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"Becoming an expert in bondage techniques takes experience. You're not going to get from here to "there" in one easy step, but you will get there with practice, information, experience, and the right equipment."

An Intro Course In Bondage
by Jack Rinella

Becoming an expert in bondage techniques takes experience. You're not going to get from here to "there" in one easy step, but you will get there with practice, information, experience, and the right equipment. Starting out is merely getting the fundamental tools and starting where you are. You'll hear me say time and time again that you don't have to do anything with great expense or "whole hog." It's best to start out small and slow. You'll have lots of time later for big investments and marathon bondage sessions.

So come with me this morning as I walk through my local Ace Hardware and see how we can put together a rope kit for Bondage 101. The names of the equipment may vary from supplier to supplier. The numbers in parentheses reflect suburban hardware rates. You can probably get things cheaper if you try.

I'm going start off with a good pair of scissors. Ideally you'll get the kind used to remove bandages after surgery. They have dull ends so that the skin is safe while you cut your bottom loose. You'll probably have to make a quick stop at a pharmacy to get these. I mention scissors first because in all this bondage stuff, as in all SM, safety comes first. Never tie someone up without a pair of good scissors nearby in case of an emergency.

That said, our first stop is for rope. There are two types that I use: clothesline and nylon. Pick up a 50 foot package of 7/32 inch by 100 feet ($5.79) cotton rope. Cut it into variable lengths between 7 and 18 or so feet. You'll want to have shorter lengths for some things such as tying feet, wrists, or cocks, and longer for others, such as around chests and arms or thighs. Once cut you may want to protect the ends from fraying. Nylon cord is easy to melt with a candle's flame. Heat it enough so that it begins to melt and then form it into a secure end.

You'll have to be a bit more creative with the frayed ends of clothesline. I immersed the ends of my first ropes in glue and then let the glue dry by setting the ropes' ends on wax paper. Be sure the glue (I used Elmer's) soaks into the rope. Rubber cement works, but not as well. To be real fancy, you could wrap the ends with thin twine.

At this point I'll refer you to a boy scout handbook or a book on knot tying. Of course it's not a bad idea to get one of those anyway, though many bondage enthusiasts will readily admit that they use only a few standard knots.

Clothesline is my favorite rope because it ties easily and is flexible. It tends to get dirty, though, and sometimes the knots can be more difficult to untie.

Nylon, on the other hand, seems to stay cleaner and is easier to loosen. The down side to this is that nylon knots tend to loosen too easily. You can get it in various thicknesses ( ¼ ($6.79), 3/8 ($13.79), ½ ($23.47) inch for instance) and lengths (the prices are for 50 feet). I prefer the 3/8 inch ropes. Thinner is more dangerous, thicker is harder to work with. In any case, among these three choices it's probably more a question of esthetics than safety, as long as you tie knots safely in the first place.

Avoid twine, any thin rope or thread, and any rope made of a rough material such as jute or manila. Leather thongs are nice if used with care. Be mindful that the thinner the cord, the more liable it is to cut or otherwise damage skin. Thin cords are more dangerous too in that they will more easily cut off your bottom's circulation.

An exception might be the use of nylon twine ($2.19 for 260 feet) where you use lots of twine to weave your bondage around your bottom. Here I emphasize weaving as opposed to tying per se, though it may be just a matter of terminology. If the tying is done so that the twine remains snug enough to stay but loose enough so as not to constrict, the bondage can be a real work of art. The details for such artistry, though, are beyond an intro course. Mentioning it is just food for thought.

Ropes aren't the only tools for tying. Chains and lashing straps are somewhere to be found in every hardware store. A pair of 9 foot straps ($4.79) would be useful for bondage to a cross, chair, or sawhorse or to secure a bottom's arms to his or her chest. There's a use for stretch cords if you have the place for them. Lengths of 24, 32, and 46 inches range in cost from $2 to 3.00.

The next stop at Ace's is to the aisle where they sell chain. Quarter inch coil chain is $1.59 per foot. Unless you want to invest in a pair of cutters, know your required lengths before you buy them. Add an inch or so to your measurements as it's always better to have it too long than too short.

With the chains you'll also need bolt snaps ($1.59 each). These are double-ended snaps and you'll never need less than the number you buy. I guess I own more than a dozen and I still find myself in a scene looking for another one. For more permanent attachment use a quick link for under 50 cents.

Chain can serve several purposes. It certainly works as a bondage material, though you'll want to get leather restraints to attach your bottom to the chain. It's not as comfortable as rope but it does pose less danger. Here again it's a matter of taste and the kind of scene you're both into.

More often chain serves as a great point of attachment. You can, for instance, run a length of chain around the edge of your bed and then tie your bottom spread eagle on the bed. Each link serves as a point of attachment. The nice thing about an arrangement such as this is that the equipment is portable, storable, easily hidden, and usable without altering furniture or walls.

I'm thinking of a scene where the chain encircles the bed and the bottom is loosely encased in nylon twine, Gulliver in Lilliputian style. Yards of twine would go from link to leg and back again, link to chest, link to arm, etc. Sounds hot to me. I'll have to try that on Michael.

Once we're past the tie with what question we're faced with the tie to what dilemma. The answers demand more creativity. Today's answers will focus on more novice-like solutions. Just because I'm not going to mention a bondage box built into the wall of your 16x20 foot dungeon doesn't mean that you can't use it for restraining your bottom.

My purpose, though, is to give advice of an introductory nature, so if your experience levels are way beyond these bounds, use the column as a refresher, not a complete guide.

"Tying to" breaks down into two categories: first is to tie the bottom to himself, such as one wrist to another wrist; secondly is to him or her to some other object, such as a chair or hook. I guess that tying one bottom to another bottom spans both those categories.

The first alternative, bottom to him or herself, is certainly the one that takes the least amount of equipment. Rope and chain around flesh or clothes can be its own erotic presentation.

As you bind your partner keep several safety points in mind: Never tie so as to constrict the flow of blood. Either make your knots loose enough to be safe or make them in such a way as to insure that the rope is sufficiently spaced. Putting inner wrist to inner wrist, for instance, and then tying around both wrists is a good way to bind safely.

Never, of course, tie anything around the neck, obstruct the nasal passages, nor gag completely.

Your bottom's position is also a safety factor. Never leave a person tied face down in a prone position. Never support your partner solely with ropes or chains unless they are more than amply strong and the body is fully and safely supported by adequate harnesses.

Be mindful of your bottom's position, even if they are standing or sitting. Elevated arms or legs, strained muscles or joints, and flimsy equipment all pose dangers, especially in the long run. Along similar lines remember that a person who is struggling, excited, angry, or afraid can exercise strength much greater than we might suppose.

One of the reasons we use bondage, such as in a whipping session, is to insure that the bottom can struggle safely. The last thing you want is a boy who is flailing left and right. Bondage that is too loose may cause rope burns.

You'd best use your imagination or a copy of Bound and Gagged for ideas on tying wrists to ankles, wrists to knees, cocks to feet, elbows to knees and wrists to ankles, etc. Remember though that some of the things you see in photos are well-staged but not practical.

The over-riding principal in any bondage scene is to check with your bottom often to insure that all is going well. Let him or her know to warn you of impending danger, such as numbness or dizziness. It's up to you, too, to check to see that no body parts, i.e., feet and hands, cool off, a sign of restricted circulation.

Intro to bondage assumes that you want to use what's handy for equipment. In the long run you'll build or acquire more elaborate bondage gear such as sawhorse, dog cage, or restraint table. But what's a beginner to do?

Look around. Use a footstool, straight back chair, bed, desk, table, toilet, or staircase railing. All of these offer innocuous and practical points for attaching, depending upon your purpose.

Chairs work well for bondage for the sake of bondage or to tie your partner for a tickling session, genital torture, or nipple play. A bed is more conducive to whipping his or her back or fucking. A low stool and a bed with a foot board combine very well. Perhaps you could lay a chair on its back to restrain your partner on the floor.

My good friend Vince has an eye-hook in a beam in the ceiling of his living room. When his mother asked about it, he simply said that he thought it was used by a previous occupant for hanging a plant.

So my discussion quietly moves into eye hooks. If you have the luxury of inserting them into your home, be sure to anchor them securely, use appropriately large sizes, and pre-drill the holes, being sure that the holes aren't too large. Again, the rule about over-building applies.

There are a number of discreet places to insert eye-hooks without raising your landlord's ire, such as inside a closet.

When I lived in a studio apartment I built a frame of two by fours that fit into the doorway between the bedroom and bathroom. By clamping one board to another no nails or screws defaced any part of the building.

Later I went to a metal working shop and had the craftsman make me a heavy gamma-shaped hook that fit over the top of a closet door. It is of thin gauge steel with a ring welded to one side. Hang it over the door, shut the door, and it becomes a very effective place to which you can attach your partner.

To give your partner a fuller bondage experience, try mummification. Though it is best done with an assistant, two people (the top and the bottom) can perform it.

First of all gather your equipment: plastic wrap, duct tape, ace bandages, balls of cotton, a large towel, and of course those scissors.

Have your partner stand at the foot of the bed facing away with hands behind the neck. Begin by wrapping his legs, spiraling up his or her thighs and torso. As you reach the nipples place a piece of cotton between them and the wrap. Once the arm pits are covered, have her lower her arms and encase the arms against the torso.

You may want to use a hood or cover the eyes with an Ace Bandage.

Now comes the tricky part. Spread the towel on the bed. Standing behind your partner, gently and carefully lean him or her down onto the bed. If he or she is larger than you, you'll see why the assistant is helpful.

Now that they are prone you can get fancier with the wrap, covering the feet, for example, or the head. Be certain that there is plenty of breathing room and that the mouth and nose hole is quite large and unencumbered.

Now I would use the scissors to cut holes to expose the tits. The cotton helps to make sure you don't cut skin. Likewise I free the genitals for play. After all, most of my bondage is for the sake of later play!

You can get still fancier by covering the wrap with duct tape, creating a complete mummification scene.

Be sure to monitor your bottom's progress and vital signs. Never leave such a person, or any person in bondage, unattended.

Excuse me, I have to go check up on Patrick's ropes.

As my friend David pointed out in response to this essay, I haven't yet mentioned leather restraints: "Some very practical applications of bondage, thanks. I was surprised that you didn't mention pre-made wrist/ankle restraints as part of the scene, [as] they are easier to attach than plain rope for the novice & just as effective. Just my ideas," he writes via e-mail.

Good ideas too, but I was saving them for last. It's my experience to start your toy collection slowly and cheaply. That reflects my pocketbook, of course, but I'm probably not too much poorer than most readers.

The first leather purchase I would advise has nothing to do with bondage. Get yourself a bar vest, (priced as low as $29.00, but more usually between $60.00 and $100.00) as it's the equipment that's most necessary and the one that's the least easy to make yourself.

Most everything else I'm going to list today can be home-made. Take a walk around a Tandy leather store. My first leather restraints were made from remnants purchased in a "grab bag" for a dollar. The necessary tools and buckle don't cost much more. Making it yourself is a great way to spend these cold winter nights, when the wind chill (that make-believe number that the weather people use in order to make their news more newsworthy) is low enough to keep you home.

Besides, spreading a piece of leather out on the kitchen table is a great way to tell your lover that you want to start a new hobby!

Enough jokes, Jack.

The first leather toy then is a pair of wrist restraints. They come in either buckle or D-ring varieties. The buckle types are self-contained. The D-rings allow you to use padlocks. Some buckles can be locked as well and some restraints come with locking posts. Wrist restraints, as most leather toys, come padded or unpadded. The major difference between the two has to do with utility. If you are going to have long-term or more strenuous bondage scenes, the padding can be very helpful, even imperative. For ease of use and carrying convenience, the plain ones work well. ($40 unlined, $69 padded)

Prices quoted are from Eagle Leathers, 5005 N. Clark St., Chicago. Similar equipment, of course, is available at Male Hide Leathers, Cupids, and the Pleasure Chest. The same can be gotten by mail order from Mr. S. Leathers, San Francisco.

With the restraints you'll want to make sure you have those bolt snaps mentioned in part one. Leather restraints have the advantage of being safer, since constriction is more easily avoided. Still, be careful to check extremities for circulation. I keep my locks locked so that I have to unlock them in order to use them. Doing so insures that you have the key handy when and where you need it.

Ankle restraints are a bit bigger than wrist ones ($49 to $79). Some come with attached chains, a nice feature. A set of ankle and wrist restraints serves well as the basic bondage kit, as it is useful for the spread-eagle position we all favor.

Next, I would go for cock and ball restraints. There are a myriad of varieties of stretchers, separators, and sheaths, too numerous to list here, but including figure eights to go around the nuts and cock and two-snap ball stretchers to pull the testicles away from the cock. Parachutes are a favorite of mine. They encircle the nuts leaving small chains dangling for the easy attachment of weights or cords. Eventually you'll want to buy weights as well. You'll have to experiment with your bottom's tolerance.

Start easy and add weight as you see how much his nuts can take. Eight to ten pounds isn't unheard of. I've even seen a photo (was it real or Memorex?) of much more weight being lifted by the scrotum, but caution and reason is necessary here. I don' want anyone going to the emergency room saying that "Jack sent me."

Thigh and wrist restraint combos ($119) are straps that go just where you think, fastening the arms at the side and out of the way. Up in the neck department, collars, again in a wide variety, sell for $30 to $65. Some have D-rings for attaching wrists to neck, some come with wrist straps already attached. The variations are endless.

A simple Ace Bandage is sufficient for blind-folding, but you can get fancier with a leather blind-fold ($25-$39). Jon, the manager of Eagle Leathers, showed me a great blind-fold made of latex. It was inflatable. Now there's a neat present. More on latex later.

To get fancier in the blind-fold department, you can get a spandex hood ($20). The advantage of spandex is that you can breathe through it and see shadows. They come off very easily and quickly, just the kind of thing to use with a novice. He won't be spooked by total darkness. Later, of course, you'll want to put a leather hood over it, but they are more expensive ($115 or so). Again the varieties of hoods are endless. I prefer the kind with open mouths, since I love to use a bottom's mouth. They come with detachable gags and blind folds, and some have D-rings.

In a similar category, a head harness acts much like a hood except that much more of the head is exposed. I like to immobilize my bottom with it. He can hear, see, and use his mouth, but his head can't otherwise move, once I've attached the harness to the ceiling, cross, bed, or bondage box.

Harnesses come in chain and leather ($45 to $149) and encircle the torso in a number of ways. By and large you will find them strictly decorative, though there's nothing wrong with dressing for the part.

At this point, I'd suggest you get a hold of a catalogue ($20) from Mr. S Leathers (800-746-7677). You can tell them that Jack sent you. Seeing pictures of all this gear will explain it much better than even my writing can do. Besides, the people at Mr. S have great looking models. Sorry ladies that there aren't any women in the photos but I know you'll still get the idea.

I say that about the catalogue (I mean to get one) because the visual presentation really does explain a lot. Not every novice has to learn only by doing or having done. That said, I'll recommend a few books: The Master's Manual, A Handbook of Erotic Dominance by Jack Rinella, Daedalus Publishing, ISBN 1-881943-03-8, $14.95; Learning The Ropes by Race Bannon, Daedalus Publishing, ISBN 1-881943-07-0, $12.95; Leathersex by Joseph Bean, Daedalus Publishing, ISBN 1-881943-05-4 $14.95; and Leatherman's Handbook II by Larry Townsend, Carlyle Communication, ISBN 0-503-09999-6, $5.95.

As I promised, a quick note about latex bondage, with a nod to my friend Ryan Johnson. Depending upon the size of your bottom, three to six rolls of latex make a great mummification wrap. The rolls are 4 inches wide by 16 feet ($20 each). They make immobility easy, though not really cheap. Latex is a great turn-on and very versatile, though you really have to take care of it and learn a few of the do's and don'ts.

Other possibilities, well beyond intro bondage, are leather straight jackets, sleep sacks, and suspension equipment (from $200 up, and I mean UP). All I've ever been able to afford is to look, but it sure looks good. This kind of bondage, though, takes expertise, both on the part of the top and the bottom. Make sure you've graduated with honors from Intro and Intermediate before you go for the gold.

Copyright 2000 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact

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