“First you accomplish, paint the fence…” ~ Mr. Kesuke Miyagi, The Karate Kid (1984)
Remember this famous scene?
Mr. Miyagi has just taken Daniel Larusso under his wing. Before learning any karate technique, Daniel-San must first paint Mr. Myagi’s entire backyard fence.
Mr. Miyagi prescribes precise movements to a reluctant Daniel-San. He tells him:
“It’s all in the wrist…up, down, up, down…don’t forget to breathe”
These three tips are also the secret to strumming your guitar like a master.
Let’s break down the Miyagi way.
It’s all in the wrist
When it comes to strumming, it’s mostly in the wrist. You’ll need to use some elbow, but mostly your wrist.
Sweep your pick across the strings just as Daniel-San’s brush painted the fence.
If you’re having problems with control, you may need to work on how you’re holding the pick.
Up, down, up, down
This is the fun part.
It’s pretty straightforward, but keep in mind:
- Strum over the sound hole to get the most sound out of your guitar
- When learning new songs, find the rhythm quicker by muting the strings with your fretting hand and strumming with a pick
- At some level, rhythm is more important than notes or chords; understand the feel of a song first and figure out the strumming pattern (the up-down-up-down), then incorporate chords
- Use a metronome to help build your skills over time and measure your progress
Don’t forget to breathe
As with any physical activity, focus on breathing while you’re playing guitar to help minimize tension.
While you practice, pause every so often to breathe, relax your body, and check your posture.
Pay close attention to tension buildup and be sure to take a break if you feel any pain.
Check out the video for a demonstration of the Miyagi method.