What is a drill and why form practice? It is said that earlier Tai Chi was postures and later individual movements and drills. Forms came even later.
Postures of a form can also be practiced as “ding shi”, or “holding postures”, a kind of standing meditation. I was taught a method of practice that through the form, one should stop in every posture for six minutes before moving into the other. A long form of 88 or 120 movements consists of many six minutes of standing. 8 or 12 hours of practice a form? I would not have time nor courage to spend a whole day moving through one form.
A posture or a single movement is like a brush stroke, a drill is like a character. And a Tai Chi form is like painting fluid calligraphy. A tai chi form is like writing in “Grass style”, which is a highly personal expression where the artist condense and make abstractions according to his own personal, artistic choice.
People ask: Why so many forms? The I ask: Why not? Create your own form if you want, or change the one you know according to your own personal judgement. Change directions, duplicate or take away movements. Let the postures flow together or separate them. Do it beautiful or make it look bold. Just make sure you don’t copy any one else and be sure to find your own voice, your own artistic expression.