What Are Whips Used For?
Whips today are used primarily in animal training for three main purposes:
* As an extension of the human arm to give commands to animals by tapping them.
* To make a loud sharp sound, to provide direction and command to animals.
* To inflict pain. (However, this is considered incorrect use and can be considered animal cruelty in some jurisdictions.)
When a whip handle is rapidly and properly moved, the tip of the whip can exceed 340 m/s (760 mph) producing a small sonic boom described as a "crack". Whips were the first man-made implements to break the sound barrier. This loud noise is commonly used to drive or direct livestock or teams of harnessed animals, such as oxen or mules.
Most horse whips can be used to give commands by touch and can cause pain, but cannot make a "crack". These may include riding crops, dressage whips, and carriage or buggy whips. The exception is the longe or lunge whip, which due to its long lash, can be made to crack as well as be used to touch the animal.
In The Movies
Whips have appeared in many cartoons, television shows, videogames such as Castlevania and numerous movies, from films such as the original Zorro to Indiana Jones and Catwoman.
Often their usage is dramatic and wildly exaggerated, showing action heroes tripping or disarming an adversary, breaking furniture, or other dramatic activities.
Swinging From Whips
One of the more popular portrayals of whips involves wrapping an overhead object and then swinging from the whip across an open space.
While it is possible to do so in reality, achieving a wrap strong enough to hold the body weight yet loose enough to disengage once the swing is complete is highly impractical.
Further, the strain will damage or break most leather whips.
In film, the effect is achieved by braiding the whip over a steel or kevlar support cable and anchoring the tip permanently to a support such as a crane or scaffolding.
Many times the whip handle is attached to a concealed body harness on the actor for safety and to make the swing appear more graceful.
Adam Winrich demonstrates the different types of whips