Recon Member BondageDream is the founding President of the So Bondage Club, Avatar Los Angeles member, Leather titles competition judge and aficionado in Flogging, CBT, Master slave dynamics, Bondage and Electro. He's spent years traveling around the world exploring kink and training boys, and will be at this year's Fetish Week London Masterclass event discussing and demonstrating his favorite aspects of the leathersex.
Disclaimer: This is a sharing of my experience and information. Take what works for you as you develop your own style.
When you think of flogging, as with any kind of whipping, a pain scene pain often comes to mind, and indeed it can be all about the pain, but there are many nuanced headspaces that don't involve the heavy pain that flogging can offer. I gave a presentation at CLAW 2019 in which the focus was more on what kind of connection you are trying to achieve, instead of the usual how to hit/where not to hit, which is usually the curriculum in the beginning classes. The presentation was warmly received, so I thought it might benefit Recon members to post a summary.
So why do we flog and what are some of the connections we can create?
If you want to use a flogging session to establish trust and a bond, then after some encouraging words, perhaps laying the top's hand on the back of the sub's neck or across the shoulders, a gentle stroking will work. The flogger can be rotated like a windmill, the edge gently brushing all over the back without a power stroke. The scene can start with the falls, coming down on the sub's back from gravity alone. Every flogger seems to have its preferred speed for this technique so if this is your goal, check that the flogger can be applied from a close distance, while you are in contact with your arm, and make sure it is not too stingy. It's necessary after a while to progress. Most backs need 30-40 strokes to acclimatize the skin to being hit. Remember the sub has consciously agreed to being hit but somehow the unconscious mind got left out of the decision and needs to be coaxed into agreement. The unconscious part of the mind operates on a "Show me, don't just tell me" principle. Perhaps you might move on to figure eight strokes that get slowly seductively harder to medium pressure, but as soon as the top sees the sub respond negatively, he should back off the pressure immediately. Incidentally, most subs' bodies will indicate their scary pain level before their words do: Maybe fingers flay apart, maybe the shoulder blades move to the centre of his back, or the sub might move forward or twist to the side. This is a good thing. If you immediately backtrack to a gentler level, you have created a non-verbal level of communication which is reassuring to both part of the sub's mind. You can work up again to medium pressure a second or third time, backing off as appropriate, so the sub knows it's not coincidence that you are responding to his body signals. try not to use words. Grunts, mmms, and aahs are preferable. If you wrap ro make a mistake, walk over and rub the area to alert the sub you know about it and continue without a word to maintain the headspace. If the sub HAS to say something, then the top might not have been sensitive or responsive enough. The nonverbal communication is important because, among other things, it's immediate. In this way, the trust is built up and the sub can just relax and let the top drive him. I've found that many tops have trust issues themselves and it is a pleasure and an honour to give them this trust-building experience.
Flying or floating (due to work of the sub's endorphins and enkephalins) is another scene that can be achieved using evenly spaced hits, about three per second, with an almost constant pressure, for at least 15 minutes. The body tends to ignore constant stimuli, and a euphoric feeling can result if the top increases pressure, almost without the sub noticing, (frogs in hot water come to mind) backing off before the sub feels the strokes as unwanted pain. You will be surprised at how hard the subs back can be hit with this technique as you surreptitiously ramp up the pressure while keeping the speed constant. Some subs report an 'out of body' (spiritual?) experience when they are high on the body's natural response to 'pain'. Some may achieve catharsis, laugh, or cry when the top produces intense 'hormonal' releases within them.
Sensual/tactile scenes can offer a top the opportunity to show off his various floggers and the variety of ways each can be used as the sub enjoys the complementing and contrasting tactile buffet. The sensations can be progressively smooth or suddenly prickly from time to time. Tops can occasionally take a break from the hits so that fingernails, fingertips, ice, beards, and fur etc. can be interspersed with the hits as the back becomes more sensitive. This is an enjoyable way to build intimacy with your partner as they shimmy with delight.
But if pain is your (and your sub's) thing, then there are still a few different ways to produce some different headspaces. Here are a couple:
There is, of course, punishment (normally as play, and in a M/s relationship, but that is beyond the scope of this article). The scene may conjure up a brig, naval whipping with the sub tied to the mast, judicial punishment, etc. where there is a telling seriousness to both players in their roles. Punishment often consists of a set number of agreed or 'legislated' strokes are delivered one after the other, each at full force, sometimes counted out forward or backward by the sub.
Another use of carefully administered pain is in a long, drawn-out "interrogation trip", or maybe you prefer a "hero's journey". The strokes will not be predictable and are designed to keep the sub on his toes in the "here and now'. Remember there are at least two or three big waves of hormonal dumping (eg. adrenaline, endorphin and enkephalin), with usually the third wave using up all the substances the body can produce for the time being. If the top times this well, then the subsequent strokes will just plain hurt. This technique can be used to break a boy down. Just be sure to build him up again before he goes home. Remember, anyone can hit but this is an art and the sub needs to feel great when the scene is over or something didn't go well. Even in punishment, the result is that reparations for the infraction are paid in full.
Bratty play can be fun too as the top is challenged to use his skills in managing pain to make the scene last while ensuring he 'wins' over the brat in the end. The top can have fun faking hits and making the penultimate stroke the hardest so that the brat expects the last stroke to cross his limits, but ultimately, is relieved to receive a slight tap instead. That'll show him who's the Boss!
Resistance play can be a very intense scene in which the top doesn't win a game but facilitates taking a man to the edge of his personal cliff. (This is where the sub goes in with an attitude like, "You will not break me" or, "Give me what you've got, Mister"). I am often asked for that type of scene by marines and guys who want to prove their resilience, or who want to show you (and themselves) what they are made of. This is often achieved by a gradual increase in pain until you find the end of that (at least) third endorphin wave. You hold the pain steady at that point. You might be thinking adn smiling, "There it is, mate!", while, they know if you increase the pain a fraction, they will break. The top must control his power to 'win',and should not break them (Where would the honour be in that?) because that's not usually what they came for. They wanted their manhood affirmed, not minimized just because you have an ego issue.
Of course, all this is just my opinion and your mileage may vary, but I hope I have given you some food for thought before you begin your next flogging. Negotiate what kind of a scene you are after. When there is a match, the results are truly amazing. Even if a top doesn't get to hit as hard as he would have liked ,given how worked up he might be, (he must always hold back and control himself), there is still honour in accepting the gift of submission from a sub who trusts a top, and there is respect for those tops who don't violate a sub's boundaries. Finally, remember the beauty and bliss of aftercare, and the healing and bonding that can take place during this final, intimate, phase of the session.
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