Quite a few years ago, one student approached me and said that he wanted to begin Zen sitting so I sent to him to the nearby Zen temple telling him to go there and ask to join their Zen sitting group. A few days later, in practice, he didn't say anything so I asked how he liked joining their group.
He said, "I didn't like it at all. When I said I was interested in Zen sitting, he was very nice. But when I told him that I also studied Aikido, he frowned and said that Aikido was no good and that I should quit. I was very angry and insulted at his words so I just left and never joined them.
I told my student that this is very odd behavior and that I will go to the temple and ask the same question and see what happens. I knew there was one new priest there recently but I didn't have the chance to meet him yet.
I went and met the new priest and also told him, "I want to join your Zen study group, I practice Aikido in the nearby dojo."
He said exactly the same thing, "Aikido is no good, you better quit and just do Zen sitting!"
I smiled at him and said, "Ok, I will go back and quit Aikido at once."
"No, no!" the priest cried out, "don't quit! I was just kidding you. Usually, when I meet martial artists, they are very arrogant so I just wanted to test your mind! I apologize!"
After we introduced each other, we began to laugh. It is such a small world. This new priest was also formerly an Aikido teacher, 3rd Dan, and we must have met many years ago at some time. He was first called to the Boston area to teach Aikido on the recommnedation of N. Tamura Sensei of France to the Macrobiotic Institute in those days. But after a while when this young priest returned to Japan on personal business, he met a Zen priest and quickly entered a temple where he stayed for several years in training. In order to replace him, Tamura Sensei recommended the wonderful, more highly qualified M. Kanai Sensei who still leads this area today. . . . . I met Kanai Sensei in 1968 while I was going to school in Cambridge. Such a small world. . . . . .
In Zen, often such dialogues take place. It is always easy to get offended if we hold too much pride within ourselves or too rigid in our thinking, usually we are just challenging each other's practice or level of training. Someone once said that asking a Zen master a question is like jumping on a sleeping tiger's back. Easy to get on, but hard to escape after!