My local munch organisers ran a special event yesterday: a workshop by Alex Jacob of Cobra Whips.
Given that there are somewhere over 1,000 kinksters in the area (according to Fetlife) and, last time I heard, over 600 people on the munch mailing list, it was a small gathering of just 10.
On the other hand, whips – as in bullwhips, snakewhips and other implements of a similar length – are a minority interest, not least because they require a significant amount of space to use properly. They aren’t much liked in fetish clubs for the same reason (in fact some clubs ban them). The venue, a reasonably-sized function room, was big enough for four or five of us to use whips at the same time.
I haven’t used either of my long whips for a while and I’m out of practice. So for me it was a chance to go back to basics and re-learn probably the most single important thing about whip control, which the workshop listed as ‘Whip/weapon and body mechanics, energy flow and effect on recipient’.
In other words, a whip is an extension of the person using it (or vice versa, perhaps). By that, I mean that if you want to control a whip accurately and know where and how it will connect with a target, you have to think about it as an extension of your body – or maybe more accurately, your body and arm as an extension of the whip. You’re holding it in your hand, and everything you do with your arm and wrist, changing stance as you strike with the whip, and so on, will affect what it does.
A small flick of the wrist as your arm moves forwards will often put a downward energy into the whip, which means that as it reaches its fullest extent it will begin to recoil. The tip will come back at you. A jerky movement as you pull the whip back prior to a strike can have a similar effect. Shifting your weight from one foot to the other can give a sideways impetus to the whip, with the same result. So smooth, clean motions are best.
Secondly, 99% of the time you don’t need to put a lot of effort into a whip in order to crack it. The force you put into it needs to move, in a well-made whip, a tapered bag of lead shot with as much force as it would take to flick it a few feet. That energy goes into a piece of braided leather or nylon that has perhaps a one-inch cross-section near your hand, down to a quarter-inch cross-section three or four feet down the whip; then it’s funnelled into a fall, which is probably not much thicker than a shoelace, and into a cracker (or popper, terminology varies), that’s probaby a quarter of that diameter. So at that point, it’s like putting enough energy to throw a cricket ball into moving a six-inch length of cotton thread. You need remarkably little energy to accelerate the tip enough to make the crack.
And thirdly, the crack dissipates the energy – it’s sent out into the air – so that if it the whip then hits the target a large part of its energy has gone. Which is the main reason why long whips can be used to make very impressive and scary sounds but not create the kind of injury that would require medical treatment.
That doesn’t by any means exhaust the relevant information about both technique and safety that you need to know in order to play with long whips but it was, as I said, a welcome reminder of basic principles for me and a reminder of the need to practice. And practice some more. And then practice again.
Other good things: Alex fettled one of my whips and dramatically improved its crack. And two of the other participants were a couple of writers, and we were able able to have a long conversation over dinner.
So congratulations and many thanks to the organisers.
Final thought – in the writing of this post, various typographical errors kept creeping in for some reason, of which the key one was ‘tasty long implements’…