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The Pointe Shoes

Master led her into a room and guided her into a seat. The last time she had come here, she’d had her feet examined and fitted, for what, she didn’t know. Master had not come with her last time, but he was here now. It meant possibly her blindfold would be removed. She was right. After her feet were placed in what felt like hard, paper shoes, her blindfold was removed and she beheld, on her feet, her first pair of pointe shoes.

General Information:
Pointe shoes are a special type of shoe used by ballet dancers for performing steps on the tips of their toes. They developed from the original heeled ballet shoe in order to allow dancers to appear weightless on-stage.

Pointe shoes are not like regular soft technique shoes; they consist of satin, with a shank–or sole–comprised of stiffened leather, canvas, and burlap sealed with glue. The box, or reinforced toe area, is made of stiffened and reinforced canvas or burlap. They have no right or left, and are exceedingly uncomfortable when new.

Dancing en pointe, a central part of a female ballet dancer’s repertoire, requires strength and skill as many injuries and deformities can result if poorly trained. In fact, pointework is such serious business that at the more serious dance academies, a physician’s advice is required before a dancer is permitted to begin her training in pointe shoes.

Things like blisters, boils, bruised toenails, calluses, cuts of the feet, and even bleeding are to be expected. Other injuries may include snapped tendons, bunions, bunionette, bursitis, plantar fasciitis, dorsal exostosis, extensor tendinitis, hallux limitus, hallux rigidus, hammer toes, heel spurs, ingrown toenails, neuromas, sesamoiditis, sprained ankles, and stress fractures.

Training:
Preparation for pointe work is a gradual process. At first, it consists entirely of strengthening exercises at the barre: going from flat to demi-pointe, to en pointe and back again and again. The Italian and Russian method does not include a roll through adages: a dancer must spring directly from flat onto pointe. It is often only after six months to a year of such exercises that the student can start dancing at the barre.

The first exercises at the barre are usually échappés sauté and relevés done on both feet.

In an échappé sauté, the dancer takes a deep plié (a smooth, continuous bending of the knees) followed by a jump in which the legs in first (where a dancer stands with feet turned-out and touching heel to heel) or fifth position (same as first, but the heel of one foot is placed close to the toe of the other foot) go into either second (same as first but with the heels a foot apart) or fourth position (same as fifth, but with the feet a foot apart) respectively, landing in demi-plié (a bend to the deepest position where the heels stay on the floor).

Relevé is the rising from plié position to balance on one foot on at least demi-pointe or higher, smoothly done or in a quick leap.

Only once the student is fully comfortable in executing the steps on both feet and the tendons are strong enough, steps ending on one foot are introduced, such as pas de bourrée en pointes and retiré en pointes, first at the barre and later on in the centre.

Purchasing information:
Dicount Dance offers several different pointe shoe brands at competitive prices. The Glissé Pro costs $45.50 and features a broad, feathered and hand-molded toe box and a higher platform.

Gaynor Minden pioneered the use of high-tech impact reduction in pointe shoes; because they customize their shoes, they suggest a first purchase of their $99.50 pairs be made directly from a retailer. They’re available from Discount Dance at $71.95.

Chacott’s Veronese II pointe shoes, priced at $59.95, offer excellent support and a box thatcmolds quickly to the foot. It is available in two shanks, medium or hard.

The Training Collar

She could no longer feel her toes, just raw, unbearable pain. Having retained her position en pointe for as much as her untrained ankles could stand, the entire length of her legs began to shake. She was losing composure, and she knew He could see it. She began to feel the warning vibrations at her neck, which was adorned by a satin-wrapped training collar. She took a breath, straightened up and resumed the sylph-like pose.

General Information:
The training collar (also known as shock collar, remote electronic training collar or e-collar by users) employs an electric shock to improve training, reinforce commands and eliminate bad habits. It may be combined with an “invisible fence”, a signal wire surrounding a slave’s permitted area, which will send a shock to the slave, should she stray too near it.

The two critical aspects of the effect of training collars are the amount of energy delivered in the electrical impulse, and the waveform and duration of that pulse. The voltage or current delivered cannot individually be relied upon as indicators of the discomfort produced by a shock. The amount of energy (joules) that flows through the body which, in a closed circuit, is based on volts, current and time.

Pulse duration, pulse repetition rate (frequency) and pulse waveform are major determinants of the degree of discomfort the slave experiences. Longer pulse durations and increasing repetition rates produce more discomfort than shorter pulse durations and less repetition.

There is no market standardization for these devices: pulse duration and waveform, pulse repletion rate, size and type of electrodes, distance between electrodes, voltage and electric current levels, as well as the fit of the collar all factor into the amount and comfort of signal received, thus comfort and reliability can fluctuate significantly from one manufacturer to the next. The best available collars have a wide range of settings beginning with extremely mild stimulation, including a non-shock, vibrating function.

It should be noted, however, that modern shock collars sold in the US shift intensity levels by altering pulse duration or repetition rate instead of increasing current or voltage. The sensation received can be manipulated, but the electrical energy remains relatively constant.

Conditioning Studies:
A 2007 study by E. Schalke, J. Stichnoth, S. Ott, and R. Jones-Baade, sought to investigated stress caused by the use of electric shock collars by measuring animals’ heart rates and saliva cortisol. For seven months 14 laboratory-bred beagles were trained daily in three separate experimental groups. Group A (Aversion) received an electric pulse when the dogs touched a rabbit dummy attached to a motion device (the prey). Group H (Here) received the electric pulse when they did not obey a previously trained recall command while hunting. Group R (Random) received the electric pulse randomly, unpredictably and out of context.

After the seven months of experimental training, the dogs’ heart rates and cortisol levels were tested in a variety of hunting situations: for the first five days the dogs were allowed to hunt unimpeded; for the next five days the dogs were impeded by a leash; for the last seven days the electric training collars were brought back and the dogs were separated into their groups and treated as described previously.

The data revealed that Group A did not show a significant rise in salivary cortisol levels, but Groups H and R did show significant increases, with Group R as the greatest increase in salivary cortisol levels. When the beagles were tested four weeks later, the results remained the same.

Schalke et al. summarized the conclusion of their study: “This led to the conclusion that animals, which were able to clearly associate the electric stimulus with their action, i.e. touching the prey, and consequently were able to predict and control the stressor, did not show considerable or persistent stress indicators.”

Purchasing information:
E-collars.com features a variety of training and noise-reduction collars in all sizes:
The 1800 NC by Dogtra, priced at $289.99, is sexy has a one mile range and 16 levels of continuous and momentary stimulation instantly selectable at the transmitter.

The G3 Sport Combo by Tritronics, priced at $269, has a half-mile range and twenty levels of continuous and momentary stimulation instantly selectable at the transmitter.

The PRO 100 G2 EXP also by Tritronics, priced at $447, has a one-mile range and three levels of continuous stimulation (low, medium, and high) which are instantly selectable at the transmitter, and there’s also a separate button for delivering a quick pre-set duration of momentary stimulation for enforcing commands the dog already knows and for correcting behavior.

The Paddle

He brought the paddle down hard and she screamed. The paddle offered no resistance coming down now that He had customized it. He liked the feel of it, the strength of it. Most of all, He liked the way the word MINE looked in blisters on His slave’s ass.

General Information:

A paddle is an instrument with a long, flat face and narrow neck. It’s generally made out of a hardwood such as maple, oak, mahogany or walnut, though often leather straps are incorrectly referred to by the same name.

Flat and inflexible, unlike a cane or whip, a paddle is too blunt to cause serious stripes—only bruises can result from excessive force.

The exception to this is the holed paddle, which causes severe blistering.

A long model increases leverage with the paddle but spreads the force over a larger surface, weakening its power. A narrow-shaped paddle, on the other hand, can be almost cane-like.

Purchasing information:

Paddles are available at The Perv Mart for $49.00 (16.5″ x 3.25″) as well as The Greek Boutique for $19.99 (22″ x 6.5″). Gift On The Web paddles are $35.00 and their paddles are available for customization.

The Cane

When He struck her with the cane, He brought it down on her then slid it sideways, which had the peculiar effect of making the sting of impact feel as though her flesh had been ripped open.

General Information:
Canes are long sticks used for the purpose of support or corporal punishment. In terms of the latter, rattan, a palm native to Africa and Oceania is generally preferred, as it provides more flexibility than wood or bamboo.

Canes are a severe instrument on the whole, likely to leave marks and inflict a great deal of pain. It should be noted that longer canes hit harder than shorter ones, though they’re more difficult to control.

Thicker canes land more heavily and cause more bruising while thinner ones have the capacity to cut through the flesh.

On this note, those interested in caning must be cautioned about the absorbent properties of a cane. Rattan in particular is like a sponge; even varnished, it will pick up any fluid released from the body during punishment. This makes rattan canes particularly unsafe for sharing.

Purchasing information:
The previously mentioned store Adam and Gillian’s Sensual Whips and Toys offers plain canes from $15 (for a 27-inch cane) to $25 (38-inch), depending on length. They have a year warranty for their canes. Extreme Restraints offer plain 30-inch canes for $11.50, with no warranty mentioned.

The Shinai

To mold the mind and body, to cultivate a vigorous spirit and through correct and rigid training to strive for improvement in your servitude. To hold in esteem the notion of complete devotion. To associate with your Master in sincerity and to forever pursue the cultivation of yourself as His property. That is The Way.

General Information:
The shinai is a practice sword used primarily in kendo, the Japanese martial art of fencing.

The shinai is made of four slats known as take, which are held together by three leather fittings. It’s composed of the tsuka-gawa, or handle; the saki-gawa, or tip; and the nakayui, or leather strip.

The slats of a shinai are generally made from dried bamboo, though some may also be treated (either smoked or resin soaked) or made from carbon fiber reinforced resin or other alternative materials.

Oiling or sanding a shinai prior to use, and periodically during use is recommended to extend the weapon’s life. Because it is made of bamboo, which easily splinters, and because bamboo splinters infect so easily, shinai should be inspected before and after each use. The shinai’s saki-gawa should be intact and the tsuru should be tight so that the saki-gawa can’t slip off the end and the nakayui should be secure as to not rotate easily.

It should be noted that when a shinai is placed on the ground, it’s considered a gross breach of etiquette to step over it. This makes the shinai a particularly useful tool in discipline as a means to keep a slave from nearing a zone that is off-limits.

The maximum recommended length of shinai for an adult male is 47 inches, weighing between 1.12 and 0.97 pounds, with a sakigawa of a minimum diameter of 1.02 inches and a length of 1.96 inches.

Purchasing information:
Shinai are available from Big T Sports for $27.95 (44″), as well as Kata Uniform Supply for $25.00 (41-44″), and Open Tip shinai are $25.63 (46″).

The Dressage Whip

“On the bit” is a dressage term used to describe a horse that has given itself up entirely to the rider’s aids. Thus submissive and accepting of the bit, the impulsion puts the horse into the proper position: back lifted, hocks under its frame, poll at the highest point of the neck and head on the vertical.

Possessing a slave has been likened to pet-owning, and it is very much so; however, the degree of training required is better likened, in my opinion, to the classical art of “horse ballet”, where the animal is trained not merely as a companion, but refined as a skilled instrument of precision and beauty.

General Information:
Dressage, a competitive form of horse training, employs whips as a training tool to initiate movement.

A dressage whip, therefore, is not a tool of punishment, but, rather, one of attention, though it must be noted that anything could be a weapon if employed with enough force.

A dressage whip is longer than a crop; the purpose of the length is to enable a rider to bring the horse into motion without interfering with a rider’s balance.

Purchasing information:
Dressage whips are available from SmartPak Equine for $50. They are also carried by Perri’s Leather at 1-800-537-4901 for $34. The riding instruments offered by Amazon.com have repeatedly received bad reviews by consumers.

The Quirt

He brandished a quirt like a seasoned cowboy. And you know the saying is true: the way a man treats his horse is the way a man will treat you.

General Information:
A quirt is a stock whip, usually made of leather or rough hide, kangaroo being the most popular choice.

The body is usually filled with shot, which gives it a solid core and makes the instrument stiffer in comparison to other whips. This makes a quirt too slow to be used properly as a riding instrument, but perfect as an punishment device.

The end of it is generally adorned with two tails, commonly known as thongs or falls.

This instrument was popularized by the vaquero tradition and it’s often seen in Westerns. The name possibly originates with the Spanish word cuarta, from the Latin meaning “quarter,” as in “a fourth.”

Purchasing information:
Different styles of quirt are readily available from Adam and Gillian’s Sensual Whips and Toys at $40, plus $5.00 for standard shipping.

Happy Tails also offers a selection. Pricing information is available by calling 707-277-7003. I will make it available as soon as I have solid figures.