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Wax on, Wax off: The Art of Sushi, Mastery Through Repetition

Mastering the art of sushi shares similarities with disciplines like playing musical instruments, writing, and practicing martial arts. My journey through a twenty-three-year sushi career, having crafted over 10,000 pieces of sushi, from rolls to nigiri, and slicing countless fish, echoes a universal principle of mastery through repetition.

Bruce Lee's words, "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times," profoundly capture the essence of skill acquisition. This principle has been a cornerstone of my craft. Whether it's an inside-out Spicy Tuna Roll or any other variant, the fundamental steps remain consistent: applying sushi rice to nori, adding fillings, rolling, and cutting. This repetition has honed my speed and efficiency, making complex tasks seem effortless to observers, often prompting sushi class participants to remark, "Kaz, you make it look so easy."

During classes at Hotel Kabuki, I see a portrait painting of Mr. Miyagi on the wall reminds me of another quote that resonates with the art of learning: "Wax on, wax off," from the movie "Karate Kid." This metaphor illustrates the power of repetitive practice in mastering fundamental movements, much like my experience with Spicy Tuna Rolls.

While the exact number of repetitions needed to master a technique may vary, Malcolm Gladwell's notion of 10,000 hours from his book "Outliers" also offers a framework to begin. Embarking on the journey to make 10,000 sushi rolls might seem daunting, and as someone who has traversed this path, I can attest to the journey's paradoxical nature—feeling both long and brief in retrospect.

The milestone of 10,000 rolls is merely the beginning of a deeper exploration into the art of sushi. Nowadays, I view it as the foundation for ongoing growth and discovery. Just as was the case when I started my journey over twenty years ago, there is no end.

For those ready to take their first step towards sushi mastery, I am eager to share my knowledge and understanding, guiding you to create beautiful, delicious sushi, like the Rainbow Roll, using sustainable fish in our public classes or through team building and private events.


Breakthrough Sushi offers sushi classes and sushi catering in the San Francisco Bay Area using sustainable seafood.

If you like to inquire about your next corporate or private event, please send us an email to request a quote.

If you like to sign up for our scheduled public classes in San Francisco and San Jose (Santa Clara), please see the schedule here.

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