Three Phases of Taichi Training
When doing your Taichi training, there are three phases of training that you need to concentrate on as you progress in order to train, strengthen, and grow your Chi or Life Energy. All three are necessary to the achievement of this goal and are done successively as you advance, but always maintaining the previous levels as you do so. These three phases are: Single Form Practice, Two Person Practice and Circle Meditation.
Single Form Practice
As a beginner you begin learning your single forms. Each from is designed to help you first, learn good physical structure, and second, learn to flow your energy in a specific manner. Although there are many forms, they all can be reduced to the Eight Basic Postures spoken of in the Taichi Classics, Wardoff, Rollback, Press, Push, Lean Forward, Elbow, Roll Pull and Split. These are the essential energies to learn as well as the Five Style Steps. All of this is contained in your Single Form Practice.
This training also helps you to relax and get back in contact with your True Self by reconnecting to your original Life Energy. There are many other benefits to this phase of your practice, but these are the most important. This training is done on your own, so it can only take you so far. That is why you need the next phase of training.
Two Person Practice
In order to advance further, you need to not only be able to feel the flow of Chi inside yourself, but also to generate Jing, and be able to sense the flow of energy outside of yourself. This is where Two Person Practice comes in. In order to know how strong your Jing is, or if you are generating it at all, you need another person. You can not feel your own Jing, and need another person to give you feedback. A strong feeling of Chi in the body does not guarantee that you are broadcasting a signal outside your body, and only another person can tell you this.
When you practice with another person, you need to be able to feel the flow outside yourself that you are both generating, to stay in harmony with your practice partner. You need someone to practice with in a slow and soft manner to develop the sensitivity necessary to do this effectively. There is no way to do it on your own. This doubles the energy you have to work with if done correctly, but you need the next phase to really expand your energy even further.
Circle Meditation Practice
This requires a group of preferably eight people, and if possible, four men and four women at approximately the same level, to be well balanced. With eight in a circle you can box in the energy and create an even bigger field to benefit everyone involved in the circle. One person on their own can progress, two practicing together enhances this further, but the circle will really help you get to even higher levels, if done properly.
By using an even number of men and women you balance the Yin and Yang energies, which is an important step in your training. Remember that one of your goals in your Taichi training is to balance your own Yin and Yang energies, so this type of balance is vital to your progress. You can also benefit from this in your Two Person Practice by men and women practicing with each other.
By applying these three phases to your practice over the years, you can then progress to heights, the limits of which are only those you choose to set. You start with forms, progress to Two Person and then to Circle Meditation, always keeping the other phases as part of your practice.