Understanding the Cane

A Work­shop by Tom

About the Workshop
In this work­shop, I make no attempt to actu­ally teach my can­ing tech­nique. The tech­nique requires many hours of prac­tice. Rather, what I teach is my method of inter­ac­tion with the play part­ner. I hope to work with a vol­un­teer new to the cane, tak­ing her as far as she desires to go and no fur­ther, and also per­form a full can­ing scene. The full can­ing scene should be with some­one who has worked with me before.The cane is a tool. In fact, the scene itself is just a tool — a means of get­ting her (the play part­ner) where she wants to go. It does not specif­i­cally mat­ter how “heavy” or “light” the scene is; the point is to take her as far as she is ready to go. My role, as I see it, is to take her places she can­not reach by herself.A heavy can­ing scene can appear quite fright­en­ing to the out­side observer. Thus part of my role in a pub­lic scene, is to show that the scene remains within “safe, sane, con­sen­sual” bounds. Nev­er­the­less, the cane can be fright­en­ing, and work­shop par­tic­i­pants need to be pre­pared for this.
You might be curi­ous as to what to expect. I have placed online a scene report, describ­ing a can­ing by my instruc­tor Jeff. My own style, nat­u­rally, is sim­i­lar to my teacher’s.
I would like a chair and pil­low avail­able, so I can demon­strate spe­cific tech­nique with­out wear­ing out my demonstrator.If fea­si­ble, I would also like a vol­un­teer to work with, who has some curios­ity about what it might feel like to be caned. This per­son does not need to have any par­tic­u­larly high pain tol­er­ance; the point is to demon­strate how I work with a new per­son, devel­op­ing trust and keep­ing things consensual.Due to the time con­straints involved in the Work­shop, I would need a part­ner or “spot­ter” to go with this vol­un­teer, to keep an eye on the vol­un­teer after the demon­stra­tion and make sure all is well. In other words, if it so hap­pened that I sent the vol­un­teer “float­ing,” I need some­one around to watch and make sure she comes back down okay while I move on to the next por­tion of the work­shop. Nat­u­rally, in a real scene, I would han­dle the “after­care” myself.
Part One: Introduction
The scene actu­ally begins at this point. I begin with a “show and tell.” I bring out my canes, show and explain the dif­fer­ence between bam­boo and rat­tan, and so on. I show what tech­niques I use, and why. The “show and tell,” how­ever, is merely a means to an end. My pur­pose is to begin to develop a level of com­fort in the other person.I have, unfor­tu­nately, found that sim­ply explain­ing about can­ing, per­haps even doing a first-​​time can­ing scene, is irre­spon­si­ble. There are far too many things which can go dis­as­trously wrong. (I am refer­ring to rat­tan or syn­thetic canes; bam­boo is easy.)Picture a begin­ner, if you will, whom I have intro­duced to the cane, who sees some other per­son with a cane in his or her toy bag. Sim­ple pos­ses­sion of a rat­tan cane does not guar­an­tee the abil­ity to use it safely. There­fore I teach the one being caned the kinds of things to watch for. So long as the per­son is using the cane within his or her abil­ity, all should be fine.
Part Two: Work­ing with a New Person
Assum­ing that I have a vol­un­teer still inter­ested in exper­i­ment­ing with the canes, I move on to dis­cussing specif­i­cally what to expect dur­ing the scene. My intent is that there be no sur­prises what­ever. No cane stroke will hap­pen that she did not expect. We will be talk­ing our way through the entire scene. We will try this, and try that, and based on reac­tion judge where to go from there.If she wants to try a harder stroke, we’ll work out how much harder and from which cane — keep­ing every­thing within her com­fort zone. In other words, we are con­duct­ing the scene as a part­ner­ship. If it so hap­pens she wants to drift deeper from heav­ier strokes; that’s fine. She knows what to expect, and can now trust that things will remain within control.If we choose to move deeper/​heavier, I will con­tinue to make my expec­ta­tions clear as we go. If we choose to not move to a deeper level, that’s fine too — and an impor­tant les­son. If we were to ever work together again, she would have a bet­ter idea of what to expect, and not have to waste any energy wor­ry­ing about whether it might go too far.However, for the pur­poses of the work­shop, there is another demon­stra­tion to come. One should never run from one scene to another, leav­ing the first per­son to crash on her own. This is why our vol­un­teer needs a part­ner, to stay with her as she comes back from the scene. In the same way, I need to stop and make the men­tal tran­si­tion before pro­ceed­ing with Part Three.

Part Three: The Con­sen­sual S/​M Can­ing Scene
The exact nature of this scene depends on the mood of the per­sons involved. The scene might be fright­en­ingly severe, and it might be dis­ap­point­ingly tame. Either way, how­ever, I can demon­strate how I con­duct such an event, tak­ing her to the head­space which is best for her that day.The can­ing itself is likely to take 30–40 min­utes. We’re not offer­ing “six of the best” here! How­ever, we will need to keep the work­shop mov­ing right along, so that we do have enough time remain­ing, to con­duct the demonstration.

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