BDSM Guide

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Pain training

Pain training, also known as agony play or agonization, is an extreme BDSM practice typical of sadomasochism, sometimes also used in Dominance and submission, involving teaching the passive partner (most often a masochist but also a slave or submissive) to endure pain.

Pain training involves testing the masochist's pain tolerance limit and continually pushing it forward (also known as "pushing the limits") through a series of painful impacts of increasing force and intensity.

Usually, the painful impact is sharp and forceful, intended to swiftly surpass the passive partner's tolerance threshold, causing a distinctly noticeable physical reaction, after the pain visibly surpasses the masochist's tolerance threshold, the painful stimulation is typically interrupted for rest and recovery before being resumed, often with increased intensity. In some cases, reaching the masochist's tolerance threshold does not automatically end the effect but serves as a signal for the active partner (most often a Sadist) to increase stimulation in order to push the masochist's tolerance limit and hold him as long as possible around or slightly beyond it.

Usually, the passive partner's current reactions to the impact serve as an indicator of reaching or crossing the pain tolerance limit. These reactions are most often groans, shouts, screams, cursing, crying, pleas for mercy, impulses to escape, convulsive movements, trembling, shallow and/or rapid breathing, profuse sweating, etc. While some of these reactions can be simulated; others represent the body's natural responses to stress and are difficult to control or manipulate. The key to the smooth progress of the scene is a correct reading of these signals by the active partner.

Pain training can implicate all kinds of pain-inducing tools and devices, but the most common are traditional tools for impact play such as BDSM paddles, rattan canes, riding crops, etc. Most of them, especially the paddles, allow a swift increase in pain intensity through an accumulation of numerous similar, though not necessarily potent, impacts. This cumulative effect is powerful enough to make the experience excruciatingly painful.

There are two main approaches to causing pain in pain training: gradual and intense. Intense is associated with fast, heavy, concussive strokes that increase in force and quickly bring the passive partner's sensations to the edge, while the gradual approach relies on the cumulative effect of many medium-force strokes. In practice, the two approaches are often combined, with most Sadists usually starting with hard strokes to make the partner agonize, then using multiple medium-strength and even light strokes to keep them in that state for as long as possible.

In many cases, especially with long and very intense pain training, the passive partner's body stops responding to pain or responds weakly. This does not mean that the masochist has lost the ability to feel pain, but that his body, exhausted by the duration of the effect, has begun to turn it off. This is a state of shock.

In the BDSM literature, this shock state is usually associated with the state of "subspace" reported by many masochists during intense play. Sometimes this condition is an acceptable or even desired effect, but contrary to its enthusiastic descriptions, it is an indication of a problem.

For pain training, in particular, a sudden decrease in the intensity of the passive partner's reactions usually confuses inexperienced Sadists. They either harden and increase the degree of impact to squeeze more out of the masochist's agony, or they are completely unaware of the change that has occurred. The proper response in such a situation is to give the masochist a break to allow his body to regain its normal sensitivity or to end the play.

Due to the intense nature of the stimulation, Pain training implies the immobilization of the passive partner before the scene by using various bondage tools (see bondage stocks, spanking bench, spanking horse) as protection against involuntary movements leading to accidents and injuries. In many cases, the use of physical restraints also plays the role of BDSM reinforcement, helping the passive partner to accept the pain rather than resist it. Most often, blindfolds, mouth gags, and BDSM hoods are used for this purpose.

Unlike other BDSM practices related to targeted infliction or enduring pain, such as Pain play or Impact play, where the role of pain is to increase arousal without necessarily going beyond the limits of the passive partner's tolerance for it, the painful impact of Pain training systematically seeks this limit and deliberately strives to exceed it. In addition to challenging the masochist's endurance, Pain training is an opportunity for the Sadist to skip the tedious overture and move quickly to the climax of the scene that brings him the most pleasure.

Many masochists are fascinated by the rapid escalation of pain in this practice and especially by the willingness of Sadists to enforce it (see No Mercy Play), while others prefer to avoid it, preferring the form and intensity of impact to which they are accustomed.

Pain training is often defined as a game of regular partners. The tendency to become accustomed to it over time can lead to boredom (for a Sadist) or unacceptable extremes (for a masochist), which makes the practice unattractive to couples seeking a deeper relationship, while the need for trust makes it unsuitable for casual partners.