Our next Two Person topic will be practicing engaging and disengaging. This is another type of practice designed to help you learn to connect and attach with your partner.
Start by standing facing each other in Preparation Form. Make sure to follow the guidelines for connecting that were discussed in a previous article, and practice the appropriate exercises if need as described. When you have connected, step up and get into Hands Attaching, making sure that you attach properly, neither pulling back physically or energetically.
Next, disengage, both partners moving their hands in a counter-clockwise circle, at the same speed, so that both hands arrive once again in Hands Attaching at the same time, to once again engage. As the hands circle, make sure that they stay connected, even though they are not in physical contact. You should still be able to "feel" your partner’s hand through your energetic connection. Remember to move at the same speed, so when you hand is at 9:00, your partner’s is at 3:00, then both are at 6:00, then when your’s is at 3:00, your partner’s is at 9:00, until they once again re-engage.
Continue in this manner, until you can do it in a very smooth manner, with no pauses, interruptions or bouncing of the hands when they re-engage. Notice how this works on your ability to attach smoothly, and maintain your energetic connection at all times in this process. It is important to your Two Person training to be able to keep a connection without physical contact. In order to advance past a very rudimentary level of Two Person practice, you have to develop this ability. Otherwise, your Two Person practice will just be a physical exercise, and you energy growth will go nowhere. Remember that you are doing Two Person practice to increase both your energy, and your partner’s, so diligence and sincerity is necessary from both of you. Practice both sides repeatedly, then break, returning to Preparation, where you store the signal you have both generated, and then bow to each other and disconnect.
You can also practice this by your self at those times when you may not have a partner to practice with. Start from Preparation and step up into Hands Attaching. Now, as before, circle your hand in a counter-clockwise circle in front of the torso. Since you don’t have a partner to connect with, try and "look" outside for something to connect with. Feel the outside energy as the hand circles around. Each time, bring the hand down past the Lower Dan Tian gathering the energy here. As you continue to circle, go into the Earth, out to the side and then up to the Heavens to gather energy as you search for something to connect with, then bring that back down to the Lower Dan Tian to begin again. Practice on both sides equally, then finish by bringing yourself back into Preparation, to store the signal you have generated in the Lower Dan Tian.
This type of practice, both alone and with a practice partner will go a long way toward improving your connecting and attaching abilities, as well as work towards strengthening your internal energy. While Single Form practice is a powerful way to practice your Taichi, Two Person practice allows you to exponentially improve your energy growth, Remember that about one third of your practice should be devoted to Two Person practice. There are aspects of your Taichi practice that will be difficult to develop without this kind of training, so do not discount it.