6th kyu is a good beginning. Shodan is another beginning on another level. All of the levels are actually good.
From what I have seen at 2nd kyu is where I notice a difference, and of course 1kyu. (my instructor is 1kyu and we have another 1kyu and about three 2kyus on the verge of moving up...)
Those at 4th kyu are good, also,etc.
The main difference is that, of course, there is more of a confidence of what has been learned in the basic level. (referring to 2nd kyu)
Just got finished (well tomorrow morning will finish a 4 day seminar)
We had a 4th dan there, who you could tell was on a level above the 1st kyu (the 1st kyu' s have trained 7 - 10 years...as one poster said, it does seem to be a long process in europe - albeit, we only train twice a week...anyway...just variances in doing the same thing)
But the point is, the 4th dan, you could feel he was not only fluid..but had total confidence...and able to quickly adapt.
It was kind of fun, as he came up and did iriminage...using a pressure point...with his pinky he had me on the ground.
I saw two 1kyu on their own practicing pressure points...and they were good...but it took them time to get the location exact...not much...but to much in a real situation.
Sensei Imre (4th dan) came up, and with no effort of 'searching' for a point, had me down.
Now that is the level that I would call master.
I mean, at this level one can defend themself instantly without much thought. Of course, only God knows how many years or how much practice he put in...also, i was told he is black belt in Kendo, battodo, aikido, and something else to do with jo (Im not sure of the list - so there is some cross training in there obviously.
Anyway, to the original poster...dont worry to much about the details of levels...what are you getting out of it?
Levels dont matter in and of themself. We have a 1st kyu level who still is white belt...hasnt tested in 5 years...hes not into testing, but is extremely effective and a security officer...suppose someone else is impressed with his skills.
7th kyu (if they had such a thing - lol )