Trick Videos

The Art of Grabs

By Peter Lundström

‘Passive-aggressive’ is probably the best way to describe the state I’m in when I hear anybody say ‘Frontside Indy’. I do know that the reason behind my petulance and irritation is rather trivial: there are certainly more important things to worry about than the correct naming of the way you grab your snowboard. Sure, I’m a pencil-pushing know-it-all, and although I’m sure I get it wrong just as often as anybody else, I reckon there should be some sort of set standard.

With the joint efforts of Onboard staff members, riders and all of our smart-arse buddies, we have tried to reconcile the ways these grabs should be performed, and their origins. Cut this article out, frame it, put it on the wall in your bathroom, and learn it by heart.

Grabbing the board’s toe edge between the bindings with the front hand is a Mute grab. But why ‘Mute’? Well, a deaf skater called Chris Weddle was one of the first skaters to execute this trick and, so legend has it, Alan Losi’s father saw Chris pulling the trick at The Ranch Pro/Am contest in 1981 and called the trick ‘mute’ as Chris was quiet and has speech difficulties due to his deafness. Yeah, perhaps not the most thoughtful thing in the world (Chris was lucky not to have been beaten and napalmed for being different) but nevertheless the name stuck.

According to the centre of disinformation,, the Slob was first invented by Blair Watson. This is basically a Mute grab on the frontside wall or in a frontside spin. Bone the tail. Maybe the dude was fat and messy, I dunno.

An air where you grab the heel edge with your front hand and pull the board up, arching your back. The name ‘Method’ was coined by skateboarder Neil Blender, who described this grab as a method for achieving higher airs.

Front hand grabs the nose of the board. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Pushing down the tail with your back leg usually makes this trick a hell of a lot easier.

Back hand on the tail. Mmm, tail. Poke out the nose, and it’ll be easier to reach the tail. No-one said some of this wasn’t as obvious as a sock on a man’s nose.

Its uncertain origin, as well as the misuse of its name, can best be described by the email sent by my colleague, English editor Tom Copsey.
“I couldn’t find out where Indy got its name. Scalp mentioned it was something to do with (in skateboarding) the way you went round in the air coming out of the vert ramp looking like how the cars go round the Indy 500 car race thingy. I dunno. Though remember, an Indy can only be done on the backside wall of the pipe. On the frontside wall it’s just a frontside air. So an Indy really is only a backside trick but snowboarding has bastardised the language (like the Americans did to the Queen’s English) as to mean grabbing with the back hand between the bindings for spins and shit. Though trick Nazis will still slaughter innocents who call a frontside air in the snowboard halfpipe a frontside Indy… Tata. Tom.”
This trick is done with your back hand between your bindings on your toe edge. Usually boning out the nose.

A Sad plant or Sad air was any one in which involved grabbing with the front hand on the heel side behind the front foot and boning out the front leg. When street skaters worked out how to do an ollie to sad air, they ingeniously dubbed it a Melanchollie (melancholy = sad, thus ollie to sad air, geddit?) Over time and with the inevitable bastardisation of skate lingo by its younger, mountain-based brother, any backside grab became a shortened version of Melanchollie – Melon – though really these should have the front leg boned out to truly be entitled to the name.

Grabbing the heel edge with your front hand (just like a melon) whilst airing frontside. Invented by Neil Blender who, when asked how he did them, replied that you have to lean into it. As it’s kinda a backside air but all funny and backwards and shit, and was invented by Blender, and sounds the same as lean, it is now spelt L.I.E.N. – ‘Neil’ backwards.

In 1985, Hawk, Mullen and Mountain were on a skate summer camp in Stockholm, Sweden, when Tony started trying a new grab: backhand, heel edge with the arm around the back leg. To quote from Occupation: Skateboarder: “At the time, almost every grab was done and defined. The only way that hadn’t was to grab with your back hand around your back leg and between your heels. It takes more effort to reach back there, so spinning moves are a little harder”. As for the name itself, it was kinda accidental. Each day Tony would scribble down notes in his journal with cryptic descriptions of the day’s events, tricks done, what they had for dinner, and so on. A fellow camper was reading the journal one day and saw the word ‘Stalefish’ in there and asked what it was and if it was that weird grab he had been doing. Being that Hawk didn’t have a name for it at the time, he said yes and the name stuck. In reality, ‘Stalefish’ was referring to what they’d had for dinner – literally a whole cooked fish in a tin – and by the time the tinned meals had reached the skate camp, they were all stale. “Nobody ate it – not even the Swedes,” recounted Hawk.

Gorilla Grab
AKA the double-handed Indy grab. The rider grabs the board with both hands inbetween the bindings on the toe edge, looking slightly like a gorilla, hence the name.

An Indy and Melon combo, holding the board like a steering wheel, front hand on heel edge between the bindings, and the back hand on the toe edge between the bindings.

Basically a Mute with your knees tucked together, dropping your front knee down towards the board. First grab mute inbetween your bindings, while putting your knees together so you tweak that shit out. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

First thing I thought when I was reminded about the performing of a TaiPan was, “Yeah, right”. Check this out: your front hand goes behind your front leg, like going for a melon, but you continue and grab your toe edge between your legs. And then you wang it out like a Japan. A lot easier if you tuck your knees.

You can think of this one as a nosegrab, but grabbed with your back hand. Usually done with your legs straight or with a slight tailbone.

The opposite from a Nuclear, a Seatbelt grab is where the rider grabs the tail with his front hand. Some people will also admit to this being a Seatbelt if you only grab the area behind your back binding, be we reckon it’s dangerously similarly looking to a Tindy, but with the other hand.

Chicken salad
The front hand reaches between the legs, behind the front leg, and grabs the heel side between the bindings while the front leg is boned.

Roast beef
The rear hand reaches between the legs and grabs the heel edge between the bindings while the front leg is boned, often tailboned. Word on the street is that both chicken salad and roast beef were on the menu of a restaurant where the pioneering riders used to hang out and, after perfecting these new contortions, they named the grabs after some of their favourite dishes.

Another backbreaking manoeuvre, best suited for people with long arms. Your back arm grabs like a Nute (see Grabbing Faux Pas further on) but first after having gone between your legs and back around your front leg. Your front arm should also be grabbing that area, but not through your legs.

Your back hand goes in front of your front binding on your toe edge whilst poking out the back leg.

Kelly air
Invented by Craig Kelly. Performed the same way as a Crail, but the grab should be placed on the heel edge.

Both hands grab the nose of the board. Can also be preformed crosshanded for extra flair.

Grabbing Faux Pas

Satan’s spawn. Back hand placed in between a tailgrab and an Indy, ie just behind your back binding on your toe edge. Should be avoided at all costs.

Backscratchers are what punters the world over do when getting radical off 50cm jumps. They are also called Suitcase Methods, for the reason that tourists perform them. Knees bent, the board scratching your back, or more commonly your arse, and the closest to a grab is usually just a slap on the base of the board.

I honestly didn’t even think this existed. It had never even crossed my mind that anyone would have such a bad taste/steez to try and grab the board with your front hand just in between a nosegrab and a mute. Blasphemy!

The bastard brother of the Tindy, but grabbed on the other side, i.e. your back hand just behind your back binding on your heel edge.


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