I often call spanking a gateway kink because it’s one of the first things people try. But I think bondage isn’t far behind. Handcuffs, fuzzy or otherwise, are one of those things young people will snicker about as the epitome of naughtiness, and their representation as jewelry serves as way to flag as kinky. As young as 16 I wore a little handcuff necklace, and I felt absolutely scandalous doing so. Little did I know that 15 years later I’d be teaching rooms full of people much more advanced bondage techniques.

Bondage goes right to the heart of playing with vulnerability and control and there are many entry level ways to try it. Most people start with things from around the house like stockings or neck ties to restrain a partner to the bed, and many never get beyond those explorations— which is fine. There’s no shame in dabbling in kink to spice things up now and then. But for the dedicated bondage enthusiast, there’s so much more you can do.

Advanced bondage techniques


At any rope event you’ll hear people talking about a life-long fascination with ropes and knots.


advanced-bondage-techniques-passion-for-rope-2Whether it was from scouts, or sailing, or childhood games of cops and robbers, some people have been playing with rope for a lifetime. For these people, for people who have a passion for rope, there are endless ways to explore. For the rigger there are more and more complicated ties to learn and for the model there are increasingly strenuous poses they can challenge their bodies and stamina with.

With all of this interest in bondage in general— and rope bondage in particular— it has been elevated to an art form. Whether it’s Japanese style Shibari, Western style rigging, or fusion bondage, there is a great deal of creativity and artistry being enjoyed and celebrated across the world.

Websites like FetLife keep rope enthusiasts connected, and most cities of any significant population have at least one regular rope group where people meet up to share what they know and learn new things. More than just a way to have sex, or a way to explore kink, rope bondage has become a way to build community.

Rope bondage: Beyond bedroom play and into performance spaces and art galleries


Rope bondage is something special; it’s moved far beyond bedroom play and into performance spaces and art galleries via photography, and even into several recent music videos. There are conferences across the globe as well as performance based events like Morpheous’s Bondage Extravaganza where riggers and rope models can show off their talents to not only a live audience— but a virtual audience worldwide via livestream.

Most of the advanced bondage techniques you’ll see getting mass attention is suspension based— that means that someone’s body is held up off the ground using nothing but rope. And suspension bondage is one of the most dangerous forms of kink play. It can lead to injury and even death.

So this increased visibility and popularity can have a downside. As more, and sometimes less experienced, people start trying their had at advanced rope work and bondage techniques, the reports of injuries increase as well. The most common injury you’ll hear about is temporary nerve damage, but it’s by no means the only risk.

From my perspective rope for performance and rope for play are two different things. By it’s very nature a performance takes it’s audience into account, and as such the performer/rigger has their attention divided. This can mean that the focus is no longer about the intimacy and connection that rope can be so good at building, and it can also mean that early warning signs of trouble are missed.

But that’s why we call it Risk Aware Consensual Kink - as long as the people engaging in more advanced bondage techniques and rope play know what they’re getting into, they’re no reason they can’t explore these edgier forms of expression. And the increased visibility has an upside, too. As bondage and kink break into the mainstream, more people realize that there are a wide variety of ways to explore and express their sexuality. And I’m a fan of anything (consensual) that helps people explore their fantasies and desires.

Stella Harris is an author, educator, and coach who focuses on sex, kink, and intimacy. Through her writing and teaching she explores the complex world of love and lust and strives to help people explore their sexuality safely and free of shame. You can learn more about Stella on her website, www.stellaharris.net or follow her on Twitter @stellaerotica.


Images by NFGphoto via Flickr with CC BY 2.0 license and 2nd Photo and rope by Admiral_Fox, model Aleeza

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[…] aficionados have plenty of tricks up their sleeves – and there are several simple, common bondage ties that can be worn under clothing by a sub who’s out in public. They’ll be constantly aware, but […]

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[…] Tied in with the idea that you have to earn your dominant role is the idea that you have to be in perfect control at all times. After all, the whole idea is that control is sexy, right? But not all of us are naturally gifted that way. That’s why a lot of us have this dread in the back of our minds that we’re going to screw it up, that we’re one dropped handcuff key (those things are small) or self-inflicted belt injury away from being a laughingstock. […]

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[…] Rope bondage and conditioning often come with rituals, care methods, and whole philosophies that are different for each person. Not everyone needs to do all of this to their rope – there’s no problem with going and buying a set of rope ready to go. Some people love the ritual of caring for their rope. Everyone has different ideas about how to treat new Shibari rope, but you shouldn’t be intimidated – safety methodology is important, but everything else you can tailor to yourself and your rope partner’s desires. […]

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[…] Rope bondage and conditioning often come with rituals, care methods, and whole philosophies that are different for each person. Not everyone needs to do all of this to their rope – there’s no problem with going and buying a set of rope ready to go. Some people love the ritual of caring for their rope. Everyone has different ideas about how to treat new Shibari rope, but you shouldn’t be intimidated – safety methodology is important, but everything else you can tailor to yourself and your rope partner’s desires. […]

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