Tell me if this sounds familiar...
You're learning a new technique from your instructor, maybe a particular sequence in a new kata. There's a couple of moves that you're unclear about the meaning of, or what exactly you're doing when you perform that particular technique. You ask your instructor and he/she tells you something like,
"It's there for show." (Then why in the hell am I doing it then? And more importantly why are you teaching it to other people???)
"It has no purpose." (Oh really?)
"It enhances the beauty of the kata." (Yes, I've competed in tournaments and katas are judged aesthetically, but I REALLY don't think that was the creator's original intent)
"Horse stance? Oh it's for strengthening your legs." (Uh huh...so in other words, doing squats with 350 lbs. on my back at the gym isn't doing enough in that category.)
"You're looking at the heavens." (Believe it or not, I have literally been told that before. Any karate practitioner that's done the opening sequence of Kanku Dai/Kushanku/Kong San Kuhn in which you form a triangle with your hands knows what I'm talking about.)
After hearing your instructor's answer, you stand there confused and either ask them to elaborate (based on some of the responses above, that's probably a bad idea or would be a rather amusing one depending on their next response) or you just take it at face value and keep going.
Instead of making up some B.S., or simply tell you what their instructors passed down to them, whatever happened to the instructor simply saying:
"I don't know..."
I guess sometimes as instructors run into the problem of thinking they have to know everything that is asked of them to save face (we're not the only ones...school teachers, sales people, managers...the list goes on and on), when the better thing to do would to be honest in admitting they don't know, but can do some research, or they could challenge the student to do some research themselves.
Just a thought...