When you break it down, the term is derived from the terms bondage, discipline, dominance and submission. There are those who make a lifestyle and live 24/7 and then there are those that only practice in the bedroom. In a BSDM relationship there is always a dominant/top and a submissive/bottom. However, there are those who find that they can be either and those are known as switches. When a male is in the dominant role, they are referred to as Dom, Master, Sir or whatever you and your partner are comfortable with. When a female is in the dominant role terms such as Mistress, Domme, Ma'am or whatever you are comfortable with can be used. The same goes for submissives; Sub, Slave or whatever you and who you choose to play with find works.
BDSM Play and limits
Many people practice with those who they have been involved in a relationship, while others just practice with play partners or a friend. There are also those who have multiple play partners. One of the things to remember is to make sure that everyone involved is clean and that you get to know them. BDSM/kink, like any sexual play, is very intimate and you do want to be comfortable with who you are playing with. You want to have a partner that you feel like you can trust to communicate with you. A great way to find these people it to go to websites made for BDSM networking, and finding the groups in your area, or talking to your current partner about your curiosity in taking that step into BDSM.
Everyone has limits on what kind of play they enjoy, and what kind of play they are comfortable with. Take the time to go over with your partner the things that not only you like/dislike but also the same with them. There are plenty of lists on the internet to check out, and it's okay if there are 'kinky' things you aren't into. Not everyone's flavor kink is the same, and that is what's great!
Safety and Safe Words
Finally, you cannot stress safety enough. You want to make sure you are always checking in with your partner. Making sure they are alright during a scene, like making sure to check in with your partner to see if things are tied just right or perhaps too tightly. It never can ruin a scene to check. It shows that your partner cares and that you can trust them when you are at your most vulnerable.
Going in hand with this is a Safe Word. This is something you use when things might be getting a little out of hand or when you have just had enough. If your partner is spanking you and you just couldn't take another hit, you say the safe word and they will stop. When picking a safe word, it's best to pick something that you normally would never say during sex/play so things like 'no' tend to be not chosen because in the heat of things I know my yeses have turned to nos. Instead you can use colors such as red or something more obscure like pineapple, popcorn or even Wyoming!
These are some of the most basic things about BDSM that I believe most people who are looking to start should know. If you are curious about getting into more detail, there are some fine SexIs articles, looking where you live for an Adult Store holding a class, or of course many books on Eden Fantasys about the how to's of kink. Bondage is not for everyone, but you will never really know until you give it a shot, and remember to play safe!