It is definitely cool, Mark. That extra slop in the movement results in a lot of wasted energy over time in addition to increasing the chance of an injury.
I guess I had to get the novelty of hitting hard out of my system in order to concentrate on doing it right. It was humbling at first because I was hitting like a 10 year old, but now it's starting to pay off.
Doing it right allows more power to be transferred to the target while using less energy. What's not to like about that?
The old instructor at our school that I was telling you about earlier freaks when he sees someones elbow flying out on a punch.
We have a guy who boxed for a few years before he started martial arts, and his elbows were always out when he punched.
He corrected him a few times, then when the student still had his elbows out he made the dude go off by himself and practice punching for the rest of the class, with one of the black belts watching him.
The student wasn't too happy about it, but his elbows stay tight to his body now when he punches.
Insert profound martial arts quotes or tough guy phrases here.