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.