What You Don’t Know


This is going to be a short and sweet, but very important, blog today.

You may or may not have seen the image above before, The Hierarchy of Competence.

It simply that says that there are four levels of learning to anything:

First, you don’t know what you don’t know.

then, you know that you don’t know…

Then you know, but you still must think about it to do it right.

And, at the top of the model, you can do it without even thinking about it.


This is how it is with our krav maga self-defense system.

Many people are walking confidently, but only by ignorance. Most don’t realize how vulnerable they are nor even, as I’ve heard from many students a couple of levels up the hierarchy “I didn’t even know there were so many different ways someone could attack you!”

But, by embracing The Law of the Process and Constant and Never-ending Improvement (CANI)- which is really as simple as coming and learning from their Sensei 2-3 days a week, and practicing 15 minutes a day at home if they’re even more committed, the student will be a Blackbelt Leader one day, with unconscious competence in their self-defense skills- the one they need if they are to apply it in real life.


The same is true in our leadership, communication, business, and relationship skills.

ALL knowledge is subject to this hierarchy.

Sometimes we know what we know, and sometimes we even know that we don’t know, but it’s what we don’t know that we don’t know that will get us.

That’s one of the little lesson sayings you’ll hear me or one of my Sensei say all the time.

And here’s another one relevant to the model:

Don’t do it until you can do it right; do it until you can’t do it wrong.


Now I’ll close with a warning and a final piece of advice about how to use this model most wisely to benefit your life, and that of those you love.

  First, beware that first level of learning.

Often, when a person realizes how much they don’t know, that they didn’t know they didn’t know, they go from innocent bliss to fear, frustration and/or overwhelm.

Hopefully, when this happens, the student is under the tutelage of a good mentor, a Sensei (one who has gone before) who can help them walk through that ordeal and into the first level of competence on the way to the goal (to be able to do it with mastery, wherein we don’t have to think about it).

Krav Maga Martial Arts students have that, and my team and I stand by ready and eager to help the student on their Blackbelt Leader Quest!


   Second, on how to best apply the model:

  1. Decide what it is you want to master. Mastery is the level in which we have unconscious competence of something. At this level, those who haven’t attained it will mistake the master’s competence as a “natural” ability, not realizing what they did to get it. They have wrong intuition on the subject of mastery.
  2. Be humble, hungry and open minded enough to find someone who’s gone there. Find one with fruit on the tree in the area you want to grow better at. Try them out to verify both that they can and will help you, and that you’ll work well together. You’ll need good chemistry to succeed on such an important quest. Therefore, KMMA offers our free 2-week trial and orientation program- so that you can do all of that. We only want to work with people who we know we can help and who will be a joy to the spirit to work with, and who also feel the same about us.
  3. When you reach the level of conscious incompetence, don’t get overwhelmed nor defensive, and especially don’t retreat into your comfort zone- trust the process and your Sensei and keep working! The joy is coming!

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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