On Safety in Rope Play
The safety dance (well, OK opening rope talk)
I recently had occasion to think “I should write out my opening safety talk to all my rope classes” (reason redacted) so here it goes. Feel free to share and steal (or comment tweaks and improvements).
First, you are not tying a rope you are tying a person, talk to your person. I do not care what “twue way” you learned from some master of whatever. If your partners says, “Ouch, fuck, to tight” or “I can’t feel my hand” it means it is too tight and they cannot feel their hand.
Second, bottoms, your tops are not mind readers and if it is too tight and you cannot feel your hand you have to say, “Ouch, fuck, to tight, I can’t feel my hand.” Bottoms, you are part of what keeps you safe in a scene and if you totally zone out and do not use your words tops do not know or understand. It is not “topping from the bottom” or being a “poor submissive”, it is communicating to your partner what your body is telling you that they need to know.
Third, the temperature and strength check. Before I tie someone for the first time, I will ask them to grasp my fingers or I will touch their arms or feet and do a very basic temperature and strength check. See, blood carries heat and oxygen that makes muscles warm and strong and when a limb is missing blood (and therefore oxygen), it gets cold and weak (to say nothing of pinched nerves or numbness). Frequently mid-scene I will simply run my fingers again past their limbs or parts and feel “are they cold” or “can she squeeze my finger when I press her palm” etc…
Fourth, colors. Not red, yellow or green. White (or light), normal or red (or flush) depending on skin hew and ethnicity. For example, if a Caucasian person skin by default will be pinkish to lightly tanned. When a limb has more blood going out than in it will go white (or lighter for the non-Caucasian among you). This is an problem that needs to be quickly dealt with. When a limb losses more blood than it gets it is losing oxygen and can be damaged quickly.
Compare this to a red limb (or swollen or flushed or warm to the touch for the non-Caucasian). This means more blood is going into the limb than is getting out. You see it all the time on K & P when you see a woman’s breasts turned bright purple by a rope bind. This means the limb is hyper-oxygenated and has more blood than it needs. Long term this can cause a problem but short term it is not a problem at all, in fact it makes that limb super sensitive to everything from pain to sensual sensation and can be rather fun.
Normal color is exactly that, the normal color of the person’s skin. For a quick color guide by person or ethnicity I find consulting under side of the palms or under the nails (light) vs. the backs of the hand or face (normal) vs. the lips or a bit of skin you pinch (red or flushed).
Fifth, learn the essential nerves you will come across all the time, the brachial nerve (shoulder), the radial nerve (wrist), the pubic nerve cluster (hip) and where they are on most people. For a video version see Anatomy for rope bondage or if you prefer the written version see Kinky Clovers guide to rope bottoming or rope bondage 101.
Sixth, stretch, stretch, stretch and stretch. Rope bondage is a physical activity. You stretch before you run, before you work out, before you … do just about anything that requires physical exertions and rope bondage requires a lot of physical exertion and stress so stretch, stretch, stretch and stretch.
Seventh, CUT THE ROPE if that is what it comes to. It is just rope. You can buy more and I have a standing offer to ANYONE who has to cut rope. Bring me your cut rope and I will buy you a replacement and all I ask is that we talk about what happened and I get to keep the cut rope to use in my classes so I can teach other how to cut rope. In addition, CUT THE ROPE before you actually have to CUT THE ROPE. You do not want to learn that you never cut rope the way I did, when I first had to and couldn’t because I never practiced. Get a good rope cutter and test it on a spare bit of rope on yourself under non-panic conditions so when (not if) the time comes that you have to CUT THE ROPE you will be prepared and able to CUT THE ROPE.
Link to original Fetlife writing