Caning is the SM practice of striking the body (usually on the buttocks) with a cane for mutual erotic pleasure.
Canes come in a wide assortment of materials, lengths and diameters. Selecting the cane that is right for you can be a time consuming process, but fortunately it is one not to dread but to look forward to. Each of these three variables affects the caning experience:
The material from which the cane is made can affect the way it strikes because of its resiliency, flexibility, and compressibility. Softer materials (a hazel switch, for instance) are often very flexible and resilient. They will strike with more speed and more "cutting" capability, but because of their compressibility they strike with less overall force than a more dense material such as rattan.
Some modern materials (e.g., fiberglass) combine flexibility with high density to produce sensations not possible with natural materials. However, most caners prefer the psychological effect of natural bamboo and rattan canes. There is something to be said for the historical implications as well - caners are part of an Asian tradition that goes back at least 3,000 years.
Longer canes strike with more power and therefore require more skill and greater caution must be taken in their use.
Larger diameter canes cause more of a "thud" when they strike, while thinner canes produce a sharper stinging. Larger canes are also far less likely to break the skin and cause bleeding, although they do bruise beautifully. Smaller canes won't traumatize as large of an area, but they are apt to slice the skin.
A good cane should be flexible, allowing it to bend with each stroke.
If made from any porous material as all "natural" canes are (e.g., bamboo, rattan), it must be covered with several good coats of varnish. This is especially important if the cane is to be used on more than one bottom. Canes are very difficult to disinfect, and since caning often involves bleeding (usually very little, but bleeding nonetheless), hygiene is paramount to prevent HIV transmission. The varnish makes it easier to effectively disinfect the cane by covering the naturally porous wood with an impermeable barrier. If your cane is natural and unvarnished, do not use it on more than one partner.
The length of your cane should be somewhere between 24" (two feet) and 36" (three feet) in most cases - 30" to 36" is most common. Longer canes (up to around 42") are acceptable for experienced caners only because their use requires greater skill. Diameter determines how sharp the pain will be. Your cane should be somewhere around 1/4" - slightly thinner for a real sting and larger (up to 3/4") for a thud.
Taking Care of Your Cane
Store your cane in a dry, cool place - away from sun, heat and moisture. Hang it vertically to keep it from developing curves and bends.
Every year or so, sand the varnish from the tip of the cane, so the naked wood is exposed. Stand cane, exposed end down, in a flower vase or other water-filled container overnight, to allow the wood to absorb the water. Then varnish the tip to keep the moisture within the cane.
This will make the cane last much, much longer, and will maintain its flexibility.
Before you begin a caning, there are a few safety precautions you should take. First, make sure the room is not too cold. Cold muscles are far more prone to serious injury, and will recover more slowly from the blows. Avoid hitting the tailbone or anywhere bone comes near the surface. This is why caning is usually done on the buttocks.
Here are some tips on where and how to apply the cane:
The are between the bottom of the butt and the top of the thighs (the sulcus) is a particularly sensitive area. It requires a little extra caution, but it can also produce some rather interesting responses.
Try a backhand swing (as one would use in tennis or racquetball) as well as forehand. With practice, you should be as proficient with either a forehand or a backhand swing. Contrary to what many people think, a clean backhand usually gives a harder stroke than a forehand.
Don't neglect the backs (or even the fronts) of the thighs. They are as sensitive as the buttocks if not more so.
Strokes can be applied slowly, with lots of power and time between strokes for partial recovery. Or, they can be applied rapid-fire staccato. Usually, the faster you go the less power should be behind each stroke.
Caning produces two forms of pain which are caused by separate parts of the stroke. The decompression caused when the cane leaves the flesh is, when delivered properly, distinct from the sensation of impact. By holding the cane down before releasing it, the two stages of pain can be further separated. A masochist bottom will appreciate the extra effort. Others will curse and cry and beg - maybe even simultaneously.
It's all in the wrist...
You don't have to put a lot of force behind the cane to get a powerful, energetic stroke. A natural,relatively slow swing will produce all the force you require as long as you swing properly. Use your wrist to accelerate the tip of the cane just before impact - the proper swing is very similar to a racquetball swing not a tennis swing.
There is an important reason to emphasize proper form rather than brute strength. Proper form is important in maintaining the accuracy and consistency of your strokes. These provide safety for the bottom. If your swings are all over the map and the intensity is out of control, sooner or later you will strike too hard or in an incorrect place. You could cause serious damage. Do you really want that to happen? Not only will bottoms stop playing with you, your reputation will be shot. Take your art seriously. Respect your bottom and his or her safety. Practice on an inanimate object until you develop real skill. Then get your bottom and show what you have learned.