R is for ROUGH BODY PLAY

Yes, this is a handprint marked on my side... well really it's kindof a fist print. Painful like woah! But damn I enjoyed demo bottoming for this one!

Yes, this is a handprint marked on my side… well really it’s kind of a fist print. Painful like woah! But damn I enjoyed demo bottoming for this beaut!

Slapping, hitting, punching, wrestling, kicking.  If this sounds sexy to you, you might enjoy  today’s topic of discussion: Rough Body Play!  Personally I LOVE it and have a million things to say about the subject, so stick with me, I’ll probably only get through about half of them.

What exactly is rough body play?  Well, it’s kinda just what it sounds like.  You ever roughhouse as a kid?  Well, try it in the bedroom and see if it gets you motor running.  I remember the first time I saw a listing for a workshop on the subject by Roughinamorato (a fantasitic teacher) and thought to myself

Why would ANYONE want to do THAT?!?!!?

Skip to a day later and I’m being slapped in the face and punched in the chest for the first time, and feeling amazing about it.  Rough body play is a form of impact play that generally means hitting your partner with things that are a part of your body or on your body, and being physically rough with them.  It is closer range impact than what you get from a whip, a flogger, a cane, and it is a very human interaction.  Altercation.  Play form.

Rough body play is a type of impact play, so you need to know more about the body and safety than with less potentially destructive types of kinky interaction.  It is very important to know what you can and cannot hit to avoid possibly permanently damaging your partner’s body.  Know with what you may hit those areas, with what amount of force, and how to brace your partner appropriately.  It is also paramount that you clearly negotiate what you are doing.  Know that from most rough body play there are bruises, possible breaks, and definite marks from the impact.  As a top it’s important to ask where and if bruising can be allowed during your scene, and if you are a bottom in this play make sure you consider what signs of a beating you want people seeing – as a burlesque performer I know that it takes about a week to heal from my play sessions taking regular doses of arnica internally and externally.  I keep my performance schedule very clearly in mind when I enter into rough body playtime for sure.  I don’t mind having to wear a turtleneck or long pants in the summer to my other jobs or life events, but there’s not much I can do about my skimpy costumes!

Why would anyone want to do it?  This is a VERY interesting question to me.  There was a class I took on punching and kicking with Lee Harrington a while back and I realized that I had a very clear idea about why  do it, and this explanation is NOT for everyone, but here goes something from my brain to you:

I think rough body play is a very deeply felt form of feminism and serves as a kind of equality affirmation for me.  I have always been a very rough and tumble girl, I always wanted to be thought of as a tomboy but I liked wearing dresses too much.  So at some point boys stopped wrestling with me.  It wasn’t because those boys were being sexist in and of themselves, it’s just in the culture.  I don’t know if any adult ever told them “not to punch a girl”, but at some point I wasn’t invited to play anymore – not the way I wanted to.  I could watch.  That made me, at a very young age, feel pretty invisible…  and as I grew up with this girl body, year after year I started to feel more and more invisible.  There were more and more things I wasn’t asked to participate in, more and more games I wasn’t allowed to play…  The first time in my adult life that someone (a male person) looked me in the face and said “Have you ever been punched before?  Do you want to be?” I felt all of a sudden visible.  Worthy.  A partner with a strong body and spirit that could be honored as such.  And the punch itself resonated through my body in an affirmative way.  It felt electric, sexy, real, something to push against or something to accept and bear.  It was energy invested in me, my body, I was chosen in that moment and not told how frail I was supposed to be because of my sex, but allowed to join the ranks of the “body people” – people who trust and use their bones, muscles, skin, will, and power to play and define themselves.  I was who I want to be.  I felt seen.  I felt accepted.

Playing with a Sadist who was one of the fiercest (and most fun) people I've played with... look closely and you can see the beginnings of the boot marks that will be black and purples the following day

Playing with a sadist who was one of the fiercest (and most fun) people I’ve played with… look closely and you can see the beginnings of the boot marks that will be black and purples the following day

Now, I am not in any way saying that being hit by someone is a feminist action in and of itself, oh no.  But I am saying that for me, respectfully, consensually, and lovingly being invited to join this adult playground meant for roughhousing feels liberating. There are probably as many reasons to enjoy getting beaten up as there are people who do it.  I would say it can be a more painful mode of play, so the more masochistic of us may enjoy the sensations, and I assume many people who use their bodies – dancers, martial artists, sports players, heavy laborers, these may be people who have a trust of their bodies and an enjoyment in pushing their limits this way.  And perhaps being a white collar worker with a lust for fight club may be the turn around you’re looking for in life that gets you to the rough body play classes and wrestling mats…  I wonder, if you were to let someone roughhouse with you why might you find yourself liking it?  Or maybe physical punishment will never appeal to you, and that is completely fine too.

How is rough body play not abuse?  This is an important question.  Considering that some of the physical activities those engaging in rough body play are executing are often similar to actions abusers employ, it is really important to consider this question.  There are important differences in impact play negotiations and abuse, but for this blog I’ll outline the most important one:

CONSENT.  Like the sentence above mentions, impact play “negotiations” are negotiated between partners and should always be consensual.  Even in situations of non-consensual consent, the people involved will have talked in length about what the bottom’s limits are, and the top will have a very clear understanding of what their partner likes, dislikes, can tolerate, cannot tolerate, and they will have played together enough to know how the bottom reacts when they are tiring out, harmed, or overwhelmed (in a bad way) to the activity.  A responsible, non abusive top will take responsibility for their actions, and take care not to harm their partners or even hurt them more than their partners have voiced they wish to be.

Consent.  Consent.  Consent.  There is little more I need to say here.

On being beaten:  I could tell a LOT of stories here, I LOVE rough body play.  But I want to tell one that was not just about a kink interaction, but was a situation that taught me more about my own self…  I was at a convention in New Jersey for a weekend last year to, well, have fun, but also to demo bottom for a few classes, volunteer, find some play time (and partners), and take a bunch of classes.  It was a great weekend all in all.  I met wonderful people, started to feel more a part of the “community” as it was the first convention I went to where I started recognizing more faces and meeting people because they’d seen me demo.  I had a blast.  I found some excellent people to play with, took wonderful classes with people I respect and enjoy listening to, and I got some totally new experiences in.

One of the people I played with that weekend I had an excellent, very intense, and heavy on the rough body play (kicking, punching, slapping, along with some predicament bondage, nipple clams to beat the band, knife play, bullwhip, floggers, canes, a metal fan –oof–, breath play, and pressure point body control…  I think that’s about it) scene with on Friday night.  Saturday we had another impromptu scene-ish interaction early in the evening, heavy on the chest punching, and then later Saturday night I engaged with another person in wrestling play.  My wrestling partner was a good hundred pounds of muscle heavier than I and about a foot taller.  He was very rough and tried his hardest to make me call uncle!  There was a lot of being pinned and punched, especially to my left pectoral area (as he was right handed), and on my end a lot of taking the impact and catching my breath before wriggling out of it somehow or another…  We wrestled for quite some time, I had a lot of fun, and I must say that wrestling does bring out the competitive side of me.  I have a hard time giving in, and honestly haven’t had to very much historically.

When finally the game was over, and I’d had a moment to catch my breath, I briefly checked through my body to make sure all the pain was bruising soreness, and I realized that I was pretty sure it was not.  The fact was that the rib on the left side of my chest, just under my clavicle had been broken.  This was confirmed over the next few hours by a plethora of doctors and EMTs who were working at and attending the conference.  There isn’t much you can do with a broken rib other than ice it and wait 6 weeks for it to heal on its own.  You also have to learn to let people help you (that was maybe the biggest lesson of the situation)…  But not the point of this story.  The lesson I learned that was most important was (get this):

I am not invincible

Simple.  But powerful.  This fracture could not be blamed on one of my play partners, or both of them even.  A large part of the responsibility for this happening was mine.  I realized that I needed to be better at knowing my body in the moment of play.  I needed to learn from this situation and have clearer limits.  I can’t just run into every situation I see and join the fray.  I need to know when I’ve had enough for rough body play to continue to be fun.  A 6 week hiatus from this loved and favorite type of engagement gave me a lot of time to figure out where my limits should lie inside my will’s expansive ability to take it all and then some.

So, I know that I shouldn’t wrestle without certain types of negotiation first, and letting my partner know that I get competitive and might not red out when I should.  I probably shouldn’t wrestle people who are that much larger than me in the first place.  I should check in with my body if I’m taking a lot of impact in the same place over a short period of time – three intense scenes which each included a lot of chest punching in the span of 24 hours seems to have been too much for me.  That’s ok.  I can do other things and rest my pecs and other impact-used up areas if I’m not done yet…

This weekend in my life I am glad for.  I failed at being able to take it all and not break.  But I learned a LOT about myself, and even in breaking I healed a smarter and more savvy kinkster.  I don’t think one should always (or most of the time) learn by going too far in this game, but I’m glad that I had responsible partners, great friends, and willing resources to help me along my way when I did fall.  These things are gold.

More to think about:  DO THE RESEARCH!  Take classes in this subject or have experienced friends and partners show you the ropes before you lay your hands on another person’s body.  YOU CAN DO REAL DAMAGE TO SOMEONE by hitting them in the wrong way, so know your stuff first.  Read up on anatomy and physiology.  There are body parts you shouldn’t hit, and there are certain body parts that aren’t designed to take impact regardless of whether or not you hit them directly.  I repeat:  DO THE RESEARCH!  You’ll also have waaay more friends and fun buddies that way.  Kink Academy has some excellent videos on the subject and you can learn a LOT from the teachers on that platform.  Local classes and learning opportunities at conventions or play events are excellent ways to get your feet wet and even get some hands on practice in.  Punch yourself!  Try things out on your own body, know what these sensations are before you share them with others – and I still recommend knowing how to hit yourself before jumping into it.  Be prepared to heal.  Give yourself time.  Listen to your body.  Communicate clearly about what you want, you don’t want, and don’t be afraid to “yellow” or “red” out of a scene or situation.  I would consider this one of those types of play I want to have a higher degree of trust and confidence in my partners to bottom to (at least if I desire the most fun)…  Now YOU go have fun!

To Breath and Being,
~ Karin

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~Thank you.

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