While there is a superficial similarity between Whirling Hands and Whirling Arms, the two are very different from each other as regards approach, technique, and feel. The object is to touch your opponent's body or head with either your fingertips or elbow (which sounds quite easy until you start to practise) and, at a later stage, to upset your partner's balance and uproot them.
The initial stance that you and your partner must adopt is the same as in Whirling Arms, but this time you must interlock your fingers with your partner — your right hand with their left, and their right with your left. Next, keeping your elbows bent at all times, begin to rotate your hands, either both together or each one separately, in large, medium or small circles. How you are able to rotate them will depend, of course, on your partner's reactions and manoeuvres. By turning your body, twisting your shoulders, bending forward or backward, turning your wrists and shifting your balance, you should, once you have acquired skill and perfection, be able to touch your partner without being touched yourself. If your legs begin to ache, then with mutual consent with your partner you can both change your stance, so that your left feet are forward and your right behind.
When you have mastered the initial stage of Whirling Hands, you can progress to the later stages, which involve learning how to uproot your partner and move your feet.
From the point of view of self-defence, both Whirling Arms and Whirling Hands are excellent training, and teach you hand-to-hand techniques at close quarters. Once you have learned the basic stages, you will thoroughly enjoy participating in the battle of wits and practising the skills that are involved.
- The Chinese Art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan by Chee Soo - page 52