Some thoughts on Tension – from rope bottom to riggers

„Make it nice-and-tight“ © Riccardo Sergnese 

I recently have been tied for the class by the student, and it struck me how important is the right tension for the experience of bondage. I gave that student my feedback in the class, and my rigger Alexander said i should elaborate on that and make it essay and publish it, so here it comes. 

Tension is a fundamental skill in rope bondage, the crucial one that makes a difference between „reproducing a harness on the body“ and actually tying a person.

Tension is a fundamental skill in rope bondage, the crucial one that makes a difference between „reproducing a harness on the body“ and actually tying a person. Good rigger is aware of the tension and uses its effect on me. 

Tension has two main functions: 

  • technical function: evenly distributed tension, right amount of tension, makes the tie sustainable and safe. Stop blaming us, bottoms, that we cannot take your futo momo and work on your tension! Needless to say in TK or strappado, tension of the layers is a crucial characteristic that makes the tie safe for our nerves! 
  • communication function: tension is a main communication tool. Intention, Emotion is transmitted through the tension of the rope. Like public speaker is using tone of voice and the rhythm. If you are good at that, people will listen to you. Same in bondage, if you are good at that, bottom will follow your intention.

Start thinking of a tension as a constructive element of the tie!

Right amount of tension is important: not too tight, not too loose. Sometimes there are connected parts of the complex ties (TK, strappado) where the part of it needs to be tight and part of it needs to be loose. Thats what you want to pay attention to in the class. Not only the construction of the tie, but the tension of it. Ask the teacher, what do they do to get the tension right. Ask the teachers’ model how they experience the tension. Come and touch the harness, pull the layers – feel the tension on your fingers… This is not the place to be shy 🙂 Only when you get the tension right and it works on different people, you can say you „know“ this tie. 

Be aware of your body

Tension is created not in your fingers, but in your „hara“, in your center. In its essence (I suspect), it is your desire for the person you are tying that you let out and that you communicate to them – through the tension. Your body (your muscles, your torso) needs to be relaxed in order to transmit the feeling from your guts through your chest, through your arms, to the rope as an extension of your arms. Rigid tissue stops the communication flow in both, tops and bottoms. If you are tense yourself, you cannot transmit the stable tension that makes us relaxed, you cannot transmit the emotion, you cannot execute power. Rigid body is not powerful. Slow down! As long as there is rope under tension on our body, we are not bored, trust me! You always have time to take a breath and relax your shoulders. 

Keep constant tension when tying

As a bottom, when we feel it, we can trust and let go. We feel your confidence, we feel you know what you are doing. So we can trust and let go of our control. If the tension is not constant, it feels disturbing, jerky, we cannot trust – our bodies are naturally tensing up, trying to re-gain the control in this situation. 

Think of a hug – how do we hug when we mean it? Think of a massage. When you give a massage, you have to maintain the stable contact with the body, this is one of the fundamental skills. You don’t touch the person, and then withdraw. Touch and withdraw. That would not facilitate their trust and surrender to your touch. Same here. 

Do it right from the start

Re-tensioning never works. If you ever made pancakes on the frying pan, you know, these pancakes that you fucked up, you try to „fix“ it and it never looks good. The same with re-tensioning the harness after its done. It’s pathetic. Drop it, re-tie the whole thing. You will lose time, but keep your dignity! 🙂

Learn and practice properly

Practice tension on people, not on furniture. There are some elements of rope bondage I suppose that can be practiced on chairs etc, but not the tension! Learn tension from people, not books and videos and pay attention to their body movements. Also: check rope marks on your model after tying, thats a great test! 

Remember: tying is all about tension like photography is all about light. That what makes the difference between a „great one“ and „just okey“ one. And always, always ask your bottom for a feedback on tension. We do appreciate your striving to become better!