Impact play is a form of BDSM in which person(s) are hit (usually repeatedly) by another person(s) for the sexual pleasure of one or both/all involved. It must be consensual.
Common Types of Impact Play
Common types of impact play are caning, cropping, paddling, spanking (sometimes called erotic spanking), and whipping (sometimes called flogging or flagellation).
In spanking the submissive is struck on the buttocks either with the top‘s open hand, or a rigid implement such as a paddle, cane or riding crop. The activity is often also referred to as paddling, caning or cropping if a paddle, cane, or crop is used. Paddling, caning, and cropping can also refer to hitting someone with a paddle, cane, or riding crop on places other than their buttocks (but see safety concerns below).
In whipping the submissive is hit with a whip. Whips are classified by how many falls they have (the fall is the part of the whip that usually hits the target, rather than other parts like the handle):
- Single tails such as a bullwhip have a single fall. Whipping with them is referred to as single tailing.
- Floggers such as a cat o’ nine tails have many falls. Whipping with them is referred to as flogging. Advanced flogging techniques use a pair of floggers employed in a martial arts style alternating pattern, a technique commonly referred to as “florentining” or “florentine flogging.”
Safety Concerns During Impact Play
For safety, impact play should be done on areas of the human body well protected by fat or muscle; spots to avoid include the kidneys, neck, tailbone, hipbones, the head, and all joints. The usual targets for hitting are the buttocks and the two areas of the upper back below the shoulder blades. With care, the thighs, the backs of the calves and the chest can be targets as well. Breasts are another potential (but high-risk) target, and should only be used with experience.
The use of a whip means that the person using the whip must take great care to hit the intended target area, and avoid wrapping, which is when a whip or flogger makes contact with the target area but then the whip or flogger wraps around the body of the person hit to deliver a possibly injurious off-target blow, such as to the hipbones or ribs. The longer the whip, the more skill is required by the person using the whip to land a safe blow.
Sensations of Impact Play
Wide implements used to hit, such as an open hand, paddle, or flogger, produce a dull “thuddy” sensation. Narrow implements such as a cane, riding crop, or single tail whip produce a sharp “stingy” sensation.