There are valuable concepts in Taijiquan that make it a powerful art for self-defense. One of the interesting ideas is "taking the energy where it wants to go."
Last week, Colin and Justin and I recorded several escapes from Chin-Na joint locks. A longer version with more techniques and explanations is on my website for members, but I put together a shorter version for YouTube.
We are very serious about the internal arts but we have a lot of fun when we practice. I think it shows a bit on the videos we do. Please watch this and you'll learn something about how to escape from a joint lock. Silk-Reeling energy is very helpful against joint locks, and silk-reeling relies on other internal body mechanics, too. This is a narrowly focused video. It doesn't necessarily show how to "soften someone up" before escaping, or what to do as a follow-up, but the information here will be helpful in the real world.