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Rope Suspension: Applying Systematic Learning

rope suspension model

Today I’m going over the results of a rope suspension learning session from a few weeks ago. I have two excellent reasons for documenting this – one of them is for me, and one of them is for you.

The first reason I’m doing this is to document my results; that’s an integral part of the process. Writing it down is just sensible, because it lets me apply the learning later.

The second reason is really for you.
For a start, I learned a lot, and there’s no reason not to share that learning with you.
Secondly, I think it might be useful for you to see my testing process; this is the same process I eventually refined down to and have now kept using since I finally got systematic in testing ties and what they could be used for. This process has been very successful; it drastically improved not only the speed of my learning, but also reduced the risk of my actual rope bondage scenes and made them a lot more fun – because I knew what worked well in practice, and then I made it happen for real.

And in both practice and in reality, it was hot as fuck.

So I consider this process valuable, and it’s something I think you might find helpful.

 

What I Tested:
The box tie that we used for the upcoming Japanese Rope Suspension Intensive.

Who I Tested It On
Blue

What I Was Looking For:
I needed to know if Blue is going to be able to sustain multiple suspensions in this harness, with some degree of comfort. I needed to know about how it’s going to affect her joints, and how long she can sustain in various different positions – this is important, as different people have different tolerances. This can be additionally affected by body composition and tone (e.g. a strong core is incredibly helpful) or by general state of health.

When doing this sort of testing, I find it’s really helpful to take note of what worked well, and what didn’t work well the previous time. Here are some of my previous notes.

notes for rope suspension testing

It’s also important to consider factors that were different for Blue at this time. Blue has been improving her exercise regime over the last few months; generally focused on stabilizing muscles like core, glutes, and upper quadriceps. So she’s gotten more toned. However, she’s also had ongoing issues with a stomach related problem.

Prior to doing her rope session this time, she took prescribed Omeprazole as a preventive for a few nights, and then continued this after. This has created a decrease in symptoms, helped her sleep better, and generally improved her overall functioning.

I find when doing any kind of bondage work, it’s really important to not focus too much on only the rope work. The health, wellbeing, and muscular tone of the rope bottom is really important as well.

The Session:
We used the Dungym as a rope suspension frame, and partial rope suspension using a drop line and my trunk ottoman as a raised padded surface to test the harness and Blue’s reaction to it. This was incredibly useful, because partial rope suspensions are often more optimal for play; they’re more sustainable, there’s less risk, and the stress created can be so much less than full rope suspension, that you can throw a lot more stimulation in there without overwhelming the bottom. So it makes sense to test that way whenever I can, so as to open up more play opportunities in future.

More importantly, if Blue didn’t respond well to the harness, then it would be very simple and quick to take weight off it and help her be comfortable again.

Results of Testing:
Triple Band Box Tie:
First Result: I discovered that when you’re using triple bands on a small person, that creates some interesting challenges.

Challenge 1: because the bands are thicker, it’s harder to keep all of your lines above the dip in the upper arm where the radial nerve is more exposed. It’s also harder to identify which strand of rope might be causing an issue. This required some careful going over, fiddling, and the occasional jab with fingers to make sure we knew where the nerve actually was. Blue can identify a specific type of discomfort associated with having that area jabbed.

Challenge 2: small person, short back + triple bands = WAY more crowded stem on the suspension box tie. It was an interesting time moving all that rope around and finding spaces in increasingly narrow gaps.

a triple band rope suspension box tie

 

Position 1: Face down, ass in the air, combined weight of torso, head and neck resting in the rope harness. Partially supported by knees.

face down partial rope suspension

Great success. Blue felt very comfortable in this tie, and very well supported. I alternately tightened and loosened the rope suspension line to different lengths and re-positioned her a few times so that the angle of the load was different; head higher, head lower, further forward, further back.
No problems whatsoever. Blue loved it.

Possibilities for future play: very good. Lots of access to all the fun bits, lots of helplessness. Obviously it’s very sexual, and that’s part of why Blue loved it, but you can do just about anything you want (within negotiation) to legs and ass.

(Also, this was incredibly distracting, in a good way. The tie was rigorously tested for about twenty minutes following initial observations and testing.)

As rope suspension positions go, this was a great one, at least in a partial suspension mode.

Position 2: Sideways orientation, suspension line attached to the armbands.
A sideways partial rope suspension
Blue initially had a lot of doubts about this. She didn’t imagine that it would be enjoyable.
However, she found it to be very surprisingly comfortable in terms of the tie itself. For the first five minutes, she felt that “she could hang there forever”.
We tested raising one leg into the air, with the box tie remaining under load; This naturally increased the stress on her torso, but it remained easily sustainable. This suggests that she could easily do sideways for full suspension as well; though for a much more limited time.

Then we hit the kicker.

About 5-6 minutes in, neck and head began experiencing more strain. The body wasn’t built to be hung sideways with nothing supporting the head, and the neck isn’t used to supporting from that angle at all.

The rest of Blue’s body was fine; but in sideways orientation, she definitely needed assistance with her head and neck.

This was useful learning; because it means next time, I can test how she goes with a hair tie, a cloth sling, or with her arm supporting her head.

In fact, I saw a lot of potential for using a cloth sling not only as a support, but as a massive vision obscuring blindfold, which could lead to all kinds of sensation play fun on legs and other places… (or, as a very naughty -Succubus- suggested, I could use her underwear as a sling across her face… also a lot of fun).

A hair tie could be fun too, for slightly more sadistic/masochistic reasons.

Sexually, the possibilities were not as great due to the positioning of the body. Genital teasing remains totally possible; intercourse not so much. But there was definitely room for sexual and non-sexual play of other kinds.

Position 3: Face Up (sorry, forgot to get a picture for this one)
This was when we learned two things that were very useful to know. One has to do with anatomy and the box tie; the other has to do with suspension physics and knot placement.

The Knot
As I tied the harness, I made a connecting reef knot on one side of the torso, as part of the lower band. You can just see the tails in the featured image for this post.

Face down, this presented with no issues, interestingly. Sideways, also no issues: probably because the knot was on the same side of the body as the suspension line. All the pressure was on the opposite side. However, face up, it was very noticeable, and dug into Blue’s side.

After thinking about it for a few seconds, I remembered that with suspension physics, the worst pressure tends to come from the sides. For example, hanging face down, the rope digs more into the sides of the rib cage. Hanging side down, the rope digs in more on the chest and back – and the wider the surface being suspended, the more it digs in. Sideways orientation presents a narrower profile, so it doesn’t dig into the chest and back as much a face up or face down profile.

Very useful learning; take note of where your rope connection knots are, and adjust them depending on which orientation you intend to hang your muse by.

Anatomy and the box tie.
The second thing we learned had to do with how the box tie affects Blue’s shoulders when she’s suspended face up. The box tie creates a certain tension in the shoulders, which is related to the beginning of the tie being the horizontal arms behind the back. Despite beginning this box tie very loosely, with the single column tie being quite large, (this allows room for the changing of arm position in order to ease tension) the pressure and placement of this tie and position still created very noticeable strain on Blue’s shoulders. The knot was more of a problem in the moment, but the rapidly building shoulder strain was what could lead to more long term problems or injury.

This was very, very useful information, and highlighted a weakness of the box tie that I think is useful to bear in mind in future suspensions.

(I’m honestly planning to spend quite a bit of time exploring suspension without using the box tie at all following the Japanese suspension intensive – I think there’s going to be a lot of useful learning in testing harnesses which wrap around the torso only, as opposed to box ties, which include the arms)

So this was a great session – while I’ve done quite a few suspensions before, I think this process was really useful for learning how Blue’s body in particular was likely to react during the workshops, and also gave her more experience and opportunity to grow more confident with the process and the ties. We had a fantastic time doing it as well – mixing science and pleasure is a great time, even if you’re not a great big geek like me and just really get off on learning new things.

A Useful Principle

There’s a useful principle that I bear in mind with my rope work, and particularly with rope suspension :

It is possible, and even encouraged, for a rope bottom to condition and tone their body to better withstand the stresses of suspension. It’s one of those processes that have a lot of compound health benefits, as well as reducing risk through being better able to support themselves in rope.

However, after a certain point, it’s up to the rigger or rope top to adapt their rope and style of tying to suit the rope muse. I think it’s really important to not try and go with a “one size fits all” style – because that just doesn’t mesh well with the reality of individuals and how differently their bodies work. So developing a list of ties which are optimal for any particular rope muse is a useful thing to do.

 

Some Thoughts On The Testing Process

Your Muse
Consider carefully how many people to test rope suspension with. Different rope muses have totally different bodies, tolerances, etc. If you change the person, you’ve just complicated your testing and your variables. If you use someone else next time, it might not be your rope work that makes the difference; it might be the person.

Take note of the physical condition, health, etc of the person you’re testing with, every time. You may be able to track correlations; I’m told sometimes time of the month makes a difference in how long a woman can stay in rope suspension, for example. Other factors that are useful to track are levels of exercise, what and how much they’ve eaten the day of testing, and general stress levels in their lives at present.

Always discuss the expected level of feedback; and remember to reiterate that if a tie fails to work for that person, then that’s GOOD. You and they now have more data on what does and doesn’t work. You can now test differences in that tie, or you can exclude it and try a different tie with potentially better results, until you can find the ties that suit that person best. Every test leads you closer.

This is important, because if your muse feels like they failed the tie, and not the other way around, they may become discouraged, and lose enjoyment in the process. That’s not helpful; they’ve just helped the both of you come closer to finding what works for you! Encouragement and praise is really important during these sessions.

Photos:

Whenever possible and allowed, take photos. Here’s why; the next time we did a side suspension practice, the box tie didn’t work nearly as well for Blue.  Admittedly, the next practice was a full suspension practice, but it shouldn’t have been that difficult.  The tensions and design of the tie felt exactly the same.

It was only later, when I went back to my photos of the previous session that we realized the lower band actually needed to be lowered another couple of centimeters to be right where it was last time. I’d been tying after seeing a live TK demonstration right in front of me, and had unconsciously replicated the placement I’d just seen instead of what worked for Blue. Little things like that can make a HUGE difference with the box tie.

Position:
Test different positions for each tie. Different positions create different stresses on the body; the general orientations are face up, face down, sideways, or standing. You can also adjust the angle of each position; e.g. head further down for face down. Don’t forget to take note of after effects including dizziness etc; these are useful to think about for future planning. Using the previous example; when Blue is face down and her head is angled further down below her hips, for example, she may develop a roaring in her ears which could last an hour or more (we think it’s blood rush to the head).

Sometimes you’ll also discover that the design of a tie works well in one position, but really not so much in another, or at a different angle. Some people refer to this as “how the tie loads” according to angle, etc. Again, partial suspension is a safer and more pleasant way to test this than full suspension.

Variables:
Width of bands; tension of bands; placement of bands; these are all different variables. You can test more than one at a time, but it’s best to do so with an informed understanding of what each will do.
I would not recommend testing different placement of bands in conjunction with any other factor. Placement is really important.

Some harnesses have different attachment points; you do need to know what these are prior to testing. Once you know, this is also a variable which can be tested.

Try and control all the other variables as much as you can. Constant temperatures through controlled heating; use of the same kinds of equipment; venue; etc. The point is to only change the variables you’re testing, so you can tell what actually makes the difference, and add to your learning.

Don’t forget to use a timer for time relevant stuff like partial or full suspension. These can be really helpful; I tend to just use the clock app on my phone. Amount of time in suspension often (but not always) correlates to the amount of stress placed on the body.

Hey; if anyone else has useful thoughts to add to this process, please comment below. I’m always keen to get another person’s perspective, and constructive discussions can be really helpful for everyone engaged in the learning process.

2 thoughts on “Rope Suspension: Applying Systematic Learning

  1. Thanks for sharing your reflections and feedback on your play with the box tie- lots of good food for thought here 🙂 Nino

    1. Awwww thanks Nino.

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