I began training seriously in 1990 with a famous teacher who I came upon randomly via a tai chi class at university, with no idea of their reputation, initially learning tai chi, hsing yi, pakua, advanced sword, wudang fencing, and later liangyi, bashi (5 elements linking), northern mantis (internal), tongbei (internal), leopard boxing & northern shaolin (for teaching under 30). Weapons include straight sword, staff, club, pudao, spear & saber in that order of preference, and bagua fan, long tassel, & snake hsingyi to augment jian. My specialty is tai chi sword with wudang characteristics. Some drunken.
I followed my teacher closely for 25 years. "Following" involved always practicing harder and never saying no (which led to teaching a lot of kids classes, and included cleaning the school.)
Evening classes at the school consisted of 1.5 hours of grueling "basic training", 1.5 hours of learning forms under the master's instruction, with an optional additional hour of student practice. Weekend classes were taught in the mornings and afternoons. Students were also expected to do personal morning practice during the week and repetitions of individual techniques.
In our school, words like "energy" were never used except in the context of caloric consumption, which was called "spending money", or putting momentum into a body or a weapon. Instead my teacher emphasized "feeling", which is also extended to the blade in swordplay, where the fundamental goal is controlling the opponent's weapon.
My instructor studied Chinese martial arts from childhood, then "ten years, ten hours a day" under a top traditional tai chi master in China, before escaping to Hong Kong to seek a better life, and later coming to the US to teach, ultimately being invited back to China to compete and exhibit.
The philosophy of my school is one should never stop improving, never be satisfied with one's own skill, regardless of level, and that "Tai Chi takes a lifetime."