What you must make clear is that everything must be earned, not bought, begged, or handed out. Patches, plaques, pieces of paper, trophies, and belts are merely outside displays designed to assuage the psychological needs of the student, parent, and/or instructor. Make them useful. I have some ideas if you care to hear them. I doubt that they are unique or new, though.
Everyting must be earned, but the lower leves require little more than memorising the curriculem for that level. It's not unitl after level 3 that performance satndards start to kick in. Before that the performance is based on knowing the material, and how long sudents can hold each posture consecutively from the basic set Wu Bu Chaun. Leve one must memorise it, level 2 must hold 26 second, and level 3 54 seconds.
After level 3 you must hold 72 seconds to get to level 4, and also have proper postures, inlcuding the Iron Chair, twisted Horse stance and the Snake stance all done as deep as they go.
Level 5 students hold 90. This is the time I also introduce some free sparring as students should have a good arsenal of functional techniques and should be well conditioned. Also, those who have been bitten by the Hard core bug have memorised a complete martial system and will be ready to concentrait on getting really good with what they know. Rank will not matter to them by this time.
The main stream student will have the rest of the curriculem basically just to keep their interest and keep the $$ flowing in to support the hard core guys.
Level 6 is Wu Bu Chaun 108 seconds.
By Level 6 they are expected to hold the stances perfectly and comfortably the entire time.
By Level 7 they now pracitce the 18 louhan hands instead of Wu Bu Chaun.
No matter What course of study a student wants, they can not get past the 7th level with out strong performance in selfdefence. This is the point where most mainstream students either turn hard core or quit. A mainstream student who is dedicated enough (A half mainstream, half hardcore) can get up another level or two, but only those who are seriously dedicated will be taught the Cannon Fist, and usually it will be those who went hard core by level 5 and really really mastered the Hong Chuan system.
You can't get to the Cannon Fist unless you are a hard core traditional martial artist, and you can't get a Black Sash without learning the Cannon Fist as it is an expansion on both the Louah and Hong Chuan sets. It is the advanced set, and you have to be able to "USE" it to pass the test in my system.
Also, conditioning and strength requirements must be maintined to pass the Black Sash test. For exapmle the 18 Louhan hands is a 36 posture form, and each posture must be held for 108 seconds. Because of the extra lenght (over Wu Bu Chaun) and the difficulty of many of the stances, it is considerably harder than holding only the Wu Bu Chuan set for 108 seconds.
I also have standards for conditioning, and the Black sash condtioning system is 40-50 minutes of HARD pushups, situps and other body weight conditioning exercises. prior to holding.
Only those who can hold thier own in competiotn either inside the school or through sacntioned competitve events (NOT Point sparring) can even be offered to test for Black Sash.
So no, I don't comprmise my standards, I just draw the training out for those that are not black sash material so I can serve several different demographics at the same time.
Hey I got an article coming about this subject.