The other day before we left the house, my son, who is 2 years old, wouldn't leave until he put away his toys (maybe because his grandma was there). My mom said, "Oh, he is kichoumen." Kichoumen (几帳面) means to be meticulous to the point that everything has to be in place. Good martial artists of every tradition are by nature kichoumen. There is no other way to get good if one doesn't follow the steps. There is a lot of fervor today of people advocating "formlessness" but that is a bit of nonsense. By nature, human beings are habitual which means that our lives naturally conform to habituated patterns. This is something so innate to us that it is almost subconscious. Think about it, our routes to work or school are almost always the same, we sit in same place and even brush our teeth in the same way. This adherence to form is our brain's way of reducing its workload. It is theorized that we have around 50,000 thoughts a day so you could see how fatigued our brain would become if we had to manage each one and create a new pattern of behavior for each task. In any given situation, we are constantly laying familiar patterns of behavior over similar tasks and tweaking them to produce favorable outcomes. Therefore, our brains are hardwired for creating patterns.
This is also the rationale for kata practice or practicing preconceived patterns of movement. Obviously when we are engaged by an opponent it won't be the same as the kata we practiced, but our minds are very good at picking out similarities and laying the familiar pattern of behavior (kata) over the situation.
Thus since our minds are hardwired for patterns, we learn the best in patterns. Every martial art throughout time teaches its style based on some preconceived pattern of movement. In Japanese it is called kata. In order to make the pattern "stick" so we can use it, we must practice them repetitiously to the point of ad nauseam.
One of the main differences between beginners and experts is that the expert meticulously covers each step in the movement while the beginner leaves steps out or skips some altogether. From an uninformed eye it looks as if the expert skips steps but in reality they just do them quicker while still giving each step its just deserts.
Therefore in order to get good, one just has to be kichoumen and follow each of the steps.