In my view they are a scam. I can get a black belt from one club, and then go to another and they can say, well your a yellow belt. I have been to clubs where i have stated clearly I do not wish to grade, or do competitions, there is a lot of resentment at this because they want to force me to pay money. Not only can i not afford it, I am too old (50) on medication which slows me down, just plain not interested in it. To me when people get belts their arrogance score goes up a 1000% and think they can use the stuff they know on the street. They can if they are lucky, but if they are over confident this is dangerous.
I went to judo club, where the instructor was not teaching people stuff, he just let them fight it out, people did not learn break falls, so new comers were getting hurt. I saw an orange belt and his shoulder was dislocated, i said he must know his break fall, I was told no he does not because he has been marked up so he can do competitions, apparently this is quite common. I have met black belts who do not know how to break fall in judo. i have had the same problem in karate. I like just do doing the stuff, doing the art, it is not the belt that makes me but my effort and willing to be open minded. Grades are scams.
i do judo, i can not afford the full licence, so i can not grade, plus i am an old man for sport so instructors are not interested in me grading without the money, Karate club is different at the instructor is socially aware. The point is no matter what i grade at, it is only at the club and its standards that count know where else.
There is a lack of respect for people who are not graded or are of low grades in lots of clubs i been too. This is not good for the club or the martial arts world