Looking at songs such as ocean by john butler, or things like that, when people strum to a point when you see seven hands, I would like to know how you can build up to that. Probably just using a metronome and just practice, right? Some people grow out their nails. Is that mandatory to strum that fast? Suggestions? Thanks.
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Seriously though, get a metronome dude, and slowly crank it up until you max it out, then do it double time
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check out Rodrigo y Gabriela for reallllllly fast strumming, john butler is great (ive seen him play ocean live) but i think Gabriela from RodGab takes the cake here.
I agree perko. Her right hand speed is off the charts. But, if you look carefully, you will notice that her fingers strum at slightly different times as well, thus helping to create a fuller more impressive sound. So, threadstarter, even if yu can't get that fast, working on technique and not just speed will also offer high results.

To strum quickly without a pick, I strike down with my index fingernail, and up with my thumbnail. Watching John Butler, he does something similar...I think he just uses more than his index finger.

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I'm lazy so I just strum with my hand to the point that it just starts bleeding and I can see the bones. But I hear your meant to just use fingernails.
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the sides of my index middle and ring fingers are calloused beyond repair.... i strum down with with the bottom of all 3 and up with the top, keeping my fingers about 1/4" apart... makes a full sound and as far as strumming fast.... build up the strokin muscles... it just takes time, and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of practice.... you can use fingernails if you want b.t.w. but i like the soft sound i get from playing with skin, i use a pick when i want the "twang" sound.... anyhoo, get a metronome and build up, I guarantee if you practice for 2 hours a day everyday in 2 years you will be able to strum that guitar till the strings vibrate smooth off ; ) have fun
I strum moving all four fingers, basically. Know what I mean? I have got pretty long nails too, so that gives me a more textured sound by using both my nails and my fingertips. Sounds massive.
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To strum quickly without a pick, I strike down with my index fingernail, and up with my thumbnail.

I do the same only I use the backside of all my fingernails for downstrums when strumming crazy fast... or at least crazy fast for me
Look up "Rasgeado" (I'm almost positive I spelt that wrong), it's a Flamenco technique that incorporates each finger into the strum separately. Once you've mastered that learn how to perform the continuous rasgeado where you use the thumb in the upstroke to connect the strums together and you'll have a strum that sounds like a machine gun going off, but faster.
i recommend growing your nails, I tried doing some licks from Mediterranean Sundance without them and was almost impossible to keep up
i find using my nails uncomfortable, i use the side of my thumb and its become quite hard now where i strum with it so much!