Published: OCTOBER 4, 2022
You can open yourself up to nearly endless rope bondage scenes by learning an overhand knot, a square knot, a half-hitch and two lark’s head variations. Keep in mind that rope bondage comes with inherent safety risks and always take steps to minimize them before playing.

So, you want to be a rigger, huh? Or maybe a rope bunny?

Or, maybe you don't know what either of those terms mean but you're eager to learn. In any case, we've got you.

READ: 10 Bondage Terms You Should Know.

Kinkly sat down with Lazarus Redmayne, founder of TheDuchy.com, to help you learn how to bring your bondage fantasies to life. TheDuchy.com has been providing rope bondage education to a worldwide audience since 2000.

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Here's what we learned:

Rope Bondage Safety

The first step to trying bondage...doesn't involve any actual bondage.

"Tying someone up for mutual fun and pleasure can be an amazing and thrilling experience, not to mention hot as hell," said Redmayne. "But tying someone up is a risky thing to do. If you don’t do it correctly, you can impact blood flow or pinch nerves."

While there's no way to completely eliminate risk from bondage play, there are steps you can take to minimize it. These include:

1. Don't Tie Too Tight

In rope bondage, a general rule is to make sure you can still fit one or two fingers between the rope and the rope bunny's body part, like you would with a dog's collar.

Make note of your bottom's hand color and temperature before tying them up. That way, if you notice any changes during play, you'll know to loosen the ties.

Hands are usually the first body part to lose circulation during a bondage scene, so you may want to tie wrists last.

2. Tie Non-Collapsing Cuffs

"Non-collapsing" cuffs are knots that don't get tighter when you pull on them. By contrast, "collapsing" cuffs do.

As a beginner, you need to limit your knots to the non-collapsing variety. Why? In Redmayne's words:

"As you play and they ‘struggle’ and pull on that rope, [a collapsing] loop will get tighter and tighter. Eventually it can start compressing the nerves and blood vessels, especially in particularly sensitive or delicate areas like the wrists, parts of the arm and shoulders. Nerve damage can happen in only a few seconds if the compression is severe enough and can take months to heal."

3. Remove Jewelry and Watches

This can help prevent rope from getting caught and causing harm or injury.

4. Communicate

Be sure to check in with the rope bunny during play to ensure they aren't feeling claustrophobic or numb.

If they are, loosen the ties or undo them completely.

5. Keep Care Items Handy

You'll want to have heavy-duty safety shears nearby in case there you need to cut the rope bunny out of the ties completely (rope is replaceable; body parts are not).

Redmayne also recommends you "...always make sure that all participants have recently eaten something light and are hydrated (had a glass of water recently)."

Aftercare is also an important part of bondage play -- keeping snacks, water, cozy clothes or anything else to provide comfort on-hand is always a good idea.

6. Get Consent and Negotiate

If it went without saying, we wouldn’t say it. Informed and enthusiastic consent is an absolute must for any type of bondage (or play in general)!

Consent goes along closely with BDSM negotiation. This should include talking about things like:

  • Which body parts the rope bunny does -- or doesn't -- want to accentuate.
  • Any body parts that cause dysphoria.
  • Any injuries or disabilities that may affect bondage play. For example, Redmayne says, "If anyone is diabetic, make sure you know where their management tools are including what they use if their [blood sugar levels] start to go low."
  • Establishing a safeword and/or other ways to communicate when the bottom needs to get out of the ties.

You can never have too much information about your partner, their body and its needs.

READ: A Step-by-Step Guide to Negotiating Consent.

Now, here's how to tie the four knots every beginner should know:

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The Overhand Knot

Advanced Fundamentals - Overhand Knot - TheDuchy ® from Lazarus Redmayne on Vimeo.


You probably already know how to tie an overhand knot. Here are the steps:

  1. Take the end of a rope and form a loop by crossing the tail over or under itself.
  2. Pull the rope tail through the loop.
  3. Pull it tight.

In rope bondage, overhand knots have myriad uses, including:

  • Preventing fray on the end of a rope.
  • Stopping a rope from sliding through a harness or pulley.
  • Holding two ends of a rope side-by-side.
  • Marking off a section of rope you don't want to cross over itself (known as the "bight.")

When placed under tension, though, overhand knots can tighten and become difficult to untie. For that reason, Redmayne recommends they be used only for ties you intend to keep in place for the entire session or where they won't be pulled on much. He also stresses that overhand knots "...should never be used in situations where it might be holding the weight of a human (such as if you are doing a suspension)" because they reduce rope's strength.

The Square Knot

Advanced Fundamentals - Square Knot and Surgeon's Knot - TheDuchy ® from Lazarus Redmayne on Vimeo.

If you can tie your shoe, you can tie a square knot.

A square knot is essentially two overlapping overhand knots. It's primarily used to connect two ends of rope coming at each other from opposite ends. To tie it:

  1. Cross the right end of the rope over, then under, the left end to create an overhand knot.
  2. Cross the left end of the rope over, then under, the right, creating an overhand knot in the opposite direction.

With a square knot, it's important you switch which end of the rope goes on top between the two overhand knots -- i.e., do tie right over left, then left over right; don't tie right over left, then right over left. Doing the latter will create a granny knot, which is less secure.

Redmayne says square knots are "most commonly used to join two ends of rope together, such as when we are 'tying off' or 'locking off' a finished bondage tie, and when we extend rope." However, this kind of knot can be prone to capsizing -- converting into a different shape than intended -- and coming undone. It can also malfunction in the opposite direction and become difficult to untie. So, while it's a great place to start, more advanced bondage scenes may require more intricate knots, like a surgeon's knot.

The Half-Hitch

2 Half Hitches to a Hard Point - TheDuchy®.mp4 from Lazarus Redmayne on Vimeo.

A half-hitch knot is mostly used to lock off part of a tie or to attach the tail of a rope to a hard point like a chair or bed post. It's a collapsing knot, which means it will get tighter under tension, and for that reason Redmayne says it "....should never be used directly on a human and should not be used to anchor a suspension."

READ: The Ins and Outs of Rope Bondage.

To anchor your partner to a hard point using half-hitches:

  1. Grab the tail of your rope and pull it through/around your hard point to your desired length.
  2. Place your fingers between the dangling tail of the rope and the taught length attached to your partner's body.
  3. Wrap the tail around to hold it with your index and middle fingers.
  4. Using your index and middle fingers, feed the tail all the way through the loop you've just created while pulling the tension downwards to keep the loop open.
  5. Keeping tension on the tail, use your other hand to place pressure on the spot where the rope wraps around the hard point.
  6. Maintaining pressure on the spot where the rope meets the hard point, quickly pull the tail towards the hard point to tighten the knot.
  7. Repeat steps two through six to create a double half-hitch and secure the bind.

The Lark's Head

The Lark’s Head knot is used as the starting point for two very common ties:

  1. Single-column ties.
  2. Double-column ties.

Redmayne differentiates the types like this:

"'Single-column' refers to creating a single loop of rope around one or more things: wrist, ankle, thigh, waist, two wrists but inside one loop, etc. 'Double- column' is placing two things inside a loop and then cinching that loop around both of those things so that each is inside its own cuff."

The Lark's Head Single-Column

Lark's Head Single Column - TheDuchy®.mp4 from Lazarus Redmayne on Vimeo.

A lark's head single column tie serves as the basis for many more advanced rope techniques. The above video walks you through the whole process, but if you prefer pictures and text, see the full Lark's Head Single Column tutorial on TheDuchy.com.

You can use a lark's head single-column tie to fasten a cuff to a hard point, like a bed post, or around your partner's body part to create a makeshift cuff. Always remember safety -- wrist joints, especially, can lose circulation or break easier than you might think. Use rope that won't chafe; don't tie too tight; don't leave your partner in a position that puts pressure on the wrists.

The Lark's Head Double-Column

Lark's Head Double Column - TheDuchy®.mp4 from Lazarus Redmayne on Vimeo.

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A lark's head double-column tie is executed similarly to the single-column version, but with an extra cinch in the middle. Watch the above video for a detailed walkthrough or check out Redmayne's full Lark's Head Double Column tutorial on TheDuchy.com for pictures and text.

If you want to experiment with suspensions, you can convert the lark's head double-column tie into a load-bearing version. However, (guess what I'm about to say) wrist joints are extremely sensitive and you should never suspend someone by their wrists.

And there you have it! With just these four knots, you have a solid foundation to execute nearly endless bondage scenes. For inspiration and detailed tutorials on many other ties, Redmayne offers a free "Rope 101" course on TheDuchy.com.

READ: Bondage 201: What to Do After You Tie Up Your Partner.

Bondage Mistakes to Avoid

Redmayne listed the following as the most common mistakes he sees people encounter their first time tying bondage knots:

1. Skipping Safety

"Sometimes a person is so excited by the possibilities, they gloss over or skip learning about safety," Redmayne said. "When this happens, they don’t understand what the risks even are, much less how to lower those risks. This is a very dangerous situation. If you learn from a reputable rope teacher, they will stress these points as part of any '101' or introductory course."

(For some basic bondage safety tips to start with, scroll up!)

2. Not Learning How to Handle Rope Smoothly

Rope is only as useful as the rigger tying it. Along with learning basic knots, Redmayne recommends you learn basic rope handling techniques.

"If you take the time to learn how to control and move rope, you will be less likely to make amateur mistakes -- like give your partner rope burn or accidentally slap them in the face with flailing ends of a rope."

3. Choosing the Wrong Kind of Rope

"People will normally just grab any rope they happen to have laying around, or they will go to a local hardware or home improvement store and buy a coil of whatever catches their eye," said Redmayne. But that can be a recipe for injury.

Conditioned bondage rope is designed specifically for this type of play. It will be gentler on your skin and is easier to tie with. While it can be pricier than run-of-the-mill all-purpose rope, if it's accessible to you, Redmayne recommends "...a smoother rope, cotton, for example, or linen, perhaps a synthetic like nylon or MFP (multi-filament polypropylene)."

READ: 7 Tips for Choosing Bondage Rope.

4. Not Absorbing Nuance

Being a good top isn't just about tying the knots in the right order. It's also about how you tie them -- and how you handle rope in general.

"A good rope instructor will be showing you not only the pattern for creating a particular tie, but just as importantly, tips and techniques for moving that rope around your partner safely and smoothly. They will show how to 'reach under a strap of rope with your finger, hook the tail and pull it though.' But most people, when they are starting out, don’t see that nuance; they just see 'get the tail under the strap of rope,'" said Redmayne.

When you're learning how to tie bondage knots, make sure you put as much thought into the technique as you do into the ties.

Rope Bondage Sex Positions

OK, now you're ready to try these ties out in practice. Need some ideas? Try one of these bondage sex positions:

READ: 8 Bondage Sex Positions from Simple to Extreme!

The Spread Eagle Bondage Position

Spread Eagle Bondage Position. Person lying on bed with writs and ankles bound to corners of bed frame.

The Spread Eagle Bondage Position involves tying one partner's wrists and ankles to the four corners of the bed. You can do this by tying a lark's head single-column tie around your partner's wrists and ankles to create cuffs (remember to use caution when tying wrists!) and using two half-hitches to anchor the tails to the bed posts.

The person being tied up can lie face-up or face-down in this position -- although, if they're face-down, you'll want to ensure you put safeguards in place so they can breathe easily. Moreover, because the rope bunny's hands are above their heart, loss of circulation is a greater possibility here. Remember our safety tips: If they're feeling numb, let them out!

With the body fully exposed, the Spread Eagle Position can be great for clitoral, g-spot or prostate stimulation. It's also a good way to cultivate feelings of vulnerability. That vulnerability can be enhanced with the addition of accessories like gags or blindfolds. If any of your accessories inhibit the bottom's ability to speak, make sure you arrange non-verbal ways to communicate mid-play.

The Frogtie Bondage Position

Frogtie Bondage Position: Seated person with thighs and ankles bound together and arms bound behind them.

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The Frogtie is a popular bondage position which involves tying someone's thigh to their ankle. You can achieve it using a lark's head double-column tie.

Once your partner is tied in this position, where you go next is up to you! The Frogtie Bondage Position is very versatile. As pictured, you could tie your partner's arms behind them using another lark's head double-column tie to up the bondage ante. You could also deliver oral sex to the bound partner, penetrate them vaginally or anally or flip them over to transform it into a doggy style sex position. If you go for for the last option, make sure the bound partner is on a soft surface so you don't put too much pressure on their knees.

READ: Doggy Style Position: How to ACTUALLY Make it Feel Good.

The Leapfrog Bondage Position

Leapfrog Bondage Position. Person in a doggy style position with wrists and ankles bound, gagged.

The Leapfrog Bondage Position is another way to elevate doggy style sex. Because of how exposed it leaves the anus, it's also a good position for most forms of anal play.

You can achieve the Leapfrog Bondage Position by tying your partner's wrists to their ankles using a lark's head double-column tie. As always, use extreme caution when tying wrists -- these joints have many blood vessels and are prone to sprains and fractures. Depending on your partner's flexibility, you can place their arms on the inside or the outside of their thighs.

Like the Spread Eagle Bondage position, the Leapfrog Bondage Position is extremely vulnerable for the bound partner. Gags and/or blindfolds can take this feeling to the next level; but be sure to establish safe signals in advance if your accessories will inhibit your partner's ability to speak.

The Armbinder Gag Bondage Position

Armbinder Gag Sex Position: Person with arms bound above head and gagged with binding material

The Armbinder Gag Bondage Position is a great entry point into the world of rope bondage because it doesn't require much flexibility and it still allows the bound partner to move their bottom half freely. As pictured, you may want to add a gag or other sensual item to add intimacy (remembering your non-verbal safewords!)

To get into this position, have your bottom place their arms above their head and tie them together using a lark's head double-column tie. If you have enough rope left over, you could attach it to a hard point using two half-hitches.

Conclusion

Before we parted ways, Redmayne emphasized how bondage can be a safe, healthy, fun and hot practice to incorporate into sex -- so long as you do it right.

"Millions of people all over the world are in to rope, sometimes just for the art of it, sometimes for more," he said. "Find your community -- local and real-life options are more available than you might believe, but there is also a thriving online community as well. Find others, learn from them and explore!

READ: Everything You Need to Know About Attending Your First Rope Bondage Conference.

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Photo for Gabby Dumonceaux
Gabby Dumonceaux

Gabby Dumonceaux is Kinkly's Editorial Marketing Manager. She has written for online publications since 2020, with bylines in IGNITE and Techopedia, and is passionate about taking the taboo out of talking about sex.

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