After a delightful wander through the OED this morning, friends, I can tell you that yes, “grip” is related to “grope” sideways like cousins through “gripe” and that they all meet up at the Proto-Germanic biennial family reunion. Goblins, hobbits, and dwarves all do it!
• 4.019 Grip, grab! Pinch, nab!
• 5.062 he gripped on his little sword;
• 13.033 Each now gripped a lighted torch;