The Hero’s Journey

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    There are a few key milestones on your journey to Blackbelt Leadership. It is the hero’s journey. And, like all great leader’s journeys, there are actually two.

Think about any of the fantasy, sci-fi or other hero’s journey stories. The hero goes on a quest. Usually, he or she is awaken from the slumber of their sleepy little life (comfort zone) and called to the quest.

  The quest may be for some treasure, or to save the world or kill the dragon or whatever…it could be to earn a Blackbelt.

But the second journey of the hero’s quest is the journey of transformation; the hero almost always discovers that it’s not about the quest itself, but about who the hero becomes on the way.

That’s what becoming a Blackbelt Leader is like.

   On the way to earning the coveted 2nd Degree Blackbelt Leader, the hero develops Focus, Discipline, Respect, Confidence, Gratitude and Vision (the Blackbelt Superpowers I write about in my book).

The hero develops resilience and grit, self control, a healthy self esteem and the knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities to succeed at whatever’s next.

But the quest to get there isn’t without hardship, challenge and peril.

   Like any great hero’s journey, there are many opportunities to fail along the way. Some will quit before they reach the goal.

But for those that don’t, the rewards are well worth the journey!

It is my goal, even my purpose, to help you become the confident and competent Black Belt Leader that I know you can be!

   When I think back to who I was when I began my journey 40 years ago…

Or even to when I started our Blackbelt Leadership Academy 23 years ago…

I am humbled, proud and grateful for how far I have come. Without the martial arts and leadership journey I went on myself, I never could or would have been who I am today…

   And what I am REALLY proud of, is all of the amazing Blackbelt Leaders that we have been able to create over the years since this has been my MIssion!

I can’t wait to help you do the same!

   Here are a few pieces of sage advice to help you:

    1. If you haven’t set the goal yet, that’s step one. You have to know that this journey is worth it to you and, when you do, nothing will be able to stop you! If you haven’t yet, start your quest here. 
      • Then, if you haven’t yet, complete the Vision sheet.
      • Let your Sensei know that you have set your goal. They’ll start you on the qualification process and Blackbelt Leadership try-outs.
    2. For those of you already on the journey:
  • Play all out! To be a Blackbelt, you have to train like a Blackbelt.
        1. Make your 2-3 classes per week, and set make-up classes when you miss.
        2. Give your very best when you are in your dojo. Your dojo is your sacred training place; where the transformation occurs. You have to leave your troubles, fears and insecurities behind and just have fun and train hard while you’re here. This is where the magic happens.
        3. But you also have to practice at home and, if not on the physical techniques, at least on the Superpowers. Practice Focus, Respect and Discipline everywhere and in everything you do. Do your character worksheets. Practice being confident and grateful too!
      1. Don’t quit! You will certainly regret it if you do. But we all are tempted sometimes. Here’s what you should do instead:
        1. Team up; never give up. You are part of a tribe dedicated to helping you! When you need help, ask! Your cohorts will help you, your Sensei will help you. I will help you! Just let us know when and what help you need. Sensei literally means, one who has gone before. My Blackbelt Leaders and I are the sage counsel you need in times of trial and tribulations. We’ve been there and done it, and we can help you get there too!
        2. When you are tired, learn to rest, not quit.
        3. Re-focus on your Vision. This is why we do Blackbelt Goal Setting Season twice a year. You have to keep your Vision in your mind’s eye until you get it. Then you’ll be able to see even further. But on the journey, your Vision can get blurry if you don’t keep it in focus. Your Vision board should be where you see it every day. And you should regularly meditate and visualize how you will be when you’re a Blackbelt Leader!
  • Enjoy the Journey! One last thing about the hero’s journey. Though the first journey is the quest (in this case to become a 2nd Degree Blackbelt), and the second is the journey of transformation- the Blackbelt is only the symbol of the competent Blackbelt leader you will be: physically and mentally sharp; morally strong; able to defend yourself and loved ones and prepared to survive and thrive in any situation; with the grit and resilience, and first hand experience of how to set and accomplish big and worthy goals…..

                                  Even though all of that will happen along the way, you will one day look back with gratitude and many amazing memories. You’ll have made friendships that will last a lifetime and have become part of a fraternity that most will never know, or even really understand.

Don’t miss the joy in the journey.

   Training isn;t something you have to do to become better; it’s something that yu get to do that makes you better.

Savor the joy in the journey every day.

I’m proud of and grateful for you, and can’t wait to tie your 2nd Degree Blackbelt on you one day! 

    And, to my Blackbelt Leaders, those of you that have completed the Quest! I’m so proud of and grateful for you!

You are my heroes. I’m proud of you for completing your quest, and I know that most of you realize the real journey has just begun!

    The sequel is outstanding! 🙂

And, rather you have taken what you have learned and developed with you “out of the dojo and into the world” and/or are still here helping us raise up the next generation of leaders- or both!

Thank you.

Prepare To Live; Empower To Lead!

Grand Master Stephen J. Del Castillo
Founding 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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