There seems to me to be two distinct ways of either capturing life or copying from reference or doing master studies etc. One is the traditional way of spending a long time measuring angles and getting one to one copies and capturing value as it is seen (and of course amplifying or simplifying to taste). It can be learned by doing Bargue plates and cast drawing and long pose figure drawing etc.
The other is getting the essence of what you are looking at with gesture and flow. If its a figure, you capture what the figure is doing rather than the figure itself but it doesn't just apply to figures. A quick look at the drawings of the Disney animators after their trip to the zoo or even plant drawings and you can see a very different methodology and way of thinking towards capturing life. Unlike the first one none of the lines drawn need necessarily be ones that are seen.
So to the question: I currently struggle to do a decent copy of a drawing I like. I am [very] slowly getting better at gesture drawing but I wonder if the people who are good in that discipline did not start out doing 30sec and 1min gestures or anything like that. They did disciplined copies first, or maybe at the same time, (maybe even as kids copying their favourite cartoon characters) so as to learn how to patiently measure and observe angles and shapes and this then becomes internalised so that the magic happens when doing gestures and drawing for animation or caricature. Is this correct or are the disciplines really more separate than that.
I in no way want it to seem like I asking you to advocate one or the other since why on earth would you limit yourself! I just want to know what peoples thoughts are on how studying one can help with the other.
Note these are the observations of a beginner, I don't mean to sound as If I think I have any authority on the matter, please feel more than free to shoot me down.
The two distinctions, I know, are probably far less black and white than I have laid them out here but it was the easiest way to try and make my questions succinct.
... oh god what a hideous wall of text and over thinking! Best get back to drawing!