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"The general pattern is similar to a roller-coaster ride. You start slowly, climb a bit in intensity, return to a slower motion, then increase, then decrease. Each increase in either force or equipment will be a little more forceful than the last."

by Jack Rinella

Many of the more technical SM activities are best learned through first hand experience from an expert. Having someone demonstrate technique, give you an opportunity to try it, and then critique your efforts is the best way to learn.

That's why I'm a firm believer that the written word has its limitations. Remember that any media can only tell you so much. Experience, as they say, is the best teacher. That warning properly noted, let me give you some ideas on how to flog. For the finer points, be sure to consult an expert.

Among the first considerations is equipment. The more advanced sadists among us have extensive collections of whips, paddles, crops, and floggers. A visit to any place that sells SM equipment will quickly reveal just how wide that assortment can be. Floggers vary in thickness, weight, length, texture, and materials.

My collection is rather meager. I've got a short leather one, one that is made of braided thread, and a third leather one whose tails are longer, wider and thicker. If I include Michael's equipment in my list, then I've added a longer leather flogger and one made of rubber. Each can be rated in terms of pain inflicted. The effect of each varies even with strokes of equal intensity.

You'll want to experiment with various types of floggers as you assemble your collection. A good starter kit would include a small soft flogger, a harder short flogger, and then a hard one of medium length. To begin, avoid ones that are very long or fancy.

The variations in flogger types that I mention are purposeful. The primary rule for flogging is one that applies in many leather situations. Start slowly and gradually build in intensity. Using different kinds of floggers is one way to change the intensity.

Just as a slow entry in ass play is preferable, so a gentle start in flogging is crucial. There are two ways to begin slowly and the best technique uses both. The first is to initiate force with gentleness, using more of a brushing, even dusting, movement, one that is slow, light and easy. The second, as mentioned above, is to begin with floggers that are mild, generally those that are smaller and made with softer materials.

It should be obvious that we are going to flog using a two-tiered method. We escalate force on the one hand and instruments on the other.

The general pattern is similar to a roller-coaster ride. You start slowly, climb a bit in intensity, return to a slower motion, then increase, then decrease. Each increase in either force or equipment will be a little more forceful than the last. Each decrease will be not quite as significant as the last. In this way there is a gradual building to a crescendo of pain and climax.

This process can hardly be rote. Instead there must be continuous communication between the flogger and the one being flogged. Tops, in this case, must concentrate on what they are doing, heightening their senses and focusing on their partner's reactions. Frequently stopping the flogging for a few minutes allows the top to "listen" to all the signals the bottom is sending is important. Heart and breath rates, grimaces, verbal clues, sweat, blood, welts, and coloration of the skin are all important pieces of information. Look and listen constantly during the session.

For that reason, the top will want to move very close to his or her bottom, feeling them so as to better appreciate what is really going on. Asking questions is certainly acceptable and important. Likewise the bottom should be honest in his or her responses. There is nothing to gain by toughing it out and a great deal to lose.

Positions, too, are critical. The bottom ought to be restrained in an appropriate pose. For high-intensity flogging of a longer duration, it is important that the bottom be in a position that is sustainable without fear of cutting off circulation or breath.

Restraint serves several purposes. It prevents the bottom from hurting himself or his top. It allows him to struggle against the bonds without moving to such an extent that the flogging becomes dangerous. It insures that the more delicate parts of the body are shielded from the whips.

The most intense flogging is usually done while the bottom is tied securely in a prone position or spread eagle in a sustainable position. I'm not talking about light bondage here, but rather a form of restraint that insures that the bottom can't flail around exposing him or herself to unintended hits of the flogger. Often this bondage includes the uses of padded restraints or of padding itself, such as where arms might rub against a cross beam or ankles might be pressed against the wood of a saw horse.

More than physical steps need to be taken. Be emotionally and psychologically supportive as well.

In this ebb and flow technique, it's important that the top not only wield the whip carefully but that he or she help the floggee undergo the strain. Words of encouragement, soft caresses, genital strokes and even kissing give the bottom a chance to catch up to the pain and get past it.

The idea is to increase the pain at approximately the same rate as the floggee's body is able to increase its own level of endorphins and hence its ability to undergo the pain. The higher the bottom's high, the higher the level of tolerable intensity.

Let me be very clear here. Any "highs" need to be of the natural kind, induced by the body's own nervous system. The use of mind-altering or desensitizing drugs during any SM scene can be very dangerous. Don't play under any influences that aren't part of the usual sober human situation. If you need to get artificially "high" to tolerate something than you need to avoid that something.

Flogging is generally a safe activity, when carried out with a modicum of common sense. There are, of course, places that should never be flogged, including the face, head, neck, and stomach. Care must be taken to insure that all whips are clean and dry. Never use a flogger on another person until it has been cleaned.

Short term and low-intensity flogging is relatively easy. Full-blown flogging sessions, on the other hand, take time to prepare and time to conduct. Consider the need for serious bondage, for the possibility of the need for quick release, for antiseptic post-flogging care, for support and recuperation afterwards.

It's my experience that the best floggers are those who have the highest degree of sensitivity. Watching an expert wield a whip is to experience a sacred dance, a highly intimate sharing, and the manifestation of significant "soul."

Copyright 1999 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact

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