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BDSM Education Impact

An Introduction to Impact Play

Impact play is more than just hitting someone; it can be a very sensual, physical, psychological, emotional, and sexual form of sensation play. Impact play is one of the most commonly known, vastly practiced and adored kinks within the community. Whether it’s an across-the-knee punishment, maintenance swats, warm up spanks or a perfectly mastered buildup to a deeper impact, there is something for every level of experience. 

What is Impact Play? 

Simply put, impact play is the act of striking someone with either your hand, toy or other implement, to bring pleasure whether it be in a sexual, physical, psychological or emotional form. 

You do not need to be a sadist or a masochist in order to enjoy impact play. Impact play is a sub-category under sensation play, has a vast range of intensities, and can be done in many different ways.

Depending on the vision of those negotiating the scene, impact play be applied in many, many different ways. It can be slower sensual swats with minimal pain, the intent more to set a headspace for the participants than anything; this might be seen in lighter roleplay scenes. On the other end of the spectrum, the Top can leave tantalizing lashes making your skin glow, or dish out a deep thud, instantly warming you to the core. This can be intense for both the bottom and the Top, physically and emotionally.

Spanking is likely the simplest form of impact play and the first one that comes to mind for many getting started. But, the location of the spanks and the toy used to do so can vary widely. The back, thighs, feet, stomach, are just a few areas that can be used for a sadist’s target practice. Of course with every spot that you can hit, there are just as many locations you should avoid or be cautious of for the bottom’s safety.

The use of everyday household items (pervertibles) is a popular alternative; sticks, rulers, chopping boards, belts, shoes, cables, wooden spoons, spatulas, the possibilities are endless; if you can swing it, you can use it. The specialized tools of the impact trade are vast but generally fall under the common titles of paddle, flogger, slapper, cane, crop and whip with an array of types, designs and styles to suit your wants, needs and implement desires. 

The severe forms of impact play where the intention is to cause longer lasting physical injuries and have the potential for lingering emotional and psychological effects are considered forms of edge play. The aim of the scene could be to leave impact marks, cause deep tissue bruising, or to leave welts, abrasions, or lacerations. The aim may even be to draw blood or leave permanent scarring. This is quite dangerous, and will require skilled first aid and has an extreme risk profile with all implements being blood bound. These forms of impact play should only be done by educated, experienced and trusted kinksters in a safe environment. 

Removing the aspect of pain, impact play also provides a certain amount of power exchange; the simple act of striking, or being struck by, another can place you in the desired headspace, particularly if coupled with some roleplay. This can be done with relative ease, without the need of special toys or the risk of injury.


Non-sexual Impact Play

Why would you inflict pain or endure a prolonged beating if the end goal wasn’t sexual pleasure or gratification? 

As mentioned previously, Impact Play is not necessarily, or inherently sexual.
A Top may simply wish to practice technique, the bottom may simply wish to experience something new, or either of them may want to try out a new implement (whether because they wish to try it on themselves before trying it on another, or just wanted an experienced Top to be in control for the first scene with it).

A Top or bottom may find cathartic release in an impact play scene, without any need for sexual gratification. The simple act of striking, or being struck by, another will create and release various endorphins and additional hormones; this is sometimes what is sought from an Impact Play scene.

Sadists, by definition, enjoy inflicting pain or humiliation on another human being; therefore, a sadist can absolutely play non-sexually, yet walk away with tremendous satisfaction. Likewise a masochist, by definition, enjoys or craves humiliation or receiving pain and thus can gain the same satisfaction from a scene in which they are not sexually stimulated, but instead hurt or humiliated.

Many Tops simply enjoy being in control. Asserting dominance or exercising this control is highly stimulating, a psychological turn-on if you will, and can be all they wish to gain from any given scene. A sexual act does not need to be incorporated into the scene for the Top to feel like they have the desired level of control over their bottom. Particularly in an Impact scene where the Top is physically asserting their Dominance with each strike.

Above all else, sometimes we just want to have some fun, without having sex with our play partner, and as long as it is Safe, Sane, and Consensual, why not?

Whatever the case may be, impact play is more than just hitting someone. It can be very sensual, psychological, emotional, or sexual, and you are only limited by your imagination and of course your own limits. The next time you open your utensils drawer, look in the shed, visit the dollar shop or are out browsing the hardware store, take a second look, let your mind wonder, you might just be surprised at the sting or thud and the beautiful marks that random items can make.


Understanding the psychological and physiological responses to impact play

Sadism and Masochism

You don’t have to be into BDSM to know that pain and pleasure can be experienced simultaneously. As a result, impact play is often used to elicit pain as desired – and those who want to give or receive pain are the “SM” of “BDSM” – Sadists and Masochists. 

What does Sadist mean? 

A sadist is someone who enjoys inflicting pain or humiliation on another human being. The pleasure gained may be sexual in nature, but may also be derived simply from being in control of another’s pain or pleasure, whether physical or mental.  

What does Masochist mean?

Masochist is a term used to describe someone who derives pleasure, and often sexual gratification, from experiencing physical or emotional pain.  Physical pain may be from various forms of impact play, or perhaps from other devices such as nipple clamps.  Humiliation however,  is a form of emotional pain that may also be desirable to a masochist. 

Because masochists derive pleasure from pain, it is especially important to set limits ahead of time and to use a safeword during play. 

The Body’s Pain Response

The desire for consensual pain can be for many reasons. For some, it promotes a feeling of “helplessness” adding to a submissive headspace.  For others, pain heightens their feeling of pleasure and/or arousal. For a third group, coping with pain provides a challenge, and gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment. Yet others utilize pain to shut down their minds, allowing them to escape daily stressors or emotional pain. 

Science also helps to explain the desire for pain; mechanical, chemical, or thermal forms of pain trigger receptors in the brain.  These pain receptors then send protective impulses to move away or to do something to stop or avoid the pain. These same pain receptors also trigger the release of chemicals. To simplify it; endorphins, serotonin, melatonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine create a hormone cocktail which, when released, provide a boost of energy as part of the “fight or flight” response, and act as an analgesic or painkiller creating a “natural” high.


How does one get Pleasure from Pain?

One of the most important elements in the ability to get pleasure from pain is the element of consent.  Even when restrained or no longer “in charge”, a submissive or bottom still has the ultimate control – and the emotional knowledge that the pain is desired helps to alter the brain’s perception that this is “hurt” and not “harm”. 

Once in the right emotional frame of mind, if pain is applied in the right incremental amounts, the hormones released will build, eventually morphing the feelings of pain into pleasure. For some this process happens very quickly, while others require a more gradual and staged buildup. Some of these same hormones that are released in response to pain are also the same ones responsible for sexual arousal.  

What is Masochistic Headspace?

Masochism is finding a way of reaching an altered state of consciousness through pain or humiliation. One of the best analogies is comparing it to high-intensity exercise. Anyone who has ever done any running probably remembers that the first couple of miles go pretty well. Once you hit about the third mile though, everything in your body is screaming “STOP”!  It’s a battle to push through, but by mile four, things are getting a little easier. You hit mile five and you are in a zone where all you hear is the music of your breathing, your feet are floating, and you feel like you could run forever – ‘the runners high’. You’ve reached an altered state of consciousness.

While the body’s chemical responses are the same as reaching subspace, it’s the ‘painful’ buildup and masochistic headspace that separates the masochist space from subspace; making the euphoric high of a masochist a very intoxicating, and often an addictive experience.


Contributors: This article was researched and written by Mistress Michelle and published by Umlindi.

These educational topics wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication from our Dom(me)sLife contributors – Thank you MM

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