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How to Hold a Chef's Knife: Get Better Control and Ergonomics - Kakushin

How to Hold a Chef's Knife: Get Better Control and Ergonomics

At Kakushin, we're fortunate to witness clients holding and testing our knives daily, and a recurring question we encounter is: Am I holding the knife correctly?

Out of every 10 clients, only approximately one demonstrates an optimal grip on the knife. However, don't worry, as we're here to help you improve that grip.

Improper Knife Grips

First, let's take a look at some of the most common knife grips we observe in the shop when clients hold their chef's knife. To add a bit of fun, we've even assigned fictitious names to these techniques.

The Lumberjack
Holding the knife firm like if it was an axe. Go at it with force!
Improper holding of a chef's knife 1
The Pokecut
The index that points at the ingredients about to get cut.
Improper holding of a chef's knife 2
The Wobbler

The thumb that doesn't know where to sit so it just lays there on the side.

Improper holding of a chef's knife 3

While they may look impressive and each might have its perks in certain cutting movements, most don't provide an optimal experience for your daily chopping. In fact, they can strain the hand and increase the risk of injury due to a lack of control.

The Pinch Grip

Now, let's go over the one and most optimal knife grips that you should get used to when holding a traditional chef's knife.

Get a Chef's Knife

An ideal chef's knife to begin practicing this technique typically ranges between 165mm and 240mm in blade length. You can opt for a traditional Western-style knife found in your drawer or even a Japanese knife such as the Santoku, Gyuto, Kiritsuke, or even a Nakiri.

A chef's knife
Find the Balance Point

The balance point of a knife will vary from one blade to another, typically located around where the weight of the blade and handle meet.

To find it, balance the knife on your index finger and gently slide your finger along the spine until you feel the knife resting on it's own. 

Balance point of a chef's knife
Find the 2 Pinch Areas
Now that you've located the balance point, place your thumb and index finger on the balance points, forming a gentle pinch.
The Front:
Index position on a chef's knife
The Back:
Thumb position on a chef's knife
Squeeze the Areas
Both of your fingers should gently squeeze the two sides of the blade so that the knife cannot move from side to side and holds up in the air as demonstrated below.
Holding a Chef's Knife
Wrap your Palm
Finally, once you have found and gripped both pinch areas, place your palm onto the handle so that it cannot wiggle up and down anymore.
Knife Pinch Grip

Keep your grip relaxed yet secure, ensuring it feels like a natural extension of your arm. Similar to holding a golf club, avoid gripping too tightly; think of it as cradling a delicate egg—firm enough to hold, yet gentle enough not to crush.

That's it! Have you learned something new? If so, please leave a comment below and share which grip method you've been using. The next time you pick up your trusty chef's knife, remember these pointers and let your culinary creations reach new heights!

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