Martial arts expert David Turnbull (left) talks with his student Robert Goldsmith, while his wife Weny stretches on the floor. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

LAKE MARY – Nobody, said David Turnbull, likes the idea of having to punch someone else in the face and injuring them. The best approach to dealing with an angry confrontation, he said, is to see if you can calmly neutralize the situation before it gets violent.
“The strongest defense you have is your brain,” Turnbull said. “If you can think your way out of situations, you don’t have to hurt anyone.”
On the other hand, if it becomes clear the other person intends to hurt you, no matter what you do to calm that person down, then you need a Plan B – which is where self-defense comes in, Turnbull said.
“The worst kind of self-defense is physical self-defense,” he said. “You can end up hurting someone.”
But if the only other option is you get hurt, then it’s time to act, he said.
“You’ve got to defend yourself in a moment’s notice,” he said.
Master David Turnbull is a sixth-degree certified black belt Tae Kwon Do master, U.S. Open Jujitsu champion, 2002-2010 Walt Disney World martial arts coordinator, and head instructor for more than 200 state and national champions. He and his wife Wendy recently gave a presentation on self-defense methods and martial arts in Lake Mary. Wendy Turnbull said anyone who decides to take classes in martial arts needs to be prepared to learn not just the techniques, but also how best to use them in a potentially dangerous situation.
“You have to decide at some point, if I’m put in this situation, can I do this,” she said. “If you’re going to practice anything in your house with someone else, just commit to that. It’s okay to hit another person, if it’s either you or them.”
David Turnbull said self-defense techniques are not always about causing lasting physical injury to someone by, for example, punching them in the face and either breaking their nose or giving them a black eye. It can involve disabling someone by making it impossible for them to hurt you.
“You can take a joint in their arm and bend it where it’s not supposed to go,” he said. “That sounds bad, but if I punch you in the face, you’ve got a bruise now. You bend the arm, there’s pain … but once I let go, the pain is gone.”
David Turnbull said to stop someone from hurting you, take quick aim at the groin or solar plexus.
“The same smack to the face, the same smack in the groin, is going to hurt them,” he said. “Elbows and knees are very good to close quarters.”
Robert Goldsmith is one of Turnbull’s students, and highly praises his skills and teaching abilities.
“Master Turnbull has been doing martial arts for a very long time,” Goldsmith said. “He runs a school in Lake Mary, and I have been one of his students for six years now, and so have my children.”
David Turnbull said there are really no age restrictions on who can learn martial arts.
“I didn’t get started in martial arts until I was in my late 20s,” he said. “Now I’m almost 50.”
The key, he said, is practice.
“What is harder, a rock or water?” he asked. “You toss a rock in the water, you wait years, and what happens to the rock? It gets soft. There are times in life when we have to be hard and stand our ground. You’re never too old to get into martial arts.”
It’s also not a skill limited to men, he said. His female students, he added, not only should learn self-defense in case they ever get attacked, but many of them have turned out to be his best students.
“I get a lot of girls in class, and sometimes their fathers teach them how to punch,” he said. “Some of the toughest punchers in my classes are the girls.”
That’s been a recent trend, Wendy Turnbull added.
“When I first started on my group, there were two women and one of them quit, so I was the only woman in my group,” she said.

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  1. I like that he mentions that he started in his late twenties. Martial arts has always, in my opinion, been looked at like you need to start when you are a kid and stick with that same martial art for life until your a millionth degree black belt. I don’t think that’s true at all though. If your curious about a particular martial art there’s nothing wrong with taking classes for a month to a year or whatever to learn more about it.

    Rick Saxby,

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