Blog Martial Arts

I’m Proud and Grateful for These Blackbelt Leaders

As you know if you know me, I love leadership.

And as you should also already know, what I love most is producing great leaders.

As the great John Maxwell said, “The function of leadership isn’t to gather more followers. It’s to produce more leaders.”


With that caveat, the purpose of this email is to do 3 things:

  1. to celebrate and express my gratitude for Blackbelt Leader Sarah Church;
  2. to celebrate and express my gratitude for Senior Blackbelt Thomas Pioli;
  3. to share some good news, and also a challenge.


  1. I am so proud of and grateful for Sensei Sarah Church. She’s been growing with Krav Maga Martial Arts since she was 14 years old. She started in our daytime homeschool program and grew with us through many ups and downs and training evolutions over the next 8 years. In that time Sensei Sarah was willing to get out of her comfort zone and accept leadership challenges I threw at her, always eager to learn and grow and always ready to contribute. Over the last couple of years, she has been one of the primary head instructors sowing into students and especially our younger ones. Sensei Sarah is loved for her fun and enthusiastic attitude, her warm and welcoming countenance and her ability to make kids feel good about themselves. I am so super proud of and grateful for her!
  2. I am so proud of and grateful for Sensei Thomas Pioli. Thomas has been training with KMMA since 2009. When he started training, he was still also serving in the US Navy as a Search and Rescue Diver. Sensei Thomas earned his KMMA Blackbelt in ’12, his 2nd degree in ’16 and his third degree blackbelt in September of 2019. He served as the Chief Instructor of our school from 2013-2020. Sensei Thomas took a hiatus for a few years while working for a season in executive security. But he missed the training, positivity and community of KMMA; as well as being mentored and mentoring others to be their best- to the place that we call Blackbelt Leadership Excellence. Sensei Thomas is a friend, a great Blackbelt and an important part of our history and development; he was even one of the main forces that helped me raise Sensei Sarah into the great leader that she is today.
  3. So the good news is that Sensei Thomas is back to take over where Sensei Sarah leaves off. She has decided to move on to her next training evolution in life, with a new career and moving out on her own and other exciting life evolutions. The great news is she isn’t going away, but is still an important part of our leadership community. Sensei Sarah will still be around training and helping with events and such; In fact, she is testing for her 3rd degree in September! I’m proud and grateful that , even while stepping down as head instructor, she will continue to grow and remain an important Blakcbelt Leader in our community.
  4. And, as I have already alluded to, I have hired the great Sensei Thomas Pioli as our full time Chief Instructor! You are going to LOVE his leadership and teaching style. Sensei Thomas is awesome at combining realistic training with fun, function and purpose to raise up Blackbelt Leaders who are fit, confident and competent at self defense and at life. He is a great leader and I know he will be fundamental to helping me grow our students, staff and organization to even higher levels than we ever have before!


Both Sensei Thomas and Sensei Sarah are conducting the stripe testing this week and it’s rocking! Be sure to congratulate them both, thank her for her service and welcome him to the team!

Oh, and I almost forgot the challenge!

I challenge YOU to become one of our next future Blackbelt Leaders and Sensei! 

Wherever you are in the law of the process, all you have to do is decide and then start training that way!

Producing great Blackbelt Leaders is what we do!

Deciding to be one is up to you!

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!


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