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Weapon type: whip
Designations: Cat, knout, whip, bull whip
Use: Tools, cultural weapons, means of communication, toys, criminal and educational means
Creation time: v. Chr.
Working time: until now
Distribution: Worldwide
Overall length: Stick up to 3 m, pitch up to 4.5 m, total length up to 7.5 m
Handle: Wood, aluminum, plastic, fiberglass
Particularities: different shapes
Lists on the subject

A whip is depending on the type of a device for whipping, a blunt instrument , a sports device, a communication device or a toy that of a narrow straps is or knitting on a more or less long stem.

Structure and use

The handle of a whip is called a whip handle, stick or pommel . The rope or belt is called a whip or whip. The thread at the very end of the cord is called a drift cord, Schmitze, snapper or bang cord. The name Zwick is also common in Switzerland.

The whip is used, among other things, to touch (touch) with a stick or punch. It can be struck with both a punch and a stick. It is also possible to throw the whip. It is also used to generate noises - such as hissing or popping - or optical signals.

Various types of whips have long been used as instruments of torture or punishment (see Staupenschlag ), hence their use in the BDSM area.

Whips are often used as a means of communication for the dressage and training of animals such as horses and circus animals .

The skillful handling of whips is practiced as a sport , is part of tradition and part of artistry . Whips are used as toys, for example in the whip top .

Whip maker used to be a three-year apprenticeship in the trade.

Kinematics of the whip

The end of a whip can be accelerated to supersonic speed with the correct blow , which causes the “crack of the whip”. The bang results from the formation of a loop, which moves towards the end of the whip with increasing speed and exceeds the speed of sound when opening at the end of the line. This was examined more precisely in theory by mathematicians Goriely and McMillen in the 2000s. Otto Lummer already suspected in 1905 that the crack of the whip resulted from shock waves ( Machscher cone ) and the supersonic speed of the whip , and this was proven in 1927 by the French Z. Carrière. Using digital high-speed photography, Peter Krehl, Stephan Engemanner and Dieter Schwenkel found in 1998 that the end of the cord at the time of the crack of the whip reached about twice the speed of sound and a final acceleration in the order of 50,000 times the acceleration of gravity. The Berlin mechanics professor István Szabó described the whip movement as early as the 1950s in his lectures on technical mechanics , where he first cracked such a whip and then wrote the equations necessary to explain it on the blackboard. However, Richard Grammel published Mechanical Treatment as early as 1949 .

Mechanical relationships

At the lower point of the movement curve, the stroke movement is suddenly stopped. The whip from the end of the handle to the deflection point of the loop is stretched and largely at rest. The whip strives because of the centrifugal forces to full extension. For this reason, the loop moves axially away from the handle and the remaining line above the loop becomes smaller and smaller.

When considering the kinetic energy of the whip, this movement of the end of the whip relative to the handle can be decoupled from the movement of the center of gravity of the whip; they are independent of each other. For this reason the law of conservation of energy applies to both movements independently of each other . Designate the relative speed and the reduced mass of the whip, the kinetic energy of the relative movement takes the known form

on. The reduced mass of the whip can be expressed by the mass of the remaining line and the total mass of the whip as follows:

Since the mass of the remaining line is proportional to its length, the reduced mass tends to zero. Because of the conservation of energy, it must go towards infinity and break the sound barrier. In practice, the maximum speed of the cord end and the loop is limited by internal and external friction losses.

Whip types

Children with whip tops

Impact device and percussion weapon

  • Scourge in the real sense: from a handle with several straps or cords, which was used for punishment. The scourge has knots or weights made of metal at the ends, which are usually barbed so that they severely injure the skin of the scourged (see flagellants )
  • A nine-tailed cat is a strap whip with nine braided rope ends. It was used, for example, to punish people at sea. It is still used today as a symbol and percussion instrument in the field of BDSM.
  • The whip whip or strap whip was used in German-speaking countries until the 1970s to punish children and adolescents; the multi-strap whip was considered to be particularly painful. In France it is known as Martinet .
  • The tawse was often used in schools in Scotland instead of the English cane.

Work tools

  • Bullwhip : A einschwänzige whip (Singletail) . In English, a more precise distinction is made between the bullwhip with a rigid handle and the snakewhip with a flexible handle. Snakewhips can be rolled up and stowed away more easily. They are part of the tools of the trade of cowboys .
  • Australian stick whip
  • Kick
  • Wengerter whip : Work tool used by vineyard keepers
Harrows with a stick whip

Means of communication

  • Driving whip (stick whip or bow whip)
  • Vaulting whip
  • Lunging whip
  • Baiting whip
  • Signal whips for sled dog races

Sports equipment or part of the tradition

Word origin

An Australian stick whip.
Nine-tailed cat in the torture museum in Freiburg im Breisgau .

The word 'whip' is not originally a German word, it was borrowed from West Slavonic in the 14th century, see the Polish word for whip bicz (read: bitsch), which in turn can be traced back to the ancient Slavic biti (to strike), which itself probably based on the Indo-European word root * bhau (to beat). See also English to beat (to beat, defeat) or the ancient German Bauschel (heavy hammer) from Germanisch * bautan (to beat).

The word whip has largely superseded the original word scourge , which today is only used in High German to mean chastisement instrument and transmitted in the sense of punishment . In Bavarian , the whip is called Goaßl, cracking the whip is called Goaßlschnalzen . The word Geissel is common in Swiss German and there are “Geißelchlöpfer” associations.

The German word, Knute 'is a roundabout way with the word nodes used and was indirectly via the Russian knut (node whip) from the Old Norse knútr borrowed (the node) that falls into that group of Indo-European Wörtstämme associated with the initial sound CN a Express thickening or narrowing (cf. German: Knolle, bone, button, knee, knob, pinch, knead, smooch, scarce , etc.).

'Scourge' can already be found in ahd.kaisala, geisila, geisla . According to Grimm, it is originally just the handle itself because it is also used for simple hat sticks. The transition to the meaning 'whip' is likely to have originated in the time when the second word was borrowed. With Grimm, the spelling Geisel without "sz" (or today " ß ") is still the lemma.

The word stick is part of the phrase "with a carrot and a stick ". The term whip effect is common in biomechanics and economics.

Whips in equestrian sport

When dealing with horses , driving , lunging , vaulting , ground work and double- leaning work , the whip is used to provide differentiated aids , i.e. communication with the animal. In equestrian sports, unlike other uses, the whip is not used to inflict pain, otherwise the horse would be afraid of the whip and would no longer respond appropriately. Whips are usually not used when riding, but whips .


During floor work and circus lessons , not only whips but also short whips are used as arm extensions. These usually have a sturdy, not very flexible, short stick and a 1.8 m long soft leather flap and are known as a stick.


In vaulting , the horse walks in a circle of at least 18 m in diameter, which corresponds to a radius of at least 9 m. The lunge guide is in the center of the circle . Vaulting whips usually have a 3 m long telescopic stick and a 3 to 4.5 m long stroke. A whip length of 7.5 m together with the arm length is enough to reach the horse. A longer stick makes the whip unwieldy despite the telescopic stick, a longer blow is easier to tangle. The telescopic stick is made of thin, light, reinforced plastic material (mostly GRP ) so that the whip does not become too heavy for the lunge guide during the vaulting lesson. The loft is mostly made of leather. At the end of the stroke a thin cotton thread is attached as a pop cord. The stick and lash are usually white so that the horse can see the whip clearly. The whip is usually held up at an angle during lunging so that the vaulters can run under the whip along the lunge to the horse. The blow does not lie on the ground all the time, otherwise the vaulters can accidentally trip over the blow. The whip is not placed on the floor when changing hands.

Whip aids must be used judiciously so that they do not cause the horse to make timing errors , which can deduct points and cause the vaulters to fall. It has to be aimed very precisely, otherwise the vaulters can be accidentally hit. There are whip aids that drive, keep and point out.

driving whip aids

  1. optically The whip is lowered and points to the horse's hocks, up and down movements are also possible.
  2. Throw an acoustic blow from above with a hiss behind the horse
  3. touching Hit the inner hind leg at the moment of footing with the whip in front.

Indicative whip aids

  1. Small whip aid pointing outwards If the horse does not tense the lunge correctly but comes into the circle, then the whip whip aid pointing outwards is used by pointing the lowered whip to the horse's shoulder and giving a voice aid (e.g. "out") .
  2. large whip point pointing outwards Point the whip in front of the horse's nose. The large whip aid pointing outwards must be used carefully and accurately, otherwise it will cause timing errors. Under no circumstances should the horse's head be touched, not even accidentally.

Keeping whip help

  1. Hold the whip backwards, away from the field of vision of the horse
Correct posture of the bow whip
Picors keep the pack of dogs in a circle when they stop by moving the whips to and fro, thus forming an imaginary fence around the dogs.
Animal training


In principle, the same whip aids are used in lunging as in vaulting. There are, however, differences, as the objectives are different (training of rider or horse, movement of the horse) and shorter, snap-together whips made of full plastic are often used. The stick usually measures 1.8 to 2 m, the stroke around 2 to 2.5 m. These whips are cheaper, less breakable and easier to handle. Disadvantages are the limited range and the high weight. The tip of the whip and the blow often rest on the ground and are pulled every quarter or half a lap so that the stick points briefly at the ankle to drive them forward. With a 4.5 m long whip, the horse cannot be reached on an 18 m circle without a disturbing movement of the long hand.

Double lunge

Depending on whether the double lunge is used to work on the long reins, for driving off the ground or for double lunge work similar to a normal lunge, the double lunge is made of different lengths and whips of different lengths are used accordingly. A long whip is ideal for manual work on the long reins, a bow whip for driving off the ground and a lunging or vaulting whip for lunging.


Proper whip assistance while driving can only be given if the horses are equipped with flaps , as raising the whip could possibly be misinterpreted by them. It would not be possible to address the horses individually. The normal position of the whip when driving is “eleven o'clock”, which means that the whip held by the right hand points to the top left at an angle that corresponds to approximately eleven o'clock. Different types of whips are used depending on the tension . The cane whip belongs to the country tension (Hungarian or Jucker tension, breastplate), a bow whip belongs to the city tension (English tension, kumt).

There are five different whip aids when driving:

  1. driving aid - in the driving whip help the driver sets the thong from the outside to the tight to driving horse behind the ridge cover (or Sellette) and outputs the driving Cap according to
  2. Gathering help - while the whip help behind the comb lid, the driver establishes more contact with the mouths - afterwards the hand becomes light again
  3. Keeping aid - the sole whip aid behind the comb lid serves to correct the position and bending of the individual horse
  4. Punitive help - is usually given at the horse's bow when driving , is not taught in German driving.
  5. Helping help - while driving, annoying insects, such as horseflies , are scared away from the horses with a whip. Horseflies in particular can sting horses so painfully that they become restless and dangerous situations can arise. Brakes can not always be chased away by insect spray, so the "helping whip aid" is definitely important for driving safety. However, the horses must not have had bad experiences with the whip, as otherwise they will not tolerate the sudden contact with the whip on all parts of the body.

Whips in animal training

In animal training, for example the dressage of circus animals , whips are often used to communicate with the animals. Sticks are also used, for example, for target training .

During riding hunts , the picors use whips to direct the pack of dogs . Here the whips serve as a means of communication with the dogs. The targeted blow at the dog is only used in exceptional cases as a last resort , as otherwise the dogs develop fear of the whip and can no longer be led properly.

For sled dog races were signal whips developed. They are so short that although they pop, they cannot reach the sled dogs in front of the sled .

Corporal punishment

In Europe, the whip was used in the Middle Ages and also in the early modern period , for example in the Bamberg torture , as part of serfdom or the discipline of ship crews. In the United States , slaves were still being tortured with whips in the 19th century . (See: Slavery in the United States ). In the 20th century, whips were used in dictatorships around the world to abuse arrested or interned opponents of the regime.

In states in which the law is interpreted according to Sharia law , the whip is used as a punishment instrument in the penal system as part of corporal punishment . Also, in those countries the first death sentences imposed are often commuted to several hundred lashes. So happened u. a. with Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and Ashraf Fayadh .


Depiction of flagellants in the Konstanz Chronicle , 15th century manuscript

Self-mortification as part of asceticism was and is there in many cultures. Evidence of this can be found in the ancient cultures of the Hebrews, Persians and Indians. The Italian Benedictine hermit and Cardinal Petrus Damiani (1007-1072) was a pioneer of self-flagellation. He propagated it as a gesture of penance, the imitation of Christ and as a spiritual therapeutic agent to arouse paralyzed feelings. Voluntary self-flagellation has been part of Christian monastic life since the eleventh century and later spread more and more. The exercise of piety and penance - called "disciplina" - later culminated in the counting of the blows and offsetting against the sins committed. It was not until the 14th century that the sect of the so-called cryptoflagellants became popular and dared to place scourging over the holy sacraments, that this was seen as heresy, the campaigns of flagellants fought and forbidden by the holy inquisition. Remnants of the flagellation traditions can be found in the rituals during Holy Week and at the servant Ruprecht's with his rod on December 6th.

In Islam there is also self-flagellation. An example among the Shiites are the mourning and penance rituals on the occasion of the Shiite Passion Play , especially on Ashura Martyrs Memorial Day .

Scourge in heraldry

The coat of arms of the Lower Franconian market town of Geiselwind shows such a talking .

For more see Scourge (Heraldry)

Whip in medicine

In the Middle Ages, flagellation was partly used for medical purposes: "The flagellation heats up and cleanses the mind of the depressive mood which, according to the four- humer theory, emerges from a dry and cool temperament." Furthermore, doctors at the time pointed out that the flagellation on the buttocks and Sexually stimulate the loin and it was therefore prescribed as an aphrodisiac when the sex drive was exhausted or in women with fertility problems.

The German doctor and professor of medicine Johann Heinrich Meibom wrote, among other things, a medical appraisal of the flagellation in 1639 under the title Epistle about the usefulness of the scourge lashes in love play . This typeface developed into a " bestseller " and was translated into several languages ​​and later reissued into the 19th century.

Use as a weapon

In Chinese martial arts , the use of leather and metal whips as a weapon is known.

Individual evidence

  1. Why whips crack and are more than instruments of torture , schwaebische.de of May 4, 2012, accessed October 15, 2012
  2. Goriely, McMillen: Whip Waves . In: Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena . No. 184 , October 1, 2003, p. 192-225 , doi : 10.1016 / S0167-2789 (03) 00221-5 .
  3. ^ O. Lummer, On the theory of the bang, Silesian Society for Fatherland Culture 83 (1905) 2.
  4. Carrière, Le du claquement fouet, J. Phys. Radium Ser. VI 8 (1927) 365-384.
  5. ^ Z. Carrière, Exploration par le fouet des deux faces du mur du son, Cahiers de Physique 63 (1955) 1-17
  6. P. Krehl, S. Engemann, D. Schwenkel, The puzzle of whip cracking — uncovered by a correlation of whip-tip kinematics with shock wave emission, Shock Waves 8 (1998) 1-9.
  7. Geo-Magazin website: How the whip cracks, studies by the Ernst Mach Institute for Short-Term Dynamics of the Fraunhofer Society and the University of Arizona
  8. The mechanics of the whip is treated as an exercise in Szabo, Introduction to Technical Mechanics, Springer, 2nd edition 1956, p. 288. The maximum speed of the whip end and the necessary pulling force are sought there.
  9. R. Grammel, K. Zoller, On the mechanics of the whip and the whip crack, Zeitschrift für Physik, Volume 127, 1949, pp. 11-15
  10. R. Grammel, K. Zoller, On the mechanics of the whip and the whip crack , Zeitschrift für Physik, Volume 127, 1949, pp. 11-15
  11. Chlauschlöpf
  12. Chlauschlöpf
  13. Duden 7: Etymologie (1963), p. 499
  14. Duden 7: Etymologie (1963), p. 206
  15. Kluge: Etymological dictionary of the German language. 24th revised and expanded edition. De Gruyter, 2002
  16. GEISEL, f. flagellum. . In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm : German Dictionary . Hirzel, Leipzig 1854–1961 ( woerterbuchnetz.de , University of Trier).
  17. Niklaus Largier: Praise the whip. A cultural history of arousal. Munich 2001. ISBN 3-406-48093-4 , quoted by Josef Amrein at: http://www.weltwoche.ch/expenses/2001-47/artikel-2001-47-therapie-fuer-er.html
  18. Niklaus Largier: Praise the whip. A cultural history of arousal. Munich 2001. ISBN 3-406-48093-4 , quoted by Josef Amrein at: http://www.weltwoche.ch/expenses/2001-47/artikel-2001-47-therapie-fuer-er.html
  19. ^ Johann Heinrich Meibom: Tractus de usu flagrorum in re Medica & Veneria. 1639. (Latin); First published in London in 1761 as an English translation under the title A Treatise on the Use of Flogging in Medicine and Venery , reprinted in 1898 in Isidore Liseux in Paris
  20. Retzek, Elies, Hesse: Martial arts & self-defense - The reference work: Volume I - Basic techniques. Verlag BoD - Books on Demand, 2004, ISBN 978-3-8334-1034-5


See also

Web links

Wiktionary: whip  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Whips  - Collection of Images