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Thread: When Wa Why?

  1. #1

    When Wa Why?

    When did wa handles overtake western for folks in the knife community, and why did it happen? I still see that most shops which sell primarily high end Japanese gyutos to Western cooks, say Korin or MTC, tend to have 10 western for every wa, but shops for enthusiasts like JKI and JNS tend to be almost the exact opposite. It is a knerd thing or are there reasons I am not seeing?

  2. #2
    Senior Member chinacats's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Most people still think that if a knife doesn't have a full tang that it can't be any good. Mis-perception based on advertising. Also, I think that once people try a wa handle they realize that it is much more flexible (to me anyway) in the ways you can grip the knife.

    once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Wa gyutos are 2 to 4 ounces lighter than their yo-gyuto counterparts. Feels like a light saber.

  4. #4
    I tried 2, still don't like them. They make the balance too blade heavy for my taste, and I prefer the feeling of a full tang. I know logically wa handles are just as solid, but they still feel flimsy to me, and with a full tang I feel more in control of the entire blade. Just my preference... However, I think bolsters are antiquated, too heavy, and make the balance too neutral. I'm hoping we'll see more bolster-less full-tang knives in the future, like the new Lamson collaboration knife. Can't wait for that.

  5. #5
    I like simple Wa vs simple Yo mostly for aesthetic reasons. Custom - both can be gorgeous.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    It is a matter of what you like.Many of the western handles are too small for my hands.Use a pinch grip so doesn't matter that much.Like the looks of the Wa & the length.Randy Haas comes to mind as yo handle master.Usually no bolster.reccess on front of wood for pinch grip,nice long comfortable handle out of exiotic materials.

  7. #7
    Canada's Sharpest Lefty Lefty's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    I'm wishy-washy. I'm in a western handle phase right now. Rader comes to mind, as do Pierre and Randy. Marko and Hoss make pretty much perfect wa handles, as does Butch if you like a larger handle.

    Both have their pluses and minuses, and I find I go for whatever I'm in the mood for at the time.

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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by bkdc View Post
    Wa gyutos are 2 to 4 ounces lighter than their yo-gyuto counterparts. Feels like a light saber.
    Feel wise that isn't necessarily true, though. There is a concept in golf that is instructive called swingweight. It is indicative of the feel weight in motion and it takes into account that weight behind the balance point, or more specifically moving the balance point back, makes for a lighter feeling implement. In other words, adding lead tape under your grip makes the club lighter feeling in motion, which is likely true for a knife as well when in use as opposed to when it is being held and admired.

    Anyway, my question was, perhaps, not well stated. Clearly looking at Japanese knife shops catering to the working kitchen trade there is still an emphasis on yo vs wa while in the knerd world things are reversed. I would love to hear not only why you prefer one or the other, but why you think that discrepancy exists. More along the lines of Iknowyourider's answer.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    washington dc
    WA handles are a lot more agile in use. If you don't utilize varying grips then it really doesn't matter. I happen to prefer blade heavy as well so naturally WA is way to go for me.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    San Diego, CA
    I don't think wa has displaced western. I have both and like both. I will say that very handle-heavy knives aren't my cup of tea.

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