The Rap on Wrapping: A discussion of Impact Play
Feb 24, 2012
Reposted with the author's permission.
Wrapping is a common mistake in flogging, caning, or whipping. It happens when the tip of your whip goes long, perhaps by as little as an inch and “wraps around” it, instead of simply bouncing off. How does wrapping occur? You (the top) move closer to your target than you intend as you swing your implement (lets assume for this discussion we are discussing a multi-tailed whip). This can occur in hundreds of ways. Your bottom suddenly hunches towards you, shortening the distance between you mid swing. Or you bend forward at the waist as you throw your whip. Or you take an unconscious half step forward, or swing hard without first taking a measuring stroke, or discover (too late) that a harder swing has lengthened the reach of your throw causing you to overshoot your mark. Or you are still learning to gauge distance well. Or you just had a bad throw.
The bottom line is that you missed your target but hit the person anyway. And a miss with a whip can produce wrapping: Instead of striking your submissive’s ass or back (usually good places to work) your whip impacts the tops of the shoulders, the ribs, the sides of the hips. Wrapping may well be the most frequently made error in SM and can be quite serious, leaving painful unintentional marks, possibly serious injury. Why is wrapping serious? Lets examine in detail what happens when your throw wraps unintentionally.
Lets imagine you are flogging, say, the comparatively flat surface of a human back with a figure eight swing. The momentum of your whip has two components: 1) the motion moving back and forth across the back (left to right, right to left, left to right…), the other bouncing in and out against your target (in and out, in and out, in and out…). The action is similar to a basketball being dribbled from side to side. But when your whip goes long, misses your intended target and wraps around it instead, several things go wrong at once.
First, because the blow missed its mark, you are by definition, hitting somewhere you don’t want to be hitting. A blow aimed at the shoulder - and which wrapped instead - may strike the shoulder blades, the clavicle, the side of the neck, the throat, or worse still, the face. These are classically bad choices to hit: full of fragile bones, tendons, veins, with little protective padding of muscle or fat. A badly thrown blow aimed low might strike the sides of the rib cage, or hip bone, equally bad places to hit.
The second reason unintentional wrapping is bad lies in the physics of motion and force. The tresses of your whip would simply bounce back if striking the flat expanse of the back. Instead, they grind to a complete stop as they wrap around and grip their unintended target. This means the blow imparts greater force than would a similar blow that did not wrap. So not only does a wrapped blow hit the wrong place, it hits that place harder. And because these areas are often poorly padded, markings or bruises (even bruised bones) can result.
Third - and most potentially damaging - at the moment of greatest impact when the whip has seized its target with maximal grab, your arm is still moving, dragging the whip in the wake of its arc. It happens too quickly to see, but with the whip wrapped tightly around your target, and your arm tugging it along by the handle, the whip tightens around the body like a noose. As it pulls free, the tresses of your whip become instruments of abrasion, leaving a sort of ropeburn in their wake as they are yanked free. This can not only be extremely painful in an ouchy unfun way, but can leave deep raw surface welts, far worse than the markings left by blows which did not wrap but were thrown as hard, or harder. The damage can be compounded if the whip hooks a lip, an ear, a nostril, or heaven forbid, an eye. Grimmer still are the possibilities of your whip catching on and yanking out an earing, nose piercing, a septum, nipple jewelry cock piercings, hood piercings or other body jewelry.
So that is why wrapping is bad, 1) you missed your target 2) you accidentally hit fragile areas of the body, 3) because you wrapped, the whip struck those fragile places harder, and 4) abrasion as the wrapped whipstroke is ripped free. Look around at an SM event sometime and you will see victims of wrapped canstrokes, floger tresses, singletails: pink marks on the shoulders and seat: angry red weals on their hipbones, ribs, and the tops of their shoulders. My first and greatest lesson in the effects of wrapping happened years ago, when I let a fellow dominant use a horsehair flogger on my submissive. The light was dim as the dominant’s hand whisked back and forth furiously, but all seemed to be fine. My girlfriend’s back was not darkening up in the least and I assumed all was well. Later, in the light, I saw the merest dusting of pink on my submissive’s back and rear. But her rib cage and hip were sprinkled with hundreds of blood red pin pricks. The dom had wrapped her – and hard - on practically every stroke. I watch closer nowadays when I share….
How to avoid unintentional wrapping? To return to our opening paragraph, wrapping happens when the tip of the whip goes longer than intended. Its correction is to make sure you rigorously monitor and maintain the distance between you and your target, and not overshot it. Use measuring throws, flopping out your whip to establish precisely how far to stand away so you can swing hard and not catch any clavacle, rib, or hipbone. Monitor your personal throwing style- do you bend foreword with each throw? Do your feet shuffle up and back without your being aware of it? Move a little farther out if they do. You loose no style or safety points if your whip catches air.
In fact, making it a point to deliberately undershoot your mark is a time honored approach to good flogging or singletailing technique. Starting a figure eight that barely touches your submissive, or just swishes through the air behind them. It’s a nice, suspenseful, tease and a good way to begin a flogging while making sure you don’t swing long. Start out your figure eight (or side snap, or whatever throw your using) that barely touches and then patiently, mindfully, creep forward so the blows become incrementally more penetrating and intense. Sprinkel measuring strokes throughout your scene, especially when picking up a new flogger or whip. Having your submissive lean against a wall or lean against an inclined surface is another good idea for back flogging because it positions tops of the shoulders away from you, thus exposing more back to downstrokes, reducing the risk of clobbering someone’s collarbone. Having someone kneel facing away from you with their face against the floor is another way to achieve the same end: exposing the upper back while minimizing the risk of hitting high on the shoulders.
Bear in mind that deliberate wrapping can be done to good effect, usually as an intermediate technique to reach around behind someone and whip their ass while they face you, or to nip at their breasts while they are turned away. The secret is eliminating the backpull from your throw altogether. Let your whip wind around your target, find its mark, and then fall free on its own momentum.
The goal is to not have the whip wrap around someone unless that is precisely what you want it to do, and know how to do it. Want a nifty saying? “If the whip goes out of sight, your throw is not alright.” If the tips of your whip ever leave your vigilant gaze they are (by definition) behind the body, and have (by definition!) wrapped. So aim with the tips of the tool you are beating someone with. Its tempting, particular with large floggers, to aim the center of the whip at the center of the back, but don’t! Even if most of the tresses hit where intended, the ones that go long will hurt, if your hitting hard, and not in a good way. Aim with the very tips, and watch to see that they never leave your sight.
When using a cane on someone’s rear the same logic applies. When caning someone I place the very tip of the cane about three quarters across the moon of the ass, draw back, and aim to return the tip to precisely where it was. If you strike with the middle of the cane, even a stiff one, a sufficiently fast throw can send the tip of the cane clear around the curves of the ass to stop against the hit bone. Crisp red line across the checks ending in a black and blue termination on the side of the hip are the hallmark of a caning that wrapped. And they feel even worse than they look.
Play safe, and play hot!
Additional Articles by Chris M
- The Black Rose DM Guide
- "Safe Sane and Consensual" a Proposed Definition
- Finally Me (Or I how I went from being a normal, vanilla guy, to an authority on SM Spirituality)
- Gifts of the Circle: A Chronicle of the Hook Pull performed by Fakir Musafar and Cleo Duboise at Black Rose 2002
- Eight Techniques for Maintaning Communication and Trust During a Scene
- A Brief History of Leatherbars (Featuring the DC Eagle)
- A Brief History of the Black Rose of Washington DC
- Part One: The First Fifteen Years (The Nancy Miller Years)
- Part Two: Pending
- Some articles by Chris M. translated into Hebrew