Just to add a little more to what I was saying before, I like the discussion about various ways to objectively measure progress. But that's essentially what we're doing, whether we evaluate one's progress objectively based on purely on physical ability or on other things. I think there are a couple of things to consider: 1: Objective standards are still arbitrary. What I mean is, even if they are objective, they are still made up by someone. If the standard is that someone can do 36 elements of one technique perfectly in a demonstration (or 360 different techniques). I can observe you doing these things, and if you do them all correctly, you warrant promotion. That's one perfectly valid way to evaluate progress. Another is based on performance, where technique is less of a priority than whether you can perform well against other people who are at a certain level (i.e., a BJJ blue belt who performs consistently well with BJJ purple belts). Some of those people are better at things than others, but over time, the belt levels are calibrated in several different ways that are not just technical. OR a combination of the above... or something else. The point is, if progress is measured in some way that is not specific to an individual, is not shrouded in mystery, and is observable, it's perfectly valid. 2: Merit is simply progress based on the standards described above. If the standard is that you have to train for at least 6 months and attend 100 classes before you can be promoted to Teal Belt, and you do that, you are being promoted based on merit. You have earned that promotion by meeting the standard. So, when I say, this is a discussion about whether to choose Option A or Option A, it's just that. What it really seems like is that the OP is unclear about what the standards are for upper belts in his system. Personally, I don't think there's any problem with any standards, provided they are not subjective. If you give people black belts for showing up to at least 1 class per week for 12 months, regardless of how well you perform. The standard is clear and objective. On another note, from an inclusion stand point, I applaud schools and systems that have examined their standards and pared them back to what really matters. As we do in business where employees have impairments of various kinds, there are often ways to accommodate a physical or mental impairment without compromising the essential elements of a task or activity. I think this is particularly true in something like a martial art, where the vast majority of folks aren't looking to become professionals or elite athletes. Point being, if you put undue emphasis on element on pointing a toe the correct direction, you may lose sight of the fact that someone is delivering an effective side kick. Happens all the time in grappling, where someone may have a bum shoulder, and so executes a technique a little differently. Think about it like this. If you're saying that someone with an impairment will never attain a particular rank in your organization, I'd recommend making sure that the thing they cannot do actually matters. Whether one's feet are straight or one's hand is chambered at the exact right spot, as a disqualifying standard, seems a little unreasonable to me.