I certified as an IronMind Captain of Crush on the #3 Gripper at the end of 2003. In 2004, the IronMind certification was still the only one that existed. In order to get your name ‘up in lights,’ you had to do so through the IronMind certification. Click to go to IronMind’s Captains of Crush Certification page. To this day, IronMind remains the gold standard in Grip Strength equipment.
At that same time, a regular topic being discussed on the Gripboard was the fact that there was variance between the IronMind number 3 grippers. It was noted that many of the older #3’s were more difficult than the ones that were currently being produced. While I have only tried a handful of older grippers, and by ‘older‘ I mean produced prior to 2003, the ones I have tried were definitely more difficult on average. The fact is grippers do vary. To me, it seems that most of the time that I squeezed a pre-2003 #3 it seemed harder to shut that ones made after 2003. Then in 2005, it seemed to me that they didn’t vary as much. These days, the #3’s all seem just about the same, and you rarely find a spongy one.
In 2004, the Grip athletes reacted to this gripper variance in different ways. It was not uncommon to see threads complaining about the variance in grippers – many thought that a product that garnered so much attention and respect should be manufactured with stricter standards of consistency. On the other hand, there were also the tricksters that would try to shop around to locate the weakest number 3 grippers they could find.
It was due to the variance in gripper difficulty that the Mash Monster Certification was formed. The members tested and put into action a series of grippers that would always be used. The Mash Monster process got rid of the worry of inconsistency by utilizing the same grippers for all certifications. You can check out the Mash Monster pyramid, by click here: MashMonster. At the time of this writing there are 6 levels of Mash Monster grippers, each one just a shade tougher than the one before it. Now, it is an even and consistent playing field for all the greats in the Grip world to try their hands at. You can be sure that someone who certifies in 2007 on the Mash Monster Level 2 is squeezing the same gripper that athletes attempted to close in 2005.
The set technique for the Mash Monster certification utilizes a parallel set, also known as the Mash Monster set, MM set, or MMS.
Now what does this certification process have to do with success in a Grip Contest, you might ask? The Parallel set, or Mash Monster set, is the most common set used in contests these days.
It involves positioning the handles to the parallel position with the off hand before attempting a close with the gripping hand.
For a time, the MM Set started off equal to the old set depth for IronMind Captains of Crush certification. As you remember from STTGC Part II, when you tried for certification on the IronMind #3 or #4 Captains of Crush Gripper, you could use the off hand to pre-set the Gripper all the way to the point that the handles were one inch apart. The set depth quickly changed to parallel simply for the sake of more easily being able to judge set depth. After all, it is a lot easier to judge gripper handles being right about parallel, than it is to make the call of when they are an inch apart. Some people’s inch is a lot smaller than other people’s.
Here, Jim Smith judges Dave Morton attempting a Gripper close at the 2005 Global Grip Contest. The MM set was used.
These days, the Mash Monster set is what you are most often going to perform in Grip Contests. Again, the beauty of this set is that you are able to pre-position the gripper handles. This technique takes hand size out of the question. Using the MM Set, smaller handed individuals do not have to take a back seat to their larger handed counterparts because they too can get an advantageous hold on the gripper handles.
Of course there are antagonists to the MM Set. Many believe it takes the purity out of the feat by setting it so deep with two hands and then closing it with one. In fact, this very dissatisfaction with set depth proved to be the cause for a great upheaval in the Grip community when IronMind decided to change their set depth rule, which is exactly what will be covered in the next installment of Straight to the Grip Contest.