Basic Philosophy on Testing
Testing should be considered by the students as a privilege granted, not a right achieved when the appropriate number of training hours have been attained. Some students may be asked by sensei to test upon training for the required amount of time, while others may be passed over. You should NOT consider this as a sign of failure, but rather, an indication that your technique needs more maturing and polish. You SHOULD view testing as an opportunity to demonstrate before your sensei, fellow students and friends, your expertise and understanding of the required Aikido techniques.
A Few Thoughts About Rank
Most Aikido dojos recognize 6 kyu ranks before black belt, or dan rank. Where children's classes are taught, additional ranks are usually added such that when they join the adult classes in their teens, they are 5th kyu.
A Student's rank generally reflects their years of experience in Aikido, but more importantly, is a sign of their technical excellence and commitment to Aikido. Most martial arts have provisions for revoking kyu rank if a student stops training for extended periods of time.
Rank is a sign of approval passed on from sensei to student, and as such, needs no colored belt. Many dojos do not award colored belts, and in some ways, I believe this is a good thing. Students should not need the belt to be aware of their progress. Rather, they should rely on the approval of sensei and their own knowledge of what they have learned. The wearing of a sign of rank should also not instill a feeling of smugness or overconfidence; the more one knows of Aikido, the more it should become obvious how much there remains to learn.
The opposite side of the coin is that we are members of a goal-oriented society. Motivataion comes from setting one's sights on a particular goal, such as a kyu rank, or in the longer term, dan rank. Gaining a kyu rank is an accomplishment to be proud of, and to receive recognition for. For this reason, our dojo will have two colored belts in the higher kyu ranks: blue—for 4th and 3rd kyus, brown—for 2nd and 1st kyus. All students prior to taking their 6th kyu test are considered unranked, and along with 6th and 5th kyu students, will wear white belts.