Meaningful Rank ???? An Oxymoron????
Now this is a loaded question? I just had a discussion with a fellow at the dojo the other day who was really upset that Sensei was pressuring him to test after he had avoided it as long as he could( which he has done every test over the past 4 years) and we got into a discussion on testing.
His argument, in a nutshell was; I do Aikido because I like it and I don't need to test because I am still learning whether testing or not . My counter was that's OK with me 'cause different strokes for different folks, but, I have a love hate relationship with testing but still test to a) a challenge myself and b) eventually get to wear a hakama, which I have always thought were cool, and will give me belt protection.
By this I mean my belt will be covered so no one will know my rank other than I'm some sort of shodan. This will take the pressure (self imposed) ever to test again ( or at least a long long time) and let me simply practice and learn Aikido.
So to get back to how meaningful is my rank. My answer would be not meaningful and very meaningful. My ranks tells me I have spent an extended period of time pursuing a goal with honest effort and a fair amount of sweat. It tells me that my Sensei, whom I respect, feels that I have done this also and that he is "allowing" me to test. It tells me that I have developed to the point where I am willing to risk failure as a part of my growth.
Finally because I started Aikido late in life( close to 50), and am at least another year away from my shodan ,that do not have the luxury of another 40 years in the art, perhaps only 30 so I'd better get on with it.
So in conclusion how meaningful is my rank my answer would be
Say no more
Have fun out there.