Skateboarding is full of terminology steeped in fun and occasionally too loose street culture. Its history is full of stuff named only because no one thought about it at the time or thought it was funny or fun. In 2020, as the world has become more connected, so too has some skateboarding culture come to terms with the fact that even if something meant no harm, it can still be better. Such is the case with the change of the Mute Grab trick to the “Weddle Grab” in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, spurred by Tony Hawk himself and meant to better honor the trick’s innovator, deaf skater Chris Weddle.
Tony Hawk posted about the change to the Weddle Grab on his Instagram on August 12, 2020 ahead of the launch of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 Warehouse demo. The Mute Grab came from a time back in 1981 when the trick was fairly new, attributed by many to deaf skater Chris Weddle, who many referred to as “the quiet, mute guy.” Weddle isn’t mute, and so as a way to better honor him, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 instead refers to the trick as the Weddle Grab.
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For nearly 40 years, we’ve shamelessly referred to this trick as the “mute” air/grab. Here is the backstory: around 1981, a deaf skater and Colton skatepark local named Chris Weddle was a prominent amateur on the competition circuit. The “Indy” air had just been created & named so somebody proposed that grabbing with the front hand should be known as the “Tracker” air. Others countered that Chris was the first to do, so it should be named after him. They referred to him as the “quiet, mute guy.” So it became known as the mute air, and we all went along with it in our naive youth. In recent years a few people have reached out to Chris (who still skates) about this trick and the name it was given. He has been very gracious in his response but it is obvious that a different name would have honored his legacy, as he is hearing impaired but not lacking speech. I asked him last year as I was diving into trick origins and he said he would have rather named it the “deaf” or “Weddle” grab if given the choice. His exact quote to me was “I am deaf, not mute.” So as we embark on the upcoming @tonyhawkthegame demo release, some of you might notice a trick name change: The Weddle Grab. It’s going to be challenging to break the habit of saying the old name but I think Chris deserves the recognition. Thanks to @darrick_delao for being a great advocate to the deaf community in action sports, and for being the catalyst in this renaming process. I told Chris tecently and his reply was “I’m so stoked!” And then he shot this photo in celebration yesterday. 📷: @yousta_storytellers_club
“In recent years a few people have reached out to Chris (who still skates) about this trick and the name it was given,” Hawk wrote. “He has been very gracious in his response, but it is obvious that a different name would have honored his legacy, as he is hearing impaired but not lacking speech. I asked him last year as I was diving into trick origins and he said he would have rather named it the ‘deaf’ or ‘Weddle’ grab if given the choice. So as we embark on the upcoming Tony Hawk demo release, some of you might notice a trick name change: The Weddle Grab. It’s going to be challenging to break the habit of saying the old name but I think Chris deserves the recognition.”
It’s fair to say the least, and a solid effort from Tony Hawk, as well as Darrick De La O, who Tony Hawk credits as a huge advocate to the deaf community and a major force in calling attention and action to this matter.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 has upped its inclusivity with a number of great new skaters, including Leo Baker, who’s trans background was showcased in the new music reveal for the game. With efforts like the Weddle Grab to show better appreciation for its origin, it’s pretty clear that Tony Hawk is aiming to be more than just a good return to form (if our hands-on preview has anything to say about it), but also a game everyone can enjoy happily.