Ogoun - Interesting you should say that, because it turns out that is the same philosophy at my school.
I had a chance to casually talk with the owner/instructor and asked him if he could better explain the stripe structure to me. (I didn't mention my concerns about the self defense stripe.) He said that the stripe simply shows that the student has learned the techniques well enough to then go and practice them. It doesn't mean that he knows them well enough to test on them; in fact, it usually is several weeks to a several months after all stripes are earned before the instructor will issue an invitation to test. In some ways it benefits the instructors the most, because it gives them a visual indication at the start of class on who they need to work with to teach techniques and who they can pair up with others to go practice techniques.
So, everyone who said I should keep my mouth shut because I don't know his criteria was totally correct.
[This message has been edited by WolfGate (edited 07-26-2004).]