Two Person Taichi Ball Practice
Taichi Ball practice is one of the most basic and important types of practice that you do in Taichi. The ability to generate, expand, contract, and split a Taichi Ball is critical to your energetic development, as well as the basis of all of your Taichi Forms. You can do two person Taichi Ball practice in order to help you generate a good strong Taichi Ball, as well as develop your sensitivity to the energy of your practice partner. Another benefit of this practice is that if done correctly, both will benefit from the energy generated, raising you both up energetically.
Start by facing each other in Beginning Stance, with your hands held out, palms facing each other, as if holding a Taichi Ball. Make sure that you are close enough that your hands and your partner’s overlap, yours outside your partner’s, the center of the palms lined up. Now that you have the spacing set, both of you start with your hands over the Dan Tian. Focus on the Dan Tian, feeling the connection between it and the centers of your palms. Now, both of you bring out a Taichi Ball. Whoever starts first should end up with their palms outside of those of their partner. Make sure that the centers of the palms line up, as if you are both holding a single Taichi Ball.
The person with their hands on the outside leads and slowly raises and lowers the Taichi Ball. The person on the inside, must connect and feel the ball moving, staying connected to that movement and keeping the centers of the palms lined up. As the ball rises, the fingertips will begin to point up, but do not disconnect the centers of the palms. The idea is for the person on the inside to connect with and follow the person on the outside. Move very slowly and go strictly by feeling. You want to get to the point that you can do this with the eyes closed and still maintain that center of the palm connection.
After practicing this way for a while, bring the ball back in front of the Dan Tian and then both, slowly, pull it back into the Dan Tian. Then, reverse roles, the person who was on the outside is now inside, and practice the same way. Remember, go by feeling, not by using the eyes to follow the motion as soon as you can. The object here is to really feel that joint Taichi Ball and flow together. This requires a lot of focused practice, a relaxed, concentrated mind, and relying on feeling. Take your time, and only practice as long as you can keep a good meditative flow.
As you get better, you can try expanding the practice by, rotating the ball in front of you, ending up with one palm over the other, as well as going up and down. As you rotate the ball, the right fingertips will end up pointing to the left when the right hand is on top, and the lower left fingertips to the right. The centers of the palms should stay lined up all through the rotation and back again. Make sure you can do the first variation well before you try this, so that you can get the most benefit out of it.
Always end by bringing the ball back in front of the Dan Tian, and then "split it" between the two of you to share in the energy that you have generated together. A good regular practice partner is vital to this kind of practice. Over a period of time you will be able to generate a larger, denser Taichi Ball together, which will help you both raise up your energy. A male, female pair can be even better, as you can get the added benefit of balancing each other’s energy in terms of Yin and Yang.