This is a very traditional method of development. Shu Ha Ri in Japanese. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuhari
You may always have a teacher; but, the more advanced you get the more self discovery you will do.
Read this it is a informative. You could also go the Takamura Ha Shindo Yoshin Kai web site and they have a very good article on Shu Ha Ri. Basically you do everything your teacher tells you for a number of years and when you have reached a particular skill level of skill you do your own exploration. IMHO You can really only do this after having a good solid base in martial arts and body mechanics.