Martial arts master on mission following tragedy


HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – In a quiet Hendersonville strip mall, Master David Stephens works to stop attacks, one student at a time.

“I will do anything it takes, to stop [a confrontation] from happening, or to evade or get out of the situation,” he said. “It’s not about beating you, it’s about me living.”

A master of self-defense for 35 years, David’s focus was renewed by tragedy in March of 2018.

This, following the death of his ex-wife Nicole Stephens, at the hands of 35-year-old Matthew McGinnis.

Days after the murder, McGinnis would turn the gun on himself during a standoff with police.

“There’s no reasoning behind it. you know. I was like what can I do about it, rather than just carry vengeance with me my entire life,” he said. “It’s like let’s reformulate what self-defense is all about.”

That reformulation is taught nightly at Shaolin Concepts School of Martial Arts.

His teachings though were put to the test in a Nashville bar in December.

This, after a drunk man was reportedly aggressive toward a woman.

A student of David’s, a 64-year-old employee, would step in and try to invite the woman away. But the customer had other ideas, their confrontation caught on camera.

After stopping his aggression, the customer would pull a gun, causing the student to jump into action.

After an extended skirmish, he wrestled away the gun. The customer would be charged with aggravated assault.

“When I actually got to see the security footage of what happened, I couldn’t have been more proud,” David explained.

He now hopes others will use his student’s story, and take the leap, to learn to defend before it’s too late.

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