Bondage positions and methods
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Over the course of BDSM activities, a number of bondage positions and methods may be used. Ropes are the most common elements of these positions, although straps, webbing, chains (especially fine ones), hooks, manacles, spreader bars, collars, various gags and monogloves may also be used.
The ball tie is a bondage position in which a person is bound tightly into a ball position. A ball position (also called a fetal position) is one where the legs are bent double so the heels press against the bottom; the legs should also be brought up so that the thighs are pressed against the chest. Pressing the thighs against the abdomen may restrict breathing.
The hands may be tied either in front or behind the back, however behind the back is more typical. If behind, there may also be elbow bondage, or the arms may be in a reverse prayer position, with ropes round the arms and torso (or arms and legs) to hold the arms firmly against the back. If in front, the arms may be tied hugging the legs, or possibly with each wrist bound to the opposite elbow. The ankles may also be tied together, as well as the knees. Typically the ankles are tied to the thighs in a frogtie, unlike the image at right.
Sometimes the bound person wears high-heeled shoes and has ropes wrapped round the heels and fixed to the wrists. This adds to the visual impact, but should only be used as a supplement to other secure bondage; if it takes the main strain, the shoes may come off or the heels may break off. When tied this way the shoes usually cannot be removed.
The head may be pulled back in some way, such as in head bondage. However, some purists argue that this goes against the idea of binding into a ball. Alternatively, the head can be pulled forward to force the chin to press against the chest.
The position is both very stringent and (some would argue) stimulating. At the same time it is a comfortable position so that the subject may remain in it for quite some time.
The ball tie is one of the positions possible in self-bondage, but mobility is so limited that several independent escape mechanisms should be used, in addition to the usual bondage safety advice.
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Breast bondage is a bondage technique which involves the tying of rope around a woman's breasts in a visually intricate and decorative pattern. Breast bondage most commonly uses rope, but webbing, straps or a harness may also be used.
Breast bondage often focuses on the decorative, aesthetic and erotic aspects of the result, and not on immobilization of the female subject. However, breast bondage can be combined with other techniques which restrict the subject's mobility and can provide securing points for other bondage plays, such as crotch rope and breast torture.
The basic breast bondage technique involves tying ropes around the base of the breasts, causing them to bulge outwards. Usually, the same rope is used for both breasts so that the rope harness is automatically held together at the front. The rope may then also be fixed behind the back, to make a sort of bra.
Another technique is to put a rope around the torso just above the breasts, and another one just below them, then push the ropes together to squeeze the breasts from the top and bottom. This can be done instead of, or as well as, the other method. A rope can also be passed over the shoulders and between the breasts, drawing the rope above and below the breasts together, then pass back over the shoulders to the knots at the back. The primary rope can be used to place cinches between the arms and the body.
Shinju (from the Japanese 真珠 meaning pearl) is a euphemism to refer to the binding of female breasts. It has been popularly claimed that "shinju" is an authentic Japanese term for a "bikini harness". However, no such tie called a "shinju" is found in historic or present kinbaku.
The basic or foundational kinbaku form of binding the arms and breasts is known as the Ushiro Takatekote; which is to bind the arms behind (ushiro) the back in a box arm position (takate kote). This basic box arm tie originally found in the samurai martial art of hojōjutsu (捕縄術) or Nawajutsu, (縄術) evolved into its erotic usage at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century, and is foundational to most other kinbaku ties.
Combination with other techniquesEdit
Sometimes, breast bondage is combined with other bondage techniques. For example, the woman's arms can be tied behind her back, in an elbow or box tie or in a reverse prayer position. When combined with breast bondage, bound arms force the woman's chest and breasts to protrude further. When combining breast and arm bondage, the ropes can draw the ropes above and below the breasts together at the sides of the breasts as they pass under the shoulders and behind the neck, thus resulting in rope effectively surrounding the breasts.
When fully bound, other BDSM tools such as nipple clamps can be used. Breast bondage can play an integral part in suspension bondage. If the subject is being suspended, particularly in a horizontal position such as a suspended hogtie, breast bondage is used as the main supporting area under the chest.
A crotch rope (also known as Matanawa or Sakura in Japanese bondage) is a bondage technique which involves the tying of rope around a woman's waist which is then passed between the labia to apply painful or pleasurable pressure to the female genitals. Crotch rope most commonly uses hemp or jute rope, but webbing, straps or a harness may also be used. It can be readily combined with every other bondage positions mentioned in this article.
A crotch rope may be tied over clothing or directly onto the skin, and can be worn under clothing or in full view. While crotch ropes are most commonly intended for women, specific variations exist for males.
A crotch rope can also be used as an unsophisticated type of chastity belt.
Typically, the ropes pass between the labia majora or deeper through the pudendal cleft of the vulva. Knots can be tied in the rope to apply specific pressure to the anus or clitoris. It is usually fixed in place by tying it to a rope around the waist just above the hips or by tying the two ends to another fixture. It is also used in BDSM activities especially on female submissives most commonly as a part of tease and denial.
For abrasion play if the rope is not tied to the waist it can be moved forward and backward between the labia or the subject can be made to walk across it.
The ropes may be wrapped tightly around waist and tied off in front, fed down across the genitals, then pulled back up behind and tied to other cords wrapped around the wrists, doubling as a cinch to tighten them further. This allows the rope bound person some ability to vary pressure on the genitals (often causing sexual stimulation) at the cost of reduced freedom of movement. If such a cord is pulled extremely tight the wrists and arms will have very little freedom of movement and the hands will be firmly forced in contact with the butt, particularly when combined with elbow Bondage.
The frogtie is a bondage position in which a person's legs are bound ankle-to-thigh, in the likeness of a crouched frog. The wrists on each side are often then tied to the ankle/thigh combination on their respective sides, although it is possible to tie each wrist to the opposite ankle and make the position noticeably more strict.
This tie places the person in a position where they are vulnerable but not completely immobilized and can still move about, albeit in an awkward crawling motion. The frogtie, with the person restrained so, can also be used as a restrictive sex position or as a basis for more restrictive bondage. The bound person's wrist tie can also be tethered to some sort of immovable ring by an arbitrary length of cord, allowing some limited freedom of movement while preventing escape.
In a similar position, the person's wrists are simply bound to their corresponding ankles. However, that position cannot be fully considered as a frogtie, because it does not match the "bound ankle-to-thigh" condition.
Head bondage, in BDSM play, includes all techniques used to apply control to the head of the subject. It may refer to one of several techniques:
- It may refer to encasing the head in a bondage hood, a head harness or a box, or the use of a device such as a Scold's bridle (also referred to as a branks). A head harness may include a blindfold and/or gag. The encasement may include or be supplemented by a wide, stiff posture collar round the neck to restrict movement of the head.
- It may refer to the use of rope or other material to achieve control of the head. In particular, it may refer to pulling the head backwards by hair bondage or a rope attached to the back or top of a hood or head harness. It is also possible to use a rope attached to a blindfold or gag, but this is usually less secure and may cause excessive pressure on a small part of the face; in particular, with a gag, the corners of the mouth may be injured.
A head harness is a device made of interconnected straps designed to encircle the human head, used in BDSM activities. The straps are generally secured by buckles that fasten at the back of the head. Head harnesses are most commonly used to provide points of attachments to secure various kinds of gags, such as ball gags, bit gags, muzzle gags and ring gags, although they also have other uses, such as providing attachment points for other forms of bondage, or may be used simply for their psychological effect. Head harnesses may also function as a gag by themselves, by restricting the ability to open the mouth, or have a mouth cover as an integral part.
Head harnesses, like many other forms of bondage, also have the effect of creating a sense of objectification and erotic helplessness in the wearer, which can be erotic for the wearer, or for those observing them. Many head harnesses are designed with straps that pass in front of the wearer's eyes, restricting their vision, and further increasing the sense of objectification and erotic subjugation. Some have full blindfolds.
Some people derive erotic pleasure from being hogtied or from putting a person in a prone submissive position; commonly the hogtie is used as part of sexual bondage play, and in association with other bondage equipment.
Hogtie bondage requires all four limbs to be tied together behind the back. It typically involves connecting a person's wrists and ankles behind the back using some form of physical restraints, but may in some BDSM contexts also refer to the binding of arms and legs behind the back.
A variation of the hogtie involves tying bound wrists to frogtied legs, providing the dominant easier access to the submissive's crotch for sexual play. A pretzel hogtie is a stringent variant that has the wrists, elbows and ankles all tied together behind the back and cinched. The big toes are also tied together and are then connected to the back of the gag pulling the submissive into an extreme arch while also making the gag become extremely tight.
As with all bondage play, the free partner is regarded as being in the dominant or controlling position, while the tied partner is regarded as being sexually submissive, though in some play the tied partner may control the situation verbally.
The hogtie position places pressure on the abdomen of the tied person, which may created difficulty in breathing known as postural asphyxia. Care should be taken to ensure the person being bound can breathe easily throughout all stages of play. This is particularly important if gags, collars or rope are used to create a more stringent tie. This risk is in addition to the normal risks of physical restraint and BDSM play.
An over-arm tie is a bondage position in which a person's wrists are fastened behind the person's head using some form of physical restraints, such as rope or cuffs to which is attached a length of rope, chain or strap the other end of which is attached to a belt at the waist or other anchoring point. A simple over-arm tie is sometimes used in tickling games to prevent the tied person protecting their ticklish spots, such as the under-arm or the ribs, or otherwise interfering with the tickle.
An over-arm position or tie can also be used during sexual play, with the sex partner who assumes an over-arm position or agrees to be tied in the position generally being regarded as the passive or submissive partner. Many people regard seeing or putting a partner in a submissive over-arm position or tie to be erotic and a turn-on in itself.
People who practice rope bondage for its aesthetics may use the over-arm tie as a part of more complicated bondage. For example, the back rope can be passed between the legs and fastened in front, forming a crotch rope. The wrists may be tied to the upper arms with any desired tension, from a loose tie to a strict tie where the wrists are almost touching the upper arms. The over-arm tie can be combined with other techniques which restrict the subject's mobility further, such as hogtie bondage, frogtie or the shrimp tie for the legs, or by securing the tied wrists to a fixed frame, like a door frame. In this position, the elbows stick out on each side, level with the head, with the hands tied behind the head.
The Reverse prayer position, a technique used in BDSM play, involves restraint of a person's arms by binding them behind the person's back, with the hands placed between the shoulders, with the fingers of both hands straight, extended, and the palms of the hands touching each other. The wrists are bound together. It is thus similar to the traditional prayer position, but with the arms behind, rather than in front of, the bound person, thus preventing use of the arms. Many people find this position painful after a time, and cramps may set in. Thus, someone bound in this position may need careful monitoring.
To immobilise the arms further, ropes or a strap are often placed round the arms and torso, pressing the arms against the back. On a woman, this can conveniently be linked to ropes for breast bondage. Another technique is to fix ropes from the elbows to a belt or other ropes round the body.
In bondage fiction, people in this position are sometimes forced to have their elbows touching, turning this into a form of elbow bondage. Very few people can adopt this position without dislocation of the shoulders. However, with many people, it is possible to press the elbows together slightly and tie them in that position.
A bondage rope harness, sometime also referred to as a bondage web, rope web, rope dress or karada, is a rope bondage technique which involves the tying of an intricate structure of rope around the body in a complex web-like fashion.
A rope harness is similar in effect to a leather bondage harness, in that both are not in themselves normally used to bind a person, but are used to apply pressure over the area bound and can provide securing points for other bondage techniques, including suspension bondage.
A rope dress can also refer to a conventional dress which incorporates a significant amount of rope or thick weave, or is held up at the shoulders by a thin rope.
A rope dress typically takes around 10-15 m of rope to tie, and involves multiple passes of rope from front to back around the body to build up the characteristic diamond-shaped rope pattern, typically starting from a rope halter (as in the illustration) and moving down the body. In some cases, a rope harness may extend beyond the torso, into diamond-patterned webs that extend down the length of the arms or legs.
Though a rope harness is not normally used to bind the limbs, they can be used for that purpose by simply going around the arms not under. A rope dress can be used with a crotch rope or a shinju ("pearl") breast harness.
The Japanese term karada means simply "body". Traditionally, a distinction was made between kikkou ("turtle-shell" pattern; hexagonal) and hishi (diamond) patterned ties, although many modern sources just use the term kikkou to refer to any rope body harness.
A shrimp tie (海老責め ebi-zeme) (also known as an ebi (海老) or a kuri (繰り)) is a type of Kinbaku bondage. It originated over 300 years ago in Japan as a torture and interrogation technique. Due to the forced bent down position of the upper body this position sends a burning sensation through the body if the subject remains in it for a long time.
Due to the knees which are widely spread the position resembles the legs of a crab or shrimp.
- Knees are bound inward to further restrict movement
- The ankles are tied to the neck instead of the chest harness
All variations have the crossed position of the ankles in common.
The spread eagle position is also employed as a bondage position in BDSM play, sometimes upside down. A standing or hanging position can be achieved using equipment such as a Saint Andrew's Cross or spreader bars but can also be achieved with ropes or chains attached to different endpoints. As a humiliation technique it is popular for forcing the subject to display their genitals and to provide unhindered access to the crotch, groin and sometimes anal region for sexual play and torture.
Strappado bondage is a term describing a position and technique used in BDSM play. A person's arms are bound behind their back, then by use of some method of attachment such as a rope or chain that runs from their wrists to a securing point above, their arms are lifted behind them until the person is forced to bend forward.
The term "strappado" or "strappado torture" used to describe this position refers to a method of torture that is still practiced in some countries today, and has its roots in a form of medieval torture by the same name. While the strappado bondage position is considered to be a form of BDSM play, it shares its basic principles of restraint with the method of torture and therefore can very easily become just that if not practised safely.
While the general principle of a bondage strappado remains the same - with the arms bound upwards behind the subject - there are various methods and styles used to achieve this. The different styles can be summarised as follows and several can be combined:
- legs apart - spreader bar or attachment points
- legs together
- knees bound together and ankles spread apart
- elbows bound / not bound (see also armbinder)
- rope around neck/collar pulling down to force increased bend (in the interests of safety, it is important to ensure that there is no pressure on the front of the neck)
- hair bondage or other head bondage to pull head back
- To reduce or inhibit the subject's ability to struggle by placing the body in an awkward position such that any struggling on their part could result in their losing balance. As a result of this, it is the bound subject who chooses not to move for fear of falling over.
- To create a sense of vulnerability in the subject's mind by exposing their buttocks and genital area.
The more common method of strappado often depicted in BDSM publications has the subject's legs bound together at the ankles and just above the knees. The arms may or may not be bound at the elbows. The arms are pulled up behind the subject and they are placed into the strappado position. A variation on this is to tie a loose-fitting rope around the subject's neck and to tie this rope to the ankle ropes, causing the subject to bend over more. This results in them having to bend their knees and push their buttocks further out. A collar around the neck is a safer method for securing the rope, as a loose rope can tighten and strangle the person.
A different style is to make use of a spreader bar. By keeping the legs far apart both the sense of imbalance as well as that of vulnerability is increased. Making the subject wear high-heeled shoes or stand on a small surface in this position helps still further.
If the elbows are to be bound together, even for very flexible people it is rarely possible to bind them touching together. As the arms are lifted towards a horizontal position in relation to the position of the subject's torso, the shoulder joints shift into a different position preventing the usual movement that occurs when the elbows are drawn together. Irrespective of this any elbow bondage, even minor, applied in this manner may severely increase tension and pain.
Other rope techniques are sometimes added such as crotch ropes and breast bondage. The use of tight-fitting garments such as a corset increases the visual appeal of the position as well as restricting the subject's movements. By pulling the arms forward instead of just up the subject can be forced to bend over completely with their buttocks pointing up.
The use of head bondage allows the subject's head to be pulled back to a front-facing position as opposed to hanging towards the floor and is often used to make the subject perform oral sex. In addition to the restrictiveness that this causes, if a suitable ring gag is used the subject may feel increasingly exposed to penetration and because the subject's head is facing down drooling may also occur.
The normal reaction of the subject is to increase the forward bending as the arms are lifted. By further lifting the arms beyond a critical point this may become too difficult or even physically impossible to continue without lifting themselves off the floor and force them to stand more upright and increase the strain on the shoulder joints. The subject can also be secured to e.g. a frame and ropes or chains substituted for other bondage devices. By completely immobilizing the subject's body the person in the dominant position can have complete and precise control over the tension and pain experienced.
A form of predicament bondage is to tie one foot of the subject to the opposite thigh or another body part so they have to concentrate on not causing more pain. Their arms are raised to the point where they have to stand on their toes. To relieve pain in their foot they must lower their body and cause more pain in their shoulders. To relieve pain in their shoulders they must stand on tip-toes and cause more pain in their foot and leg. Another variation is to tie the subject's foot to a body part of another subject so they can relieve their own pain but increase it for the other subject.
With the breasts pointing towards the floor, the use of nipple clamps, possibly with weights attached, can be used to stimulate the subject with more pain.
Strappado bondage is most commonly used with the subject's feet on the ground. Very rarely will someone use this technique with their feet off the ground, because of the pain and possibly severe injury this can cause.
Uses of this positionEdit
This type of BDSM play, due to the difficulty of maintaining this position, does not allow for long periods of being bound. Its major use is for sexual play with the bound subject. While bound like this, the subject is open to the use of various tools such as floggers, whips, etc., as well as general spanking. This position can also be used for sexual intercourse, or the use of vibrators and/or dildos to stimulate the bound person.
Precautions and safetyEdit
This bondage position is also used as a form of torture, therefore measures are usually taken to ensure that the subject bound in this position is not pushed beyond their physical capabilities. Any position that moves limbs into an extreme position and holds them there for an extended period of time can result in damage - sometimes permanent - to even the most flexible of people. It is possible, though very rare, for extreme iterations of this position to cause asphyxiation, as being suspended in this way can constrict the lungs and cause respiratory distress. Therefore, it's a technique to be performed with safety foremost in mind.
Suspension bondage is a form of sexual bondage where a bound person is hung from one or more overhead suspension points. Suspension bondage is considered to carry a higher risk than other forms of sexual bondage.
In partial suspension the person is bound in a way that part of their body weight is held by suspension ropes, cables or chains. The classic partial suspension position is to have the person balancing on one foot with part of their weight supported through a chest harness and the other leg pulled up in some direction. A person lying on their upper back with legs tied upwards to a suspension point to pull their lower back off the ground would also qualify as partial suspension.
In full suspension the person is completely supported by suspension ropes, cables or chains, and they have no contact with the ground. The position of the person's body in a full suspension is only limited by their endurance and the skill of the binder.
Hair, elbow and knee bondage are complementary methods of little value on their own. They are to be combined with other positions in order to augment their impact.
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