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Japanese chefs NOT using pinch-grip
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  1. #1

    Japanese chefs NOT using pinch-grip

    When I first started cooking I learned to use the pinch-grip on my knives, which I find much better than a "normal" grip that most people use on their knives. However, I notice Japanese chefs use a grip where the index finger is resting (well, not sure if they are putting pressure down with that finger) on the back of the spine of the knife.

    Is it something specific to the WA style handle? Or just a japanese thing?

    Very curious about this and searching online didn't turn up many answers.

    eg

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by slowtyper View Post
    When I first started cooking I learned to use the pinch-grip on my knives, which I find much better than a "normal" grip that most people use on their knives. However, I notice Japanese chefs use a grip where the index finger is resting (well, not sure if they are putting pressure down with that finger) on the back of the spine of the knife.

    Is it something specific to the WA style handle? Or just a japanese thing?

    Very curious about this and searching online didn't turn up many answers.

    eg
    there are various grips used by japanese chefs... you see the one pictured used a lot with yanagiba and deba. They use pinchgrips on some knives sometimes... usuba comes to mind.

  3. #3
    There is a book on Japanese knives I have that says something along the lines of using the "point" grip when doing delicate work where you need fine tip control as well as tactile feedback. For instance, when filleting with a deba, a finger on the spine of the knife gives you more angle control (holding a knife near horizontal is difficult with a pinch grip) and as the knife runs along the bones of the fish the feedback to feel how the knife is moving across the bones is increased with the "point" grip. However, when doing thin chopping work with something like a usuba, usually the pinch grip is preferred - although I have seen many chefs use use the "point" grip when chopping with a yanagi, for probably two reasons: the blade is narrow enough that a pinch grip is difficult and most work with a yanagi is done with a "point" grip and therefore the chef is used to using a "point" grip with that knife style and simply more comfortable with it even when using it for task other than the usual.

  4. #4
    I think that this grip provides the best control for soft meats with minimal finger clearance. To use flight terms, it doesn't offer much in the way of Yaw control, but in turn provides moderate Pitch control and great Roll control. Pinch grip is more Pitch->Yaw->Roll. The sword style "death grip" only offers extreme Yaw control, because people are scared of cutting their fingers.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cadillac J's Avatar
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    I haven't used the pinch grip in some time now...it is weird how your style just changes without even realizing it.

    My index is usually on the spine, or I just have all my fingers gently in contact around the handle...just seems to work better this way for Japanese knives to me.

  6. #6
    I started using that index finger on the spine grip, before knowing anything about Japanese knives. I generally switch from a pinch grip (which I use most of the time) to it when I need more accuracy, tip control. And, exclusively with narrower blades that lack of knuckle clearance for board work. About the only time, I use a hammer grip is when swinging a cleaver.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cadillac J's Avatar
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    Even with daily use of my 300 suji, I find that a light grip on the handle and finger on the spine(or not) has just as much control versus a pinch grip. Because the edge is so sharp, it never slips off or has side-to-side wobble...the more finesse with grip and cutting motion, the easier the knife cuts IMO.

  8. #8
    Seems like its quite a prevalent grip, but I never hear anyone ever mention it anywhere (especially when looking up knife skills info).

  9. #9
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    I'm wondering if it is because that with the pinch grip you are forced to let the tool do the work. With most things that is the way to get good results- tune the tool and then get out of its way.
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Cadillac J's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpikeC View Post
    I'm wondering if it is because that with the pinch grip you are forced to let the tool do the work. With most things that is the way to get good results- tune the tool and then get out of its way.
    Maybe I'm not understanding your thought here, because I see it the opposite way.

    Generally speaking, when using a pinch grip choked up on the blade, more leverage comes from your arm/hand to do the work versuse a gentle grip farther back on the handle better utilizes the leverage of the blade.

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