I grew up reading Martial Arts magazines when I was 10 years and on . And I notice a leader of a system is call "grandmaster" in North America, in Chinese the word is Si gung ( literally "teacher"-"grandfather") Si Gung iin Chinese does NOT signify a LEADER of a system but rather your "grandfather" , your teacher's teacher , that all . Personally I don't care about labels of grandmaster or si Gung. Its my teacher's teacher, nothing more.
A leader of a system on the other hand is a big deal , a "inheritor". In Chinese , Canontese, a inheritor is call a " Jiiang moon" literally this means " Senior gate" . This has significant meaning. Senior is the leader and gate means a door to a PATH not a dead system, it is living, evolving. In another words , the inheritor , Jiang Moon historicially had the absolutely right to change the system anyway he sees fit.
Aside from the founder and ancestor, the Jiang Moon is the highest ranking member of a style/system/path. No one in the style had the legimate right to take the art in a new direction , any direction without the Jiang Moon/inheritors permission. Because of this structure ingrained in the Chinese 4000 year old culture , martial artist and even commoners understand all this . This tradition was in place not to gather more student or cash but to make sure the art would not be water down.
A Jiang Moon is not just chosen for his obvious exceptional Skill and fighting ability but also for his understanding of an art. The truth is every style have more than just physical movements and tactics. Every style has a flavor to it , a personality , after all , an art is the experssion of the founders heart. Fighters, great fighters of a clan might be deadly but it does not guarantee that this person truly understood the art - that is why they say in CHinese , if you really wanna understand an art, strive to feel what the founder actually felt in his body when he created it . The person that can do that was histoircally chosen to be the Jiang moon inheritor . Aside from this exceptional ability , a Jiang Moon is chosen if his master feels that he's the one that can pass on the art in its true essence. You see, anyone can learn something spoon fed , train hard and get good. Thats merely fighting ability but if you just learn a system and develop fighting ability without getting the essence , it runs the risk of meeting its expiry date. Society changes , fighting changes, if a art does not change with it , it is dead. But if someone can capture the essence of an art , he will have the ability to change with the times - hes not just a great fighter , but he has the ability to modify , re-discover, change an art because he has capture the essence of the art. So the more it changes the more it stays the same , this is what the Ba kua triagrams around the yin and yang symbolizes ...
ABOVE ALL ELSE, a jiang moon is chosen for his CHARACTER , his compassion and virtue. You have to remember that in feudal CHina, hundreds of years ago , Gung Fu was strictly look upon as a weapon in the society. As such , measures was taken to make sure that Gung Fu was only given to the good hearted so not to do harm to the villages.
One thing is for sure, a inheritor Jiang Moon can NOT be self-appointed hahah like todays MA community were ppl can self proclaim themselves as "grandmasters" but rather the inheritor Jiang Moon can only be chosen by the last Jiang Moon when he is about to "close his hands" . It is the chosen one not the self pro-claimed one....... and unless someonei is a complele idot , they should know that a real Jiang Men inheritor is someone who has the " feel" of what the founders wanted , not someone that the self proclaim should try to mess with.