Rank and titles are relevant individually to each Martial Arts system and/or business.  Respect held for the ranks and titles given vary accordingly to the position held and time or experience in that position.  Too many times say, the president of one company is compared to the president of another and that is a shame.  Each one holds their own level of responsibility and expected respect.

Suppose that you are the owner and hold the position of president in a large company.  You also go out on your own and become the owner and only employee of a small business.  Which one of these positions is more important to the "company"?  If you die, the large company will just continue on pretty much as before, but the small business will cease operation.  Even though your position of president held more respect to outsiders, your importance in the small business was much greater.  In the small business, any employees that you eventually had hired will be out of work.

Suppose you inherit a business of which you know very little about and become Chairman-of -the-board over night.  Do you believe that you should hold more respect than a foreman with 30 years on the job?  Irregardless, there is no comparison to the knowledge and abilities of the two individuals in their occupation.

What about comparing foremen in two different plants?  One plant has been in business for 50 years and the second only a year and a half.  Should one be respected more than the other?  There is a great deal of unknown factors involved here.  The foreman in the 50 year old plant may have only worked there for 15 years, but the one in the year and a half old plant may have retired after 40 years from a comparable company and then taken this job.

We must be very careful when comparing titles and importance.  Many individuals have a misunderstanding about the rank of different members in one system to another.  In one system, it may take 6 years to acquire the Black-belt status, while in another only 18 months.  Therefore, you should be concerned (if that's what you want) more with skill and active time, rather than only the rank.  But, you must still respect the individuals for their accomplishments with-in their systems.

There could also be two individuals of the same rank.  The first being a trophy holder in Kumite but lacking in Martial Arts spirit, attitude and respect.  The second individual works very hard at maintaining a system that has never competed outside the system at all. Who should hold the most importance here?  There could be a Martial Artist of Nidan with 20 years experience and one of Godan with 15 years.  Do you compare these two with years, rank or neither?

I truly believe that Martial Artist should not be compared only by rank or years.  But, firstly on their attitude, respect and knowledge, followed by skill and physical ability.  As a final note, rank is only rank with-in the individual systems and should not be compared between systems.  With-in different Martial Arts Systems and conventional business organizations, titles are used to show respect, whether or not they are used the same.  Sometimes the controversy over rank and titles is built upon envy and jealousy.  If the individuals finding fault were put in the same position, there would most likely be a 180 degree turnaround in their rationalization.  As individuals and systems, we must allow the schools across town and across the nation operate in their own manner and utilize whatever titles they feel are appropriate.  It is their business alone and not outsiders, who have no stake in their operations.  Please just respect the individuals and systems for their endurance on a very difficult road of the "Way".  There are very few who ever make it past the beginnings to become an substantial part of their or our history.