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Erotic spanking is one of the most common ways for people to start exploring impact play. In fact, it's so common that a lot of people I've talked to don't even think of it as particularly "kinky" at all.
Spanking is fun on its own and as part of role-playing scenarios; stern teacher and naughty student, for example. But people who enjoy spanking often encounter a problem: spanking hurts. I don't mean that it hurts the person being spanked; I mean it hurts the person delivering the spanking. One's hand is a lot more sensitive, and a lot less padded, than one's ass. Sometimes the limiting factor in any spanking scene is not what the person receiving the spanking can take, but what the person giving the spanking can take.
This is a problem that is solved by paddles. Paddles are a logical step for those who enjoy spanking, because paddling removes the constraint of what the paddler can deliver to the paddlee.
Paddles can be improvised (paint stirrers are a popular choice), found (a ping-pong paddle makes a very serviceable paddle), made (anyone with a bit of woodworking or leatherworking skill can fashion paddles in whatever size, shape, and weight he or she wants), or purchased in an astonishing range of shapes and sizes.
The shape, size, and construction of a paddle makes a huge difference in the way the paddle feels. The intensity of a paddle depends to a large degree on how wide a surface the force of impact is spread over. The smaller the area the impact is spread over, the more intense the sensation. Small paddles in particular can be surprisingly intense, so it's often a good idea to test an unfamiliar paddle on yourself before using it on your partner!
In this section, I'll talk about how to choose a paddle, and what you can expect from different styles of paddle. In the next section, I'll talk about the act of paddling.
CHOOSING A PADDLE
In general, all other things being equal, a paddle made of a hard, inflexible material like wood will be more intense than a similar paddle made of a flexible material like leather, because the force is spread over a smaller area; a flexible paddle will conform itself to the shape of your partner's body, spreading the impact over a wider area.
All other things being equal, a paddle with a large striking surface is more mild than a paddle with a small striking surface. Larger paddles look more intimidating, but a large, wide paddle is less intense than a narrow paddle. (I have a custom-made hardwood paddle that is only about a quarter of an inch wide; it looks harmless, but it packs a very large bite!)
And, of course, paddles that are padded with a soft or cushioned surface, such as fur-lined paddles, will be less intense than a similar paddle without a cushioned surface. Most paddles with cushioned surfaces can be used on either side, so you can vary the intensity of the paddling just by flipping the paddle over.
Some people claim a paddle with holes drilled in its surface is more intense than a paddle with a flat striking surface. The theory is that a cushion of air builds up under the paddle, dulling the impact. I'm very skeptical about this claim; I've never noticed any difference between a paddle with holes and a similar paddle without holes, and I find it unlikely that a paddle is going to be moving quickly enough to generate a significant pressure gradient in front of them. However, since many paddles used in schools in the past had holes drilled in them, some people who like paddling role-play, especially student/teacher role-play, prefer paddles with holes in them.
The paddles shown below will help give you an idea about what to expect from different styles, shapes, and sizes of paddles. For some ideas about what to do with a paddle, go on to Part II!
What you'll need