I think that sport fighting, hard core sparring, and good life experience all add to a person's ability to successfully fight. As does attitude. And "attitude" can be a lot of different things. Attitude can come from a person's upbringing, their social environment, their job or passion, OR they can just have that attitude of a Dojo Rat. To underestimate the attitude and sheer danger of fighting a Dojo Rat is the folly of a fool. We sacrifice and we are tested every day. I think we sometimes forget that.
We, as long time Martial Artists, all look to the practical and the real for self improvement. We know our weaknesses and we know our strengths. We persevere. Always.
As for "open hand strikes" - ain't much better in life than a good Dope Slap. While the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, which we all use when it's there, that slap from the peripheral is one nasty bastard.