I don’t relish the idea of going toe to toe with a bunch of walkers, armed only with a folding knife. However, should you find yourself in that predicament, the strategy would be to get past them without getting bitten or overwhelmed – not to take out the entire crowd. Slashes to limbs that cut deep enough to sever muscle and tendons can be effective in slowing down or even disabling a walker.
Disabling the attacker is the idea behind the techniques taught by Michael Janich. The idea is to do just enough to halt the attack, and nothing further. For this, you want a knife that can maximize the efficiency of your cutting stroke, producing deep, penetrating cuts that are more likely to sever key muscle groups and tendons.
Janich designed the original Yojimbo with this purpose. It featured a Wharncliffe-style blade, designed to maximize edge contact and point penetration for deep, slashing cuts, all while remaining securely and comfortably in the user’s grip. The handle was unusually long relative to the blade and came to a blunt point at the back, turning the closed knife into an expedient impact tool, should the user fail to deploy the blade quickly enough. It was a high-quality knife made with S30V steel, G-10 handles and stainless steel liners. The blade locked in place with Spyderco’s proprietary Compression Lock – basically a liner lock actuated from the spine.
The original Yojimbo went out of production a few years ago and since then, has become a highly sought-after item. If you didn’t buy the original Yojimbo during its first production run, you might end up paying an arm and a leg for one on eBay.
However, Spyderco has just recently released the Yojimbo 2 – an updated version of the Yojimbo. The blade is longer, the handle wider and the clip can now be repositioned for tip-up or tip-down carry. The blade is still made from S30V, and it still uses the compression lock.
- Its a slasher. As noted above, the Yojimbo is primarily intended to make deep, penetrating slashes. Janich techniques focus on severing muscle, tendons and even arteries (as opposed to stabbing and thrusting) and the Yojimbo is well-suited to those techniques. However, the point looked somewhat delicate and thin to me. Spyderco claims that the blade design and material make for a very strong point, but I’m not sure how well it would hold up stabbing through various types of material/media.
- Its comfortable. The Yojimbo’s tapered handle feels very comfortable in the hand, both in forward and reverse grip. In forward grip, however, it very naturally lends itself to the thumb-on-spine Saber grip taught by Janich. Supposedly, the Saber grip gives the user a lot of leverage and cutting power.
The Compression Lock is secure and easy to use. Some people don’t like liner locks because of their potential to fail, particularly when the blade is subjected to impact or shock. However, a liner lock may not be as much of an issue on a knife intended primarily for slashing. In either case, I found the compression lock to be easy to use and secure. I also like that I didn’t have to put my thumb across the path of the blade to unlock it. However, I did notice that when holding the Yojimbo in my left hand, it felt like my thumb might unintentionally unlock the blade. Southpaws, take heed.
Of course, the Yojimbo is more of a “conventional” folder in that it must still be drawn and the blade deployed in two separate motions. Anyone who’s been reading this for a while, knows that I like the Emerson Wave opening feature because it deploys the blade as part of the drawstroke, eliminating a series of movements that might otherwise require fine motor control. That said, I really like this knife. Like the P’Kal, it is very well made, with excellent materials, fit and finish. It opens very smoothly and quickly, despite the lack of any assisted-opening device. Both the blade and handle shape feel natural and comfortable. I might just have to pick one up. One question, though: if its the Yojimbo 2, why didn’t they just call it Sanjuro?