“Grip it and Rip it!” – The Basics of Impact Play

“I love the way you look at me

I love the way you smack my ass

I love the dirty things you do

I have control of you”

–Puddle of Mudd, “Control”

Hey, my kinky polyam peeps! August is here which means summer vacation is finally out of the way. I’m really fortunate in that my employer gives me almost eight weeks of time-off over the course of the year. My only mistake was trying to cram four of those weeks into a two month span. I get it, work-life balance is important, and now I know taking that much time away from work in such a short period means it’s not really “time away from work”, if you catch my drift…

Anyway, partly because I needed something quick and easy to write about, partly because I couldn’t think of anything else, I’m going to be recycling my recent YouTube video on impact play for this blog post. Yeah, I know, it’s lazy writing, and I’m basically a one-man show here, so when you start your own multi-media educational project, feel free to complain.

Can you believe this commercial is only four years old? Am I having a Mandela moment here???

So, one reason impact play is so popular is because basically everybody in the BDSM community does it. It’s kind of considered the peanuty butter and jelly sandwich of scening: It’s easy, it’s simple, it’s something everybody is open to trying, and it’s portrayed everywhere in the media. For those of you who are veterans in the community, think back for a minute: “What was your first exposure to play”. For me, it’s when Panda and I went to our first play party and we engaged in a spanking contest. Impact play is a staple at virtually every dungeon, and, unlike a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you can dress it up a thousand ways and still get something new.

Before we go any further, let me do the resource dump. This one was easy because instead of pulling info off the web, this was a collaborative project from my colleagues at KEYS (Kink Education at Your Service). You can find the video presentation on my YouTube channel.

For this piece, I want to bring it back to basics. To paraphrase Denzel Washington in the film “Philadelphia”: “I’m gonna explain this to you like you’re a six-year-old.” If you’re a newbie, listen up. If you’re a veteran, I recommend you also listen up because a refresher never hurts. I just finished my continued education for the CFP(R) certification, and even though I’d seen this material hundreds of times before, you never know when you might have missed something.

First off, what is impact play? Well, our good friend Merriam-Webster defines impact as “The action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another”. That’s basically what impact play is: It’s taking one object and striking, hitting, or touching it against another object. You can immediately see why it’s so popular. For impact play all you need is something to hit and something to hit with. You can do it almost anywhere, with almost anything. Now, as simple as it sounds, with almost everything, there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it, which is the point of this piece. Buckle in because we’re gonna take a deep dive in not just how impact play can work for you and your dynamic, but what are the mistakes that you’ll need to avoid.

Before we start off with the tools and techniques of impact play, I’m going to switch it around a little bit and talk about negotiations. Normally, one wouldn’t discuss negotiations without understanding what you’re negotiating, but I’m doing it this one time for two reasons: First, it’s impact play. you’re hitting something with something else. I can’t make it more straight forward than that. Second, as I’ve mentioned on this blog numerous times, negotiations are SUPER important. They should be the first step in any scene, in fact, taking place before you even get to the dungeon, so I want to take this opportunity to emphasize what a critical role they play. Lack of communication is where consent violations live, and proper negotiations will take away a significant amount of that risk.

When negotiating an impact scene, the key, as in any BDSM negotiation, is in specificity. Because impact play can utilize a wide variety of tools as well as affect almost any part of the body, it’s not enough to say “I give you my consent to hit me”. As a Bratty Dom friend of mine likes to say, whenever he meets someone who introduces themselves as a “no-limits sub”, his next question is “So, I can cut off all of your fingers?” Suddenly, that person is no longer a “no-limits sub”. The point is, the Dominant and Submissive must both agree on what types of implements will be used and where they will be used. Will there be paddles, or floggers, or whips, or feathers? Will the sub be hit on the buttocks, the legs, the arms, the face? Remember, just because the Submissive grants the Dominant permission to use a toy on one part of the body, that does not mean that toy can be used on any part of the body. A submissive may say: You can use a paddle on my buttocks, and you may strike my face, but only with your open hand. It’s this level of specificity that minimizes the possibility of a consent violation.

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of negotiations, which should include toys to be used, where the submissive may be struck, and of course, safe words and when to end the scene, let’s get to the fun stuff. As I alluded to earlier, part of the reason impact play is so popular is its versatility. If you’ve ever seen the 2002 BDSM staple “Secretary”, there’s a scene in which Maggie Gyllenhaal is jonesing for a fix and attempts to spank herself by using the first thing she can find in her bedroom, her hairbrush. She quickly realizes that spanking oneself typically doesn’t provide the same gratification as having someone else do it. The point I’m making is, if you stop and look around you, right now, I’m pretty sure you can find at least one or two things within arm’s reach that you can use for impact play, no matter where you are.

For those who want to move beyond your local super-store when it comes to your BDSM equipment, there are plenty of artisans who would be more than happy to provide you with all the paddles, whips, floggers and other assorted impact toys your heart may desire. While certainly visiting your local sex shop would work, personally, I’ve found that adult bookstores tend to stock mass-produced items meant to be sold in bulk to anyone who just saw “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Not that they aren’t serviceable, but much like the wand chooses the wizard, a toy should speak to the participant. For this reason, I prefer either small businesses you can find online through marketplaces like Etsy, or local artisans in your town. While the latter might sound a bit far-fetched (where am I going to find a paddle maker in my little back-water burgh???), you’ll discover that the BDSM community is a crafty bunch, and often there will be several individuals who excel at making quality goods.

Speaking of paddles, whips, and floggers, while we typically associate impact play with exotic toys that are the staples of medieval dungeons, it’s important to remember that nearly anything that provides a pleasurable sensation can qualify as an impact toy. While there is that school of thought that impact requires “striking” or “hitting”, I like to use the more broader definition that encompasses any form of contact, which includes sensation play. Things like feathers, vampire gloves, wartenberg wheels, brillo pads, pork shredders, and anything that is brushed or caressed against the skin for pleasure or pain can be great for impact play. Impact is so much more than “Hey, batter, batter, SWING, batter!!!” and I find that those who don’t like the pain can discover a whole new way to enjoy BDSM through this type of sensation play.

Naturally, with so many options at one’s disposal, it can be difficult to pick which toy or toys one should use in a scene. Each toy tends to have its own unique sensation associated with it, so try a few out and see what you like. I’ve put a brief summary of various types of toys and their associated sensations below.

  • Paddles – Broad area of impact with a burst of pain and light sting
  • Mallets or clubs – Smaller area of impact with a more centralized “thud”
  • Floggers – Wide area of impact with sensations ranging anywhere from a soft thud to a sharp sting
  • Blades – Concentrated area of impact with prolonged stinging sensation
  • Feathers – Minimal area of impact with a soft, ticklish sensation
  • Coarse surfaces – Minimal area of impact with a soothing and/or irritating sensation
  • Wax – Area of impact depends on how much is applied. Warming, tingling sensation

We’ve spoken before about how, when starting a scene, there’s typically a “warm-up” session to prepare both the top and the bottom, and an impact scene is no different. I would argue, because we’re dealing with the body’s muscles and blood flow, warm-up is extra important to prevent injury. A marathon runner doesn’t start the race sprinting as fast as they can, and a top should take some time preparing the bottom’s body for what will happen later in the scene.

Fortunately for me, one of my partners is a former healthcare professional, so Bunny was able to give me all the cool science on what happens during warm-up and why it needs to be done. The main purpose behind the warm-up is to both loosen up the muscles that will be, well, “impacted” by the scene as well as to increase blood flow throughout the body. This is important because blood flow is what helps prevent cramping and injury. Now, before we start the scene, it’s also important to know what parts of the body are on and off-limits.

Obviously, any body part that the top or the bottom dictates as off-limits should be avoided. Even if both parties agree on a certain body part, depending on what that body part is, special care may need to be taken. Generally speaking, any part of the body with high muscle of fat content is fair game. This includes the buttocks, thighs, breasts, and upper arms. Areas with lower muscle content, such as the lower arms, shoulder blades, and calves are also fair game if approached with caution. Areas like the back (particularly the lower back) and the stomach should generally be avoided at all costs because that’s where the body houses its internal organs. A light flogging on the upper back and shoulders is usually okay. Areas like the head and neck are HUGE no-nos and should only be attempted by the most advanced professionals. Breath play in itself can be dangerous, and when you bring a whip or a paddle into the equation, it can be deadly.

As we begin the impact scene, light tapping, smacking, or hitting should be applied to the desired area. For those who enjoy spanking, this is an excellent way to get the scene started. The purpose of this is two-fold: First, as mentioned above, it brings the capillaries in the blood to the surface of the skin, increasing blood flow, but second, as an added “bonus”, because capillaries are such thin blood vessels, they will break easily, leaving a healthy bruise for those of us who like to show off our marks. We call this processing “warming up” because it’s literally that: You’ll know the body is ready for heavier impact when you can feel the heat coming off of the affected area by placing the palm of your hand about an inch above the skin. Like a warm Thanksgiving dinner, when you feel that heat, it’s time to “dig in”.

An impact scene is no different than any other BDSM scene in that regular check-ins with the bottom should be done periodically. Because of the physical nature of the scene, it’s extra important to check muscles and joints to ensure they’re not becoming strained or causing the bottom any unexpected pain. If rope or ties are used during the scene, it’s crucial that wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, and any other place in which circulation can be cut off is revisited frequently. For the bottoms reading this, it is equally YOUR responsibility to tell the top if you’re feeling discomfort, or worse, numbness. If you’re a Submissive, I know you want to impress your Dominant, but they won’t be happy if you have to be rushed to the ER because your fingers and toes turned blue and you chose not to say anything.

Much like after vigorous exercise, the body should go through a “cool-down” process, and impact scenes are no different. I know Penguin usually lets me know when she’s beginning the cool-down because it gives my mind a chance to relax and start to unwind as I enter the “quiet” part of sub-space. The cool down process typically limits the physical smacking associated with much of impact play and instead focuses on rubbing and massaging to get the muscles to relax and stretch for when the submissive is removed from the equipment, be it a St. Andrew’s Cross, a spanking bench, or any other mount, and moved to the after-care area.

On a final note, while impact play can take many forms and utilizes many tools, because of the physical nature of the activity and the fact that these tools are coming in prolonged physical contact with the body, cleaning your toys after each scene is of the utmost importance. Sweat, skin cells, and blood can often rub off on your instruments. Cleaning your toys at the earliest possible convenience, and absolutely no later than before the next scene, will help prevent skin irritation and infection after the next scene. Yours truly learned this the hard way when I found myself in the ER with a Urinary Tract Infection which I’m 99% positive came from poor toy hygiene.

Well, that just about covers it for impact play. Sorry again for the delay in blog updates. If you haven’t noticed, The Bratty Cat Facebook page has moved, so please make sure to follow again if you haven’t already. I’ve got an amazing piece on mono-polyam relationships coming up that I just can’t wait to write about, so stay tuned!

Until next time, stay kinky, my friends…

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