Suspension bondage

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This bondage demonstration during Folsom Street Fair 2005 is a shibari style partial suspension. Partial suspension folsom.jpg
This bondage demonstration during Folsom Street Fair 2005 is a shibari style partial suspension.

Suspension bondage is a form of sexual bondage where a bound person is hung from one or more overhead suspension points. Suspension bondage carries a higher risk than other forms of sexual bondage.

Contents

Stimulation

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.

The main effect of suspension bondage is to create a heightened sense of vulnerability and inescapability, as the subject is made to feel that by attempting to free themselves they may fall and hurt themselves, thus also creating a form of mental bondage in addition to the physical one that holds them. Being suspended, especially in a large open space, also creates a sense of objectification, submissiveness and erotic helplessness for the subject, which can be erotically stimulating for them and for those observing them. Rope suspension is sometimes done as performance art at BDSM conventions and fetish-themed nightclubs.

Suspension can alternatively create a sense of liberation in that one can "fly" around the room, and some styles of rigging are optimal for the suspendee to have control over their spin rate, body position, and general activities. Trance-like states are also common, resulting alternatively or simultaneously from the sensations of 'anti-gravity", the heightened awareness of one's body, and the sacrifice of one's natural physical strengths.

Three main positions

The three main suspension positions are vertical, horizontal and inverted.

Vertical suspension

This primarily involves the person being lifted from the ground by their wrists. This is usually achieved by use of rope or by special suspension cuffs. When using rope, extreme damage can be caused to the soft tissues of the wrists, as well as reducing circulation, so being suspended by ropes can only normally be achieved for a very short period of time. Often in fiction and movies a person may be pictured hanging from metal cuffs or handcuffs. This is possible, although extremely painful and will leave deep marks in the wrists. The safest and "most comfortable" method of suspension by the wrists is to use suspension cuffs as they are specifically designed to spread the weight around the wrist as much as possible.

An alternative method of vertical suspension is to use a bondage rope harness. With the ropes tied around the body and in particular around the upper arms close to the shoulders as well as around the upper leg and through the groin, it is possible to suspend a person with ropes attached to these areas similar to the way a parachute is attached to a person. In this position the arms and legs may be left to hang free, as the person would have great difficulty getting free without assistance.

Horizontal suspension, face up. Model-in-suspension.jpg
Horizontal suspension, face up.

Horizontal suspension

A woman hanging horizontally in a "teardrop" hogtie. Model in suspended hogtie.jpg
A woman hanging horizontally in a "teardrop" hogtie.
A woman in horizontal suspension using rope bondage at BoundCon 2013. Since the submissive's arms are tied here, it is important for safety that the rope is strong and does not break. Topless suspension bondage at BoundCon 2013.jpg
A woman in horizontal suspension using rope bondage at BoundCon 2013. Since the submissive's arms are tied here, it is important for safety that the rope is strong and does not break.

This position has the subject bound in a horizontal position, sometimes face up but usually face down. The body is lifted into this position either by attaching bondage equipment to the wrists and ankles, or to other areas of the body, or a mixture of both, with the subject's weight born by these areas. The ankles or wrists may be brought together or kept apart by a spreader bar. In case of the wrists and ankles ropes or suspension cuffs can be used. When the body itself is used to suspend the person, they may first be tied into a conventional bondage position such as a hogtie or ball tie, then by attaching ropes or chains to ropes under areas of the body able to take weight the person is lifted into the air.

A variation on this position is to secure the wrists to either the spreader bar or to a securing point between their ankles forming a hogtie, resulting in what is called a suspension bow. In this position, if the subject is a female and facing down, her breasts would be pointing almost straight down depending on the strictness of the position, and nipple clamps and weights can be added for painful stimulation. The clamps may alternatively be secured to a point on the floor, limiting the subject's ability to struggle or move at all without causing pain.

Inverted suspension

A woman hanging in inverted suspension at Wave-Gotik-Treffen music festival, Germany, 2014. On the right is her bondage rigger. 2014 WGT 260 Umbra Et Imago.jpg
A woman hanging in inverted suspension at Wave-Gotik-Treffen music festival, Germany, 2014. On the right is her bondage rigger.

Being suspended upside down can be a very hard position to maintain as a result of the position causing the blood to rush to the head. This means that this position probably cannot be maintained for any length of time. To be suspended in this position, ropes or suspension cuffs are used to lift the person into the air by their ankles.

Unlike when a person is suspended by their wrists, rope suspension around the ankles can be maintained for much longer as the ankle region naturally is able to take far more weight and stress than the wrists. This is especially so if boots are used as the ropes can run around the outside surface of the boot thus protecting the skin from damage. The person may be suspended with their legs together, or held apart either by using a spreader bar or by securing the ankles to two separate locations. With the legs held in this position, the subject may have an increased sense of vulnerability as their genital region would be easily accessible.

Risks

The risks of rope suspension rank up there with heavy breath play. Heck, rope suspensions can turn into heavy breath play scenes if not careful.

Midori, Thoughts on Rope Suspension

The danger most often associated with suspension bondage, over and above the usual risks inherent in bondage, is falling; whether due to a weak suspension point, faulty equipment or poor technique. Inverted positions are especially hazardous in this regard since a head-first fall of only a few inches can kill or paralyze a person. Less obvious dangers include nerve compression and resulting damage, circulation problems and fainting, and the recently recognized harness hang syndrome. [1] [2] Harness hang syndrome appears to relate to suspension with the legs below the heart, as in the case when someone is suspended in a standing position, with no weight on their legs. Extracting a person safely out of suspension bondage can be difficult if they are unconscious, or if a winch or hoist jams. Suspension tops will often work with spotters who can help get the person down in an emergency.

Experts

Suspension bondage is a difficult subject to find information on. While many famous riggers regularly perform suspensions, they have expressed hesitation in committing such knowledge for dissemination, due to the increased risk of injury to amateurs attempting to imitate without enough prior research or practice.

Most suspension bondage educational material is found on the web, however there are a couple of books available. Douglas Kent's Complete Shibari Volume 2: Sky (2010) is a bondage suspension guide companion to his Complete Shibari Volume 1: Land (2010) which focuses on the basic knots and ties of rope bondage. Go Arisue's Kinbaku Theory And Practices (2008) is written in Japanese, the extensive color photographs and step by step guide provide an incredible pictorial resource. Shay Tiziano's Tying and Flying: Bondage for self-suspension (2019) is a first-ever guide to self-suspension, including everything from safety information to step-by-step rope bondage instruction.

Related Research Articles

Bondage (BDSM) Consensual sexual binding or restraining

Bondage, in the BDSM subculture, is the practice of consensually tying, binding, or restraining a partner for erotic, aesthetic, or somatosensory stimulation. A partner may be physically restrained in a variety of ways, including the use of rope, cuffs, bondage tape, or self-adhering bandage.

Japanese bondage

Kinbaku (緊縛) means "tight binding," while Kinbaku-bi (緊縛美) literally means "the beauty of tight binding." Kinbaku is a Japanese style of bondage or BDSM which involves tying a person up using simple yet visually intricate patterns, usually with several pieces of thin rope (often jute, hemp or linen and generally around 6 mm in diameter, but sometimes as small as 4 mm, and between 7–8 m long. In Japanese, this natural-fibre rope is known as asanawa; the Japanese vocabulary does not make a distinction between hemp and jute. The allusion is to the use of hemp rope for restraining prisoners, as a symbol of power, in the same way that stocks or manacles are used in a Western BDSM context. The word shibari came into common use in the West at some point in the 1990s to describe the bondage art Kinbaku. Shibari is a Japanese word that broadly means "binding" or "tying" in most contexts, but is used in BDSM to refer to this style of decorative bondage.

Handcuffs Restraint devices

Handcuffs are restraint devices designed to secure an individual's wrists in proximity to each other. They comprise two parts, linked together by a chain, a hinge, or rigid bar. Each cuff has a rotating arm which engages with a ratchet that prevents it from being opened once closed around a person's wrist. Without the key, the handcuffs cannot be removed without specialist knowledge, and the handcuffed person cannot move his or her wrists more than a few centimetres or inches apart, making many tasks difficult or impossible.

Climbing harness

A climbing harness is an item of climbing equipment for rock-climbing, abseiling, or other activities requiring the use of ropes to provide access or safety such as industrial rope access, working at heights, etc. A harness secures a person to a rope or an anchor point.

Bondage cuffs

Bondage cuffs are restraints designed for use in sexual bondage situations. Compared to conventional handcuffs, they are wide wrist and ankle restraints generally made of leather, often padded with soft leather or fake fur. Bondage cuffs may be fastened at the wrists and/or ankles by a locking mechanism, by a buckle or by velcro. They are secured around the wrist or ankle, and the cuffs may then be attached to each other or another object.

Strappado

The strappado, also known as corda, is a form of torture wherein the victim's hands are tied behind their back and suspended by a rope attached to the wrists, typically resulting in dislocated shoulders. Weights may be added to the body to intensify the effect and increase the pain. This kind of torture would generally not last more than an hour without rest, as it would likely result in death.

Spreader bar

A spreader bar is an article of bondage equipment consisting of a metal or wooden bar, with attachment points for bondage cuffs at each end, which can be fastened to wrists, ankles or knees to hold them apart. They are used in bondage play, and sometimes in bedroom bondage, usually in association with other bondage equipment.

Bondage positions and methods Wikimedia list article

Bondage is the activity of tying or restraining people using equipment such as chains, cuffs, or collars for mutual erotic pleasure. According to the Kinsey Institute, 12% of females and 22% of males respond erotically to BDSM.

Cock and ball torture Form of sexual play

Cock and ball torture (CBT), penis torture or dick torture is a sexual activity involving application of pain or constriction to the penis or testicles. This may involve directly painful activities, such as genital piercing, wax play, genital spanking, squeezing, ball-busting, genital flogging, urethral play, tickle torture, erotic electrostimulation, kneeing or kicking. The recipient of such activities may receive direct physical pleasure via masochism, or emotional pleasure through erotic humiliation, or knowledge that the play is pleasing to a sadistic dominant. Many of these practices carry significant health risks.

Bondage rigger

A bondage rigger is a person of any gender who practices the art of tying bondage, usually with rope.

Suspension (body modification) Body modification

Body suspension means the act of rigging a human body to hang from implements that have been placed through temporary perforations in the skin.

Static trapeze

Static trapeze, also known as fixed trapeze, is a type of circus art performed on the trapeze. In contrast to the other forms of trapeze, on static trapeze the bars and ropes mainly stay in place.

Weighted clothing

Weighted clothing are garments that have heavy materials incorporated into them, to add weight to various parts of the body, usually as part of resistance training. The effect is achieved through attaching weighted pieces to the body which leave the hands free to grasp objects. Unlike with held weights or machines, weighted clothing can leave users more able to do a variety of movements and manual labour. In some cases certain weighted clothing can be worn under normal clothing, to disguise its use to allow exercise in casual environments.

Rope bondage Bondage involving the use of rope to restrict movement, wrap, suspend, or restrain a person

Rope bondage, also referred to as rope play, kinbaku, shibari, Fesselspiele, is bondage involving the use of rope to restrict movement, wrap, suspend, or restrain a person, as part of BDSM activities. Japanese bondage is the most publicly visible style of rope bondage. An alternative style, "Western bondage" is about achieving restraint; the Japanese are more concerned with the artistry of the process.

Panic snap

In horse tack, a panic snap is a mechanism often used between a lead and a horse harness or halter. They are useful because, unlike swivels or carabiners and similar fittings, they can be disconnected under load, as the panic snap is specially built so that the latching mechanism is separate from the load-bearing structure.

Suspension trauma Type of medical trauma

Suspension trauma(Syn. "orthostatic shock while suspended"), also known as harness hang syndrome (HHS), suspension syndrome, or orthostatic intolerance, is an effect which occurs when the human body is held upright without any movement for a period of time. If the person is strapped into a harness or tied to an upright object they will eventually suffer the central ischaemic response. Fainting while remaining vertical increases the risk of death from cerebral hypoxia. Since there is no evidence that these effects are specifically due to trauma, or caused by the harness itself, climbing medicine authorities have argued against the terminology of suspension trauma or harness hang syndrome and instead termed this simply "suspension syndrome".

A belly chain is a physical restraint worn by prisoners, consisting of a chain around the waist, to which the prisoner's hands may be chained or cuffed. Sometimes the ankles are also connected by means of longer chains. ASP, Inc.'s "transport kit"—a belly chain system—was awarded the 2019 Public Safety Product Innovation Award from the North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors.

Armbinder

An armbinder is a type of restraint devices primarily used in bondage play, designed to bind the arms and/or hands to each other or to the body, usually behind the back, and employing a range of bondage equipment including cuffs, rods, straps, and gloves.

Index of BDSM articles

This is an index of BDSM articles. BDSM is a variety of erotic practices involving dominance and submission, role-playing, restraint, and other interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent on self-identification and shared experience. Interest in BDSM can range from one-time experimentation to a lifestyle.

References

  1. "Harness Induced Pathology". Petzl Work/Rescue Catalog. Federation Francaise de Speleologie. 1997. Archived from the original on 16 December 2005.
  2. Paul Seldon (2002). "Harness suspension: review and evaluation of existing information" (PDF). Contract Research Report 451. UK Health and Safety Executive.