Don't worry about holding your chopsticks exactly like everyone else.
Don't worry about holding your chopsticks exactly like everyone else.

The early stages of using chopsticks can be daunting and full of dropped food, dropped sticks and lots of frustration. Once you get the basics down, though, you can practice daily until you master the art of eating with chopsticks. Embarrassment and irritation at Asian restaurants will be a thing of your past and you might even find that you prefer using chopsticks at every meal.

Hold your dominant hand in front of you with the pinky and ring fingers curled loosely toward your palm. Allow your index and middle fingers to be relaxed but straight, and relax your thumb so the tip of it points at your index finger.

Place one chopstick in your dominant hand with the thin end pointing down and the thicker end pointing up. Position it so it rests in the crook between your thumb and index finger, against the webbing. The lower portion of the chopstick should rest against the top of your ring finger. This is the bottom chopstick.

Position the second chopstick between your thumb and index finger so you are holding it like a pencil. The thick end should be pointing up and the thin end should point down, like the bottom chopstick. Use your index and middle fingers to move the top chopstick and your thumb to stabilize it.

Slide the chopsticks so that your grip on them is about halfway down their length. Use this as a starting point, but you might prefer more or less length on the thinner ends as you learn.

Adjust the chopsticks in your hand so the thin tips are even with each other; you can use your other hand for this or press them against a flat surface like a table.

Hold the bottom chopstick rigid and move the top chopstick away from the bottom stick and back to it. This is the motion that allows you to pick up food. The bottom chopstick will remain mostly stationary while the top stick allows maneuverability.

Practice grabbing your index finger from your free hand with the chopsticks. Once you are able to consistently do this, move to picking up light, medium-sized food like broccoli, cauliflower and onions.

Carry a pair of chopsticks with you while you are learning that are specifically for non-food items. Practice picking up random things like lint from your shirt, a pen from your desk or a stick from the ground.

Begin to eat both heavier and smaller foods like breaded meat or rice with your chopsticks. When you eat rice, use both sticks to press a portion of it down, then slide the sticks under it and lift the compressed portion to your mouth. The more you use your chopsticks, the easier eating with them will become.