I'm no expert either, but have done some woodturning. Made a set of nun-chuks in High School...started with a piece od 2x2x12 hard maple. If you are getting alot of "grabbing", knock the corners off with a table saw as suggested by crawdaddy. Draw a circle centered on the end of the blank, and remove as much as you safely can. Also, make sure the tools are sharp, held at the correct angle---the gouge should contact the spinning blank at the center---ensure the tool rest is positioned the same and as close as you can get it---~1/2" at the most. Now, you can increase your RPM's...a little more will actualy help and should greatly reduce the amount of grabbing.
Let us know how it goes....and if ya get some time, watch the master --- Norm Abram on New Yankee Workshop --- he IS the man when it comes to woodworking !!!