On Graduation

So I was thinking about graduation this weekend…

it’s going to be awesome by the way!

Great demonstrations by students and Blackbelts, promotions, Vision, fun and fellowship!

Beginners (white, yellow, orange belts) at 10 am, Intermediate (purple, blue, green) at 1130am and Advancing (brown, red and blackbelts) at 1pm.

At Christ Cumberland Church 19501 Holly Ln, Lutz, FL 33548

You gotta be there! 

Speaking of graduation, though, every graduation is just what the term implies, or should, to us.

Graduation is never the end of something, but the beginning of something more.

This is me expressing my philosophy, by the way, so feel free to let me know what you think about it.

What I am suggesting is that graduations, in the martial arts, or academics, or trade specific training, should not signal to us that we have arrived.

A high school or college degree is a graduation to start life long learning and, if we have done school well, has prepared us to begin the higher level learning we will receive in our callings and careers.

A Blackbelt graduation marks the beginning of the Blackbelt Quest for Mastery, and, again, if done well prepared the new Blackbelt Leader for a life of success and life long learning too.

On the way to Blackbelt, students develop Confidence and competence- in self defense skills, healthy physical and mental habits, communication and leadership skills.

They have developed the Foundational Blackbelt Leadership Superpowers: Focus, Respect, Discipline, Confidence, Gratitude and Vision.

They are equipped to go out into the world to continue learning, growing and to begin sowing- to make a positive difference in not only their own lives but in the lives of those they will love and lead!

I looked up the definition of the word, “graduation”.

This is what I found:



  1. the receiving or conferring of an academic degree or diploma.
    • the ceremony at which degrees are conferred.
  2. the action of dividing into degrees or other proportionate divisions on a graduated scale.
    • a mark on a container or instrument indicating a degree of quantity.

    The first is the event- the celebration and recognition of one’s academic or, as in the case of my students next steps this weekend, their character, martial arts and leadership training…

    But I would argue the second pertains too. 

    We should see ourselves, and those that we have the honor of sowing into, as growing and developing “on a graduated scale” and, like that container, we are marked by recognition of a particular quantity (and I would add quality) of learning and growth at various milestones in our life .

    A Certified 1st Degree Blackbelt is a great accomplishment, and the Blackbelt has learned a lot; but it’s nothing compared to what they grow in the next two years to Blackbelt Leader, 2nd Degree. The Senior Blackbelt will always speak to how much he or she has progressed since that, and of course the Masters, 4th Degree or above, are on a whole other level of physical, mental and leadership skill.

    It’s like this in everything- our careers, passions, purpose and callings…

         There is always a next level. 

    You just have to decide what it is and if you want it.

    And once you do, you get to start learning again.

    and, oh by the way, don’t let the knowledge that there is a potential life long journey ever stop you from taking that first step.

    Even partial progress is better than none, and you can decide what goals you want to set.

    Some never get started, and that’s always the first step.

    Every Blackbelt was a new white belt at first! 

    Congratulations to all the students graduating to next steps on their Blackbelt Leadership journey Saturday! 

    And, if you would like to join us on this journey, please call Alex at 813-948-4844 or click here for more info and to begin your 2 week free trial and orientation program.

    Prepare To Live; Empower To Lead!

    Grand Master Stephen J. Del CastilloFounding Master Instructor, Krav Maga Martial

    p.s. Shihan Harley’s (my eldest son and senior student) 5th degree Blackbelt speech at the Blackbelt Retreat last September.

    Click to play video

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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 commissioned 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.

See for more information and to order my book, Developing Your Superpower, Meditations on Mastery, Volume 1.

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