I know the white-black system is the traditional method in Aikido, and I myself am a big believer in keeping things traditional; so I wouldn't have a problem with only wearing white until I recieve my Shodan certificate; many years hence. On the other hoof, being a retired soldier, I'm big on rank; its symbols and reasons. Jim's right - those little yardsticks can be extremely important for those who recieve them. Rank symbols are much more than self-gratifying objects; they're (theoretically) indicators of accomplishment and ability - visible signs which help both wearer and witness.
Originally posted by Jim ashby
BTW we have a red belt for absolute beginners, it gives them a badge, if you like, that tells their training partners to go easy and to expect a certain hesitancy and difference of control. Also it shows that the wearer may not be confident in breakfalls. Just means we have to take care of them.
I like that idea - putting up a 'caution: Rookie' symbol achieves 2 things: 1; as Jim said, warns others to take it easy and don't break the newbie, and 2; provides an early, first achievement as the student is told he or she no longer needs to wear the red.
Myself, if I had a Dojo (and some day, I will) I wouldn't use a belt; more like a red belt-ribbon (such as that used in karate competitions) or some such.
Just my personal preference on that one.