“How long until my next belt?” and “When am I going to compete?” probably two of the most asked questions to Karate teachers these days. Martial arts students of this era are more materialistic seeing and training for what they want i.e. a belt, trophies, bragging rights, or even money. There are few that train for a lifelong reason like health or to keep an art alive, even some that say they do aren’t it seems. Why don’t people train just for the sake of training? Everyone wants something, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it can be beneficial if used in a correct manner. A lot of times good students that are training for self-preservation and as a way of life in the martial arts will run into hiccups in training and think that they are not improving or are lacking in ability or that their instructors have quit teaching them new things for fear that the student may become better than the instructor, which is some McDojos that is the case, at that point in time all the student needs to do is focus on training and keep training and then they will realize that everything was fine. Good instructors should want their students to become better than themselves so that the art stays alive, this is where the ego can come in and ruin the art for both instructor and student alike.
The belt system
Funakoshi sensei adapted the belt system to karate when he went to Japan to popularize the art, exchanging techniques with Jigoro Kano and adapting the belt system, he never awarded himself any rank of belt, and from his rules of no tournaments or competing it can be assured that he never meant for belts to limit the Karate-ka, putting the student in a box, training for only the next belt and not for a way of life, the belt system can be useful as well as fun, people with ego’s are the ones who have watered down the art and deceived thousands of students.
Just train with a good spirit, be humble, defend yourself and the weak, have fun with training but also be serious in training.
But in the end, “To each their own” and enjoy all that you do.