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How to do the claw grip with Chef Olivia Burt

The claw grip technique is one of the most important cutting skills to learn in the kitchen. It is very simple to learn and extremely helpful to improve your cutting skills and ensure you are safe in the kitchen. It is a fundamental aspect for being safe around knives.

It goes without saying that you should always hold your knife with your dominant hand. It is your non-dominant and so free hand that you are gonna need for the claw. The claw is probably the safest way not to cut yourself. It protects your fingers and nails from getting cut by the knife. However, it comes with practice and will feel strange at first.

Before we explain how to do the claw grip, you need to make sure you are holding your knife correctly to be fully in control of the knife. For tips on proper knife holding, check out our article on how to properly hold your knife here.

To show you how it is done, we turned to professional chef Olivia Burt. Have a look at her explanation video with our Sakai Kyuba kitchen knife set below.

Claw grip steps:

  1. First, you need to shape your hand accordingly. Curl your fingers and thumb to form a sort of claw, with your middle finger in the forefront. Rest your fingertips on top of whatever you are about to cut. Then hold down the food with your thumb and little finger, using your other fingers as stability and control while you cut. Your fingertips should be perpendicular to the cutting board.
  2. The steel of the blade has to rub against the knuckles that are holding the food. This way if you slip, you are gonna go under your fingers and prevent cutting yourself. The knife tip should rest on the cutting board and the blade should move up and down in a rocking motion. Practice until you get comfortable doing this rocking motion.
  3. To cut, you want to be using your knuckles as a guide to the cutting motion. Gently move the claw away from the blade as you cut and the knife should follow as you are lightly resting it against your knuckles. Keep moving as you go, this will also allow you to get even cuts.

Note: this can feel odd and unnatural at first. Spend time actively practicing the claw grip and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

Safety benefits:

It is almost impossible to cut yourself if you maintain your fingers in the claw grip. If the knife slips while you’re in this position, it will go under your fingers and prevent any cuts. After all, this technique ensures that your fingers are out of the way as the knife cuts through the food.