The purpose of belt examinations in martial
arts is to get a realistic assessment of one's skills by far more
advanced persons. A passed test confirms the achieved
level and indicates that the student is on the right
way. A failed test means that he has not yet reached the
next higher level. Gradings can only document the current
status. Somebody being formally awarded a certain rank already
had this level before the exam as regards
content. Somebody not having the skills before the test
will not obtain them by a signature and a stamp on some
This is the theory. In practice, gradings have
degenerated into rank giveaway events, where the participants
are certified qualities which they do not possess.
Belt examinations should be regarded like a
check-up at the doctor, i.e. honest diagnosis and proposal of
therapy. But, to stick to this analogy, many
people deliberately consult such doctors who always attest
them good health. Often, the patient's poor and sometimes
disastrous state is even revealed during the examination. But
eventually he will be given a document attesting good condition.
Stertorously and blood spitting the patient accepts the certificate,
joyfully and relieved. The budo belt is becoming a fashion
accessory for self-delusion.
One does not do any favor to either the single
student or the entire training process. The not passing
of examinations is necessary to bring home the message that
somebody's current technical abilities and/or his
attitude, his behavior, his general view, will not advance him in
the long run.
If these practices continue, soon upper level ranks and
lower level ones will differ solely by the colors of their