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Canes are a precision tool and require instruction when you’re starting out. Canes are an advanced tool – you can hurt someone by accident. When you use a cane, you should expect bruising, marking, and (often) cut skin: this must be pre-negotiated.

Because some kinds of canes cannot be thoroughly cleaned, many people who play with traditional rattan canes consider them to be one-person tools.

A cane strike compresses the skin making it a two-fold blow. The bottom feels and initial sting, then, a few seconds later, the nerves that were compressed with the skin begin to return to their original size and a new, searing pain fires up radiating outwardly from the twin welts.

A cane strike is mostly created in the wrist. Don't lift the cane immediately upon your strike, let the rattan settle into the skin. Let the skin receive it and continue to absorb the sensation. Let your partner’s skin feel the intimacy of the natural materials.
In many ways, the way you cane is an outgrowth of who you are. If you are a sensualist you’re likely to favor a sensual caning that involves a long warm-up; if you’re a sadist you’re likely to favor a very painful and intense caning with no warm-up. So here is a list of variables under your control:

Because rattan is very flexible, it makes a pleasing “whooshing” sound when swung rapidly through the air. However, “whooshing” a cane can stress the rattan by making it bend in an almost U-shape. It will hold up to quite a bit of bending, but making it bend in an extreme angle will damage it. If you MUST whoosh it, please limit that kind of whipping to a ¼” diameter cane. They are extremely flexible & nearly unbreakable. If you intend to “whoosh” a larger-diameter cane, please be sure to have something to stop the cane on the downward part of the swing... a butt, a pillow, a couch, etc.

Caning Safety

Do NOT use bamboo canes. There is a very real danger that a bamboo cane will split or break at the nodes when struck with force against an object. You don’t need much imagination to realize what a scene-stopper it would be if you broke a bamboo cane over your lover’s bottom.

Beware of Wrapping. Wrapping occurs when you hit the person too far from the end of the cane and the tip of the supple cane or birch continues to bend around the curvature of the person’s body part and strikes where you did NOT intend it. You can prevent this by securing either towels or pillows close to the haunches of the recipient. For additional punishment the birch should be allowed to cover the backs of the thighs just below the cheeks of the bottom or if the punishment is to be more severe then the entire backs of the legs can be birches.

Beware of the Sciatic Nerve. The sciatic nerve is relatively unprotected and runs through the buttock and hip areas.

  • You must understand where this nerve is and how to avoid damaging it.
  • Nerves do not regenerate and if badly bruised, recover from very slowly
  • Heavy canes require a delicate touch and good control; they are NOT designed for full-force blows.

Medical Issues

  • Infection: Canes or rods made of natural material such as wood are prone to becoming infected by blood products. Once bloodied, canes become vehicles for spreading blood-borne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis. Once exposed to someone's blood, a cane should not be used on anyone else.
  • Bruising
    • There are salves that help heal bruising faster than the body might normally do on its own. Check at your local pharmacy. Personally, we use Arnica either in crème or pill form.
    • Bottoms new to caning are very likely to bruise easily and the bruises may last weeks. As the mind comes to realize that the person owning the body is asking to be caned, you will be astonished at how hard it becomes to bruise that person and how quickly those bruises heal. (The mental component of wound healing times resulted from studies of war wounds in WWII.)
  • Broken skin, abrasions, etc. - clean, disinfect, and cover with a bandage.
  • Clean your canes, rods, etc., with bleach or other disinfectant after each use.

Cane Myths:

It is a myth that “rattan is baby bamboo". Bamboo is a grass and rattan is a palm. The confusion leading to the modern myth that rattan is baby bamboo emerged because when bamboo is young and has a solid center, it is actually called rattan (same as a baby horse is called a foal or baby cattle are called calves). However, as it grows develops its well-known hollow center that plant is called bamboo.

Here are two other often-mistaken issues:

  • It is simply not true that, "A rattan cane with skin is more nasty than rattan without skin".
  • It is simply not true that thin canes sting and bite, but that thick canes are more thuddy.

Caning Styles

A cane stroke occurs mostly in the wrist. When the stroke lands, don't lift the cane up immediately, let the rattan settle into the skin. Let the skin receive it and continue to absorb the sensation. Let your partner’s skin feel the intimacy of the natural materials.

In many ways, the way you cane is an outgrowth of who you are. If you are a sensualist you’re likely to favor a sensual caning that involves a long warm-up; if you’re a sadist you’re likely to favor a very painful and intense caning with no warm-up. So here is a list of variables under your control:

CAUTION: some of these areas (feet, abdomen, breasts, parts of the back) are NOT suited for hard hits, nor are they suited for hits with a heavier gauge cane.

Thick canes leave deep bruises. Bruises are blood escaping from broken capillaries and blood vessels. Thus, bruises are damaged tissue.

A ¼" cane, with a relatively light wrist-only stroke mostly impacts the skin’s surface – very little penetration into deeper tissues. If used lightly and with skill, you can play with many body parts that are "off limits" with thuddier toys

Variables that offer different sensations

  • Intensity – how hard you hit
  • Pace – the speed of the tapping or striking
  • Amount of cane being used
  • Strike location on the person
  • You have prepared the butt

Add Sensations

A caning isn’t just about using canes – at least not in my world. They are an opportunity to shock and surprise your partner.

Remember how tender the skin is becoming as you lay the rattan cane into your bottom. Think about tracing your nail (or a knife-point) along a welt. Think about the brutal feeling of spraying your bottom's backside with water and adding more strokes. Remember that a wet cane or a cane hitting wet skin has a completely different feel.

Some things you might wish to keep handy

  • Feathers
  • Alcohol wanding glove (and related safety materials)
  • BDSM wax
  • Pointy things of various kinds
  • Floggers and paddles of various kinds
  • Atomizer bottle filled with water

Add some Variation

  • Do some tipping rather than just striking
  • Strike with variety
  • Place one cane on her body and tap it with another cane.
    • Breast
    • Crest of Venus

Positioning your Partner

When positioning your partner, consider how their final height affects where you are in relation to your target area. It’s important that your strike zone not be too low; if your target is too low your swing may be awkward -- the cane tip will land before the rest of the cane. This will actually hurt and bring the bottom into their head as they try to figure out what is happening.

There are a number of positions a bottom or submissive can adopt for a caning:

  • The bottom can lie flat on their stomach on a massage table* or such; this is a good relaxed position and may enable you sit beside your partner as your administer the strokes in comfort.
  • Still on a massage table ask them to roll over on their back and grab their ankles. Their asses are now exposed for your pleasure.
  • In a more disciplinary setting the bottom will be bending over a low table or bench. This tightens up the skin and muscles in the buttocks and thighs and can increase the potency (i.e., pain) of the strokes
  • Commonly, caning subjects are positioned standing up braced against a wall or cuffed to a St. Andrews Cross. (NOTE: Some bottoms can stand better than others when being caned or flogged. If you expect that you will drop your partner into sub-space, securing them to a St Andrews Cross may not be a great idea. First, you have to use snap-release hooks, then you have to practice actually getting your partner (hanging all her weight from her arms) off the bloody cross. Possibly with a DM standing around, but alone? No thank you.)

* NOTE: Remember: the height of massage tables can be changed. You don’t have to leave the massage table at the height you find it. A caning scene may be luxurious and erotic as well as painful and disciplining. As the person whose arm is most likely to get tired, it’s your responsibility to position your plaything for your own comfort.

Target Areas

The most common target areas are the buttocks and upper thighs. Do note that when a male target bends over his testicles may get into the "line of fire", particularly when the target area is the upper thighs. Some enthusiasts advocate the narrow crease area where the upper thighs join the buttocks.

While the buttocks and upper thighs are well-padded target areas, you can use lighter cane strokes on other body parts, including breasts and genitals. Instead of using full-sized canes here, be creative. Thin spatulas or even the flat side of long knives can be used effectively. I’ve heard of chopsticks and conductor’s batons being used and I’ve also heard of a hollow plastic toy bat being used with tremendous success (the loud noise scared the bottom so much she sat right up. And, of course, you can reintroduce some nice hand slapping. You’re supposed to be having fun, here.

While calves and the soles of the feet can be good targets for medium-sized canes, some targets are off-limits almost always, such as the head, spine, and areas above vital organs (kidneys), bones and joints.

Caning Zones, Safest First

  • Buttocks (well below tailbone)
  • Top of thighs (front, back, inside)
  • Upper back (avoiding spine)
  • Breasts (light canes only, such as 1/4" cane)
  • Genitals (cock, balls, labia, clit), use lighter cane only, light strokes
  • Soles of feet (balls and heels only, use very light strokes with a 1/4" cane. Caning soles of fee is called bastinado.)
  • Abdomen (potentially damaging; use light strokes only with a light-weight cane.)

caning zonesGraphic courtesy of Peter Masters: http://www.peter-masters.com/wiki/index.php/Practical_Flogging


It's unsafe to many areas of the body because of their sensitivity to impact. These include:

  • The face, head and neck,
  • Joints and parts of the body containing important nerves, including the spine, behind the knees, inside elbows, wrists and palms,
  • Fingers and toes -- too much chance of damaging the joints. Fingers and toes lack enough fleshy area to strike with canes. (Palms and feet are fine -- if the person has good aim. You are cautioned to use an easy-to-control shorter, lighter cane.)
  • Parts of the body containing unprotected vital organs (particularly under the rib cage around the waist), and
  • Soft tissue such as breasts.

The areas in the diagram which are not green are pretty much unsafe for various reasons:

  • All joints---neck, wrists, elbows, knees, etc.,
  • Around the waist, both front and back, there are delicate vital organs---such as the kidney---very close to the surface,
  • The strikable areas on the arms and legs between the joints are relatively small and it's easy to mis-hit and strike the joints themselves,
  • Breasts and genitals are generally very sensitive and bruise easily. While a gentle caning with a light cane may go down well in these areas, they are no-go areas for heavier caning, and
  • The spine is a bad area to hit. Causing damage here can make your partner paraplegic.

Pacing your Partner

Your caning success depends largely on these issues:

  • The cane you choose
  • How hard you hit (intensity)
  • Interval between hits (pace)
    • It takes a few seconds to process a strong cane stroke
  • The experience of your bottom
  • Whether you both agree on the intent of the scene
  • Your ability to read your bottom and guide him/her into subspace or orgasm

Know What it Feels Like to be Struck by a Rattan Cane

There are a series of sensations that happen when a rattan cane hits:

  • A white-hot line.
  • A sinking of searing a sensation into the body.
  • Vibrations throughout the anus and/or cunt.
  • A radiating warmth.
  • A feeling of surrender travelling up the spine.

NOTE: If you move too fast, you will curtail the heightening of pleasure that happens after a stroke lands. And your bottom will be in resistance mode instead of flying subspace.

Caning Dangers

While there certainly can be dangers in severe punishment caning, most of the danger faced by beginners is that you’ll fail to understand how much a cane hurts your partner and you’ll turn them off to future caning. Thus, caning for beginners is rather self-limiting: if you want to learn caning, you’ll do it slowly because if you are too aggressive, you’ll lose your caning partner.

You’ll have a better connected and more enthusiastic caning partner if you warm them up through spanking, flogging, and paddling before they feel the bite of your cane.

Giving a good caning, however, isn't easy. Being very attuned to body language (watch and see if your partner is clenching his or her ass muscles) will help you determine pacing and intensity.

Cleaning Canes

  • Removing blood stains: Use hydrogen peroxide on a soft rag. You might want to give the rattan a little water after cleaning with peroxide.
  • If you generally get blood on a cane (or leave welts), safe-sex practices dictate that you should reserve that particular cane for that one person.
  • Acrylic, nylon, and other non-porous materials can be cleaned with modern products intended to clean viruses as well as bacteria. Caviwipes® come to mind.
  • Always clean your toys before sharing them with others.
  • Cleaning Glossy Handles: Nothing should damage the high-gloss finish of cane handles and canes with coated shafts. Clean with whatever you prefer.
  • Cleaning Rubberized Handles: Warm, soapy water is best for these. Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners on them.

Storing Canes

  • Canes should never be stored leaning in a corner. They are best stored by laying them flat. or by hanging them from their handle.
  • If you purchased high-quality canes you can expect that they were soaked thoroughly in pure, raw linseed oil. You should not need to oil them unless you live in a very dry climate, and even then, not for a year or so.

Watering your Canes

  • The thin ¼” canes are exempt from these procedures – they are whippy enough as they are.
  • You should water your cane collection every month or so. They are more prone to being damaged when they're allowed to dry out.
  • A nice soak makes the cane more flexible, whippier, and heavier, so if you want to change the feel of one, try it.
  • If you haven't moistened or used your cane for a couple months, please give it a little water before it's next use. Dunk them in a lukewarm bath for a couple minutes (or hold them under the shower)
  • Set them outside overnight in a humid climate, or just rub some water into the shaft.
  • Allow them to dry out in the open air. Keeping a damp cane covered will make it get moldy.
  • Do not completely immerse a crook handled British School Cane. Total immersion will make the handle straighten out. Simply rub water onto the shaft and it will soak it up.

Special Handling for Rattan Birch Rods

Rattan Birch rods need to be soaked in lukewarm water for 20-30 minutes before each use.

  • Purchase a hard plastic mailing tube (office supply stores)
  • Fill it with water before play and soak the birch in it. (The thicker canes like this too.)
  • Soaking makes them VERY flexible and whippy and protects the tips.
  • The thin rattan birch rod strands usually get little "hairs" sticking up from the main lashes. Ignore them, or clip them with a nail clipper. Please don't burn or pull them. Rattan is a very fibrous vine, and they will always be present

Practice Caning

They’re trickier than you think. Not as bad as a whip, but a heck of a lot harder than flogging. You’re going to have to practice.

Most of us learned to cane by sprinkling a pillow with powder. Put a dark pillowcase over your pillow and strike it; you can now see where you’re hitting. Practice making precise patterns a set distance apart. Watch where your tip lands. Listen to the sound of the rattan slicing the air and learn to match the sound with speed and intensity.

See also:

  • Erotic caning
  • Punishment caning
  • Singapore canes

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