Maybe you’ve done the silk tie thing with your partner, tying them up so you can have your way with them. Or you’ve perused bondage porn online, wishing that could be you tied up and helpless or torturing the one you love with rope. Either way, you definitely have an interest in bondage.

One thing to know about bondage is that it requires a certain amount of education before you jump in. So let's start with the very basics: terminology. Here are 10 common bondage terms you should know. Think of this as a starting point in your kinky bondage education.

Rigger

Rigger, a gender neutral term, is the top in the bondage scene. It refers to the person who ties their consenting partner up (or down!). A rigger can be a top only in a bondage scene or they may be the Dominant in a D/s relationship. In terms of a bondage power exchange, the rigger is the person in charge. The term “rigger” comes from an old sailing term - it was the person in charge of the ropes that controlled the sails of a ship.

Rope Bunny

A rope bunny may also be referred to as a rope slut. Not everyone likes both terms, but they both have the same basic meaning. Rope bunnies are the bottoms in a bondage power exchange. This is the person who’s being tied up/down by their rigger. The term is sometimes used affectionately to denote enthusiasm for rope bondage as a bottom. However, do not assume that a rope bunny is also submissive in other BDSM activities. For some, the only time they want to be the bottom is in a bondage scene.

Rope Bondage

Not all bondage is the same. In rope bondage, as the term implies, rope is used by the rigger to bind their partner. Techniques in rope bondage include rope wrapping, where the rope is wound around a bottom’s body; rope weaving, which is more complicated and can include wrapping; and a double rope technique which involves two ropes. In basic rope bondage, any type of rope may be used from cotton to jute.

Read: The Ins and Outs of Rope Bondage

Shibari

Shibari is a form of Japanese bondage that literally means “to tie.” The term is often used interchangeably with “rope bondage” in BDSM, which isn’t entirely correct. Shibari is traditionally an aesthetic bondage, whereas erotic bondage is known as Kinbaku. In Shibari, only rope made from hemp or jute is used. It is characterized by elaborate rope designs and is often used in suspension bondage.

Suspension Bondage

Suspension bondage often incorporates Shibari bondage with its intricate rope designs and ties. The bottom is suspended either completely or partially from a suspension bar with rope. While it can be used as part of a sexual scene, and some bondage enthusiasts do experience sexual pleasure from the moment, it is also done to create erotic art and photography. Riggers should have plenty of experience before attempting such an advanced bondage technique. It’s important to know how to tie weight-bearing knots and take greater precautions to prevent loss of circulation during the scene.

Breast Bondage

Breast bondage uses a rope harness to accentuate and bring focus to a woman’s breasts. While some riggers and bondage bottoms enjoy the aesthetic of bound breasts, other kinksters use it in their BDSM scenes. The breasts are displayed prominently and are made easier to access for sexual and/or sadomasochistic pleasure - think flogging, pinching, and smacking. Breast bondage does not immobilize a person, but it can be used in conjunction with other bondage. Although erotic imagery and porn may show bound breasts that are purple and engorged, cutting off circulation is a dangerous practice in rope bondage and should be avoided at all costs.

Hogtie

The hogtie is a common bondage position that effectively immobilizes a bottom, but doesn’t always require rope. Cuffs and bondage tape can also be used. The classic position binds a person’s hands behind their back and to their ankles. If a person isn’t very flexible or the position causes unpleasant discomfort (that’s not part of a scene), their wrists and ankles can be bound farther apart. Once tied, the bottom can be positioned on their stomach or side for easy access. They can also be tied with their legs apart for sexual play.

Crotch Rope

The crotch rope, while most commonly performed on women, can be performed on anyone. In women, a rope is pulled between the labia to apply pressure to the genitals. A knot is often used to apply strategic pressure or friction on the clitoris. For men, the rope is used to place pressure on the scrotum or to bind the scrotum. Regardless of gender, the tie can be used for pleasure or pain depending on how tight the rope is or how is it manipulated. Crotch ropes can be worn under clothing allowing for a little kinky “play” in public without fear of being caught.

Predicament Bondage

Predicament bondage doesn’t have to incorporate rope or any physical bondage. The bottom or submissive is given a choice between two “bad” options and forced to maintain a position or hold a stance, knowing if they stumble, they will be subjected to one of the “tortures.” It’s a bondage of the mind and body more than with rope.

However, predicament bondage can be incorporated with rope bondage. A bottom may be partially suspended by their hair while also balancing precariously over a length of rope. They must stand on their toes and as they become tired, choose between the pull on their scalp or the burn between their legs.

Sex Restraint

If you’re looking for something less intense than a full rope suspension scene, and just want to get kinky with a little bondage, sex restraints are probably more your thing. This type of bondage provides a variety of options, from silk scarves and ties to metal handcuffs. The purpose is to prevent one partner from moving or “escaping” while you tease, torment, and please the other. For those into more intense BDSM power exchanges, sex restraints can be used in erotic torture, Dominance and submission, and humiliation play.

Finally, a Word About Bondage and Safety

When a person is physically restrained by rope, cuffs, tape, or anything else, physical harm is a real threat. You should always play with both a safeword and/or a gesture. The rigger, however, should not rely only on the bottom to indicate a problem. He or she should also keep their eyes open for discoloration in the limbs or anything that might indicate problems. Check in with each other often.

Always keep surgical scissors at hand when playing with rope or even bondage tape if the bottom needs to be quickly released. Know where the keys are to the handcuffs, too. Do not tie someone up with rope until you’ve learned some techniques and practiced your ties. When bondage goes bad, people can get seriously injured.

Look for change in color in the bottom’s limbs as well. Hands, feet, breasts, and other body parts turning purple and blue may be common in some porn, but it’s not a safe way to play. Being in certain positions can make it difficult for a bottom to breath or cause numbness and tingling. Stop the scene and remove the bonds when this happens.

Bondage can be a way to find sexual pleasure, experience a power exchange, or enjoy a specific kink or fetish. Learn as much as you can before you begin to make sure the experience is a good one for everyone involved.