(My father and I a few years before I opened the dojo. You never know when you’re standing in history.)
Where were you on 11 September 2001?
If you were alive then, you not only remember where you were that day but, perhaps, exactly where you were exactly the moment that everything changed.
For a little while, a few years even, America was different.
It was as we had been inoculated against the innocent notion that we were safe from attack.
Americans came together better, and we became aware that there are those that would see us harmed; that we were not immune to a terror attack on US soil.
We stopped fighting each other and united as Americans.
It does seem like some have forgotten that, or even abandoned the ideal that America is a worthy and noble place, people and idea, and one to be protected.
But that’s not the discussion or purpose of my blog today. It’s just a Throwback Thursday, and I want to talk about where I was, and what my experience was on 9/11.
On the morning of 11 September 2001, I was in my first little dojo, a small 1,000 square foot space in a building that no longer exists, where Bruce B Downs and 54 intersect.
I was alone in my dojo, doing my morning workout.
One of my students at that time was a Marine Recruiter named Matt.
Matt was my next door neighbor in the plaza, in his own little 1k plot.
I was in the middle of my workout when Matt stormed in just before 9 oclock.
He was yelling something about “they hit the tower” and beckoned me to follow him.
I got there to watch the television coverage with him and to witness the second plane’s attack at 9:03.
For a brief moment I thought it was a hoax, or some kind of joke; but it didn’t take long to realize that this was real.
As with most people that morning, I was completely engulfed in the confusion of emotion, the uncertainty, and the surreal nature of the events that continued to transpire that day.
I remember mourning, reflecting, deliberating, praying and ultimately deciding that I needed to do what I always do, what I am called to do.
I needed to be there for classes and be there for my students that evening.
Of course it was a small group.
I didn’t have as many students then, nor was I as experienced a teacher.
But I did know what I was called to do.
And also what I wouldn’t.
We decided that we would not allow the terrorist attack to stop us from doing what we do.
When Americans stop working, stop playing, or stop leading in response to terrorism, the terrosits win.
So we opened for classes that night and did what we always do.
We opened with a moment of silence to respect all that had perished that day, and to say a prayer for their loved ones, the first responders and our country.
And then we trained as we always do.
Our Prepare To Live, Empower To Lead Mission hadn’t crystallized yet then, but it did already start with Empowering Lives Through Martial Art.
We got each other through. We prepared to live, and we empowered to lead- even before we knew that’s what we were doing.
It’s hard to believe that was 20 years ago.
My son, Shihan Harley was a baby.
The dojo kind of was too (next month is our 21st anniversary).
We have grown a lot in those years, in many ways; and had the distinct honor of raising up many great Blackbelt Leaders that have gone on to make incredible contributions to our country- in military service, business, ministry and other callings.
As I prepare to give my annual 9/11 tribute to my Blackbelt Leadership students and guests this week, I find myself making the same decision I made 9/11/01.
I am saddened, confused and concerned for our country now too; but as I teach, there are many things that I don’t have control over, and a few that I do. I focus on these.
So we will pay tribute to heroes past and present, we will train, and we will raise up strong, confident and competent leaders for tomorrow!
This, we can do.
Click here to join us for the 9/11 Tribute Saturday at 10.
Click here to begin your 2 week free trial and orientation.
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
TampaKravMaga.com 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 Go2Karate.com