks to Ted for the information on the Spencer Paddle, and to Rodney for suggestions.
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