Yep, I agree with this.
At sometime the person has to play at it, slap boxing was a way, when playing around in the school yard or home with buddies, having a good time, as a youngster. Learning distance, movement, footwork. In some schools sparring is not taught until one learns control and respect for others. Bullies are weeded out very quickly, so are weaklings. Other schools it is not taught, no bags, striking makawara is the rule.
The sparing part has become common practice at many locations, good equipment is a must. Protection, for the novice is the right way to go, later in hard contact also. That takes money, one way some offset that is to have student purchase, if they can.
Along with that is hitting bags, you really learn how to hit, timing is where they prevail. Shadow boxing is similar to practicing free forms, not ones that are restricted to perfect movement, then of course there is ROTE, and it has its place in MA big time.
I have seen some good Kenpo people who have great movement, go south big time, the minute they are struck and the certain tech they have been told will work, does not
Watching the Olympics, the swimming events, training, breathing correctly, ablility, all coming down to the finish. Fortunatly for MA, all don't have to compete like that, to learn the basics.
This is very important, "basics".
These are the broad principles Musashi said must be set in your heart, "and train in the Way of strategy. If you do not look at things on a large scale it will be difficult for you to master strategy."
1. Do not think dishonestly
2. The Way is in training
3. Become acquainted with every art
4. Know the Ways of all professions
5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters
6. Develop intuitive judgment and understanding of everything
7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen
8. Pay attention even to trifles
9. Do nothing which is of no use
The above Nine Principles are from, Book of 5 Rings, it is posted at Kenpo Karate, by Will Tracy!