The 6th episode of Artisans Reboot was on the making of inkstones.
What was interesting is that the master inkstone maker who is recognized as a living treasure commented that his son was distracted in the learning of making inkstones. As such, the master said that the son did not have complete understanding of each step of the process and thus his son’s mastery was lacking. The master also said that the son should not listen to what outsiders say.
On the last day of the apprentice’s learning she was asked to make inkstones on her own and was assisted by the master’s son. Right off she encountered a problem with making the sludge and the master’s son tried to make right the mixture but it was still not correct.
The apprentice commented that whilst the master was more rigid in his acceptance of the standard of manufacture, the son apparently had no qualms about going with a lower standard. The apprentice said that the lower standard of correctness for the sludge mixture meant that the process of rolling the sludge dough required a lot more strength.
Its quite remarkable how this is similar to doing Taijiquan because when a student does the technique incorrectly he always ended using more strength than required.
The master is already old and had to undergo surgery recently so it was more urgent for the son to quickly learn everything the father had to teach properly. Therein, lies the problem of transmission – just because the father is good does not mean that the son is also of the same high standard due to factors such as temperament, learning disposition, etc. At least, in this case we hear the father saying so on camera. In martial arts such as Taiji, Wing Chun, etc etc, outsiders would praise the descendants to the heavens but I wonder if the fathers were alive would they have given the same high appraisal of the son’s mastery. I highlighted this in The Ip Man Koans but I think people’s pride is such that they rather go with a lie than face the reality. Is it any wonder then that the standard of our beloved CMA has degenerated so much. Sad but true.