The ever so controversial topic of belts is unavoidable at any academy. People want instant gratification, yet in BJJ belts take a really long time to get. On top of that, the criteria for promotions are much different in every school.
Some also don't require competitions, and some do... What's the deal?
In my opinion, after going through the phase of desperately wanting my next belt... I've come to realize that it is FAR better to be the guy that is amazing at one belt, than the guy who sucks at another. I've seen plenty of people who get promoted almost out of pity, and are unable to perform up to standard.
On a competition level, I feel that students should be trying to compete at least enough to have some sort of statistical way of looking at how he/she does in an even playing field. (And also to learn what to work on)
On a technical level, I feel the following criteria should be met (minimum) for each belt level.
White: Escapes from every single position, a basic movement from every position, and one extremely solid sweep.
Blue: Begin to develop a system of sweeps that flow into each other. This on top of the fundamentals of guard passing.
Purple: Begin to develop a very specific game based on the strongest moves in the arsenal. Guard passing should now be a complex system of attacks that flow into each other, and transition into favorable positions. The guard should be the same way. This is where a certain level of Finesse can be seen.
Brown: I am not here yet, but I feel that this is where people focus a lot on being fast during the transitions, finishing submissions or chaining submissions from every position, and control. As I read in another article... a brown belt isn't "weak" anywhere.
Black: Beginning of the elite competition. All the prior skills are used to build a gameplan for either BJJ/MMA. Every match is about being several steps ahead of the opponent and imposing a gameplan. The depth of skill at this level is the greatest.
Now an awesome technique from the 50/50