significance to testing/belt rank?
Good morning. This has been on my mind for some time, and I would like your input: What is the significance of testing to you? The significance of higher (or any particular) belt rank?
One of the things that drew me to aikido in the first place was the lack of competition and the absence of tournaments and so forth. We try to keep our egos off the mat, because training with them becomes problematic. We generally train only with white or black belts, not with the entire rainbow. Often one cannot see whether the person which whom one is training is wearing a white or black belt under their hakama, and cannot further determine what kyu or dan rank the person has achieved anyways. I've never asked, because it seems a bit rude, and doesn't really seem important in the context of simply training-- which is what we should be doing on the mat anyways.
I have found (in my meager three years of training) that I can learn as much from a complete beginner as from someone who has a reputation in the dojo, and who I know has been training for some time; I just learn different things. We train to improve our own training, and to allow others to do the same.
So, really, why test? What does it mean to say 'I passed my ___ kyu or my ___ dan test, when the person with whom you train might not be able to tell, or might not care? Why do *you* test? What does your rank mean to you? What do you think it means to other people?
I do not mean to be derisive or offensive to anyone by questioning this; I am honestly open and curious, and would greatly appreciate any comments or insights you are willing to share.