Students want the ability to defend themselves using the body in a relaxed, soft manner - whilst simultaneously improving their health. This is quite a lot to ask for.
It is very clear in the class where people are in the syllabus. We do not encourage competition or rivalry, yet some people do try to one-up each other. They hold too tightly or behave in an unnecessarily awkward manner with their partner. This is naive and macho - not in the spirit of tai chi at all. You are where you are, and it will take as long as it has to. Pushing for a result is force on force and this will not work in tai chi.