Whips & Whipping 101, Part 1: Bulls, Snakes & Other Scary Critters

By Jim the Whip Maker and Dick Carlson

Part 2: Swing & Target Practice
Part 3: Long Whips
Part 4: The First Crack
Part 5: The First Shot – The Full Overhand Shot
Part 6: The First Useful Shot – The Pick Up
Part 7: The Real Thing – The Single Side Shot
Part 8: For the Whip Top – Dealing with Your Whip Bottom
Part 9: For the Whip Bottom – Dealing with Your Whip Top
Part 10: A Word on Cuts for Whip Bottoms

This is an ongoing series that will take you from eyeing your first whip through to aftercare and first aid. All you’ve got to do is put in the practice. But first, some history…

If you came here looking for a hot SM story complete with whipping scene, then I’m sorry but you will have to look elsewhere.

On the other hand, if you are ready to turn fantasy into actuality then you are in the right place. If whips and whip handling are things you would like to get into or learn more about, if a taste of the lash is a desire but you are worried about the risks and cannot find the guy, then read on.

Whips are as old as man, or at least as old as agricultural man. They exist all over the world and it would appear that they have been developed independently by cultures with no direct contact. They are, or have been, used mostly for the control or management of animals and men, and as a means of punishment of men.

Most punishment implements have been of the shorter kinds, not normally of more than three feet in length. These are canes or sticks or other short straight-out whips, cat o’nine tails or similar flails, or else straps or belt-like items.

Where whip-driven labour has been used, as with slavery or prison labour (mainly in antiquity), long whips have been used. This is for the good reason that the overseer, on horseback, could quickly reach any individual and at the same time give warning to others.

On the other hand, in the punishment situation, one man, tied spreadeagled in place was whipped by one whipper who stood right next to him. Hence the short whip. Besides, onlookers would have been in the way of a long whip. There have, of course, been exceptions.

The Romans took very much to the use of whips. Indeed, slaves were often described by the type of whip used on them. Most kinds of whip, long and short, were used by the Romans.

whip_cattlemanThe old American West was full of whips and there are still a good few around. The settling of scores was often with a whip. This had the practical advantage of being unlikely to end in a murder rap. It was also economical, since no ammunition was involved. Whip play in various forms was also commonplace as tests of courage. Two men would skin to the waist and face off, each with whip in hand, and when ready would have at it until one threw down his whip or could not continue. All this for as little as a dollar bet, or even just for the macho. The old-style mule skinners, who drove the mule teams and who used the whip as the principal tool of their trade, were particularly partial to this sporting pastime. They were also legendary for their drinking habits, the two possibly not unconnected. At one time around the 1860s to 1880s, the practice was common enough for there to be informal rules and even ordinances passed banning the practice from some towns.

This form of contest is still to be found on cattle stations in Australia, as I can personally guarantee. In the unlikely event that any of you find yourselves challenges to such an event, even if the question is put indirectly, there is no doubt what is meant. The guy is offering to lend you a whip, “just so’s we can check we are the men we’ve been saying we are. Nothing personal, you understand”, and there is a crowd gathering. Just remember: no quarter is given and none is expected. This is the real thing. These boys play hard!

whip_leatherpantsHollywood has, in the very best tradition, gotten almost everything totally wrong. The Sea Hawk showed Errol Flynn and his fellow galley slaves being lashed with bullwhips. Now, the inside of any ship of that time is a small space, even before you crowd it with rowers. To give you an idea, imagine standing in a fully-loaded bus and trying to pick off one individual with ten feet of bullwhip, remembering not to catch anything behind you that will throw off your aim. What if the man is the one you are standing next to? Galleys were worked with cats.

Also of interest is the fact that flogging in the British Royal Navy were done with a cat made by the offender himself from a rope’s end. The rope of the time was made of three roves of three, hence the nice tails. When the punishment was finished, the cat was cast overboard for reasons of hygiene. If anyone offers you a genuine Royal Navy Cat, don’t take it.

I could go on, but what the heck, some great scenes come out of Tinseltown, so I’ll rest my case.

One would be right in thinking that BDSM must have been invented with the whip; the literature of the ages is testament to that. Whips no longer figure in ordinary life the way they did, but this series of articles continues a fine tradition.


DungeonMaster33This article first appeared in DungeonMaster magazine, Number 33, September 1987 published by Desmodus Publications and edited by Fledermaus (Tony DeBlase).

Jim the Whip Maker and Dick Carlson taught this material as a course for the now defunct SandMutopia University, which was founded and operated by Tony DeBlase.

DungeonMaster was published from 1979 to 1992. After Tony DeBlase bought Drummer magazine in 1986, DungeonMaster became, in some ways,  the little brother of its more popular stable-mate. Articles published in DungeonMaster were sometimes later reprinted in Drummer. In 1992, Desmodus Inc., which then included Drummer, Mach, Tough Customers, DungeonMaster, The Sandmutopia Guardian and The Sandmutopia Supply Company, was sold to a Dutch corporation headed by Martjin Bakker, the owner of RoB Amsterdam stores and galleries. Tony DeBlase became Editor Emeritus and passed away in 2000.

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