To refine aspects of a fight refers to the common things that happen during a fight. What is the same?
I am a strong believer that working on posture, distance/timing and fluent motion helps everywhere, all the time. No sense in perfecting a shihonage or whatever (for combat purpose). The stylized, idealized scenario will not happen in a fight and you are not likely to be able to enforce it either.
But yes. You start out with a crude ability to fight (bad as it maybe) and you start working on common aspects (refine) and become better and better.
First step is understanding the OODA concept and that all successful outcomes depend on gaining the upper hand and dominating the fight regardless of shape, form, technique etc.
In addition to that is realizing that physcial conditioning plays a very important roll...more than most people think. Also, mental conditioning/toughness etc.
Outside of that...I believe that as you are discussing, shape, form, posture, timing and distancing etc....are all very important and we must develop good habits etc. Certainly bad form, shape, posture timing do nothing to help us!
Techniques and Kata...IMO simply give us a common language or framework to discuss all this around and a efficient way to practice and communicate...that is all the use I really have for this stuff personally.
I think once you have a basic understanding of the framework and how to move...technique falls away and you simply just do what you know is necessary.
Most folks don't get far enough along in the process...nor do they really understand the importance of OODA.