The "Black Belt" Terminology is not used exclusively in the martial arts. For example, Six Sigma, a business management strategy, uses belts to rate those certifed - with black belt referring to the highest belt that one can achieve. Many have referred to the black belt as a metaphor for excellence in life. One can be a "black belt" chef or a "black belt" taxi cab driver. The term black belt can simply refer to those who excel in any field. The question that remains is, "How do we, as master instructors, maintain the honor, dignity, prestige, and reputation of THE BLACK BELT in the martial arts?"
I have seen a shift in the martial arts industry over the last 20 years since I began my training where Karate schools are awarding black belts with little work, little substance, and commitment. As martial arts school owners, many have watered down their curriculum to a point that our martial arts ancestors, the General Choi's, the Maeda's, the Funakoshi's are turning in their graves.
I believe that the black belt test itself should be demanding. In fact, it should be the most physically demanding event for even the best prepared. The black belt test should require the applicant to be in THEIR top physical shape. When I refer to THEIR, I mean that everyone has limitations. You wouldn't require someone in a wheel chair to perform a jump kick, because that is outside of that person's limitations. My instructor also wouldn't require me to jump 30 feet high would he? What I am trying to say is that the black belt test is a personal experience where your instructor will attempt to bring the VERY best out of you, and YES, sometimes your best will not be good enough. But, with time, almost anyone who trains hard enough, without giving up, can achieve a black belt.