Webster's Dictionary, which lurks deep within E2, defines the word cane but not caning. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, however, has a separate entry for caning, which summarizes to this:
  1. To beat with a cane
  2. To weave or furnish with cane
I'm not much into weaving and furnishing; my interests turned at an early age toward punishment, corporal punishment and spanking, in that order of specificity. Hence, what follows is a brief treatise on definition (1).

There used to be a time when corporal punishment was far more common: The dark ages saw much beating and flogging as judicial punishment for various petty crimes, but also as domestic discipline for servants in feudal homes. Since the Renaissance, such methods have gradually withdrawn mostly to countries under Muslim religious rule. However, corporal punishment was until fairly recently viewed as an effective means of chastizing children and youths in their rearing and education. While corporal punishment appears to have had its heyday in Victorian England, British school chums of mine report having been subjected to a birching as late as the 1970's.

While punitive beatings may be applied with a variety of instruments, the single most popular weapon (for as such it can be considered, since its intent is to inflict harm) in England was the cane. A variety of plant stalks have been used as canes, but the ones in most widespread use were of rattan or bamboo. Rattan is to be preferred because bamboo tends to split into fragments with knife-sharp edges.

The principle of a caning is simple: The delinquent (or victim) is struck, usually on the buttocks, sufficiently often and with sufficient force to inflict an amount of pain deemed suitable by the punisher. Punishment canes come in a variety of thicknesses but most are sufficiently flexible to bend, perhaps even wrap around the target area, thus covering a fairly long stretch of the punishee's bottom with each impact. Strokes of the cane, especially on the bare bottom, generally leave visible lines on the skin which may be either narrow and red or appear as so-called "tram lines" with dark red, purple or black parallel lines to either side of a central white stripe. Cane strokes produce sensations of severe pain which may increase in intensity for up to a minute after the stroke. While the cane's contact with the delinquent's derriere is remarkably quiet, the delinquent usually has trouble matching this silence. According to British tradition, strokes are most often applied in multiples of six, such that beatings range from the conventional "six of the best" to a remarkable three dozen or more.

Although judicial canings are still dealt out in Singapore and several Arabic countries, canings of minors are now relatively rare in most of the world. However, while many applaud the abolishment of canings and other forms of corporal punishment, others crave it for the sexual thrill that is intimately associated with the act of caning or being caned. Thus we find many ladies, most of them professionals, offering their pallid posteriors for a bare bottom spanking at the hands of "recreational" authoritarians, while others pay to be made to taste the cane at the hands of dominatrices, professional and otherwise. The feelings of control and power, along with access to the usually exposed tush of their victim, give potent sexual thrills to the caner, while the pain, helplessness and the surrender of control have an appeal to many canees that is hard to describe in rational terms.

Sadistic application of a cane in leather context is an art which draws heavily on the uses of the cane in the greater society. Many sadists place high value on the use of traditional materials in the cane itself as well as the exactitude in the application. However canes are also made in a variety of plastic and other materials.

Canes should absolutely never be used over nerve centers, soft tissue, joints or other exposed bone structures.

Most authoritative authors agree that the material of choice is rattan. Largely because of the association with boarding school application, the more dedicated practitioners of erotic caning may place a high value on formality and exact method. Similarly the erotic charge for many recipients of the cane may be invoked by the roleplay or emotional aspects of being chastised in a sexually charged context by someone in the dress or position of an authority figure.

A few people (strongly) prefer to reserve the cane explicitly to the context of punishment. Applied in this context a caning might consist of entirely hard strokes, without warmup, and likely followed by tears.

In more sensuous application, as with all SM play warmup and arousal could be used to bring the partner's body into a state where (s)he may well accept and enjoy stronger blows than would be administered in even a severe punishment.

As with all S&M, it can be useful to work with natural rhythms. It can be useful to pace motions to match heartbeat and breath, the very hard strokes usually need a recovery time to allow the bottom's response to flow through the nervous system. In warmup the cane is well adapted to staccato strokes, which can rapidly develop a pretty flush and pleasant heat in the skin of the partner.

The cane is also an excellent tool to take advantage of the delays in the nervous system's operation. Normally a hard stroke will need to arrive at the CNS and response signals need to return to the muscles for even a flinch to occur in response. Simultaneously the nerves delivering the signals can become saturated and while further signals will be processed, it will be at effectively reduced intensity. Thus, applying 3-5 relatively hard blows perhaps in increasing intensity can be used to deliver high stimulus, yet staying within your beloved's limits.

How to learn it

These methods, like most of leathersex are most easily learned by experiencing them. Those who would dish out this form of pleasure are most likely to be forgiven for their (invitable) mistakes if their authority is backed up with humility. I also highly recommend seeking out people whom you respect who may be able to provide personal instruction in the methods.

Warning:

The methods described above, especially the more severe ones are not to be taken lightly. Further, in the particular instance of using canes it is important to remember that police have been known to take a very dim view of civilians using the tools like their own. Aside from the fact that inexperienced application of a cane can truly injure one's lover, anyone pursuing leathersex should know that in many jurisdictions using anything which can be construed as a dangerous weapon is never legal.
Reference:
Female Disciplinary Manual, The Wildfire Club

In doing research for a painting of Christ, I went hunting online in the usual gore-zone places for examples of what whips and other implements can do to a human body, for some degree of realism in the painting. And in my online travels, I came across a caning video from Malaysia, filmed for the express purpose of dissuading others from lawlessness.

Back when Michael Fey was causing a stir in the United States with the furore over his being caned in Singapore, the usual "Wal Mart Greeter" gran'pappy Jesus Republican types were saying that maybe a good spankerin' is all these whippersnappers needed, and maybe we should do that here.

A rattan cane wielded by an expert can do some damage. In fact any object of that type can do more damage than most realise. A bullwhip, properly used, can remove someone's hand.

In the video, the accused was led to a wooden frame, to which his hands were tied above his head, and he was strapped to it so he could not move. Instinct most certainly takes over no matter how compliant a prisoner intends to be. He was wearing a backless leather apron to allow access to the buttocks, but also some modesty. When strapped to the frame, a further protective heavy leather apron is placed around the frame and prisoner so that only the buttocks are exposed, and any stray strikes will not hit the back with its vulnerable kidneys, or the legs.

With the prisoner in position and on cue from the commanding officer, the number of the strike is called out, and the caner strikes the prisoner with a solid thwacking blow. It doesn't look like much, but within a few seconds a livid welt raises, even visible on such dark skin. There is a pause while the full effect of the blow registers, both in terms of visible damage, and in terms of pain for the prisoner in question. Buttocks tense, legs shake uncontrollably.

The prisoner in this video was receiving the absolute maximum permissible under Malaysian law - twenty strokes of the cane. They emphasise the rarity of this sentence, and its severity. It takes a full six minutes.

The first few, the prisoner reacts with some stoicism, some involuntary spasming of the buttocks being testament to the obvious pain and damage the cane is causing. Most prisoners receive one or two strokes, maybe four. This results in a few "tram line" welts and extensive bruising.

After the sixth or so blow, the man is clearly in the grip of pain. The cane is striking already cut and bruised flesh. The skin is starting to really split, and the strike to the same area causes such convulsions that the apron, lashed as it is to the frame, shifts and rotates a quarter of the way. The police take a few moments to adjust it, but the restraints are being given a workout as legs start to give way.

After the twelfth or thirteenth blow, the area is CLEARLY damaged. What possibly appears to be skin split down to the fat shows that the cane has cut almost to muscle and bone, and blood is starting to appear where skin used to be, bright red on shaking tan skin. While trying to be as stoic as possible, the man cannot help but gasp and tremble, his legs shuddering, the faint reassuring murmurs of "Allahu Akbar" escaping his lips in a hoarse, strangled whisper.

There are seven strokes to go.

Twenty strokes of a rattan cane is an unusual and very severe punishment. The police attending this particular caning are holding it in some degree of reverence. It's getting hard to watch by this point. Even the fact that we're looking at the punishment for something like child rape doesn't change the fact that the cane is striking the same area again and again, as opposed to moving up and down the buttocks. It is relentlessly cutting the same area. Again. And again. And again.

And with every blow, the hideous pause as skin raises in welts, becomes livid, splits and bleeds. They wait, methodically, for the body to react to the impact, for the full stinging and bruising to register with the brain, and just enough time for the sensation to fade enough that another blow is coming can register. By the 18th, the man is visibly tensing as the commander gives the order for the next blow. The hindbrain can do nothing but try and swivel, try and move, try and escape. This one causes blood to start flowing freely from the assembled cuts and welts, a red river cascading down the red and white collection of slashes at the middle of the buttocks.

"Allahu Akbar" he gasps, searching for something to cling to as the pain sets in, and the dreadful wait for the order for yet another strike. With each impact you think at some point nerves start to desensitize or at least endorphins kick in. However, the demeanor of the accused goes from a quiet resignation to a tense stoicism to a broken, cringing frame in the grip of agony and fear.

The police are holding his head upright, grasping him by the hair, keeping him as immobile as they can. There's something hideously intimate about that. Though the hands and feet and legs and arms are secured with restraints, the fact that someone has his hands pulling the man's head up by the hair is strangely personal in this highly regimented ritual.

The twentieth blow is struck, and the man is freely bleeding. It will take about a year for his wounds to fully recover. Every time he sits, every time he voids his bowels, the skin, delicately knitted together as it is, will split, will bleed, risks infection.

The police tell the man to breathe, as he is by now not breathing correctly and losing his grip on reality. He's barely conscious, trembling. His buttocks and legs are in convulsions, and there is no levity anywhere. No jokes to be made, no quiet snide comment to ease the tension. After a few minutes, the man is able to limp to a medical area, where he will lie face down and have his wounds treated, the bloodflow stopped.

And then he will begin to serve a long custodial sentence. The camera has long left the extreme closeup on his buttocks, the microphone no longer picks up his prayers or the hideous sound of the rattan thwacking its way through skin and fat. The police collect the next prisoner, and the video ends.

If we ever do get barbaric enough to use this kind of sentencing in our country, I hope that it is reserved for the truly monstrous in this country - the rapist, the child molestor, the man who kills a baby in front of his parents. It's also a testament to just how desensitised we were as a people that we'd ever take ourselves and our children to a public square to watch people be brutalized for spectacle, or under the whim of an overseer.

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