The next step in your Two Person Practice after Single Hand Push, is to move on to Vertical Rolls. You want to make sure to spend enough time on Single Hand Push before moving on to this practice, as you want to be able to flow well in a horizontal circle. You then move on to Vertical Rolls, so that you can develop your flow in a vertical plane. If you only work on the horizontal, you end up with an unbalanced energy field, much like a doughnut. This also helps you to prepare for your Roll Hands practice.
Start by stepping up into Hands Attaching , after having followed the guidelines for connecting discussed in a previous article. Do some Single Hand Push for a while to establish a good, strong flow with your practice partner. You want to be sure that you have a good flow going to get the most benefit out of your practice, so do not take this step lightly. If you do not have a good connection and flow, you will not get any benefit from your Two Person practice, so always remain soft and relaxed. Only in this manner can you really generate a flow together, rather than doing merely physical level practice.
As you start pushing forward, begin to come over the wrist of your partner, and as you come over their wrist, begin a downward roll. You now want to roll in a vertical circle, going down between the two of you, then back up on the other side, again circling between the two of you to return to where you started, circling down again. Your wrist should rotate around that of your partner as you roll. The circle that you are making is not only vertical, but also on a diagonal plane between the two torsos. You want the circle to be on a 45° angle to both of you, the same angle your feet are on. It is as if you took the circle you are making in Single Hand Push is set on it's edge on a 45° angle between you.
Make sure you remain relaxed and that your contact remains light and consistent. Often the person following will rest on the hand of the person leading on the way up. You want to feel the flow and have that lift you up when you are following. Stay attached on the way down, and let the flow bring you down. This is the most difficult part for most students in the beginning. Remember, flow, do not rely on physical contact to guide you. When leading, go out from the fingertips, all the way down to the Earth as you go down, all the way up to the sky as you go up, out to the sides as you go around. Go out as far as you can as you roll, making sure all of your motion comes from the Dan Tian.
To reverse directions and allow the other person to lead, make a small loop to turn around at the bottom of your circle. Do not stop and go the other direction, or start pushing in the opposite direction without this loop. Otherwise, you will interrupt the flow, or worse, drop down to physical level practice, just pushing the other persons’ arm around the circle. This transition should be smooth, with no interruption in your energy flow, no conflict, remaining in harmony with your partner.
Things to watch for that are common errors are, first, make sure you roll primarily from the elbow, not the shoulder. Keep the elbow bent and pointed toward the ground and do not hunch up your shoulder. If you feel discomfort in your shoulder, you are probably not doing one of these two things properly. Do not bring the circle in too close to you when you are leading. The palm should be away from you, and the waist turning back to center. If you get either this hand position or the timing of the waist turn wrong, you risk leading your partner right into you. Remember that the motion should come from the Lower Dan Tian, not from the arm. Use the whole body driven by the Dan Tian. Lastly, make sure that you rise as the arm goes up and sink as it goes down. This is a whole body motion based on energy flow.
Doing this practice in conjunction with your Single Hand Push, will help you to develop a good strong flow in both the horizontal and vertical directions. This will benefit you as you progress through your other forms of Two Person practice, by allowing you to develop a good strong, balanced energy field. Make sure you work on both, so that they are well balanced. This will carry over into all of your Taichi practice, and help you to get the most out of your dedicated, sincere practice.