Practice is the application of skills acquired through training, and these skills are only valid when used in real combat situations where life or death—win or lose—are the reality of the outcome. This philosophy also applies to civil matters where what you have learned also becomes the expression of what you have put into your training, though they are not the same, i.e., practicing law, medicine, music, etc.
The application of your art and discipline in real-time, when life or death is the outcome, is true practice and decides whether you will prevail or not. This includes all of the physical and mental training, meditation, sparring, and the personal work involved to become quick and powerful while enhancing your ability to act—not react—with speed and strength. When these ideas are mastered they become the true essence of what you will actually put into your practice.
The subtleties in definition between training and practice are significant and they must be understood. Training implies a devotion to developing skills that will empower you to deal with many variations of attack physical as well as mental, but this is done in a controlled environment where others can see what you are doing and can offer assistance to help you develop a particular technique if so desired. Practice, on the other hand, is the application of what you trained for when it is time to be or not be. This is not a play on words. It is an honest appraisal of what you think you may have accomplished during your training.
Musashi was a practitioner as is evidenced by his having won more than 60 encounters prior to his “going into a cave” to reflect on what he had done and how he had trained. He never considered what he did as accomplishment, but rather thought only in terms of outcomes that he assuredly did not think about when it came time to pull the sword and “practice.”
When you apply these definitions to the work you are doing, you will notice a tremendous difference in the manner in which you handle combat or civil negotiation. Your thinking will be clearer, and your clarity of purpose will manifest in your consciousness with the results you are seeking.