What does "rank" mean?

The rank on your belt means how much you have improved since you started. 

Well, at least ideally.
Yes, many greedy and corrupted McSenseis sell ranks and belts, but let's focus on legit ranks: their meaning and repercussion.

My daughter Inés, youngest Shodan ever, three days old

I believe that once you have "substantially" improved since your last promotion you should get promoted again. 
How much "substantially" is? Well, I don't know. I can't explain it with words. Also the amount of improvement must be different between different ranks, right?

Kobudo part on her Nidan test

So, the higher the rank the better one must be (yes, ideally). That means that in you are a Nidan and I am a Shodan then you must be better than me.

A happy Sandan

I have met people with 2 years exerience who were black belts and they deserved it and other with 20 years experience that still were brown belts (and also deserved their current ranks).
As everyone progresses at different rates then the rank system should allow for different rank advancement rates, shouldn't it?

Kumite part on her Yondan test

The thing is that, even if the rest of the world says otherwise, I think that one should pursue the highest rank possible with all his/her heart. Because rank is important? No! Because improving your Karate (or Judo, or Aikido...) should get you the next rank. Aspiring to get the knowledge and skills LEVEL for the next rank should be your goal, because that will get you the rank (ideally).

Proudly showing her Godan belt

And don't forget that when this rank system started the ranks were meant to be use inside one's dojo, because one could not just change dojo. Why would someone just after the Meiji restoration want to change Senseis? Unthinkable.
And, oh yes, the ranks were for students only. The Masters had no ranks. They had sogo titles. The ranks emerged from the authority of the Masters, so no one could give a rank to a Master, just sogo teaching credentials.

Red and white Rokudan outfit, just before her MMA debut

Buying rank, jumping boat, multiple memberships... all must have a place in this world, I will not criticize anyone for doing so if that is what they believe is right, but the only thing that should lead your quest for rank is the knowledge and understanding that comes with more practice.
The times of my life when I have improved the most have been when preparing for a test. The amount of stress and training one puts in makes for a super intense workout regime.
Truly worth it!

Hakutsuru kata, during her Nanadan test

Black belts for kids?

Well, since Shodan means "beginners level" I can't see why people have issues with kids wearing balck belts.
They wear them in Japan. I have seen then in SKIF Honbu, in Kyokushinkaikan Honbu, in the Kodokan... There is no problem in Japan with kids being "beginners level". It is a really low level. Only in the West it seems like a big deal.
Sometimes in Japan they have two separate systems: kids can get up to 3rd Dan junior rank, to be retested for adult Shodan when turning 16.
I can understand arguments supporting and rejecting the idea so I do not have a clear position on this debate. 

What do you think?

Ne waza part of her Hachidan grading. I hope she starts promoting me when she turns 4.


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