Whips & Whipping 101, Part 2: Swing & Target Practice

By Jim the Whip Maker and Dick Carlson

Part 1: Bulls, Snakes & Other Scary Critters
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. Set yourself up for success with some basic preparation…

If you wish to learn whip handling from the start, there are two things you need:
• a whip and
• a place

First, the place. Depending on where you live, it should be on private land away from where crowds may gather to watch. You will want to make a fool of yourself in private. Local legislation may make this mandatory. Having snotty-nosed kids asking inane questions all the time may also put temptation in your way.

The place would preferably be outdoors and covered in mown, dry grass, such as a lawn. Ensure there are no small stones to get flicked up, and no other sharp items to damage the whip.

Ideally, it should be possible to swing the whip round in a full circle without touching anything. Check the overhead for wires or low branches. If all this is not possible, you may have to compromise on space, however a soft surface is important. If you have to work indoors, then a carpeted floor is desirable. Clearly, you are going to have space problems, but a little care should solve most problems. Just mind the chandelier.


When you set out to practice, never, never practice on a live target. This is very dangerous and there is no need. It is important for you to wear some protection. It is a rule that you will always get hit. Sooner or later. Don’t worry: if you proceed as described, this is not dangerous, it just smarts.

Wear an extra pair of jeans or a pair of chaps, as the backs of the legs are a favourite place. I use a good, thick pair of western-style shotgun chaps, and they have served well. Use whatever you have, however single jeans are not really enough.

A quilted jacket is also a good idea in the first days; later it will be sufficient to keep your arms covered.

Another favoured spot for the wandering whip is the ear. Now, this one is a real bitch. I suggest a hat with a wide brim as being OK; this will deflect the whip most times. A knitted ski mask is not much use — you’ll feel it anyway. A crash helmet is guaranteed, if wearing it doesn’t bother you.

For the eyes, a pair of protective goggles from the hardware shop are fine.

As you get beyond the initial stages, you will be able to discard most of this gear. However, the chaps or jeans are going to be useful for some time.


As I said, nothing live. So, what to use?

Try punching holes through newspaper pinned to a clothesline. You will notice that when you do hit it, you destroy it utterly, which should strike you as ominous. You are making a common beginner’s error, such as standing as much as a foot too close. Back up; you should punch a two or three inch hole, or make a clean vertical cut. Both of these are useful, so practice both. The cut is when you pull down a little at the end of the shot, or if you are still a little too close. If you always cut rather than punch, work on getting holes. This is important for gaining full control of the whip. A steady hand at the end of the stroke and standing back are the main points. The cracker at the end of the whip is invisible at Mach One, so your whip reaches further than you think. Try aiming at pictures on the page. (Check the political pages for targets).

For BDSM practice, you need a better target. This is where I get into terrible trouble. (There are going to be bomb threats and protest marches). The best thing to use is a big teddy bear. No sadist is worth his name until he does it with his teddy! The point is that the target is about the right size, is soft and the nap in fur records the position of the stroke. And Ted loves it!


Whips need care. They get dragged on the ground, so clean with a damp rag and light saddle soap. If the leather feels dry, then feed it with a little conditioner. Never use oil — this will weaken the whip. Ensure that the cracker is in good shape.

When you are playing with a live target, if any of the bottom’s skin is broken, clean the whip with alcohol and recondition the fall and cracker. (You must also tend carefully to the masochist and clean any cut with alcohol in the normal way. This stings. Tough.)


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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