The Joy of Caning

by Katharine Hawks (used by permission)

I hope something that we can always continue to benefit from is technical proficiency and know-how with the tools of our trade.

One of mine is caning. So I thought I'd share a few of my loves, tips and techniques with you.

I use rattan canes -- NEVER BAMBOO! Forget that bamboo crap you see at toy stores. It sucks. It breaks. It's too rigid.

Occasionally I use synthetic materials -- delrin and other plastics. These kinds of canes are *much* easier to find in kink stores than your classic rattan cane. Be advised: Many of them are absolutely brutal, and unless your bottom is a hard-core masochist who doesn't need much of a warm-up, many of the synthetic canes will turn your partner off to this delicious practice. I'm not saying the synthetic canes have no place in my repertoire, mind you *g*.

For example, it's a wonderful headfuck to interrupt an erotic rattan caning with the sharpness and unrelenting bite of a synthetic cane. They are wonderful tools when you have your bottom so deep in subspace that s/he has stopped feeling pain and you want to deliver a little "reminder" about the dynamics at work. And they look so innocuous....

My favorite size rattan canes are a 1/4 inch, 9/32, 3/8, and 1/2 inch. The 3/8 and 1/2 inch size canes are *real bruisers* and can be quite dangerous to play with, so be advised -- they are thuddy, and hit the tissue *deep* under the surface of the skin. They require a firm stroke with good aim. But they leave absolutely *gorgeous* bruises.

Of all those sizes, the 3/8 inch is my absolute favorite.

Most people prefer finished (with varnish/polyurethane) canes that have some sort of handle. I like mine unfinished -- no varnish, no handle. I find an unfinished cane more erotic, more earthy, more intimate. They require a bit more care since the rattan quickly becomes dehydrated. I soak mine on a regular basis (the rattan absorbs beautifully, so I stand them up in my dog's watering bowl *g*).

*Now on to the good stuff....

When you do a caning scene, there's alot of things to consider... the position of the submissive, the position of your body, the warm-up, the psychological dynamics at play, etc.

I've discovered that many people who love caning have *very particular* needs when it comes to positioning. My partner's favorite position is laying flat, face-down on a bed. Others prefer to be bent over something at the waist. Some like to be bound, some like to be unbound. A few like to stand (though there aren't many of those).

If your partner is going to be either kneeling or bent over a bed or laying face-down on a bed, consider the height. Make sure it's not to low. If it is, you'll find the swing awkward and the cane tip will be hitting long before the length of rattan. If you and your partner are going to try caning for the first time and you've practiced with your canes, make sure and experiment with the position -- a caning scene should be luxurious and erotic as well as painful and disciplining *g*. And they take *a lot* of focus to process pleasurably. The last thing you want is some over-complicated bondage position interfering with your enjoyment.


Pacing and rhythm are everything during a caning scene. This includes the rhythm between different kinds of canes, as well as the rhythm between strokes. A common mistake many tops make new to caning is to haul off and start whacking fast. My partner (also an experienced caner) believes it takes about 4-7 seconds to process a cane stroke. Strike yourself once (or have someone else strike you). There are a series of sensations that happen when a rattan cane hits. A white-hot line. A sinking of searing sensation into the body. Vibrations throughout the anus or cunt. A radiating warmth. A feeling of surrender travelling up the spine.

If you move to fast, you will curtail the heightening of pleasure that happens after a stroke lands. And your bottom will be in resistance mode instead of flying subspace.

A cane stroke occurs mostly in the wrist. When the stroke lands, don't lift the cane up immediately! Let the rattan settle into the skin. Let the skin receive it, continue to absorb the sensation. Let it feel the intimacy of the natural materials.

You can gently drag the rattan across the skin after you've struck him/her. This can be deliciously agonizing.

For variation, you can let the cane *bounce up* instead of *digging in* and follow through with another quick stroke. Then you can settle back into your slower, more persistent rhythm.

A cane far surpasses an instrument like a riding crop (that tired old cliche of the dominatrix...) It is much mroe flexible, much more versatile, it can be gentler, or more punishing.

*The sweet spot.

Most people have them -- a place somewhere on the bottom that simply begs for punishment. It's usually an inch or two high and located somewhere just below the anus. Some people have a very high sweet spot, I know someone who's sweet spot is the crease where the thighs and buttocks join. You can hit a bottom on their sweet spot and they'll just process it as bliss. Once you find your partner's sweet spot you can also use this to add variation and complexity to the rhythm of your caning. You'll discover the "perfect" intensity for them soon enough. And you can use that knowledge to play gently with their heads. Sometimes giving them exactly what they want. Sometimes giving them something very close. Sometimes completely witholding.

*Adding sensations

Remember how tender the skin is becoming as you lay the rattan cane into your bottom. Think about tracing your nail along a welt, or even a knife. Think about the brutal feeling of spraying your bottom's backside with alcohol (for medicinal purposes only, of course!) and adding more strokes. Remember that a wet cane or a cane hitting wet skin has a completely different feel.

*The dangers.

A lot of folks will talk about the dangers of caning -- and state that it's a practice for only the very experienced. I disagree. I don't believe canes are terribly dangerous. Besides obvious concerns like wrapping or splitting skin, your worst risk in most cases is simply giving an unpleasurable caning. The best way is to make sure your partner is warmed up and you start slowly.

Giving a good caning, however, isn't easy. Being very attuned to body language (watch and see if your partner is clenching his or her ass muscles) will help you determine pacing and intensity.

You can practice caning on an inanimate object. One of the best things to do is to sprinkle a pillow with powder. Put a dark pillow case over it, and strike it. The poweder will allow you to see how your strokes land. See if you can land a series of strokes in a row, 1/4 of an inch apart. Watch where your tip lands. Listen to the sound of the rattan slicing the air and learn to match the sound with speed and intensity.

*Where to Cane

I use canes on the following body parts, with the safest listed first:

--ass (well below tailbone) --top of thighs (front, back, inside) --upper back (avoiding spine) --breasts (light canes only, such as 1/4" cane) --genitals (cock, balls, labia, clit) -- lighter cane only, light strokes --soles of feet (balls and heels only, very light strokes with a 1/4" cane, also called bastinado) --abdomen (potentially damaging -- light strokes only with a light-weight cane.)

CAUTION: some of these areas (feet, abdomen, breasts, parts of the back) are NOT suited for hard hits, nor are they suited for hits with a heavier gauge cane.

Understand that the thicker your cane is, the *deeper* it is penetrating tissue and creating damage. And remember -- that's essentially what welts and bruises are -- damaged tissue.

A 1/4" cane, with a relatively light wrist-only stroke, is working only on the surface of the skin with relatively little penetration into deeper tissues. If used lightly and with skill, you can play with many body parts that are "off limits" with thuddier toys.

Have fun!