Throw Back-and Forward

This is a blog on goal setting from a few years ago called, What’s Your Goal.

Click here to read it. 

Since it’s Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d pull and old one for ‘ya…

But here’s the thing.


It’s good to throwback to celebrate successes.

Like, Sensei Sarah did get her 2nd degree that weekend..

and her third degree since. And she’s on track for her goal for her fourth.


And she’s still training and helping with the upcoming Blackbelt Leaders at Krav Maga Martial Arts.

In fact, she was in teaching last night.


It’s one of the blessings of our Blackbelt Leadership Academy.

We develop leaders who help develop more leaders.

And it’s how we throw forward towards our Vision- to develop ten thousand more in the next ten years!


Help us get your goals!

  Apply to start your Blackbelt Leadership journey, for you and your family, here! 


Prepare To Live; Empower To Lead!

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


p.s. to complete this throwback, here’s Sensei Sarah’s speech from her 3rd degree test

Sensei Sarah Church 

Nidan testing to Sandan

October 2022


For those who know me today, you see before you- hopefully- a strong and confident young woman who has the ability and responsibility to lead and achieve that which she sets out to achieve. You see a blackbelt, a teacher, a friend, and a role model.


It would shock you to witness the person I was before I started here at KMMA. Anyone who I trained with the first couple years will remember her. Young Sarah was quiet and wouldn’t speak unless spoken to. She didn’t think too much of herself and she definitely would never have gotten on stage to speak. As cool as being able to kick to the head and defend against a knife the most impressive transformation I have gone through is my growth as a person. My desire for my physical health and fitness grew with krav maga and with that change in lifestyle my mental state improved along with my countenance.


Young Sarah struggled with many things, all of which aren’t uncommon for our youth to face today. Doubt, low self esteem, and most of all, fear.


It goes without saying that fear is a very driving factor in decisions we make every day.

And though there are quite a few ways to help us understand, deal with, and even conquer fear, it is one of the most challenging obstacles we face. We will never be completely rid of fear.


Now, on the one hand, fear can serve us well. If we weren’t just a little bit afraid of getting struck by lightning during a storm, we wouldn’t seek shelter and that very thing could then happen. Fear can keep us safe from things that could hurt us.

On the other hand it also has the devastating potential to hold us back. As Grand Master is fond of saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”


My greatest fears held me back from excellence for many years leaving me with a great appreciation for this particular lesson. If I had allowed my fear to prevent me from taking those shots, I wouldn’t be here today. I have a deep appreciation for Grand Master and Sensei Thomas for never giving me that option either.


In one of my previous speeches, I mentioned that another of my favorite lessons at Krav Maga Martial Arts was A Black Belt is just a white belt that never quit and that if my younger self could see who I have become she would hardly believe her eyes. When I was a teenager, like most angst filled teens, I had a crippling fear that I wasn’t good enough. This fear is very popular not just among teens but in adults as well. If anything is certain in life, it is that at some point we will feel like no matter how much of ourselves we give there will always be some part of us that truly believes it isn’t good enough. That, in my opinion, is one of the most dangerous and devastating fears. Oftentimes we are more than enough for the people around us and it is our own expectations that keep us from achieving the excellence we seek.


Gina Rodriguez says, “Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision.”


Our fear is valid. We are allowed to be afraid. We are allowed to feel nervous, anxious, and small. Just like how in a blackbelt test we are allowed to cry and bleed and puke. The only disservice we can do ourselves when we feel these things in the face of the unknown is to never even try.


As an instructor, one of my greatest privileges has been teaching young students when they first walk in the door. Some children walk in excited to become a ninja while others hide behind their parent’s legs. Fear of new things can strike even at that young and innocent age. I have seen some children who are not yet ready to face that fear and they go home. However, I have also seen the most scared of children eventually venture away from mom and dad and they end up having the time of their life. In this instance, there is nothing wrong with being the timid kid who is not ready to face the fear. At some point though we have a choice to make. Am I going to choose courage.


Another quote for you, Joseph Campbell says, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”


We are not timid children forever. I have seen many examples of this with adults who let their fear– or even their lack of care for their potential–  hold them just out of reach of success. Growth is uncomfortable.


When I first began helping out around the dojo it was easy. All I had to do was sweep the floors, stand tall so the other kids would do the same, and demonstrate a kick or two. I knew how to do those things. Those were easy and comfortable. Had I just stuck to sweeping floors and standing in an attention position I would never have been program director or head instructor. And those life changing experiences and memories are some of my most prized possessions:


As I stuck to it things got harder. As a young girl with anxiety, teaching intros was definitely uncomfortable; let alone classes of twenty people. Phone calls and door to door marketing was even harder for me. I experienced many moments where I wanted to quit. It would have been so easy to just give up. But how could I call myself a blackbelt if I did.


If I had not made phone call after phone call I would not be nearly as proficient at speaking with people I don’t know. If I had not taught intro after intro I would not have the same interpersonal skills as I do now. If I had never gotten back in front of a class after bad days and failures, I would never have the relationships and good memories that I carry with me today.


The only thing we risk when we try new things or we let ourselves be uncomfortable, is gaining knowledge. Every failure is a lesson. Every slip up, mishap, wrong answer, and bad day is another weapon in our arsenal. Without those lessons we can never reach our full potential. However, just like in training, our attitude is the biggest determining factor.

We cannot grow if we are not willing to fail and willing to accept that there is something we can change about ourselves after experiencing that failure. Another of Grand Master’s favorites, Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right.


Robin Sharma says “The fears we don’t face become our limits.” I’d like to add to that idea. The faults we don’t face become our destruction.


When I was in my junior year of high school I was working on an Algebra 2 course… for the second time. I hadn’t made it through the year before. I spent many days crying and being miserable over these lessons.

Now, not everyone is academically inclined and there are many types of learning. So as a horrible academic and someone who learns by doing and not reading or listening, I was struggling. My mother, bless her, attempted to get through to me but I was determined not to learn because I was telling myself that I couldn’t and that it wouldn’t even matter when I was finished with school. That was most definitely the wrong attitude.


Now, do I use algebra 2 every day in my chosen field or even in my hobbies? No. So the lesson is this: Every decision we make influences our next one. So if I could get away with refusing to learn algebra then I could refuse to learn or push through anything that I found uncomfortable or challenging. We are creatures of habit. If I train myself to give up and turn away opportunities to learn then that is all I will know. I will forever be a slave to my own weakness.


Now, the good thing is that Courage is a decision. Over the course of the journey to blackbelt, one faces many fear inspiring things. When we try or face something new– a martial arts class– it’s natural to feel afraid. When we face a fear we have a choice to make. We can let it hold us back and forever chain us to where we are now or we can push through it one step at a time until we come out stronger for it.


As a young girl I always found something to be afraid of. I was afraid of talking to my peers. I was afraid of standing out. I was afraid of forever being less than extraordinary. I was afraid that my struggles would consume me and I would be doomed to a life lacking achievement. Yet, the voice in my head told me I wasn’t cut out for achievement. I will admit that this was my thinking until the day I achieved my first blackbelt in 2018.

I always felt average and lesser than those around me until that day. I had achieved things before, yes. I had been captain of a volleyball team, I had graduated Valedictorian in highschool, and I had begun my journey as an assistant instructor at Krav Maga Martial Arts. I had achieved many things big and small at that point. It wasn’t until I said that student creed as a new blackbelt that I really feel like I had earned something.


We are dedicated. We are motivated. We are on a quest to be our best. 


We say that every class and over time they can lose their meaning if we don’t stop and think about them. We are on a quest… We are living a life. This isn’t a fling or something we can just do over again. We will have many chances to get things right in life, however, our attitude and our dedication to being the best we can be will determine the outcome of the obstacles we choose to face. School, relationships, careers… anything we wish to achieve will have bumps along the way. We will get angry. We will get scared. We will get frustrated, We will be sad. We are allowed to feel these things but we cannot let them stop us from being on a quest to be our best.

We should all want to be the best we can be. Therefore, all we can do sometimes is embrace the suck, acknowledge when we are in the wrong, and keep going even when it’s hard.


I am happier than I’ve ever been thanks to my growth here. The amount that I’ve gained is indescribable. I have met wonderful people, made many good memories, made a difference in the lives of others, and I have conquered my fear.


I look forward to the challenge that will be training to mastery, my next test in 2026, and then whatever lies beyond it.


Thank you.






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Krav Maga Martial Arts
1900 Land O Lakes Blvd
Lutz, FL 33549


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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