To begin with take up the Snake Stance (right foot forward alongside your partner's right foot; knees slightly bent for greater flexibility), and raise your right arm so that the back of your wrist is just touching the back of your partner's right wrist (your partner of course, should take up the same posture). Next start to circle your arm to your right, and as you do so, your partner should allow their own right arm to rotate freely, thereby giving way to the slightest pressure from you. As your arm circles, you should endeavour to alter the size of the circle, making small, medium-size, large and extra large rotations.
After a little while, your partner may decide to take the initiative and rotate their arm the other way. As soon as you feel the opposing pressure, immediately give way. So the exercise continues, each giving way to the other when necessary, yet each trying to take command as the situation changes. The object is to touch your partner's head, chest or stomach with the hand of the rotating arm, but you should not straighten your arm to make the touch, which should be very gentle, and you must endeavour to make the touch while you continue to rotate your arm. In addition to the arm movement, you may also move your body backwards or forwards, or turn your shoulders and hips, but any movement at the top must not effect the bottom, and you should keep your feet absolutely stationary. Moving the body not only keeps it very supple but it makes it easier for you to evade the touches, and so makes it much more difficult for your partner to get through your defence system.
The next stage of Whirling Arms is to learn how to use the rotations of your arm so as to rock your partner's balance. When your technique is good enough, you will be able to uproot them completely, but to achieve this requires a great deal of practice.
Once you have mastered the technique of using one arm, the next step is to use both arms, either simultaneously or alternatively, but you should ensure that when changing from one to the other you do not lose contact with your partner's arm. You may circle your arms in opposite directions from each other, or both arms can rotate in the same direction. You may also vary the area of circulation by rotating one arm in a large circle whilst the other one makes small circlets. The variety of possible movements is enormous, and to achieve mastery of the techniques for using both arms requires considerable experience, extremely rapid reactions, a high level of body control, and great mental agility and concentration.
Finally, there is the further art of moving your feet according to specified patterns, at the same time making full use of your body. To reach this stage usually takes about three years of constant training, and to conquer it is extremely difficult. Sheer dedication together with expert tuition is required to gain the full appreciation and understanding of the art.
- The Chinese Art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan by Chee Soo - page 49