You expressed one perspective on this dilemma quite succinctly, Jason. There is a succinct expression of another perspective that I particularly like:
Karate students spend 15 years learning how to be hard and then have to spend the next 10 years unlearning everything they learned. Isn't it more efficient to start out by learning what you want to know?
I often wonder about these questions, but I think that what I basically come back to all the time is the sort of 'many paths up the mountain' idea. O'Sensei had his path up the mountain, but it was only his path. Your goal is not to follow his path but to follow your own.
Of course, there may be much to be learned by knowing or paying attention to his path, but that's not quite the same as following it.