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.


Square Knot


The square knot is one of the most commonly used knots, and is excellent when used appropriately. It is frequently tied incorrectly, resulting in the less secure granny knot.

Use this knot for:

The square knot is correctly used as a binding knot, to secure two lines that run in opposite directions around a solid item. We use it in this capacity as part of wrap and tuck with a square knot.

Do not use this knot for:

Many authorities believe that the square knot has killed more people than any other knot. Know its limitations!

  • The square knot is not stable when subjected to a dynamic load.
  • It is not reliable when used in a free-standing line (for example, to tie two climbing ropes together to make single longer rope).

Tying the square knot


Cross the two lines over each other, with the blue line lying on top of the red line.

The usual mnemonic for tying a square knot is “right over left, left over right”. This step is the “right over left” part: the blue line (which is currently traveling to the right) goes over the red line.


Twist one line around the other.

It doesn’t matter whether you twist the red line around the blue line or vice versa: the blue line will exit both sides of the knot on top of the red line.


Cross the lines over each other, again with the blue line one top.

This is the “left over right” part, since the blue line is now traveling to the left. Another way to remember this is that the same line should go on top each time.


Again twist one line around the other. It doesn’t matter which one you twist.


Snug the knot and inspect it. The blue line should be on top of the red line when it enters and exits the knot, and the knot should lie flat and symmetrical.

If the square knot is improperly loaded, it can easily capsize and fail.

Don’t tie the granny knot by mistake

If you tied “right over left, right over left” instead of “right over left, left over right”, you’ll end up with a granny knot (ABOK 80).

The granny knot is less secure than the square knot, and more prone to capsizing under load. You should train yourself to always tie square knots rather than granny knots.

In the middle of a scene, however, it is usually not worth retying a granny knot. In most cases the granny will work well enough, and in critical situations you shouldn’t be using a square knot in the first place.

Right: square knot

Right: the square knot is symmetrical and lies flat.

Wrong: granny knot

Wrong: the granny knot is asymetrical and forms a ball.