This entry is part 3 of 26 in the series Blogging from A to Z

As I continue the Blogging from “A” to “Z” Challenge, I do want to provide some balance in my look at the joys of kink from “A” to “Z”.  Yesterday’s topic was a “soft” topic.

Acousticophilia isn’t particularly edgy.  I don’t believe a discussion centered on the acousticophile in all of us will cause any potential distress for readers.

Right up front, I should say that’s not necessarily true for today’s topic.  Bastinado is a very real form of punishment and torture, and I don’t just mean in the BDSM dungeon.

As with many things BDSM, bastinado has it’s roots in the real world.  And, there’s no denying that it’s a particularly cruel form of torture when used with malice.

Our bodies were built to move around on our feet, so foot pain is particularly inescapable for prisoners forced into continual barefoot locomotion.  Bastinado is the “energizer bunny of torture” under those circumstances    – it keeps going and going and going . . .

It could be said that our feet are a particularly sensitive issue for many of us anyway, even without the mention of foot torture.  Anyone who has suffered foot pain knows that the sensitivity is literally true, our feet are particularly prone to the kind of pain even masochists don’t enjoy.  

Foot pain is a part of human existence it seems, second only to back pain in common maladies reported to doctors.  And bastinado is very much designed to make that problem worse.

bastinado then and now

Bastinado is a form of corporal punishment where the soles of a person’s bare feet are beaten again and again with an implement.  The actual blows are usually delivered with an tool such as a cane, rod, riding crop, truncheon, leather strap(s), rubber strap or bat, or electric cord.

The documented history of bastinado goes back more than 1000 years, and it’s been employed by repressive regimes like the Nazi’s and the Khmer Rouge.  Wikipedia’s entry on the topic of Foot Whipping will serve as a convenient short introduction to bastinado as punishment and torture:

It is also referred to as foot/feet caning, sole caning, sole beating or foot bottom caning. The particular Mid East method is called falaka, also spelled falaqa, falanga or phalanga. German terms are Bastonade and in former centuries Sohlenstreich (sole-striking), also colloquially paraphrased with Schläge/Hiebe/”fünfzig” auf die Fußsohlen (strokes/”fifty” onto the soles of the feet).

The use of bastinado is documented from the year 960 in China, in Europe from 1537.  It is to be conceded, that foot whipping has been commonly practiced since ancient times, as it is referenced in the bible in multiple passages (Prov. 22:15; Lev. 19:20; Deut. 22:18).

Foot whipping is associated mostly with middle and far eastern nations, where it is occasionally executed in public, therefore covered by reports and photographs. However different forms of bastinado were also a conventional method in western countries to enforce discipline in prisons, reformatories, boarding schools and similar institutions at times when a right to use corporal punishment existed. For instance Bastonade was as a traditional form of punishment especially in German territories. It was commonly practiced in prisons as well as reform schools and also extensively employed during the Nazi-Regime as disciplinary measure.

For being generally implemented closed off from the public in western civilizations and as it appears outwardly unspectacular compared to publicly better known practices such as flagellation and caning that were frequently employed as judicial corporal punishment for serious offenses, foot whipping, which merely served for disciplinary purposes to sanction misconduct or insubordination within prisons and similar institutions, is mostly disregarded in the context of corporal punishment.

Sole caning is still a common form of disciplinary corporal punishment of prisoners in different countries as it is eminently painful while usually no severe or lasting injuries are caused. It is also frequently used for political torture as physical evidence mostly remains undetectable after a relatively short period of recuperation and it can therefore be exerted repetitively over extended periods of time.

Obviously, while the history of bastinado as a form of real punishment and torture can be fascinating, that’s not meant to be the focus of this blog.  It’s not called Michael Samadhi’s History of Torture, so with that introduction under our belts, let’s discuss how bastinado can fit into an exploration of the joy of kink.

it’s a treat to beat your feet

In addition to being a kinkster, I’ve been an avid backpacker most of my adult life.  The first rule of backpacking is to take care of the feet!  As I mentioned in the introduction, one of the insidiously painful aspects of bastinado is that it involves the feet, which we depend on for movement every day.  For that reason, bastinado is a form of BDSM “play” that should be approached with a good deal of respect and caution.  If one or more of the small bones in a prisoner’s foot are broken, it’s just part of the torture, at least from the viewpoint of the person delivering the blows.  If that happens to a BDSM slave, it’s a real tragedy that could permanently compromise their health, not to mention diminishing their ability to serve.

With that said, bastinado can be a fun addition to your play.  The sadist inside me does appreciate this kind of torment, and I have indulged myself on more than a handful of occasions.  Use appropriate caution, and some common sense, and everything should be fine.

The first thing you’ll need to include bastinado in your BDSM games is a willing partner.  That can be a little more difficult than it seems, people can be weird about their feet.  More than just a few submissives (at least in my experience) list foot torture as a hard limit.  Receiving bastinado is usually not going to be real high on the menu of folks who earn a living on their feet, so it’s not always an option for professions from chefs to nurses to waitstaff at a restaurant.

Next on the list of things necessary for a good bastinado scene is restraint.  While a wiggling butt may still present a fair target to a dominant, moving feet are simply an invitation for problems when attempting to strike them with any sort of accuracy.  The less “wiggle room” allowed to the victim’s feet the better.  So, strict restraint is usually the order of the day.

Then you’ll need to find the right “implement” for your explorations.  To my mind a thin rattan cane is the classic instrument for bastinado, but I’m sure that’s a personal preference more than a universal part of foot torture.  A riding crop is another common choice for this kind of scene.  Floggers and leather straps are also used for bastinado in BDSM.  I recommend staying on the lighter side of impact toys for bastinado, as heavier toys would seem to increase the odds of potential problems with the small metatarsal bones that are the primary structure for our feet.

From there, it’s really up to you how to proceed (using caution and common sense of course!)  I always avoid the area on the back of the foot around the Achilles tendon.  I’ve cared for a person with an Achilles tendon tear, it’s worse than a broken bone in many ways, a truly debilitating injury.  While I doubt that a moderate strike with a thin piece of rattan would likely cause a ruptured tendon, it’s an area I don’t take chances with.

I really don’t do much with the tops of feet either, there’s little padding there and the bones seem most exposed from that angle.  I’ve seen bastinado applied to the tops of feet, quite effectively in fact, it’s just not my preference.

When delivering bastinado, I concentrate on precise strikes to the soles of the feet.  I avoid the toes, and vary the blows between the ball of the foot, the arch, and the heel.  All are effective zones to target it seems, full of nerve endings which tend to elicit strong responses.  I don’t strike with much force, it’s not needed.  That can be one of the positive’s of this particular technique, it’s not terribly strenuous for the person delivering the blows.

As always with BDSM, communication is a key.  Knowing your partner intimately and being able to communicate freely about the experience makes it more rich for individuals on both the giving and receiving end of bastinado.  A little can go a long way when beating on feet, so make sure to have safewords or other methods of feedback in place, so that your play doesn’t turn into real torture.  I always encourage folks to get in person instruction before trying advanced techniques like bastinado on their own.  It’s easier than ever to attend BDSM events where classes are taught on a wide variety of tools and technique.  Experienced and trusted mentors within the BDSM community are also available for those willing to put a little effort into their search.

“B” is for Bastinado

B

Series Navigation<< “A” is for Acousticophile“C” is for Cuckold >>
Blogging from A to Z Challenge, Education “B” is for Bastinado
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