Blog Martial Arts

Friendly but Firm

The leadership series that I have been teaching in the last few weeks has been on struggle- embracing struggle as part of the process in weeks one and two and leadership through struggle most recently. You can catch up on these by going to my blogs or podcasts.


The next few weeks will be on a concept that I started teaching on in my Certified Instructor Training group last week- Balance.

Balance is essential to martial arts, leadership and life.

There is of course physical balance and that’s also important; but here I am talking about the most important types of balance- those to do with mental, emotional, character and leadership balance.

The concept I led with to my CIT is that balance (virtue) is always the mean between two extremes.


Today’s meditation is about the balance between being courteous, kind and respectful, while also being strong, confident and resolute.


Since it’s throwback Thursday, I’ll lead with something that I used to always say and I think probably haven’t for years now….

I can’t even remember where I got it, but I know I said this to many over the years:

“never mistake my kindness for weakness”.

Some did and always learned that I am resolute.


This balance I believe- for the warrior, the leader and even the citizen- is essential to living a peaceful and harmonious life.

In my most natural state I am happy, positive, cordial, courteous, respectful and forgiving.

But there are certain lines I’ll never cross and certain principles I’ll never allow to be violated.


When someone crosses that line or violates those principles, they are either cut out of my life and tribe or, in more dire situations, are in for a fight.

There are things worth fighting for.


But let’s turn now to what we do for a living at Krav Maga Martial Arts.

We produce confident and competent, courteous and respectful leaders.

We also equip those leaders with the most aggressive, effective and efficient fighting system in the world and the courage, confidence and grit to apply that knowledge should they need to.


Now, you know what I believe.

I honestly do pray that my students never have to apply that skill.

But I honestly prepare them for the worst case too.


We never know when the wolf will come growling at the gate.

It is in these times that we must be ready.


The founder of Krav Maga, Imi Lichtenfeld, said of the system “so that one may walk in peace”.

This is what I am talking about.

The warrior leader never goes looking for a fight, nor even enters one lightly.

But we must be ready, willing and able to do so if the need should arise.

Bullies, tyrants and criminals won’t always stop because you ask them nicely.

This is where moral, emotional and physical strength, commitment to principal, indomitable spirit and mental and physical preparedness comes in as the essential balance to calmness, kindness, courtesy and respect.


My teacher Eyal said it this way: “you must have the ability to turn from the lamb into the lion”……..

and then, he added, “and then back to the lamb. Otherwise you are a psychopath.”


In conclusion I am stating these 3 principles as what I believe:

  1. We should develop character, confidence, respect and an overall way of being that minimizes negative conflict (some conflict is necessary and good) and the danger of violence in our lives. Another one of my teachers once said “present yourself in such a way that the enemy never thinks to appear before you”.
  2. There are times, however, where neither negotiation nor compromise will create peace. Evil does exist in the world and it takes strong and good people to overcome the aggression of strong and evil ones. Weakness can never do that. So we must also develop strength, courage and resolve.
  3. We should pray for the best and prepare for the worst. In every area of life we should remain positive and optimistic. As I also teach, we get more of what we focus on- so we should choose to focus on the positive. But we should also never allow this focus to keep us from remembering that not everyone is focused in this way- and while we can control our own thoughts, emotions and behavior (hopefully), we cannot control another’s. All we can control is our response to that other’s way. Said more succinctly; the real ability to defend oneself in any situation, and the emotional and moral strength to do so, is an essential element of real and lasting peace. The bullies of the world, rather individuals or leaders in our local communities and schools, or rather countries playing on the world stage, do not respect weakness nor even concession, but only concession backed by strength.


By the way, I know many will disagree with what I have to say and that’s OK.

I wrote what I believe based on my principals, values and experience; and you believe what you believe based on your own.

Your right to disagree is fundamental and I would defend to the death your right to do so.

Freedom is also one of the principals I value most. We are blessed to live in a nation that knows what the freedom of speech, expression and opinion is like.

Granted, some are trying to infringe on freedom here too.

But many live in nations where their right to their own opinion or to disagree was taken years ago.

These nations are run by men of the tyrant and bully type I alluded to before.


Let us remain a country of strong men and women, dedicated to our own principals and willing to defend these and, above all else, the freedom to do so.

And let us raise up our children and the future leaders of this great nation to do the same.


God bless you, and God bless the USA.


Prepare To Live; Empower To Lead!


Grand Master Stephen J. Del Castillo

Founding Master Instructor, Krav Maga Martial Arts

Author of Developing Your Superpowers  Meditations On Mastery Vol One

Check out the Meditations On Mastery Blog and Podcast too!

    This is a throwback to my old krav maga affiliate program, when I was training trainers to teach krav maga in their schools. These other martialarts schools approached me because they wanted more practical self defense for their students too. I don’t travel and teach any more, but I do with my team at our school (the KMMA leadership development academy that also teaches the most practical self defense in the world).

     Come join us!


———————————————————————————————————————- 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