Reader Point: Who made the rule that higher dan ranks have to test...it is most recognized in the industry that above 3rd dan, ranks are given for "time in grade”, years of teaching, knowledge, not physical ability!! This is why MOST get their higher dan grades though correspondence where as video being "one form" of the determination factor but not the only one. What about the 8th degree that is too old and feeble, maybe handicap to test....but he possesses great knowledge, has led a lifetime of teaching, was a great competitor in his day..should he be required to go through a test to get recognized? Do you really think most of the Grand Masters out there got here higher degrees from a hard-core physical test? Of course not!
TKDTutor response: In-person testees get one attempt at a form; either it is good enough, or it fails. If breaks require additional attempts, they are witnessed by judges. Video testees can make numerous takes and select the best ones to submit.
In-person sparring is against opponents chosen by judges and whose abilities are known to the judges. Video sparring opponents can be anybody.
If a person does not have easy access to the required training or to testing locations or does not have the money to pay for a testing or to travel to a testing, that is too bad—life is not fair. However, that does not mean that the standards should be lowered to accommodate them. As you said, black belts are a dime a dozen nowadays. That is why I said that rank is only good within the school or organization that issued it. It is similar to military rank. While a captain in the navy is an O-6 with great authority and respect, a captain in the army is a mere O-3. When dealing with a navy captain, army personal show proper respect, but otherwise, the navy captain has little authority in the army, the lower ranked army captain has more authority. A navy captain would not be able to change services and become a colonel in the army; nor would he be awarded an honorary rank. To change services, he would have to start near the bottom and work his way up though the army ranks.
If any video tested black belts are offended by my opinion that martial art rank must be tested for in-person, in front of certified judges, then those black belts must have their own misgivings about the validity of their black belts; otherwise, my lowly opinion would not matter to them.