David Yap wrote:
In Thailand, the criteria I heard is the Aikikai grading fees.
Actually I don't bellieve that's quite right -- it's not to do with the fees or waiting for the certificate. At the gradings at Renukan (the Thai aikikai HQ dojo), shodan-ho is a separate test from shodan. It's just another rank before shodan, and is (as Rupert says) signified by a black belt with no hakama.