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.
Knots are fundamental to rope bondage. While you don’t need to learn dozens of esoteric knots in order to be a rigger, it’s important that you thoroughly master all of the basic knots that we use regularly.
This chapter describes the knots we use most commonly and gives some advice about when and how to use them as well as when to avoid certain knots.
Every knot is different, but they all use the same basic building blocks and techniques.
A hitch attaches a rope to a fixed object. In theory, you only need to know one hitch. In practice, you’ll need several: what works well in one situation may be insecure or unfeasible in another.
This super-simple knot is usually just a building block in other knots, although in some cases it is sufficient for finishing the end of a body harness.
A workhorse knot with numerous civilian applications. We use it for attaching vertical lines to harnesses.
The anchor bend is similar to two half hitches, but has increased resistance to jamming under load.
Simple and secure, the lark’s head is an excellent choice for many applications.
This bondage-specific knot is our favorite for securing the working end of a vertical line.
This special-purpose knot is useful for securing a vertical line at any point along its length.
Climbers use the Munter hitch to add friction to a belay system. We use it for single-line tie offs.
The super Munter is a higher friction variant of the standard Munter.
As you might guess, loop knots produce a loop that is useful for attaching to a fixed object.
A reliable and broadly useful knot, the bowline is one of the most popular knots.
The figure 8 takes some effort to tie but is one of the strongest and most reliable knots.
The retraced figure 8 is identical to the standard figure 8, but can be tied onto a closed ring.
Bends connect two ropes together. None of these bends are suitable for extending a vertical line: always use a single line of the correct length.
The good news is that you probably already use the square knot to tie your shoes. The bad news is that you’re probably doing it wrong.
This is the fastest and best way we know to extend a rope by adding another rope to it.
The water knot is a specialized knot for joining two pieces of webbing.
Y hangers are used for attaching a vertical line to two or more bands of rope simultaneously.
The Birmingham bowline is our favorite general-purpose Y hanger. It isn’t adjustable, but it’s rock solid, easy to learn, and fast to tie.
The bridge knot is a specialized knot for attaching a vertical line to two or more harnesses. Although it’s complicated to tie, it has the great advantage that it can be adjusted while in flight.
These knots are limited to specific applications, but they’re exceptionally good at what they do.
Like the half hitch, the overhand knot is mostly useful as component of other, larger knots.
The chain stitch is used to store rope, or to neatly get rid of excess rope during a scene.
The marlinspike hitch attaches a small stick to the middle of a line to serve as a handle for pulling.