Getting promoted is always a strange experience, for me at least. Mostly, I just never really feel worthy of it. I suppose I should worry if I, or anyone else, ever thought with any degree of sincerity, "I deserve to promoted, darn it! What's keeping my sensei from giving me that belt or certificate?"
So, if I never really feel worthy, then I suppose it falls upon my superiors to be a more objective judge of my readiness. But then, sometimes I even questions their judgement! I shouldn't I suppose. They stand further down the road, they see a bigger picture from their vantage point than I do.
And for that matter, while we have a standard written down in terms of hours and time in grade, etc. every budoka is different; progress and achievement varies from one person to the next. So one sandan may stand at a different level of skill than another, and that's okay. The two were never meant to be compared side by side, but rather compared to how far they've come given the individuals inherent skill and physical capabilities.
On the other, I have just recently been made aware of a slight discrepancy in the number hours that a given rank required in the organization I've spent the majority of my practice time with and the rest of the world within the same arts. Basically, we got promoted a lot earlier than most folks do. In the simplest of terms, someone who held the Aikido rank of, say, godan in my former organization would be either a yondan or even a sandan on the verge of becoming a yondan in most any other Aikido organization. And the number of years it takes? Nearly double.
Well, now I really feel inadequate and undeserving.
But should I?
What's rank, really? What does it matter when I really ought to be concerned with is, Am I better today than I was yesterday? But I still feel silly when people ask what rank I hold in such and such. Ah, well.
It is what it is. No more, no less. In the end, I still keep walking along the path, regardless of the color of my shoes.