I like how you put it: "...an obligation for the future of our art".
In many ways, the investment in mentorship is an investment in the future. As such, it is not something to be taken casually or lightly.
An "internship" with a good teacher would be ideal. However, the reality is, there are few teachers like Mr Smith who teach, and mentor, for no money.
For some, the reality may be having to fork out money in one way or another to obtain (dan) ranking and/or certification (either nationally or internationally recognized, or whether it is industry specific or not, e.g. a sports coaching degree - with or without a martial arts specialization component).
In Australia, there are a number of what we call "Registered Training Organizations" (RTOs) which will provide nationally recognized training and certification in a vocation or industry "recognized" qualification. One can obtain "recognized qualifications" in the Martial Arts "Industry" and associated professions.
(The "Industry" Association exists to protect the "consumer" from "charlatans" and to provide "insurance" for the legitimate "business" operator).
This is only one type of qualification. There is also a National Coaching Accrediation Scheme (NCAS) which will provide you with a sports coaching certification/diploma qualification (3 levels), which is much broader in it's application. i.e. with an NCAS Level 1, you could be coaching the women's netball team at the next Olympics.
How do people feel about these as alternatives to the ideal (let's use Victor's example for the moment)?