Suspension Bondage Is Dangerous

We love suspension bondage and we’re excited to share it with you. We want to be very clear, however, about the risks involved.

1. Suspension bondage involves unavoidable risk. Like rock climbing, suspension is a risky activity. Good preparation and training can reduce your risk, but even if you do everything right there is still a chance that you may be injured or killed, or that you may injure or kill another person.

2. We don’t have all the answers. Unlike rock climbing, suspension bondage has no professional standards bodies and no expert consensus about best practices. This book is based on years of study, practice, and consultation with outside experts. Nonetheless, you should be aware that suspension is still a developing field, and our understanding of the best way to do things is still evolving.

3. You can’t learn suspension from a book. The only safe way to learn suspension is to work with a qualified instructor or mentor. This book is a valuable adjunct to expert instruction, but not a substitute for it. Without a skilled teacher to guide and evaluate you, you cannot learn suspension without placing your partner in tremendous danger.

4. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Suspension is fun and exciting, and you will likely be tempted to rush ahead and try activities that you aren’t yet ready for. We can’t stress enough the importance of proceeding slowly and methodically, and always working within your skill level.

5. Always use good judgment. Your best defense against mishap is your own common sense and good judgment. Always be mindful of what you’re doing, and err on the side of caution.

Your partner is placing tremendous faith in your competence and judgment. If you are careless or overly ambitious, they are likely to pay a heavy price for your foolishness. Make sure that you are worthy of their trust.

Suspended Animation accepts no responsibility for any injury or death which may occur as a result of the activities described in this book. By reading this book, you agree to take full responsibility for your actions and their consequences.


Bridge Knot

The bridge knot is included purely for historical reference. We recommend that you use the Birmingham bowline instead of the bridge knot. It performs the same function, but is easier to tie and more stable under load.

The bridge knot is another specialized bondage knot. It’s used for attaching vertical lines to harnesses that have two separate bands of rope, particularly the chest harness.

Although the bridge is tricky to tie, it has the great advantage that it can be adjusted while in flight. This allows you to adjust how much of the load is placed on each band of the harness, or to adapt to different angles if your partner is changing positions during the scene.

Use this knot for:

Attaching vertical lines to harnesses that have two separate bands of rope.

Do not use this knot for:

Any other application. This is a specialized knot, with very limited usefulness beyond its intended purpose.

Tying the bridge knot


Pass the working end under both the bands that you want to attach to.

Note that for visual clarity, we are using a single line here. Normally, you would use a doubled line.


Pull a V several inches long in between the bands and bring the standing end close to the V.


Pass the working end behind the standing end and then through the point of the V, pulling all the parts of the knot together.

This completes the bridge part of the knot. The remaining steps will tie a series of hitches to secure the bridge.



Begin securing the knot by tying a half hitch, with the standing end passing around the working end. A convenient shortcut is to make a twist in the standing end and pass the working end through the twist.


Snug the half hitch from step 4 and tie a second half hitch, this time by passing the working end around the standing end.

It’s important that the working end and the standing end each wrap around the other once, rather than wrapping the working end around the standing end twice. If you do that, you’ll have two half hitches, which will cinch the bridge and prevent you from adjusting it.


Snug the second hitch to finish the knot and lock it for safety. (We can’t lock this knot because we’ve tied it in an undoubled line to reduce visual clutter).

In the rare event that you’re tying the bridge in an undoubled line, you should add an additional overhand knot as a safety stopper.

Adjusting the bridge knot

The great advantage of the bridge knot is that it can be adjusted while your partner is in the air. You can adjust it either to shift weight from one band of the harness to the other, or to adapt to a changing suspension angle.

Notice that the bridge produces two loops (one for each of the harness bands), which are connected by a single line that goes straight through the knot. By sliding this line through the knot, you can adjust the bridge to place more or less load on either wrap.

The bridge knot adjusted for an upward pull.

The same bridge adjusted for a downward pull.

Using the bridge knot

The bridge knot is tremendously versatile, but it’s a little trickier to tie and use than some of the other knots. Pay particular attention to the half hitches in steps 4 and 5: make sure that they are well snugged, and that each line is tied once around the other. In addition make sure to lock it.

When rigging the bridge knot, place your carabiner in the bight rather than through the body of the knot. This avoids destabilizing the knot as well as keeping the carabiner from sliding.

Right: through the bight

Correct: place the carabiner through the bight of the knot.

Wrong: through the body

Incorrect: a carabiner through the body of the knot will slide around and may pull the knot out of shape.