Re: significance to testing/belt rank?
Although I understand your points, I disagree that the best system is no ranking. I see that deteriorating into utter chaos in terms of transmission of anything. There must be some criteria or standard to measure progress by. Otherwise, everyone beats to a different drummer. Yes, that occurs now as well with different stylistic interpretations. However, if there is no standard everyone will be going off in different directions and the art will disintegrate.
I do not equate testing with a rank seeing the test as only one way to measure. I also disagree that there is nothing of value in a test. It shows me how the student performs under stress or when nervous. That gives me a good indication if they have understood or learned the technique or if they are just attempting to mimic it.
Testing has its imperfections but it also has elements of value. Not everyone will agree-I to hated testing in college but it is one way of demonstrating a student's progress.