The more I see the less I know for sure. - John Lennon
In the late nineteenth century the general consensus among scientists was that science and technology had almost reached its apex. Knowledge had replaced spirit. Man in his intellectual smugness thought he had all the answers. But as the twentieth century progressed it became apparent that science could not unravel all of the mysteries. In fact if anything, the advent of scientific achievement only created more wonder and questions. The more so-called knowledge we acquired, the more we realized that we hadn't even scratched the surface.
When I first began training in the martial arts, I always asked questions. Alot of questions. The higher ranks didn't seem too perplexed with anything, I figured they already knew the material. But as I continued to train and research, I found the well to grow deeper and deeper which I found to be a bit disconcerting, if not downright annoying. "Technical shipwreck" was a term Draeger used to describe what happens when a student gets too bogged down with details. I've endured some brutally hard training sessions, but on more than one occasion I've left the dojo feeling like my brain was on fire.
I've noticed that smart people tend to do well in the martial arts. Kids that do very well in regular school are quite often the target of bullies, if for no other reason because they're such good students. But ultimately, brute force is no match for the intellect if you know how to play it right. Knowledge really is power. It is said that the great masters were always thinking about their art; imagining fight scenarios with one or more assailants, armed and unarmed. Has anyone ever practiced kata in their heads while at work or home? Einstein conceived many of his theories in physics using gedanken (thought) experiments, usually during reposeful moments. Meditation can work wonders for solving certain problems that seem insoluble.
Earning a black belt is often equated with getting a high school diploma. The analogy then is that the subsequent ranks (dan) become like college and post graduate degrees. A few high ranking instructors have actually taken the title of Professor, as opposed to the Japanese equivalents of Hanshi or Shihan. Even they still regard themselves as students. Learning never really ends. As Einstein once noted, knowledge is alright - it's discovery that's really fun.