This observation is actually a core principle in a number of western fencing systems in which novices are not allowed to train with one another or engage in matches until a significant period of time in which they are restricted to solo exercises and paired training with their fencing master. The habits one can easily develop to (even successfully) thrash other novices, are often the very habits a well-trained swordsman has been taught to exploit to maximal effect.
I remember talking to one of my BJJ teachers once about tournament fighting in Southern California in the "earlier days". He told me that for a long time the Gracie schools wouldn't let students below blue belt roll (spar). Until blue belt they would only work on technique. He said that when they got their blue belts and finally started to enter tournaments (it takes around two years to get a blue belt) they really sucked at competing, they had good technique, but couldn't apply it.
He said that by the time these guys reached purple belt (the next belt in progression, probably another 2+ years down the road) they were all much better than the other purple belts, the guys who were dominating them at the blue belt level. This was because their application of technique had finally caught up to their technical knowledge, giving them the edge.
I asked what happened at brown and black belt. He told me that by then everyone had good technique and could use it, so they evened out again. Then he smiled and said, I bet that's why the Gracie's let white belts roll now.
I think the moral of that story is: whether you start with technique (forms) or application (sparring), train long enough, practicing both (technique and application) you end up in the same place; as an excellent practitioner.