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Rigger BDSM tutorial: Your guide to safe, sexy rope play

Molly Frances|2022.04.15

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Bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, masochism, kink, fetish, top and bottom—BDSM has a lot of vocabulary. BDSM is the consensual sexual practice of dominance and submission, pain, or control in a relationship. Rigger BDSM is one way to explore bondage and control.

People who enjoy BDSM may be dominant or submissive or may switch between the two. They may enjoy kink sometimes or use some form of it every time they have sex. There's no right or wrong way to be kinky.

If you're exploring BDSM or considering some experimentation, it's essential to have the right words to discuss what you want to try with your partners and what you don't. Some people who practice BDSM find restraining their partners (or getting tied up) a turn-on. Rigger BDSM is one form of restraining. This tutorial will discuss what rigger BDSM is and give you some tips for practicing it safely.

What does rigger BDSM mean?

Rigger BDSM, sometimes called shibari or kinbaku, is a sexual practice of tying a partner with rope. Rigger involves tight rope patterns and knots to partially or wholly restrict a partner's movement. A rigger or rope top is a person who does the tying. The person being restrained is a rope bunny or rope bottom.

While a rigger is often dominant, that isn't always the case. In BDSM, the dominant partner is in control of a scene. Sometimes a dominant will command a submissive to tie them up, so they are a rope bottom but are also acting as a dom because they're directing the action.

Why do riggers enjoy rope bondage?

Many people reserve rigger BDSM for sexual play. When rope bondage is used for sexual stimulation, the tying up may be the main event without any genital stimulation. Rigger BDSM may also be an act of foreplay. In BDSM, rigging can be part of the setup for a scene that includes suspension, flogging, spanking, or any type of sexual contact.

BDSM is a sexual practice, but rope bondage isn't always sexual. Some bondage riggers see rope bondage as a type of performance art. When rigger BDSM is a hobby, a bondage model is tied using ropes in various configurations. The rope top may take photos of their handiwork or let the process of tying up their partner serve as an art form all by itself.

People who enjoy being a rope bottom say being restrained helps them relax and enter sub-space, a mental state where they give themselves entirely over to the sensations in their body. This state is a euphoric rush, not dissociation. The sub is entirely present, relaxed, and ready to give and receive pleasure.

What about self-rigging?

Just like any sexual or artistic activity, you can enjoy rigger BDSM when you're flying solo. You may want to try tying some rope patterns or knots on yourself for artistic purposes or before masturbating to help you get in the mood. Rigger BDSM is about restraint and control, but it's also sensual.

For people who desire the sensual experience of bondage, self-rigging is more about the psychological high of being restrained than actually having your movement restricted. If you’re exploring by yourself, it’s a good idea to use ties and ropes you can easily escape from.

Safety for rigger BDSM

Safe sex is always the best sex, and that's especially important when we're talking about things like pain, control, restraints, and spanking. People involved in BDSM go to great lengths to keep themselves and their partners safe. If you're exploring rigger BDSM, here are some essential considerations to ensure everyone stays safe.

Communication

Communication is vital for any sexual relationship, but it's even more critical when you're playing with control, restraints, and pain. If you and a partner are exploring rigger BDSM, it’s essential to discuss what you want to try, why you want to try it, and any reservations you may have. Here are some questions to help you initiate a conversation about bondage rigger:

  • Are you interested in rigger BDSM for sexual or artistic reasons?

  • Do you want to be a rope top or a rope bottom? Do you want to try both?

  • What body parts are you comfortable having tied (hands, feet, breasts, legs, buttocks, arms, etc.)?

  • Will you explore suspension or stick to bondage on a stable surface?

  • Do you want to try bondage in the privacy of your own home or at a BDSM dungeon?

  • Will you include any sort of BDSM spanking, paddling, or flogging into your rigger scene?

  • How do you feel about your partner using a vibrator on you while you're bound? What about digital or oral stimulation? How do you feel about anal or vaginal penetration while you're tied up?

Rope selection

If you're tying a partner's (or your own) naked bits up with rope, the type of rope you choose can make a huge difference. Like any sex toy, rope comes in various materials, and what's best for you depends on what you want to do with it. Here are the most common types:

  • Cotton rope is inexpensive, easy to find, and provides plenty of friction. Types with a denser braid don't compact down as much, making them easier to untie (because eventually, you'll need to get to a dinner party or the office).

  • Hemp rope is another natural option. It grips well and holds strong. Lower-quality hemp tends to leave fibers behind and is scratchy, while higher-quality rope doesn't leave a trace.

  • Synthetic rope feels smoother than cotton, but the knots and wrapping may not hold up without friction. Most riggers remove the core from synthetic ropes to make them easier to tie, but the rope isn't strong enough for suspension play if you remove the core.

  • Nylon rope is strong, soft, and smooth to the touch. It's also strong enough to get the job done for any sort of rigger BDSM you're interested in trying out. Like the synthetic ropes above, it's slippery and won't give you the hold that cotton rope does.

Consider anatomy

Binding and restricting movement is risky because you're compressing muscles and nerves. A bit of education and a lot of communication can keep you and your partners safe. If you or your partner experience tingling or burning, numbness, or weakness during rigger BDSM you need to stop immediately. These sensations can be a sign of nerve damage.

Rope bondage advice suggests tying ropes on meaty areas (thighs, upper arms, breasts, buttocks) and avoiding joints, your neck, and other sensitive areas. If you're rigging solo, avoid binding your hands and arms because you need to be able to get out of any ropes quickly should the need arise.

Choose a safeword

In case of discomfort or other need to end a session, you and your partner should agree on a safe word. A safe word is a word that results in the immediate stopping of all BDSM and sexual activity when spoken by either party. Choose a word you wouldn't typically say during sex, like butterfly or umbrella, instead of something you might call out during moments of ecstasy.

Make an exit plan

Having a plan in place for a quick exit is vital. Once either partner utters a safe word, you should carry out the exit plan without question. Keep a pair of scissors handy and use them to cut the rope if the knots are too tight to undo quickly.

Don’t forget aftercare

Aftercare is an essential part of any BDSM scene (and an excellent way to finish any sexual encounter). Aftercare may involve cuddling and reviewing how each person felt during the scene. It's a good time to tell your partner what you enjoyed and what you didn't, and brainstorm some things you'd like to try next time. Some couples have a special blanket they wrap in for aftercare sessions. BDSM dungeons typically even have a particular room designed for aftercare purposes.

Explore rigger BDSM

Rigger BDSM is a fun way to dip your toe into BDSM. Restraints add a level of kink to your sexual activity even if you don't have a dom/sub relationship. You can try bondage on your own or invite a partner to join you. Maybe you start out trying being both a top and a bottom to see which you enjoy more.

If you're curious about rigger BDSM and wonder how a bondage scene might play out in real life, try listening to erotic audio that includes rope play. You can listen alone for exploration purposes or spice up your next solo sesh. Sharing erotica with your partner is a great way to bring up ways you'd like to spice up your sex life.

Try listening as Sebastian and Benji tie you to the bed and pleasure you or discover why Carla loves rigger BDSM. These erotic audio stories blend a bit of bondage play with just the right sounds to keep you completely immersed in the story. They're a great addition to a masturbation session or a way to spark a conversation about bondage with a partner.

Listen, light yourself up.

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