When you first discover rope bondage it can be very exciting and inspiring because it is affordable, accessible and seems easy enough. Rope bondage is not only a common kink, but one that is easy to try without a lot of investment. Because it seems so straightforward, you may want to jump in with both feet, buy loads of rope and weave your partner into an intricate spider’s web. Awesome, enthusiasm is paramount, but so is safety. Before you try to suspend anyone from the chandelier, take the time to understand the material enough to take the correct precautions. Without foresight and consideration, rope is a dangerous toy. There’s no way to mitigate ALL the risk but you can easily make rope play a fun and stress-free kink adventure.

Learn some lingo

The language of rope bondage is fairly straightforward and intuitive. If you are interested in rope bondage, learning the terminology will make your research and practice easier and safer, not to mention you won’t sound quite as novice when you chat with other rope enthusiasts. 

People terms 

The words for the roles of people who partake in rope bondage

Rope Bottom: the person being tied up

Rope Top: the person doing the tying

Rigger: a Rope Top who works specifically with suspended bondage. This is also a professional term used by Rope Tops.

Rope Bunny: a term used by some Rope Bottoms to self identify. However, this term has been contested and disparaged in recent years. Don’t assume all Rope Bottoms are Bunnies. 

Rope Words 

How the material and its accessories are known

Hank or Bundle: a length of rope folded/looped to make it portable, and easy to use without tangling

Bight: The rope’s mid-point, often a starting point for the tying process

Band: Rope that crosses the body horizontally, ie: across the chest or around the hips

Cuff: Multiple wraps that resemble a cuff, most often an ankles or wrists.

Harness: essential in suspended bondage, a harness supports the body

Hitch: a simple knot used to attach two pieces of rope

Live End/Working End: the ends of the rope, opposite the bight that, that you are actively typing with

Rope in Action

Rope bondage may seem still and static, but it includes a lot of movement and active work to do safely and well.

Floor Work: rope bondage that does not include suspending the Rope Bottom

Partial Suspensions: using rope to lift part of the body off the ground

Suspensions: using rope to lift the Rope Bottom off the ground

Tension: how firmly/tightly the rope is secured against the body

Friction points: spots where the rope overlaps or crosses itself 

Common knots used in Bondage play (watch youtube tutorials on these)

  1. Single Column Tie: This is a fundamental knot used to tie a single limb or object. It’s often the starting point for many bondage ties.
  2. Double Column Tie: Similar to the single column but used for tying two limbs together, like wrists or ankles.
  3. Square Knot: A basic knot used in bondage to securely join two ropes together or finish a tie.
  4. Larks Head Knot: Often used to start a bondage scene, this knot is created by folding the rope in half and wrapping it around an object.
  5. Bowline Knot: Known for its strength and stability, the bowline knot is used to create a fixed loop at the end of a rope.
  6. Half Hitch: This simple knot is versatile and can be used in various ways in bondage, often for securing the rope to an anchor point or adjusting tension.
  7. Bunny Ear Knots: Used to create loops that are adjustable, making them useful for ties that require some flexibility.
  8. Slip Knot: A knot that tightens under load but can be quickly released, useful for certain types of restraints.
  9. Chest Harness (Box Tie): A more complex tie that wraps around the torso, often used in suspension bondage.
  10. Futomomo (Shinju): A traditional Japanese rope tie, often used to bind the legs in a visually appealing way.

Trust & Communication 

Like any kind of kinky play, communication and trust are paramount. Know and trust your rope partner. If they are someone you don’t know well, take the time to get a sense of their vibe and what they value about rope play. Discuss what the session will include, share limitations, past injuries, etc. and ensure that both of you are aware of the risks and comfortable with the process. The draw to a kink can be very strong, so strong that it can be easy to overlook red flags and ignore warning signs. Both Rope Top and Bottom need to be willing and able to communicate throughout the process. The Top must trust that the Bottom will express their needs/discomfort, etc. and the Bottom must trust that the Top will be mindful of their consent and overall safety.

Before engaging in rope play, a thorough discussion about boundaries, limits, safe words, and aftercare is vital. This negotiation should cover both physical and emotional boundaries, ensuring that all activities are consensual and enjoyable for both parties involved.

Safety Scissors Required 

Always have a pair of safety scissors on hand in case you need to get yourself or your partner out of rope ASAP. Plain scissors will do in a pinch but they pose a much greater risk than the rounded tip and efficient shape of safety scissors. Rope may need to be cut off if a suspension fails and the Bottom is stranded, there are issues with circulation and to unbind them would take too long, or if the Bottom panics or needs to be released as soon as possible. You may never need to use them, but if you do, you will be glad to have them. You can consider anyone who scoffs at the necessity of safety scissors un-safe to play with.

Choosing rope

There are a million and one kinds of rope for bondage, or so it seems, and just as many price points. It can be overwhelming and confusing when a nylon clothesline at the hardware store is the cost of a cup of coffee, but boutique rope websites sell exotic artisanal ropes for ten to twenty times as much. When it comes to rope you do get what you pay for, up to a certain point. Suspension bondage requires rope that can safely support a human being and withstand the friction and tension applied to it. This is not an area to cheap-out. Rope for floor tying does not need to be as strong, but the texture and material will impact the experience as much as how the rope is wielded. A good beginner rope is cotton or a cotton blend. It is inexpensive, comes in a variety of diameters (fatter rope is more cushiony and softer, thinner rope ‘cuts’ in more) and is quite soft. If you want “meaner” more bitey ropes, look to rough hemp or coconut fibre. 

The Two Finger Rule 

How tight you bind yourself or your partner is not simply a matter of preference, but a matter of safety. When tying, make sure that you can always slide two fingers under the rope without difficulty. This indicates a snug level of tension that is not so tight that it will constrict blood flow, but also not so loose that it is ineffective. Check the tension and tightness regularly as you go, some ties can become increasingly snug as you work through them. It goes without saying that Rope Bottoms should also communicate their sense of tension, weight distribution, etc., especially if you are both new to rope or don’t know each other well. 

Give yourself time 

Bondage takes time. There’s set up, the active tying process, playtime/rest time while the Bottom is tied, untying/cool down, aftercare, and packing up your gear. This is not a 20 minute process or something to do without forethought. And if you’re new to rope, it will all take you even longer. Give yourself an hour, minimum, to devote to a bondage experience.

Adding play

Some folks are into rope bondage as a kink and include sexy play, often with power dynamics such as Domination/submission. But rope doesn’t have to be super kinky! Some people just really enjoy the methodical process of managing rope and binding someone. Others love the pull of the rope on their skin or the sense of security that being bound gives them. And some people enjoy the innate closeness and intimacy formed through touch and trust. Which way you want to play with rope, and to what end, is up to you. Just be sure that you and your rope partner are aligned and being safe.

Practice, practice, practice 

The more you handle rope, the more proficiently and safely you will use it. Over time you’ll get smoother and more in tune with the rope and your partner’s responses to it. Likewise, as a Rope Bottom, more experience in rope will make you more comfortable and more brave about elaborate or extended ties. Both roles have a quiet meditative property to them, but if your rope practice is more about turning up some tunes and talking as you tie, then do that. There are loads of free tutorials online and active rope communities on social media. Websites like FetLife.com can help you find local rope play and kink resources, events, and like-minded people. 

Self Tying 

Tying yourself can be fun, sexy, and great practice. The same rules of safety apply so always be sure that if you’re alone you have your safety scissors within reach and are able to use them. As a Rope Top, self tying will help you understand the experience and sensations of particular knots and binds. As a Bottom, it can be a great supplement for the rope experience when your Rope Top is not around. Many folks enjoy self tying and wearing rope under clothes as a sexy, kinky secret, or a surprise for a partner. If you enjoy the sensations of rope, or you’re curious about it, self tying can be a great way to learn and experiment.  

Pre-Tied

Find the idea of self tying a little daunting or time consuming? Well, our Kanuka bondage range for beginners is complied of mainly pre-tied bondage items, each ready for it’s specific use, like Kanuka Handcuffs or Kanuka Collar to wrist restraint 

Rope is a wide and wonderful world

No matter what your objective desire for trying rope is, it is a fun and beginner-friendly activity that you can do alone or with a willing partner. Keeping safe is easy if you pay attention to your partner, use common sense, and communicate clearly. Whether you approach it as a form of kink-play, meditation, or a way to practice some practical skills, adding some rope to your repertoire is a guaranteed good time. 

Will you be trying rope bondage? Are you already a rope enthusiast? Tell us all your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!