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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 certificate.  


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 belts.


 1999 TDI