Out of the styles I've learned, Tai Chi is supposed to be the most efficient/powerful/etc. one when it comes to martial applications. Yet, it is the style I know how to use least! I mean, in class, we stress breathing, we stress correct form and technique, balance and all that good stuff. The instructor shows us applications every now and then. But he doesn't let us try them. I asked him about teaching pushing hands once, he says MAYBE... but if he does teach, it'll come later on. I also know tai chi doesn't spar.

I've also seen a lot of older students who've been doing it forever... but who just don't seem like they could handle thesmelves in terms of self defense.

My question is... how does one go about learning how to use tai chi? Or is it really that practicioners of tai chi completely changed their philosophy, and gave up on teaching the martial side? (as in, learn tai chi for health benefits, chi, balance, technqiue.... but let those rub off on some other style you train in that does care for applications/sparring?)