The Origins of the Tsunami and Tsunami Trainer
Written by Squid Industries founder, Lucas Cao
When I started my own deep dive in the flipping community back in 2015, there was a slim selection of knives if you wanted to get into competitive flipping. Some notable knives include the Benchmade 42, BRS Alpha Beast, and Microtech Tachyon II. While it’s unfortunate that most of these knives are discontinued, they paved the way for more modern designs. They inspired a new generation of designers and flippers like myself, and those knives are what inspired me to start Squid Industries and create a company focused on the flipping community.
While the originations of the company were rooted in budget-friendly balisong (butterfly knife) trainers, my ultimate goal has always been to create top-performing knives and trainers at every price point. At the beginning of 2020, and after launching the Squidtrainer, Squiddy, Triton, and Krake Raken in the entry to mid-tier price points, I decided to take on my biggest tidal wave yet–the Tsunami.
Tsunami Design Inspiration
The Tsunami was designed to be the ultimate balisong in every regard. Balance, ergonomics, aesthetics, and materials were all critical elements that I wanted the Tsunami to transcend. In order to explain how I developed the final design as we currently know it, it’s important that we discuss all of the inspirations for the Tsunami, starting with the main two: the Cold Steel Arc Angel and the Ryworx Konohishi Shinogi.
The Cold Steel Arc Angel, for many older generation balisong flippers, is a legendary knife. It came in four unique blade shapes and was one of the few production balisongs to feature a channel titanium design. By today’s standards, the Arc Angel had terrible tuning and barely functioning washers. On top of that, it had a carbon steel blade that rusted all of the time. Despite its flaws, it was a top-tier flipper for many people, including myself. I was drawn to its geometric handle design (the parallelograms) and the effortless flipping experience that its lightweight frame created.
The Ryworx Konohishi Shinogi is made by my friend Ryo in Japan. He’s a brilliant knife designer who incorporates Japanese culture into his knives. The Konohishi Shinogi’s tanto blade design is a work of art that deserves to be in museum’s around the world and it played a significant role in inspiring the Tsunami blade design.
While the Arc Angel and Konohishi Shinogi contributed to the aesthetics of the knife, I used many other knives from my personal collection to influence several major design characteristics. The Tsunami features an intricately machined texture that creates a phenomenal grip. This texture was originally from the EX10, a knife made by my friend and mentor Geof Dumas. He’s an incredibly talented knife maker who has helped me countless times with machining strategies and various design elements. If you’re looking for beautiful, well-built knives, I’d highly recommend checking him out.
A few other notable elements of the Tsunami that were influenced by Benchmade Knives are the bi-directional taper and jeweling. I believe that ergonomics are just as important as the other elements of a knife, so having a handle design that is tapered in both width and thickness, just like the Benchmade 42, was a necessity. The jeweling, similar to what you’d see in the recently discontinued Benchmade 51 Morpho, was added to the inside of the handles but not for any performance boost whatsoever–they’re simply there to look stunning.
No matter how a balisong looks, it’s truly defined by how it flips. The starting point of the Tsunami balance point was based on some basic mathematical analysis of its weight distribution. Unfortunately, I didn’t possess the engineering skills to perfect the numbers. Fortunately, I had a talented team of expert flippers that worked at Squid Industries and together we created tons of iterations across many months to create the ultimate flipping experience that the Tsunami provides today. People commonly describe the flipping experience as smooth, effortless, and perfect.
For those who don’t feel that way, we’ve added a modular weight pin system that allows you to add small weights into the inside of the bottom of the handles.
The Tsunami debuted in mid-2020 with a small first production run of 10 units. We’ve continued a new production run for each Blade Show and are now currently preparing Production IX for Blade Show West 2023. While the design of the Tsunami has remained relatively unchanged, the manufacturing process has evolved significantly the past three years in order to constantly improve the fit and finish of the product. The Tsunami is well known for its beautiful satin polished finish, which takes both excellent machining work and fine hand craftsmanship to become a reality. This unique finish is one of many elements that we refine and improve with every production run.