Jermaine Alley wrote:
Correct me if I am wrong, but historically, whether it be chinese wushu, or budo, rank was never an issue. There weren't "ranking systems" the way that there are now. There were white belts and black belts. The "western ranking system" was brought about, because us westerners needed to see smome kind of sign of progression.
Actually, the belt colors distinction (including the white/black belts) was popularized by Jigoro Kano sensei, the creator of judo. Before then, most koryu used scrolls to denote the "level" attained by its students.
(And, yes, the "white belt gets darker as one trains because it gets dirtier" is an oft-repeated urban legend as well.)