Like they say above, bar chords are essential to playing up the neck.
Old delta style blues players with their HUGE hands would cover the first two strings (E and B) with their index fingers and wrap their thumb over the base string. I use that technique sometimes when playing a delta blues song or a rag or sometimes in fingerstyle where I have to play a lot of melody notes in an F chord or B chord form.
Jazz guitarists usually don't use bar chords. They will use a "closed" chord format where you only play 3 or 4 notes of a chord and mute the rest with your left hand fingers.... It's great when you're comping over a Jazz or Swing piece, but not too great for folk style guitar.
But when starting out, there's no substitute for barr chords.
When I was learning, I would just sit in front of the TV and practice a bar chord, then move it up a fret and practice it there... and keep moving it up and back down. Till my hand got really tired, then I'd rest and start it over again.
It was boring, but watching the TV could keep my mind occupied. I still do this with left hand warm up and scale exercises every morning.... If you get to the point where you don't have to think about them... then they are yours.
Good luck and good licks.