George S. Ledyard
Well, I should say here that I am not a believer in any kind of absolute standard for testing and rank. A student who starts when he or she is sixty simply isn't asked to perform the same way a twenty year old is.... On the other hand, the one standard that everyone shares is time. Everyone has the same time. It's 24 hours. It's seven days a week. No one has more and no one has less. So, in asking for a set commitment, I believe I am being eminently fair.
Without any absolute standards for testing, you are back to simply another form of rank for time served. Only difference is that it is based on frequency of training rather than duration.
Certainly, not everyone is capable of attaining the same level of skill due to a number of factors but why make allowances for that when it comes to testing and rank? Isn't that the problem that got us into this mess in the first place?
I think ultimately the answer is a business one. Without rank progression, the average student loses a significant motivator to keep them in the dojo and paying dues. Testing fees dont hurt either.