A quick note on studying Taijiquan, and how to get what you want out of it:

Taijiquan, no matter what the style, is a complex and demanding object of study. I tend to think of it a three components nestled inside one another, each component requiring it’s own focus.

The first and most immediate level is that it is a physical exercise. This is the level at which most people engage their practice of Taiji. Senior citizens are told to study it in order to have a low-impact exercise which develops flexibility and balance.

On a deeper level it is a meditative practice, a form of moving meditation and Qi development. It is a perfect introduction into the deeper levels of Taoist practice and philosophy.

And finally it is a martial art. This aspect is less well developed in the current Taiji world, but the applications are there, in the form, ready to be studied.

The important point is that each level needs to be addressed independently. Later on, there will be a synthesis of all the elements. But it is possible to do the form as an exercise, and never tap into the meditative aspect of Taiji. It is possible to go through the form as a meditation, without having a clear sense of the applications. But it is not possible to practice the applications without having grappled with the meditative aspect or the physical training.

The point here is to engage the practice with a clear eye; what is the purpose of the study? Some details are important in a meditative context, but less so if one is exploring applications. Some students are not interested in deeper aspects of the form, or in the martial side. And during the practice itself, the focus and change from meditation to application to exercise, and each run of the form will be slightly different.

And yes, the ultimate goal is synthesis of all three levels, but this will not happen automatically, or magically. The Taoist Sage becomes wise in the ways of the Tao through observation, through active participation in the flow of the Universe. Similarly, one must engage Taijiquan with an active and inquisitive mind. The form will not reveal itself to someone who is not actively engaged with it.