Human Handcuffs

Type of Activity: Problem Solving

Props Needed: A pair of 8mm ropes with loops in the ends.

This is an oldie but a goodie.  I use this as a time filler or when a group needs a brain teaser.

Have the group get into pairs. Have one person put on one handcuff, meaning put one loop over on one wrist and the other loop of the same rope on the other wrist. Have their partner take the other handcuff and put one loop on their own wrist, then drop the other loop through their partner's open arms so that the set of handcuffs then are interlocked. Put the last wrist loop on to complete the final loop.

These two intertwined people must separate from one another without (1) cutting the rope, (2) untying the knots, and (3) slipping the knotted portion over their hands/taking the wrist loops off. Answer as many non-solution questions as the entwined pair ask and continually emphasize that there is a solution, because logic indicates that a sharp knife is the only answer.


1. Take a bight in the center of your partner's rope

2. Pass this bight under either of your wrist loops so that the bight portion is closest to your fingers.

3. Pull the bight through with your other hand and open it to a size that will accommodate your hand.

4. Pass the bight over your hand.

5. Pull it down and through the wrist loop.

6. You're free!

I believe Karl Rohnke created this activity. It is also called The Almost Infinite Circle.

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