To earn rank, you usually only have to:
- Come to the required number classes.
- Follow the rules and try to do everything you are taught.
- Take a test and satisfactorily perform minimum requirements for the rank.
- Then, you start the process over again for the next belt.
Some organizations or schools have very tough requirements for rank and they strictly enforce the requirements, so rank is difficult to acquire. Other organizations and schools have limited requirements for rank and they are lax in enforcing the requirements, so acquiring rank is practically automatic.
Some present day instructors and organizations have a "student follows the rank" philosophy. They believe that if you give a student a rank, the student will then try to live up to the rank. They believe that, even if the student does not possesses the qualities required of a rank at the present time, if the student is given the rank, the student will then want to acquire the required qualities. Thus, they promote practically all students who test. Traditional instructors and organizations follow the "rank follows the student" philosophy. They believe that when a student possesses the qualities required of a rank, the student should be promoted to that rank. They only promote students who possess the qualities required of a rank, not students who merely desire the rank. Thus, students may test many times before they are awarded rank.
As discussed in the belt system topic, the belt ranking system is a relatively recent innovation in the martial arts; it has only been in effect for a little over a hundred years. No matter what the righteous reasons for beginning the rank system were, it has been corrupted over the decades. Nowadays, ranks are awarded for money, kinship, political reasons, business reasons, and for receiving other ranks in return.
These problems create doubt in students since they degrade the meaningfulness of their ranks. These problems also affect the meaningfulness of ranks in the minds of the general public, especially the meaningfulness of the black belt ranks. People see fat, out of condition "so called" black belts performing "tricks and stunts" or they see young, acrobatic black belts performing astounding acrobatic techniques, and they think that this is what black belts really are like. The millions of other black belts that train hard, learn about all aspects of their arts, work in their schools and organizations for no pay or recognition, and demonstrate the exemplary character of true martial artists, go unnoticed and unappreciated. Without these black belts, the entire martial arts complex would collapse. The only thing these black belt ask in return for their efforts is that the sanctity of the rank structure be maintained so that future students may experience the intended benefits of the martial arts.