Generally good advice to take heed... practice, more practice and keep sticking with it, even if it may not be obvious immediately.
Technique is appplication of principles, rooted in the fundamentals. Understand the principles, work on the fundamentals, practice the technique.
But I think SenseiLou (who is unfortunately no longer with us) hit the nail on the head. It is the intent (specifically martial intent - which may also mean different things to different people) with which you train that is the real difference. (Of course, the first part about practised technique applies as well).
Kokoro - the spirit in which you train is extremely important. On the mat, you could be simply "going thru the motions" slowly, but if your spiritual intent is present, who's to say that you're not practising in an "alive" manner. Simply because you're not out to hurt your partner in a training session?
SenseiLou was often fond of the phrase "how you train is how you fight". Of course, I don't think he meant "fight" as in "fight", since (traditional) martial arts are not meant for "fighting", but for "honest to God" self-defense. But since that means different things to different people, I'll leave that up to your interpretation.
BTW, this is SO, SO true...
If you want to know how to do a technique, ask a blue belt. If you want to know how a technique works, ask a brown belt. If you want to know how a technique is applied, ask a black belt. If you want to know what you're doing wrong, ask a white belt. They have all the answers.