So What is Blackbelt Leadership Anyways?

You probably hear me talk about Blackbelt Leadership a lot.

Many of you may know what I mean; but perhaps many of you do not, so I am going to spend a little time clarifying that today.


Blackbelt Leadership is a product, and our Blackbelt Leaders are certainly products of the product. 

They are strong and fit, confident, and competent, prepared to survive and thrive in any situation, and empowered to be leaders- in school, at work, in their communities and in life.

They have the character, knowledge, skills, attributes, and attitudes to succeed at anything and everything they decide to do.


But they were not always that way.

Hear Sensei Sara Church talk on her journey here


So Blackbelt Leadership is also a process. 

It’s the process by which we turn anyone into a Blackbelt.

Of course, the individual must want to do that. They must decide and begin.

But then my team and I set about our proven process, that develops champions from the inside out.

When I opened the school over 22 years ago, the process was just a hypothesis and, in total transparency, we weren’t nearly as good at it as we are today.

But today, we know the process works and we know exactly how to work it.

Hear Sensei Kyle Bierly’s 4th Degree Blackbelt Speech, and see him perform some, here.


In fact, I was recently asked by a high-level business leader to try and extrapolate the process by which we create such amazing teachers and leaders. 

This is a part of what I shared with them.

It’s the secret sauce to raising up winners and empowering leaders.

  1. Believe you can. The first step towards winning at anything is to come from a place of confidence, faith, and certainty. Regardless of what has happened in the past, believe you can help those you lead to become the best and highest version of themselves. This is for your children, your teams and all those you lead. They’ll often live up to your expectations.
  2. See them (your kids, students, team) not as they are but as they could be. Speak and lead them into their potential. See the future leader they will be.
  3. Help them to see that potential in themselves too.
  4. Apply the leadership and communication skills that will grow them into the future self we are talking about.
  5. Prepare them, with the knowledge, skills, attributes, and attitudes they will need to succeed. For youth, the Blackbelt Superpowers is a great place to start. And as we saw in module one, those skills serve us well to remember too. When working with adults that we want to grow into leaders too, this also includes professional and communication skills, work ethic, accountability, and responsibility of course, extreme ownership, positivity, resilience, and all the other character and leadership skills that make a leader great!
  6. Empower them to lead. Use the legacy leadership model. You watch me do it. We do it together. I watch you do it. You do it.
  7. Delegate but don’t abdicate. At this point we let them do it. Our student is empowered to lead! Now we become more like a coach, providing support and encouragement, leadership and accountability and helping our leader grow and accomplish their personal and professional goals. We coach them on their personal roles and goals, and on helping empower others they now lead.


This is exactly what we do.

It’s how basic white belts grow into fit, confident, and competent Blackbelt Leaders, and some even become Sensei, helping bring up the next generation of Blackbelt Leaders too!


So that’s the secret.

And, as every parent, teacher or leader knows, it’s easier said than done.

But we do it.

As the great John Maxwell said in the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, and as we teach in my program every day, Excellence Happens Daily, but not in a day.

Another great leadership lesson we teach, though, relevant to this discussion is WIN- What’s Important Next and What’s Important now.

If you are not a student yet, the WIN is to get started on your 2-week free trial and orientation program.

If you are a basic training student, it’s to qualify for and begin the Blackbelt Training or Blackbelt Leadership Program.

And, wherever you are in the process, you have specific actions important next for your total development plan.

That’s why I will be meeting with every student before the end of this year to help you plan and execute! 

Sensei Mackenzie will be setting that up and I’ll be working from the newest whitebelt to my most senior Blackbelts and Masters between today and the Blackbelt Leadership Awards dinner in a few weeks!

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!  

   I am proud and grateful for all of you and dedicated to helping you accomplish ALL your Wildly Important Goals (WIGs)!


See you soon! 


Prepare To Live; empower To Lead!

Grand Master Stephen J. Del Castillo

Author, MBA & 7th Degree Blackbelt

Founder & Chief Master Instructor,

Krav Maga Martial Arts




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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