What Is Knife Play? A Complete Guide To It.

So, you’re interested in knife play, aren’t you? Didn’t your mother ever warn you to be careful, you could poke somebody’s eye out with that? Oh, she did, and that possibility of danger only excited you even more? Well, ok then, let's begin.

Understanding Knife Play

Knife play is when a top (the person in control of the scene), uses a blade to elicit a response in a bottom (the person on the receiving end). This response is often sexual in nature, but it doesn’t have to be. Other induced responses may include fear, intimidation, physical stimulation, excitement, anticipation, subspace or any combination thereof.

Knife play may range from simply showing the knife to instill fear, running the blade along the partner to create light scratches, to inflicting heavy pain-causing deeper gashes. Knives are typically used during a BDSM scene to cut away clothing, scratch the skin, remove wax after wax play or simply provide a more heightened sensual experience.

Knife play can be intensively erotic, physical and psychological reactions can be intense. For this reason, this kind of play falls within the spectrum of consensual BDSM edge play.

So, what is edge play? It is a form of BDSM play that is very extreme in nature, the kind of play that is said to be on the edge of safety and sometimes even sanity. Edgeplay can be very dangerous if not practiced correctly.

One of the common myths about knife play is that blood is involved, which is not the case. Knife play and blood play are not the same thing. Sometimes knife play involves blood. Mostly it does not. In fact, when blood is involved, it is often called “cutting” or “artistic cutting”. The goal of cutting is to draw blood and to leave (either permanent or temporary) scarring on the body, whereas knife play is more about eliciting an emotional response to stimulation and perceived fear.

Advice for Beginner Knife Play

As with any kind of edge play, you should have clear communication with your partner before ever picking up a blade. Since you’re new to knife play, it is even more essential to communicate openly about what each of your goals and limits is, what outcome you are both hoping to achieve, what it is about knife play that excites you and what your concerns or worries are. If you want the scene to be spontaneous, because the bottom has an abduction or rape fantasy they want to live out, that’s ok! Just have the talk in the days or weeks beforehand.

Get consent! Contrary to society’s misconception, in BDSM, consent is paramount. Some practice CNC (consensual non-consent) within their dynamic. However, this happens after much communication and trust have been established between the partners. When this is not a part of your dynamic, it is imperative that a top obtains enthusiastic consent from their bottom for any sort of play that lies on the edge.

Discuss your goals. Does the bottom want to feel afraid? Is the goal to induce subspace? Do you want a heightened sexual experience? Knife play is sexy, for the bottom who enjoys not having any control and the top who enjoys wielding the power!

Talk about limits. Before I play with anyone as a top, I always ask them what areas of the body are off-limits. To avoid any misunderstandings, I specifically ask if touching their pussy, tits, or cock is allowed. Ask how they feel about marks being left on them. What are their hard limits? How do they feel about having their soft limits pushed during the scene?

It’s important to know about any possible triggers that engagement in this type of play may cause. Safewords can be used when a negative response has been triggered, or for anything safety-related, be it emotional or physical. So, before you play, agree on the safe words that are going to be used. Typically, “red” is used to cease the scene entirely, and “yellow” is used as a pause button, to stop and check in.

Knife play doesn’t have to be dangerous. Illusion of danger can be just as effective. Particularly if you’re not experienced at wielding a sharp instrument, consider the “bait and switch”. Ensure the bottom sees you holding the sharp knife, and then without their knowledge, switch it out for something else. Using the dull edge of a knife pressed against their throat will still elicit fear and anticipation. Blindfolds are great for this!

As with any sort of edge play that has the potential to draw blood, there is a risk of passing diseases along. To reduce this risk, ensure the knife is clean and disinfected before using it. If you plan to be engaged in more than superficial scratches, it’s a good idea to clean the area of the skin with alcohol or antiseptic first.

Choosing Your Knife

There are several things to consider when choosing the right knife to play with. Much depends on what you plan to do with it.

A duller knife can be used for effect or when one doesn’t want to risk drawing blood. As a friend once said to me, “Paired with a blindfold, anything can seem sharp!”. When using a knife to scrape off wax, there are many beautiful wooden knives on the market. Wooden or dull knives can be used for sensation play, including sensual stimulation, by dragging it along the skin or pressing the tip into flesh. When the intention is to cut the skin or cut off clothing, a sharper knife is chosen.

Cost is another consideration when choosing the right knife. One can find a good knife ranging from $10-$30. Of course, as with anything, you can spend a lot more than that if you are so inclined.

Very often, it simply comes down to how a knife feels in your hand. The length, the distribution of weight between the blade and the handle, the material, such as a warm wooden handle versus a cold metal one… are all a matter of personal choice. If you can, handle the knife before purchasing it to get a feel for it.

There are several places to purchase a knife that can be used for play. These range from small hobby shops to large surplus or hunting stores, from Etsy to local BDSM vendor fairs. Even some neighborhood convenience stores or gas stations carry them!

You Chose the Knife. Now What?

Ok, so you’ve found a partner for knife play and you’ve chosen the knife (or knives) to be used. Now, what can you do?

There are several ways to engage in knife play:

Clothing removal. Have your bottom dress in clothes that can be destroyed. I once played with a girl who wore a t-shirt that belonged to an ex of hers for the sole purpose of having it cut off. It was a cathartic experience, a symbolic way of shedding the past. Of course, there doesn’t have to be any reason attached to cutting off clothes, other than the erotic nature of it.

Sensual stimulation. Use the tip of the knife to lightly drag along the skin. This can leave thin trails like fingernail scratches that will fade fairly quickly. Use the blunt side of the knife to apply pressure to the skin, especially when your goal is not to mark your partner or draw blood. Tease a nipple. Hold the blunt edge of the knife against the throat. All while whispering into the ear that they had better remain still… or else.

The mind fuck: Part of knife play is the mind fuck that goes with it. I had a top put the tip of a knife right against my clit, and from there, I was sure he put it just inside my pussy! Of course, this was impossible as I would have been cut to shreds. But the mind fucking fear of thinking I had better not move made me swoon. To this day, I still don’t know what was used in place of the blade. Was it his finger? The knife handle? The cold handle of a fork or spoon?

Blindfolds: These are extremely effective during knife play to heighten fear and sensations. Make sure your bottom sees the sharp knife you’re about to use on them. Once blindfolded, you can switch it out for something far less benign, and they will never know!

Wax removal: There are wooden knives that can be purchased to scrape away dried wax. But any dull knife will do just as well.

Playing on the edge can be fun, exciting, erotic and dangerous. With knife play, there is no need to jump straight to cutting and drawing blood. Remember, the perception of fear is just as effective in eliciting a response than real danger.

So, start slowly, get comfortable wielding a knife, and don't forget to use your words as you play! During a safe knife play scene where reality is suspended, there is nothing more erotic than hearing “Don’t you fucking move”, while feeling a cold blade pressed to the throat.