Impact play is a human sexual practice in which one person (the sub, or "bottom") is struck (usually repeatedly) by another person (the dom) for the sexual gratification of either or both parties. It is considered a form of BDSM.
There are number of activities that qualify as impact play.
In erotic spanking the sub is struck either with the top's open hand, or a rigid implement such a paddle, cane or riding crop. In the latter case the activity is often referred to as paddling, caning or cropping. The usual targets for spanking are the buttocks and inner or outer thighs.
- Single tails such as a bullwhip have a single fall. The associated activity is referred to as single tailing.
- Floggers, such as a cat o' nine tails have many falls. The associated activity is referred to as flogging.
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 flagellation 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 top must take great care to hit the intended target area, and avoid wrapping; that is when a whip or flogger makes contact with the target area somewhere up its length and the remaining length wraps around the sub's body to deliver a sharp, non-erotic, and possibly injurious off-target blow, such as to the hipbones or ribs. The longer the falls, the more skill is required by the top to land a safe blow. 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."
The sensations produced by impact play depend on the area in which the impact is concentrated. Wide implements such as an open hand, paddle or flogger produce a dull "thuddy" sensation. Narrow implements such as a cane, riding crop, belt or single tail produce a sharp "stingy" sensation.
There is a class of impact device not sufficiently covered thus far in this article. That is the slapper or the smacker. This consists of a broad (3 to 4 inch wide) semi flexible leather paddle with rounded and tapered edges, designed to minimize the severity of tip strike. (Where the ends of the whip or other device may cut or otherwise penetrate the skin.) The idea and practice behind these devices is to create a striking tool that triggers near the surface free nerve endings but dissipates it energy on the surface of the skin and does not transmit deep hydraulic shocks to the body.
Smackers are designed to be long enough (17 to 24 inches total length) to assure the device is long enough to acquire the velocity and energy to trigger free nerve endings, but light enough that its impact does not affect deeper nerves and tissues. The result is that the smacker triggers a large area of surface free nerve endings but the energy of the strike is dissipated over that same wide area and there is little hydraulic shock deeper in the body.
This produces a large volume of fast pain signals, originating near the surface of the skin and a decidedly stingy effect. It avoids the triggering of deeper sensory nerve endings which may in effect cancel pain signals from the surface. From the standpoint of the impact play enthusiast, this has the benefit of less bruising and internal injury along with a lot of pain and a characteristic loud "smack" sound effect. While these devices can still be misused, they do offer the top a far better opportunity to avoid the injuries associated with narrow whipping devices or heavy wooden paddles. All the top has to do is land the device flat. While the edges are chamfered it is still possible to bruise perhaps even cut if the device is landed on edge. Smackers are definitely beginner friendly and a lot of fun for old hands.
- sexuality.org has articles on spanking, flogging , and caning
- The basics of flogging at Albany Power Exchange