@Stephen Nichol - Not offended. Still. I don't see that it matters.
My black belt has gold Japanese characters indicating my name and Aikido on it - so maybe it looks like I'm "displaying" rank. If so, my apologies - certainly not intended. In our organization, only black belts wear hakamas and there is no "stripes", new belt or indicator given for additional dan grade/ranks. So no one can "display" their rank as such. And we know each other's ranks anyway... It's not like its a secret or something. I'm just a shodan in a dojo with six yondans and a collection of skilled sandans and nidans. I'm in no danger of tromping around in my getup with a superiority complex and I'm not afraid to look incompetent in front of anyone (which is a good thing given my proclivity to do so).
I don't care about patches or other symbols that folks rate as pretension. People should be able to wear whatever they wish. For my book, people can wear whatever the hell they want as long as they are decent and kind. I don't care about ragged gis or hakamas - although I prefer ones in good condition for myself.
Of course, to my wife's great annoyance, I don't care about clothing, other than comfort, much at all.
I do wear my dojo T-shirts around town (for advertising purposes). People will often ask me what Aikido is - and so I get to explain and sometimes "sell" Aikido (adult/kids) to them. I guess some folks would see that as pretentious.
@ Robin Johnson,
No apologies required whatsoever about anything. I completely understand. I am very similar to you with your feelings about the topic at hand. Once again this about 'everything in context' which was part of the original post.
Key point is context. I missed this in my first post.
It is very common for the Dojo/Sensei to have a belt prepared with embroidery of a person's name and the art on it for when they take/pass their Shodan test. Much like a gift in recognition of that student's effort etc. I completely understand that. It is just not my 'thing'. I would accept a belt like that and put it away and wear a plain one and perhaps only pull out ones with embroidery on it for ceremonial purposes but like I said before.. I tie mine in a way that you would not be able to read anything on it anyway.
Although the original post did not branch onto badges and worn out training Gi and Hakama this thread has.
Badges: Display accomplishments. People trying to improve themselves and getting recognition for it and their accomplishments.
My thoughts are that cubs/brownies scouts/guides have badges for accomplishing things and wear them to show others that they have.. this is part of that culture... I do not find it conducive to a 'non sport' martial practice (Aikido). Sport martial arts and people/personalities who find themselves driven in that way it is suits them and sport they play and continue to help grow. I have nothing against that.
Worn out training Gi and Hakamas: This was talked about in another thread elsewhere on the website:
Essentially you have those that cannot afford to own several training Gi and so they wear out the few they have faster. I personally find the washing machine does the job of fraying the collar behind the neck area out more that any training I do. Perhaps a lower speed on the spin cycle would reduce this somewhat. So I feel there is an acceptable level of 'wear and tear' for a training Gi. I would not train in best t-shirt and sweat pants either...
Those that do not care (give no thought regarding it as it is unimportant to them as individuals) about the condition of their training gear. This could be a tell tale aspect about them as a person and all sorts of things.
Those that believe the 'thrashed look' means you are perceived as being 'awesome' and must be good because your gear is all worn out.
Someone used the term 'reverse vanity' (I really like that term by the way) for those that let their gear get worn out and hold on to it like some sort of 'badge of honor' or whatever they feel it means to them.
However whenever I look around at senior 'Aikido' practitioners or teachers and they all for the most part dress neatly and keep their appearance clean and tidy. (All the dojo-cho's in our association, our association head, and his teacher Saito Sensei, never wear worn out thrashed training gear and never have their belts flopping outside their hakama's. However, some of the students in the association have the worn out gear for various reasons and wear their belts however they do for whatever reasons they have. These are merely my observations and experiences.
Names on uniform come in handy so new people can remember your name or especially at seminars where people may not know or remember everyone who shows up from all over the place to attend.
This is all very different in context to someone who trains an 'art' that is 'martial' for the betterment of themselves and removal of the egoistic self yet somehow has a belt or training Gi that is essentially a walking billboard or statement of 'My name, my rank, my school, in both Japanese and English'.
In the end to each their own. I want to be clear that I do not judge others by this at all. They are clearly making a statement, even if it is unconscious, to everyone else about themselves. That in itself is useful information and as you said.. 'as long as they are decent people' that are sharing my time and mats with me then I am happy to train with them regardless how 'they choose to present themselves'.
I just prefer neat and tidy and presentable. And I find those that give off that vibe of 'hey check out the golden scrambled eggs all over my thrashed worn out black belt that I intentionally leave flopping out of my hakama for all to be in awe of' etc, to be the more 'interesting' ones to train with.