Since man hunted animals, waged territorial disputes, and lived in caves, he has created a list of taboos, forbidden actions that compromise his masculinity and lower his esteem in the eyes of others. One of the most forbidden American taboos is man’s failure to make a strong first impression. Men who appear weak upfront will be perceived as pencil-neck geeks and in a world where perception is often stronger than reality, these men will face diminished esteem, an obstacle that is often insurmountable. For example, the president of a financial consulting firm takes an underling to the golf course to play 18 holes with a potential client, a former all-state wrestler who, upon shaking the underling’s hand, crushes it easily. The potential client deems the underling a wussy and decides to take his business elsewhere. The underling made the error of offering the potential client a soggy, limp hand during the all-important ritual of the Manly Handshake, what Men In The Know simply call the “Manshake.”
If you or anyone doubts the importance of a dominant handshake, may I refer you to Tom Chiarella’s “The Art of the Handshake” published in Esquire in which he argues that a powerful handshake affords a man unparalleled esteem and privileges: “Truth be told, a man who has a good handshake can do any goddamned thing he wants. I'm not saying he will; I'm saying he can. He can work a room--one person to the next, shaking with strangers, with old colleagues, with huge men and tiny women alike--with his hand. People remember him; they listen to him. Men like this are followed.” Chiarella points out that a good handshake is a highly specialized art form dependent on several factors: "The good handshake demands a particularly strong command of several divergent elements of influence in a single gesture, in one smallish moment, in order to connect with a person whom (presumably) you have never met before. Think of the components: a swift, elegant movement toward the waiting hand, wise use of the eyes, the considered grip strength, even the rhythm of the shake is important. All that and you have to speak, too; you have to be engaged enough to muster a question, remember a name, acknowledge some common experience while you grip, shake, and release."
Of course, all the techniques in the world are worthless if the man has inadequate strength. That’s why an entire culture exists devoted to crushing handshake power. One of today’s great Masters of the Manly Handshake is John Wood, former defensive lineman from the University of Michigan. Additionally, John Wood specializes in obscure “lost” strength exercises once popular many decades ago, such as the one-armed snatch. He also trains men to crush high-grade steel cans with their bare hands and performs these shows of amazing hand strength at strength training seminars throughout the country. Reading John Wood’s website article “The Power of a Strong Handshake,” we can see that Wood, an astute observer of male psychology, knows, like Chiarella, that men are making all sorts of judgments about other men’s character, both consciously and unconsciously, during that crucial First Handshake.
"Whether you realize it or not, your hands reveal many things about you. A good firm handshake is a universal sign of strength and assuredness which is why everyone (yes, you too ladies.) should have one. A firm (but not crushing) hand shake is a sign of mutual respect from both parties. The Handshake immediately sets the tone for any meeting. In fact, when John F. Kennedy was running for president of the United States, he commissioned a study to determine the most effective handshake.
Having strong hands, however, does NOT give you the right to crush the life out of someone else's hands when you first meet. I'm sure we've all had that experience at some point and it sure isn't fun. It us fun, though, when you shake hands with some 'punk' who thinks he is going to show you how strong his hands really are. It is only then that I like to give em' "the crusher." The look on their faces is always priceless when they realize they are actually shaking hands with a vise. This only happens on rare, of course, occasions, but when it does happen, having a crusher grip really comes in handy. . . . Whether you were on the other side of a limp handshake or a bone crusher, you probably weren't feeling positive about the other person when it happened. Again, a solid handshake can make all the difference."
For developing the manly handshake, Handshake Master John Wood recommends a very manly-named hand grip exerciser—the Captain of Crush Hand Gripper. There are three beginner levels, the Guide, the Sport, and the Trainer, rated at 60, 80, and 100 pounds respectively. And then there are four more grippers rated at 140, 200, 280, and 365 pounds. Any man who can squeeze the final two enters an elite league of Man Points Masters. The description of the gripper ranked at 280 pounds reads: “The #3 gripper is the gold standard of hand gripper challenges. This gripper separates the men from the boys; close it and join your place among the grip elite. If you are a football player or combat athlete, having the ability to close this gripper will turn you into a real ‘monster.’”
But the Gripper of All Grippers, ranked at 365 pounds, will put a man into the Man Points Hall of Fame: “Closing the #4 gripper is the ultimate hand strength feat. This gripper will is far beyond the reach of ‘normal’ people and only those who are interested in an ‘unnatural’ level of hand strength should think about buying it. Training to close this gripper will take a level of intensity and dedication that few people possess... but it can be closed. Joe Kinney proved that. Who's next?”
Joe Kinney’s breakthrough of closing the #4 gripper created an entirely new era of Hand Crushers and resulted in thousands of men throughout the country vying to become members of the GripBoard Mash Monster club. Dozens of Hand Crushers got together on GripBoard online discussion forums and complained that the Captain of Crush #3 gripper suffered from variance so they persuaded its makers, IronMind, to make a stronger, less variable Crusher #3. Then they formed a committee, the GripMaster Mash Monster Elite, to judge if a person had properly closed the IronMind Captains of Crush Number #3 gripper. The rules for becoming a GripMaster Mash Monster Elite are strict. “Certification” requires that the man closing the Monster Mash or equivalent Captains of Crush gripper be videotaped. Even the act of opening the gripper from the original box must be videotaped as well. And there must be a witness. The video must be clear enough to see the gripper’s two prongs coming together.
We can safely assume that any man with such crushing strength will possess a he-man handshake, which will be the genesis of his ascent toward power. In his quest for a grip that asserts his Alpha Male status, he has access to not only the Captains of Crush Gripper but a healthy list of “bibles” from which he can learn the “secrets” of hand strength. One, The Grip Master’s Manual, by John Brookfield, prepares the hand-crushing aspirant with the tools to bend steel bars, horseshoes, and nails. He will also learn to “coil” and “scroll” iron and to tear a deck of cards.
Clearly, America is producing a large pool of authors and inventors committed to making sure the American male never suffer the humiliation of a weak handshake. In a culture that places such a high premium on a hearty handshake and the promise of self-improvement, the American man has little choice but to equip himself with the complete line of Captains of Crush Grippers and train like mad, for he cannot be sure if his next handshake is the one that will earn him ranks into the Male Club of Prosperity or force him to be exiled into impoverished pariah status forever.