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.
I'm not sure it was for Westerners. I think it was an attempt by Kano to do what we always accuse ourselves (the heathen Westerners) of doing with the Japanese. I believe he wanted a way of showing progress or differentiating students. I believe it even had a motivational intent as well.
As far as colors they were instituted in Europe sometime in the 30's or 40's if I remember correctly.
My thoughts are not terribly coherent right this second. I'll see if I can find a link on it.