Re: Belt color importance
Within the Aikikai in Japan it seems pretty universal that 3rd and under wear white belts and 2nd and 1st wear brown, but some dojos seem to do it differently.
I am an Ikkyu but I wear white because I tested for Ikkyu through the USAF where all non yudansha wear white. I have had seniors tell me I could wear a brown belt if I'd like, but I feel like there's no point. My "white" belt with it's sweat stains, and flecks of brown and black has been with me from day one, and serves as a testament to my training. Besides, my white belt provides me with endless entertainment. I train at a number of dojos as a guest and I laugh every time a new nikkyu with a shiny new brown belt, who has been training for about three years, treats me like a beginner when I have trained almost as long as many of the nidan in his or her dojo. It usually takes five minutes before they realize that the color of the belt means nothing. I've also trained with people wearing white belts who I later found were nidan or sandan from non affiliated dojos. It didn't take me long to realize they had weren't beginners. Again, regardless of belt color, a person's ability becomes pretty clear once you lay hands on them.