The classic training method is firstly practice it in slow movement, secondly practice it during pushing hands and lastly practice it in combat situation. The question is: What is it special about tai-chi's method of practice (if at all special)?
In order to do a good parry, firstly one must have enough power to deflect the opponent's punch, and secondly one must do it in a quick, relaxed and controlled way so that a counter punch can be executed with ease.
Assuming one has been trained with Zhan Zhuang and achieved the state of "muscles-as-one", a tai-chi practitioner should learn and practice how to use minimum energy and attention so that a powerful, speedy and controlled parry can be executed.
As the previous post on Peng mentioned, one needs to "float" one's shoulder joint to generate the full-body power to deflect the punch. Having handled the power issue, one's parrying hand (assuming a face punch from the opponent), one's movement must be just right (too little can't avoid the punch, too much will alert the opponent as to nullify one's small window of opportunity to execute a counter punch.
How to condition one's parry movement "just right"? It is by sweeping from one's initial focused point to the next focused point. In tai-chi parry, the focused points are the outer edge of one's eyebrows (for right hand parry, the initial point is the edge of one's right eye, and vice versa). A quick sweep of focus shall be synchronized with the the movement of one's blocking hand (from right to left or left to right as the case may be).
And the essence of point focus training is to do "point meditation" during Zhan Zhuang (see previous post on the subject HERE). The sweeping movement however, need firstly to be trained in three steps as per above, starting with slow movement, and always with muscles-as-one (肌肉如一) in mind in order full-body-Jing (整体勁) can be applied to the point of contact. When one can accomplish parry with ease, counter punch can follow naturally.
|Tai chi parry and counter punch (搬攔錘)|