It resembles the fist or paw of a monkey – hence the name – and is used as a weight at the end of a rope of heaving line. Often a rock or other heavy object is incorporated into the knot to give it extra weight. The weight allows the end of the rope to be flung long distances (such as across a canyon) and with much greater accuracy.
Sailors use them on boats to pull cables to shore and it can also serve as a makeshift anchor. It can even be used as a last-ditch self defense weapon when all else fails!
Check out the video over the next page to learn how to make your own giant monkey fist (maybe a gorilla fist!).