A lot of this applies to martial arts, at least at the higher levels of cognitive development. You don’t necessarily need independence of will, creativity, or free will to improve your physical conditions. You just do what you are told and you can grow stronger, faster.
I see the world in my own conceptual framework, of the contest between yin and yang or what I would like to call Individual free will and Authoritarian power.
A single human or person attempts to develop a sense of self identity and an ability to exercise free will, around puberty. Before that period, there’s little to no instinct to want to make decisions or judgments yourself, as your cognitive development is solid but still perfectly capable of accepting authority as the determination of your reality and ethics (Santa’s metaphysical reality for example).
In order to distinguish yourself from other people, so that you can distinguish your own will from what other people tell you to do, generally people try to find a subject matter that they have knowledge on or special expertise in. This is reinforced when society praises the individual for attempting to master a complicated and productive field. If society does not praise but instead condemns, then you get what might be called “sub-cultures”. It’s still obedience to societal norms and thoughts (because people are not yet free), but it’s obedience to a society of people like yourself: a sub culture.
Until a person is able to accept themselves, trying to get society to accept them may or may not work. Creative people or those with a burning internal desire for something, have to not only create a self contained identity that is able to control and make use of these burning desires but must also cooperate or adhere to community standards to function as a normal human being (herd or pack).
Many people have found success by finding a societal niche or role where they can put their energies to creative and productive use. So they benefit not only personally by having an outlet for their drives, but also recognition from society for being a productive member.
However, that’s not always the case. There are many individuals exercising free will or dissidents, where the state or high authority does not accept the existence of. If you say something you shouldn’t against Hussein or North Korea’s leadership, you may not find yourself as warmly accepted as a “creative thinker” as you might in the United States of America. That’s because it is not in the interests of authority to cultivate competition or rebels. The American system allows leaders and authorities to make bank on cultivating products and services, but that is only in the sense that they are tending livestock. It is not a system that makes you have free will. It just assumes you do have free will and lets you use it without dropping you into the river with concrete attached to your legs.
A popular phrase that might provide for easy visualization is: the nail that stands out is hammered flat.
Martial arts has its own unique combination of authority, authoritarian views, community standards (black belts), and individual will (technique deconstruction, construction, philosophy, and teaching).
Question your teacher, to see whether you are doing what your teacher tells you to do or whether you are learning from the teacher and learning how to do things on your own by your own judgment. It’s not very complicated. But that very simplicity masks the utter difficulty in the task of learning how to be your own person, act on your own judgment, become your own authority.