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An Introduction to Whips, Crops, Paddles and Floggers

Impact play is a major part of the sexual experience, but many people are afraid of trying it out, believing it to be all about pain, or embarrassed to ask their partners to participate in play. This introduction is to get you familiar with impact play and toys so that when a customer comes in, you can have the confidence and knowledge to speak to them about impact play.

Impact play refers to when two consenting partners strike, smack, slap or hit one another with either their own body or an object. It can also refer to when one inflicts deep muscle bruising to their partner that lasts for one to two weeks — and that intense part of impact play should be done carefully and preferably with an experienced partner to avoid unwanted injury.

Spanking is the gateway into figuring out if impact play is something one would like to explore more.

So, what do people get out of impact play? Among the reasons why impact play is practiced is — first and foremost — physical sensation. Impact play is about the connection, the stinging and the deep ache, the instant rush of blood to the affected skin, nerve endings lighting up and becoming acutely aware of one’s own body. There is also the psychological aspect of connecting with another person’s flesh, seeing the bodily reactions in one’s partner. Then there is the taboo of it all-society still ascribes impact play as being “kinky” and the emotional thrill of committing an “edgy” act sexually can be a huge motivator. With all this in mind, how does one begin this journey?

The very first step when it comes to bringing anything new into the bedroom is communication. This might seem obvious, but for many customers, communication with a partner is hard. Stress this point — for any sexual acts, communication is important but even more so when it comes to any play that can inflict pain. Customers should take time to discuss their desires about play with one another and then come up with a safe word or a hand signal for when one of them needs play to stop. (A side note: if someone uses their safe word, it’s like hitting the pause button to check in with one’s partner; it doesn’t necessarily mean that all play must be over unless it is something serious.) Once the precautions are out of the way, then the most exciting part can happen, figuring out what toys to use.

The first and easiest item to use in impact play is one’s body. Spanking is the gateway into figuring out if impact play is something one would like to explore more. When spanking someone, the person doing the spanking is usually referred to as the dominant, and the receiver is the submissive. To get started with spanking the dominant will have the submissive in an accessible position to reach the buttocks. (A good starter position is to have the submissive over the Dom’s lap.) Once the submissive is comfortable and ready, the Dom can begin.

Raising his/her palm, the Dom wants to make sure to keep their hand parallel to the ass, and then bring the hand down with a flat palm to connect. Another couple smacks, with the Dom holding the hand against the cheeks for three to four beats to help ease the sting at first. After those first couple hits, the Dom will want to check in with the submissive, asking questions and gauging whether both parties want to continue. This exchange may seem awkward or even redundant if the customer has had some experience, but getting the dialogue open early makes it easier as they continue their exploration into this new sexual adventure. From there, spanking is all about repetition, continued strikes are going to heighten sensation and will release neurological chemicals in the brain. Any other type of physical stimulation, such as kisses, feather caresses, or a Wartenberg wheel will have more of an effect. This is true for all impact play, and different toys will elicit a range of sensations.

The first impact “toy” people will gravitate towards buying is usually a paddle. Often associated for use as corporal punishment, paddles can be made in a multitude of materials and are distinguished by having a flat side with a handle that can easily be wielded one-handed. (There are oversized ones that require a two-handed grip that’s for another time.) As with spanking, paddling usually involves striking the buttocks, however depending on the paddle, the user can get more creative and strike the thighs, lower abdomen, and the genitals. (A fun use of the paddle is to have the submissive’s legs spread slightly wider than shoulder width and paddle between the thighs.) Materials for paddles can range from wood, metal, silicone, plastic, glass or leather. The shape and design can affect the paddle as holes drilled into one will produce more “sting” and paddles padded or lined with velvet or fur will cause more of a “thump” when making contact. Using a paddle is relatively easy, however it is important to note that it’s all in the wrist — using one’s whole arm can lead to fatigue and possible loss of control when it comes to aiming. Paddles are great toys to have in one’s arsenal; they cover a large surface area, so if the customer wants something smaller that leads us to crops.

Riding crops — or just crops — are used during horseback riding to control the horse without the rider losing balance. It’s been adopted into the fetish lifestyle for much the same reason — control. It gives the Dom more authority; the ability to command the sub without even saying a word. The anatomy of a crop is simple — a long shaft of fiberglass or cane is covered in another material, usually leather, starting thick at the base to form the handle then tapering into a thin flexible tress with a loop or tongue of leather at the end. The end pieces are to minimize marks on the flesh. An important bit of information about crops, even though a crop may be flexible enough to bend it between the hands, do not do this! Because a crop is made from one piece continued bending actually accelerates the deterioration of the crop, leading it to be more prone to breaking.

Before using a crop in the bedroom, grab a pillow, make a target on it and practice hitting the target. Get a feel for how flexible the crop is, how much the shaft moves, the weight of it, etc. Never use a new toy on a partner first; even experienced partners will test new toys on inanimate objects.

Some rules on where to strike on the body. Do not strike the face, neck, spine or kidneys (located just below the natural waist on the left and ride side of the back.) a good guide of where to avoid is to look at the back like an upside down “T.” When striking with a crop, flick the wrist outward, (like flicking a rolled towel at someone) and remember that the main point of contact for the toy is the end, not the shaft. This will produce more of a sharp, buzzing sting and repeated hits to the same area can result in reddening and welts depending on the power used.

Rounding out impact toys are whips and floggers. Whips are much like crops, formed from a single shaft with the handle blending into the tress or tail of the whip. Whips are longer than crops and are known for their power and bite. Floggers are defined by having a handle much like a paddle, with strips of material hanging down in an even length. The cat o’ nine tails is a flogger with just nine strands. Both can be made of many materials but usually whips and flogger are made out of leather.

The last point to touch on is aftercare. Once play is over, it’s part of the Dom’s responsibility to provide aftercare. That is any care needed by the sub to come back from play, everything from putting salve on welts to making dinner and watching TV. After-care is something both partners discuss before any play happens as each submissive will have different levels of care needed. Basic care is going to be cleaning the sub up from play, applying ointment to any afflicted areas of the body and positive reinforcement that play was enjoyable.

Overall, impact play and the toys used for it can be delved into at great length, and to explain it all will require some time. This guide offers a peak into some of the basics. You can also ask knowledgeable staff, look into BDSM guidebooks, and check resources online to really get a firmer grasp of impact play and all the ways it can leave its mark in the bedroom.


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