Yojimbo is a 1961 Japanese period film in which two feuding crime bosses attempt to hire a wandering samurai (ronin) who has arrived in their town. Yojimbo, or “bodyguard,” is a fitting name for Spyderco’s Michael Janich-designed defensive folding knife. Spyderco’s current Yojimbo 2 is an improved version of the original Yojimbo, which debuted in 2005. Martial Blade Concepts founder Michael Janich worked the original Yojimbo’s proportions into what he considered a superior defensive knife.
Janich takes his experiences with the original Spyderco Yojimbo and with his Blackhawk! design, the Be-Wharned, and uses them to pare down the Yojimbo 2 into a more refined knife. I spoke with Janich at SHOT Show about the morphing of the Yo 2.
He said in making the Yojimbo 2, he no longer felt the need for the butt of the knife to be used for striking or manipulating pressure points. As such the overall length of the handle was shortened by half an inch. Gone are the dimples in the sides of the scales that were placed for reference points when manipulating the knife.
The Yojimbo 2’s blade, though still CPM S30V steel, is now hollow ground and not as angular as the original full flat ground triangle blade. Yo 2’s Wharncliffe blade retains all the potential power of the original, but is slightly thicker at the tip because of the hollow grind.
The blade has been relieved of the puppy-teeth-like jimping on the top of the blade, which Janich told me only served to irritate your flesh when employing the knife in the thumb-forward Filipino grip. The topline of the Yojimbo 2’s blade is a gentle, smooth scallop.
The Yo 2’s blade rotates open with a little less “English” by the thumb than a first run Yojimbo. This seems to have something to do with the spatial relationship between the Spyderhole and the pivot point. It is minor, but perceptible to me.
To shore up the Yo 2, integral steel liners now provide a framework inboard of the black G-10 slabs. Because of its high strength, the compression lock is retained for the Yojimbo 2. The newer knife has a four-position carry clip, as opposed to the right/left tip up one on the previous Yo. The lanyard hole is no longer present.
I own an original Yojimbo in blue G-10. To increase its concealment, Janich envisioned the first version of the Yo to be dressed in denim-colored G-10 with a matching pocket clip. Costs interfered and the original Yojimbo wore scales of an off-the-shelf blue that is just a bit bright. The pocket clip was shiny steel. I still think it is a good-looking folder.
I sincerely like my original Yojimbo, but upon receiving two of the new Yojimbo 2’s, I immediately felt what Janich was trying to achieve with the redesign. The Yo 2 is more forgiving in the hand and in the pocket. Much like “melting” the frame of a handgun for better concealed carry, the Yojimbo 2 has smoother edges and is more user-friendly.
Production runs of the Yojimbo 2 have sold out at least twice. At SHOT, Ed Schempp told me that Spyderco’s new plant in Golden, CO is running full bore with an increase from one shift to three shifts to keep up with demand of their Made in USA knives.
Yojimbo 2’s MSRP is $185.95. I found a pair for just over a hundred bucks (last year). Stay Safe Media, another Janich project, sells a Yojimbo 2 trainer for $54.00. It simulates the weight and balance of the live blade, but allows for safe practice.
At this time, finding a Yojimbo 2 for sale is like trying to hire the classic film’s elusive ronin warrior as your bodyguard. You will encounter competition. More are on the way, though. What is the Japanese word for “patience?”
For a fixed blade version of the Yo2, check out the Spyderco Ronin 2 here: New Spyderco Ronin 2