When practising T'ai Chi sword with a partner we begin with the exercise known as 'Sticking Swords' - keeping the swords in contact whilst one person leads and the other follows. This develops into a practice very similar to pushing hands - where one person attacks, the other joins, sticks, yields and then returns the energy. In T'ai Chi sword there are no blocks or parries as in Western fencing, instead we join and work towards not being against the other. Gradually we develop sensitivity in the sword, we begin to 'hear' our partner's energy and intention through the blade. Eventually, this inanimate object becomes a lively and sensitive extension of our mind and energy.