Blog From Shihan's Desk Martial Arts

everything happens 4 a reason –

I wanna thank Blackbelt Leadership student Lynn Schrader for asking to hear more about my military history.

  To oblige, but not miss an opportunity to teach on one of our Blackbelt Principles, I will share some stories from my military experience and how Everything Happens For A Reason And Serves Me Well.


I joined the Army at 17 years old and went to Basic Training at Ft. Jackson South Carolina during the summer between my junior and senior year of High School on the Army Reserves Split Option program. After High School I went active duty to Ft. Benning Georgia for US Army Infantry One Station Unit Training (OSUT)- the same school my son Shihan Diego Del Castillo is going through today- and then on to Airborne school also at Benning. 


  After Jump School, I reported to the 2/504 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the famed 82nd Airborne Division.

     My first jump with my unit was into Honduras to chase out Sandinistas with Operation Golden Pheasant.

Though this ultimately turned into a training exercise between the US and Honduran Army, and a successful show of force by then President Ronald Reagan, my fellow troopers and I were convinced we were going to fight. 

         Everything Happens for A Reason And It Serves Me Well.


  I of course don’t remember all of the forces that combined to make me want to become an Army Paratrooper. 

                I know I wanted to be somebody. 

                I didn’t have many options available to me. 

                I’d never considered college and besides that my father and I were fighting a lot. 

                       I’d like to think I wanted to serve my Country too…

    But I know that I did go and that this evolution in my life was instrumental to my growth.

                  Everything Happens for A Reason And It Serves Me Well.


A few years later my unit went on Block leave and I didn’t have the leave to go. I think I’d had to use it for an emergency leave or something. 

     Anyways, I stayed back.  In between the details (chores) they gave me to keep busy during this down time, I also walked to the Army Education Center daily. There, I learned of and took something called a CLEP test, which stands for “College Level Examination Program”.

At the end of the week this sweet little old lady pulled me into her office; I really wish I knew this ladies name, because she too was instrumental to my story.

   She told me that I had tested out of 30 college credit hours, my first year of college. Then she gave me some paperwork to fill out.

I went on to lots more great training with my unit up to and including Jungle school in Panama.

When we returned, we were sitting in the hallway of our barracks cleaning our weapons when mail call came.

     Amongst the many that had been piling up for all the time we’d been deployed was one of special interest to me that read:

“Congratulations, you have won an Army Green to Gold Scholarship and will report to the University of Tampa, where I would complete my undergraduate degrees in Philosophy and Communications and Commision as a Second Lieutenant.

The training I received in Leadership, both at school and in my subsequent years of service as an Army Officer, were instrumental to the creation of my Blackbelt Leadership program.

                 Everything Happens For A Reason And It Serves Me Well.


Incidentally, when I got back to college I found out that my father had cancer.

   In his last days I was able to spend time with him, reconcile our differences, and even be with him by his hospital bed during his very last hours.

Had I not been assigned to the University of Tampa at exactly the time I did, that may never have happened.

                    Everything Happens For A Reason And It Serves Me Well.


There are so many more great stories between my commissioning in 1992 and my opening of our dojo in the year 2000.

  Perhaps I will share some with you around the campfire of our Spring or Fall Krav Camp and Blackbelt Retreat one day.

For now, keep writing your story day to day and, whatever happens, remember………..

                   Everything Happens For A Reason And It Serves Us Well.

_________________ and Krav Maga Martial Arts have been empowering lives through the martial arts in the Tampa Bay area for 20 years!

Founded in 2000 by Grandmaster Stephen J. Del Castillo, a 7th degree Black Belt and Sr. Master Instructor, Krav Maga Martial Arts and Karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need – specialized for their age group – for school excellence and later success in life.

Krav Maga Martial Arts Adult Krav Maga training is a complete adult self defense, fitness, and conditioning program for adults who want to learn real world self defense, lose weight, and/or get (and stay in shape).

If you have any questions about our program, or would like to go ahead redeem your 2 weeks FREE, you can call us anytime at 813-547-6368 or visit our Krav Maga Martial Arts website.

About Grandmaster Stephen J. Del Castillo: Grandmaster Del Castillo is the founding Master Instructor of Krav Maga Martial Arts and has been empowering lives in Pasco and Hillsborough Counties since October of 2000. He is a 7th degree Blackbelt, MBA, author, mentor and success coach, a US Army Veteran and a proud father and grandfather. He is married to Ms. Barbara Del Castillo who helps him run the school. Grand Master Del Castillo began his training in the early 80’s and has high level blackbelts in Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Premier Martial Arts and Krav Maga Martial Arts as well as experience in kickboxing, Jeet Kune Do and Jiujitsu. He has high level instructor certifications from BBSI, IKMF, and KMG and has been featured in numerous Martial Arts publications and also Success magazine. He was a competitive sport karate and American Kickboxing instructor until he enlisted in the US Army where he served in the 82nd Airborne Division, where he won an Army Green to Gold scholarship and proceeded to ROTC and the University of Tampa. He was commisioned in 1992 and went on to serve in Germany with the 3rd Infantry Division and then in several other posts in the US until he left military service to pursue his dream of creating KMMA in 2000.

The Krav MagaMartial Arts Headquarters is in Lutz, FL at 1900 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., 33549. Krav Maga Martial Arts serves Lutz, Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel, and surrounding areas.

Also, check us out on Fun4TampaKids & on