Certificates of rank.
Different colored belts.
Achievements and credentials of training seminars.
What does rank mean in the martial arts?
The challenge with rank in the martial arts is that many of us naturally try to understand the meaning of rank through the lens of the Western education system and learning.
Attend classes, take a test, get a piece of paper saying you have memorized the course material.
Is rank in the Japanese martial arts the same in terms of such a limited scope?
Ideally rank in the martial arts should be a combination of understanding and action, with a final layer of responsibility.
Certainly things are a bit different from art to art, and school to school, but at each ranking level there should be a set of items that the student should be aware of and know about, along with being able to demonstrate and accurately use them in the martial arts.
The martial arts are not academic, trying to learn them academically will fail- they are action, application, and movement based.
There is also a final layer of rank- what you are responsible for as a rank holder in the dojo/martial arts school and the organization.
What role does your rank have in setting a good example and promoting harmony (wa) in the school?
What role does your rank have as an ambassador and representative of your school?