Is it possible to use a whip to seize things or persons like depicted in the Indiana Jones movies
(e. g. the whip is wrapped around a root so he can swing over an abyss)?
For example a slave trader using a whip to recapture escapees, or is this only possible with bolas or a lasso.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Recapturing escapees - does the slave trader want to sell them or bury them afterwards? Whip's end has a lot of energy, at full strength it will definitely split human skin. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Aug 28, 2019 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander Assuming that escapees are punishid by lashing anyway... the idea was to hit the person not with the end but to leave enough space allowing the end to coil around the leg or torso - I didn't know that this does this much damage. But on the other hand- on first glance it is stupid to damage the ware but keep in mind how many slaves died due to the terrible "living" conditions on the ships to America. So I guess the slavers put up with some small scars on the leg - doesn't lower the prize for a cheap workforce $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2019 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander Depending on how serious the injuries would be. And probably what kind of slave (workforce, teacher, sex or house slave) $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2019 at 21:49
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Mythbusters did an episode on Indy $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Aug 29, 2019 at 12:44

2 Answers 2



This is called "Bullwhip Cracking". It's not easy but definitely possible. You can see this demonstrated in this YouTube video, and you can see the swinging from a tree branch in this video.

As far as capturing people (especially escapees who are running away, and have arms to grab at the rope when it hits them), a lasso or bolas would be much easier. As for extreme punishments, bullwhip cracking (depending on the whip's design and material) could wrap around an arm or leg resulting in as much as broken bones.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This would even fit in somehow - breaking the leg of an escapee, so even if he manages to pull the whip off before being dragged back, he would be quite handicapped by then. Is that only possible with special constructions or all whips? Or asked the other way round: Could you with such a whip only break limbs or could you, depending on how you swing/use it, either just grab someone or break the bone with the same tool? That would be extremely powerful then... $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2019 at 22:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The second video is extremely cool because he manages even to unloose the whip with just one move $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2019 at 22:58

The short answer is...yes

In an article by Wired Magazine, these instructions are provided:

  1. Skip the toys.

Look for a 6- to 8-foot-long whip with a braided core. The best are made from kangaroo hide.

  1. Take your stance.

Imagine you're straddling railroad tracks. The whip should travel parallel to the rails, and the target should be a bit closer than the length of your whip. Use caution: The tip can cut to bone.

  1. Load and lock.

Stretch the whip out in front of you, arm extended and pointed at the object. Now yank your hand up to 12 o'clock. The whip will fly over your hand and unravel behind you.

  1. Throw down.

When you feel a tug, lower your forearm — easy now, let the whip do the work. It'll roll forward just to the side of your body. As it unfurls, squeeze the handle.

  1. Crack and drag.

The tip will extend just beyond the target; as it recoils, it'll wrap itself around the object. Pull the remote toward you slowly. Next lesson: cracking open a beer.

Swinging from a whip involves the same basic principles. Even a child can do it: https://youtu.be/hSV-XIxSwHM

Snaring a captive would (I imagine) follow the same methodology and would not incorporate any cracking. Whip cracking can split flesh to the bone; as you can see in the video above, merely snagging is a fundamentally different (and gentler) technique. A whip is probably not the most ideal instrument for this purpose, however. Bolas and lassos have several advantages, including reach, but there is actually a weapon specifically designed for this purpose: it's called the man catcher. You can see a video on the subject HERE

  • $\begingroup$ The last video I know but I guess a whip would look way more dynamic if slaver just grabs the whip from his belt and lets it snap through the air instead of running behind the escaping slave with a mancatcher. $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2019 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ One of the slavers will definitely have bolas but I want to equip them individually, or at least not all the same. And a whip can be used more versatile than a mancatcher - both to catch and to punish. And it takes less space. Because of the whole punishing thing it's even linked to slavery and has a more vile connotation than a lasso which I always connect with cowboys somehow. But maybe I'l have one or two mancatchers that the trek carries around. $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2019 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ The advantage of a whip over a lasso or bolas is that it's also a whip -- you can lash with it, make a loud noise without hurting anyone/anything, snag animals or people with it -- it's an incredibly versatile tool that's also a very effective close-range weapon (and they come in longer lengths, up to around twenty feet, though the technique changes a little with length). $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Sep 13, 2019 at 15:48

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