I had the pleasure of being taught by my Kung Fu instructor's daughter, Amanda, earlier tonight. She is an advanced black belt who has taught it overseas. We were covering self-defense techniques for common attacks such as chokes and wrist grabs. When I was doing a crane technique to counter a straight punch, she gave me a valuable piece of advice:
"Don't just throw your hands out there. Pay attention to where you are hitting."
When you are practicing the same move over and over again, it's very easy to lose focus and just go through the motions. However, when you do this, you are not practicing martial arts anymore; you're doing "Combat Zumba." Without the proper concentration and intensity, your techniques basically become a dance workout. Yeah, you'll burn some calories and impress members of the opposite gender with your physique (or figure if you're a girl). However, you won't be able to defend yourself against an assailant if you are just randomly throwing your hands and feet out like you're at some nightclub. You need to practice with intention and power so that you are ready to protect yourself when someone tries to take your life.
Needless to say, I quickly shaped up and brought the intensity back to my training. After all, if I expect my own students to stay pumped, I need to do the same thing when I am the one who is learning.