Using chopsticks isn’t really as difficult as you might think. With just a little bit of practice and a little bit of knowledge, just about anybody should be able to learn how to use a pair of chopsticks.
First thing to keep in mind when thinking about how to use chopsticks is that it’s ok to make mistakes. Don’t worry about having perfect form when you are using chopsticks. When you are in some cultures, there may be specific cultural moirs, or cultural rules regarding chopsticks, but for most westerners the actual method of using chopsticks shouldn’t get you in trouble at the dinner table, even if you’re in a Chinese restaurant.
You should also start out, when you are first learning how to use chopsticks, with a relatively inexpensive set of chopsticks. You want a cheap wooden set made out of wood or with bamboo. Wooden chopsticks tend to be easier to use than plastic, metal, or ceramic chopsticks. Also, keep in mind that shorter chopsticks actually tend to be a little bit easier to use than longer chopsticks. So, you might start with shorter chopsticks, at least in the beginning, when you are first learning how to use chopsticks.
Once you have selected a pair of chopsticks to use, here are the specific steps involved in using those chopsticks.
Take one chopstick and place it in the crook of your thumb and your index finger. You’ll want the chopstick to be at the base of your thumb. Your thumb should be about 1/3 of the way down the chopstick from the broad end.
Next, you’ll want to rest the chopstick onto your ring finger. It should be approximately halfway down the chopstick in this position. In this position, the first chopstick will be in a very stable spot secured between your thumb and your index finger at one end and with the other end resting on your ring finger.
Now you are going to take the second chopstick and place it in your hand in the same way that you would hold a pen. You’ll want it to slightly rest on the tip of your thumb and you’ll want to use your middle finger to support it and to hold it into place.
Now you are going to use your index and your middle fingers to actually manipulate the chopstick and move the tip upwards and downwards. You’ll want to look at the bottom of the chopstick during this step. The bottom should stay fairly still during this process. When you move the top chopstick down on the tip, it should meet up with the tip of the bottom chopstick.
Try to imagine that you are pinching something with the chopsticks. If the tips aren’t touching, you’ll need to adjust one of the chopsticks so that they do touch.
Using this motion, try to pick up some food. It’s best to start with larger chunks of food such as larger vegetables, or larger pieces of meat. Once you have a handle on how to manipulate your chopsticks, you might try smaller and trickier foods such as rice and grains.
Using your chopsticks will take some time, but eventually, with enough practice, you should be able to manipulate them like a pro.