Shihan Harley

Today I want to honor my son, and KMMA Master Instructor, Shihan Harley Del Castillo.

Harley has been training for over 19 years.

He’s grown up with the dojo (our martial arts academy) for over 21 years but has been legitimately training since he was about 3.


Harley is an amazing teacher.

As I’m writing this, I’m also listening to the class that he’s teaching right now (it’s Saturday morning).

He is so technical, such an amazing communicator and so passionate.

It’s hard to believe, listening to him teach, that he’s an uber introvert in his most natural state.

He’s an example of Blackbelt Leadership Excellence- a walking, talking example of what we teach and all we preach.

He exudes our Blackbelt Superpowers of Focus, Respect, Discipline, Confidence, Gratitude and Vision.

He’s also now an amazing athlete, excelling in weightlifting, jiujitsu and every physical pursuit that he undertakes in addition to his Krav Maga Martial Arts.

I just got a text from my friend, and his bjj teacher, Hanshi John Geyston, who is amazed with how quickly he’s learning and particularly how fast his sparring (rolling) is improving.

I responded as I do often reference Harley’s myriad accomplishments:

“I’m blessed with that one. He’s great at everything he decides to pursue.”

So, in honor of Shihan Harley, my senior student as well as my eldest son, I’d like to share a few of the secrets to his success, at least as I perceive them:

  1. Shihan Harley is a true Master of what we teach. You can’t stick to what we do as long as he has and not be great, but that parts probably obvious. So, here’s the secret in this first statement: Harley has been consistently immersed all these years and, even when he went a different direction for a couple of years, he never stopped training. During his “break” from KMMA he still came and trained in the Saturday Leadership & Blackbelt classes we had then.
  2. He has truly developed the Blackbelt Superpowers but, again, that’s evident. The secret is he consistently applies what he has learned. Knowledge without action is useless; but applied knowledge is powerful! (super-powerful really 😉 Harley applies them in the dojo, in his other athletic pursuits, in college and in everything else he puts his mind to.
  3. Harley has mastered the control of his emotions.
  4. Harley is willing to do what it takes, and to do it well. He exudes pride in performance- a trait essential for excellence but absent in many.
  5. Harley has also mastered so many of the Blackbelt Leadership lessons that we teach and applies them also regularly. Life is 10% what happens and 90% how we react to what happens. He reacts well. Lifelong Learning and Constant and Never-Ending Improvement and on and on…. Harley exemplifies them. I feel as though his aptitude, attitude and behavior reflects what mastery means.  It’s kind of like what we say about our student creed: it’s something that first you learn, eventually you understand and one day you live by. Well, all the leadership lessons are like that, and Shihan Harley is living proof of it.

It’s Shihan Harley’s 22nd Birthday today.

I am taking the day off and we are going to share a great day of shooting, philosophy, bonding, and fellowship, which will end at the traditional Brazilian BBQ feast.

Today I am grateful to spend the time with this great man and leader, who also happens to be my son.

Grand Master Stephen J. Del Castillo
Founding Master Instructor, Krav Maga Martial Arts

Shihan Harley at the Grand opening of our dojo Oct 2000






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.

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

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