This article is designed to allow people to share experience and give advice about bondage. If you feel that you have a valid contribution to make then please add it as a new section at the end of the article. If you have a comment to make about someone's advice then please use the discussion page for this. Readers, the advice given here is personal opinion and should be treated with caution. Please read the article on BDSM and the law for advice on the legal implications of this.
Most people who are into BDSM are into bondage in some way. However, as many inexperienced (and experienced) players have found, it is not always that easy to achieve the results you first had in mind. The effects that professional riggers achieve in bondage shoots can be amazing, but this takes years of practice. Most players just want to tie someone up in a way that is safe and effective, and enhances whatever scene they are acting out.
Balzac's experience of both tying people up and being tied up
Objectives Before you start, work out what you want to do to the person once they are tied up. In the vanilla world, people are tied up because the person wants to prevent them from moving or escaping. In the SM world we have a much wider range of interesting things we might want to do to them!
- Give them a beating or Flogging.
- Have sex with them.
- Tease them sexually (orgasm denial)
- Tickle them.
- Torment/Torture them
- Humiliate them
- Sensory deprivation
- Act out a slave fantasy
It may seem obvious but the sort of bondage you will apply will depend on what you want to achieve from it. If you want to have sex with the bound person, then their body will need to be in a position that allows for copulation with no ropes, chains, or straps in the way. A less obvious consideration is that during sex you are likely to put additional strain on the bondage, causing ropes to tighten and possibly cutting off the supply of blood to limbs or just causing it to become too painful. If you want to keep the person tied up for a long time (for Sensory deprivation) then you will need to ensure that none of the bondage is constricting the blood or air supply in any way and that should the person fall asleep they can not come to any harm (but do read the section on Bondage: Safety). Care should be taken in tying wrists and ankles - it is better to tie slightly above the narrowest point, where the rope will not compress nerves so much.
Safety: The most obvious safety tip is to make sure you can get the person untied quickly either in an emergency or at the end of a scene. Remember, the emergency might come about because the person has fainted (if the bound person is a large man and the binder a petite woman she could have a problem!), make sure you have planned how you will untie them before starting. It's worth investing in some safety-ended bondage scissors (EMT scissors), which can cut rope without causing injury. Even if the scene ends normally you might still want to release the person quicky. If you are using bondage to control the sub's orgasm they will often be straining their bodies quite violently as you tease them. At the end of the scene they could be in quite a lot of pain from the position but without the same sexual need to make it bearable. You will want to get them untied as quickly as possible without the need to manhandle them too much.
Tools: The most common bondage device is rope. Rope is cheap and very adaptable but it does require skill to use and if you are inexperienced there are issues about the bondage becoming increasingly tight during the course of the scene and cutting off the blood supply to the feet and hands. It's worth starting tying fairly loosely - you will find that your initial ties tighten up as you add more on top. I would recommend using leather bondage cuffs together with rope. The have the advantage of being secure, comfortable, and much less likely to cause problems with loss of blood supply to the limbs - and you can undo them very quickly and easily. Handcuffs are very convenient and can be put on very quickly but they can also damage nerves in the hand if allowed to press on them. For this reason, be wary of using them if the bound person is likely to lie on them or pull violently against them.
Technique: My advice is keep it simple! Focus on what you want to achieve with the bondage. If you can, keep the elements that make up the bondage discrete so that you can loosen or untie parts of it without having to untie everything. Feet and ankles are easy to tie since the rope will not slip off unless very loose. Elbows, knees, and thighs are more difficult. Because they naturally taper, anything you tie around them will tend to work its way down the limb, becoming gradually looser and ineffective. Whenever you attenpt one of these ties make sure the noose or cuff is being actively pulled up the limb to counter any tendency to slide down it.
My favorite bondage is where the subs body is placed in a position of stress, continually pulling against the bonds. Athetically it usually looks good as muscles are tense and so are well defined. It makes the sub feel vulnerable and continually aware of their helpless state. I also find that their inability to move heightens their sense of touch, this can further be enhance by the use of sensory deprivation techniques. The problem with this sort of bondage, however is the sub can only remain tensed up for a limit period of time. If the scene is to continue for any length of time then the bondage must allow the sub to relax their body from time to time without hanging from their limbs or ropes diggig in painfully.
Comfort: When I tie someone up I want them to be comfortable. If the sub is comfortable then they will be concentrating on me and thinking about what I am going to do to them, not wriggling around trying to get circulation back into their wrists. If I want to inflict pain on them when they are tied up then I want to be able to control its application (and removal), I also want the sub to know that I control the amount of discomfort they are feeling. I find the best place for bondage is the bed as it supports the sub's body and distributes the weight much more evenly. If I am not using the bed then I use a thick felt mat that allows the sub to kneel or lie for quite long periods without any problems. I do not recommend bondage on any hard surface, it can become extremely painful (in a very unsexy way) very quickly.
- Spreadeagle We use this position (in conjunction with an isolation hood) for long term bondage lasting several hours. Providing the legs are not pulled too far apart and the ropes are not too tight, the position can be held for 3-4 hours or more without any problem. For the sub, it feels very exposed and together with the sensory deprivation element can be a real head trip. For the dominant it looks good and the knowledge the sub is unlikely to come to any harm removes any worry. If the sub is male then he can easily be mounted by the Domme for oral or straight sex. If the sub is a woman then this position is not as effective for sex as the vagina is in the wrong position. A modification which solves this problem is to have the female sub's legs bent slightly, with the knees bound, forcing them apart and up the bed (to prevent the rope slipping off).
- Reverse Hogtie This is quite an extreme position but has resulted in some of the most intense scenes I have ever experienced. How extreme you can make this depends very much on how supple the sub's joints are. The bondage starts with the sub lying on their stomach. The hands are bound behind their back. The ankles are then bound with enough rope between them to allow the sub's soles of the feet to touch. The ankles are then tied to the wrists. The sub is then rolled onto their back and ropes tied around each knee. These are then tied to the side of the bed and pulled tight forcing the knees apart. In this position the sub will be unable to move at all and will feel very exposd and helpless. The Domme has easy access to the sub's head (for her pleasure) and to the sub's genitals and anus for torture and humiliation.