My Japanese sword teacher put it most succinctly (though I'm probably paraphrasing) -
"Techniques only happen because your primary attack failed"
..... After all, decapitate them, or run them through on the first cut .... and there is very little else left to do ... Perhaps extract yourself and avoid the blood. That's all.
Of course there is a whole game played before contact, which is much more important with edged weapons - sizing up your opponent, creating your moment etc ... but once it gets to the physical skills themselves, either your first move is decisive ..... or, you screwed up, and all the other stuff, the technical stuff, happens so you can prevail, AND extricate yourself from the contact.
Bagua organizes part of it's system (It's straight line forms) around this idea.
1) Engage - either as a committed attack ... but more often, as a test, to tie up the primary weapons - empty hand this would be the arms - legs would be taken care of by positioning achieved through the entry.
2) Put power into the system. This either finishes it .... or it does not work.
3) If it does not work - you change something - dependent on how your opponent reacted to the original engagement (grabbed you/stepped out/turned/countered/blocked/etc)
4) The reaction gives you the momentum to finish it, but now from closer range ... remembering our system is fond making people fall over. Bagua thinking works fine for weapons and striking, but is possibly happiest tripping, sweeping, and face planting people into the ground.
The whole sequence should be seamless, and the solo forms are there to assist in practicing this ability to able to flow from anyplace, to anyplace else, without thought. It matters not what your opponent does - every possible reaction has a finish that you control. They choose - And you use what ever they choose, to beat them.
They shift their weight back? Follow the weight and trip them on a weak angle. They block? You now control both hands. They resist? You follow the power in the same direction and add to it, or use them as an anchor to sling shot power around.
Your job, is to keep good, dynamic, alignment, be able to move each and every direction as needed, understand the weak angles in each position, and be sensitive to the opponent's choice to be able to use what they give you .... oh, and keep yourself safe in the process.
These are the skills that the system should give you.
So, from an engagement (One of the 8 big openings for instance), the opponent negates the initial attack, either by blocking the strike, stepping, or countering, and this then is the gateway to the actual finishing move -
They block your strike? Good! They flinch back? Excellent!! They resist from the first point of contact? Yippee!! ... this is where the stuff happens ... BECAUSE of the resistance .... not because there was none.
Everyone has seen countless techniques, taught as a 1,2,3,4 (sometimes 5,6,7) series of moves, whilst the other stands there like an automaton ..... Some of them are nice flows of ideas but lack one BIG element ... the natural reaction of the opponent to each part.
The ideas aren't all bad ... they have just lost their reason 'why'. Add the natural reactions that doing part 1) instill ... and often these are a path to parts 3) and 4).
If you want to understand what the designers of the system thought was important, put the reactive flow back into the techniques - Only 3 or 4 beats are needed - And troubleshoot possible exits (For ideas, look to the form work) ..... just make sure that part 3 exists because of an opponent induced failure of the initial attack ....
No failure .... no necessity for anything more.