i have heard of peolpe cutting them before they are lit but what i do is light the complete bar until it's ready, then place it in the hookah tray, take the tongs, closed, and tap firmly into thirds. One tap should do it for each cut so firmly but not enough to break it in a million pieces, it works every time. i should use the new video feature for this. i have a cam but need to learn how to upload though, maybe someone else can do this for us that uses this technique.
i have only used/stocked the new batch so I can't compare to the old ones. i still like them.