Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a couple of senior martial artists practicing some knife defense techniques. Observing from a distance, I realized that for all their skill, they were just going through the motions. They moved smoothly and quickly, but they clearly weren't 'in the moment'.
It was clear to me that they did not consider the training blade as anything other than that, a training tool. I felt the techniques they were practicing were sound, and I have a lot of reservations about the knife defense techniques being taught today.
The students had skill, the techniques themselves were efficient and effective, but something was missing.
They were just going through the motions.
No matter how good a technique is, no matter what belt you hold, if you don't take it seriously, it won't work. Going though the motions does yourself and your partner a disservice. This really hit home with the knife techniques since in the real world, if a defense doesn't work, it's a matter of life and death.
This isn't to say that you can't have fun in your training. You can and you should. I know I do.
Having said that, it is essential to practice your technique with a serious mind. Make it real and be in the moment.
If you are just going through the motions, you are only playing at the martial arts. If you're only playing, they won't work for you if you need them and you'll get hurt. Or worse.
Enjoy the journey but take it seriously. Who knows, it might even save your life some day.