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My Review of Sheepdog Response Class with Tim Kennedy

What do you do when you’re afraid to be home alone?

A friend I know whose name rhymes with “Hoah” is scared to be home alone sometimes.

So late one night, I… errr… this friend… Instagram DMs a total badass named Tim Kennedy — a former UFC fighter, army ranger, carnivore, killer of numerous people among other things.

Turns out Tim Kennedy also starred in Hard to Kill on the Discovery Channel, Hunting Hitler on the History Channel, is a Green Beret, AND a Special Forces Sniper. 


I’ve always been a tad scared of the dark and being home alone — so I wanted to do something about it.

Many nights I stay on my couch for an hour with my gun and taser just waiting for some bad guy to come to my house.

Mind you, I live in a safe area and we don’t have anything valuable besides my Magic Bullet at the house. 

But just in case, I want to be safe.

So I made it a 2020 goal to learn how to defend myself better.

I heard about Sheepdog Response from Tim Kennedy, so I decided to go to Vegas to take one of their classes.

Sheepdog Response teaches Tim Kennedy’s exact approach to protecting yourself and others. The course includes striking, grappling, weapons, and situational awareness (super important). The mission of Sheepdog Response is to preserve and protect human life.

If you’ve ever been curious about taking a self-defense class (maybe you have a Magic Bullet you want to protect too), here’s how it went…

Day 1 – Prep

We drove out to the middle of nowhere and ended up in a room in a warehouse. This first night was a bit weak compared to days 2 and 3. 

The room was filled with cops, ex-marines, and a lot of scary-looking tattooed people. Definitely the opposite of a Patagonia jacket, Lululemon pants, All-bird wearing tech meetup. 

I always have to remind myself not to assume people are better or tougher than you just by appearance. 

This night was the only time in a classroom and was focused on safety plus preparedness to danger. 

Major takeaways from the night: 

  • Safe phrase. It’s great to have a safe phrase with your significant other or children to communicate things so others may not know. If your kids are in trouble and they say, “Do you have a piece of chewing gum?” You know you’re about to go Rambo on some dude.
  • Pre-plan your travels. Not sure the guys teaching the class actually pre-plan theirs to the level they taught that you should. But either way, the idea is to scope out the demographics, economic and crime levels in areas before you travel. Based on that you can book your hotel, Airbnb, and other travel arrangements. You can google to find which areas in towns are safest. Example.
  • Conspicuous Capitalism. Think of your attire, car, or accessories and how that can attract the wrong kind of attention. My father used to never wash his car and intentionally kept it dirty. He said it kept the criminals away. Maybe he was right. It was a great reminder to be aware of a fancier car or Rolex watch for example can bring you the wrong type of attention from the wrong person.
  • Be a Grey Mouse. 51% rule: you want to blend in so you are NOT a target. Grey mice don’t stand out. An example is how people in trucks park combat style (means to park backing into the spot). They said it makes you more of a target for thieves to look for guns in your truck. Also be aware of how your friends and family are posting on social media about you. People can use that to track you.
  • Walmart. The last time you ate at a restaurant did you notice the type of cars in the parking lot, were there cameras nearby, did you see a lot of out of state license plates? We left the classroom and went to a local Walmart to do a safety analysis of the area. Interesting to think like a criminal and then get ahead of them. In other words, if you have a truck and some stickers with a local plate it’s more than likely you’ll have a gun in the car.

    And when going into a store like Walmart…did you look for all the exits? If a killer came into Walmart shooting, they’ll likely stand by the exit and just wait for people to come to them. Be proactive. True story

Day 2 – Self-defense

Day 2 is where it got meaty.

Arriving promptly at 7 am we were welcomed with stretches and calisthenics…Then for the next 4 hours we were taught wrestling, grappling, and more hand-to-hand protection. The instructors were all black belts and insanely impressive. 

About an hour into the class, I was already staring at the clock counting down till lunchtime. It’s a bit strange doing jiu-jitsu for the first time, it’s very close quarters, lots of guys jumping right on top of you and overly sweaty. Awkward for someone without experience but I enjoyed seeing how this could be used in real-life scenarios for defending myself. 

Major concepts from morning grappling: 

  • Be a little bit better every day. When I take a new course, I expect to be an expert on day 1. Know what I mean? It’s unrealistic and it takes time to get to mastery. The coaches encouraged just aiming to be a little bit better than the day before. This was a great lesson for all things in life.
  • Train so there are no surprises. If someone were to attack me with a gun, it’d be scary as shit. Literally, I’d probably shit myself. But practicing with intensity makes it way more likely I’ll know what to do IF that situation does occur. It’s like doing anything for the first time, it’s hard and then subsequent experiences get easier and easier.
  • Goal is not to fight someone, goal is to be safe. You’d think these black belt guys would always default to kicking someone’s ass. I know I would. But they encouraged and reminded us winning the fight is not the point. Being safe is MOST important.
  • Watching UFC is VERY different than doing it. Seeing two dudes grab each other just seems like wrestling… BUT the level of detail and expertise at the next level is unreal. It’s easy to watch a YouTube channel or read a book but experiencing it is very different.
  • Go after the better guys. Not sure I would do this again but on day 1 when we had intense wrestling at the end I chose the hardest opponents. My logic which I stand behind is that it helped me prepare more than going against a weaker or less skilled opponent. Dennis Jones (CEO of Sheepdog Response) proceeded during our brief “rolling” as they call it to whoop my nerdy ass.
  • Classes are great. Somehow after we graduate from high school or college, we default to work, gym, drink and weekends. With some occasional reading and 60-second info clips from Instagram. I really enjoyed being in-person, having other students, structured material and an instructor to guide learning. Mental Note… look for in-person classes on topics I want to improve on.

Following 4.5 hours of grappling and then 8 rounds of 3 minute all-out wrestling most people were zonked, including me. That’s when we did 20 minutes of a high-intensity workout. Thanks Matt!

The upside was, it’s great to get your mind to a point of exhaustion to see what your muscle memory recalls. I reminded myself this is what I signed up for and many interesting things in life are doing things you DON’T normally do.

Afterward, we had tacos and drove over to the shooting range. I remember going to a shooting range with a buddy, and I saw the same Tim Kennedy there too. At the time, they were practicing timed shots to see how fast they were. It really is impressive to work with experts in all fields. This shooting was no exception. 

From a shooting perspective, there are lots of YouTube videos on how to shoot better. A few major things for anyone who owns a gun that hasn’t trained with it:

  • Go train. Anyone can buy a gun, but practicing and preparing for it will make you ready if you ever need it. I’m very glad I had 2 days with 5 hours of training.
  • Body. Main things for shooting are keeping the gun as still and secure as possible in your hands. Don’t put your finger on the trigger unless you’re ready to shoot. The trigger pull should be slow and unexpected, meaning your aim should be on point and slowly pulling trigger vs more jerky motion.
  • Gun shooting is hard. From only 5 yards away, I was shocked how inaccurate I am. On day 3 of class my accuracy improved a lot from practice and guidance from the teachers. I thought about drive-by shootings and how they need machine guns just to make sure they hit the person. The Texas story of the guy in church who saved lives by shooting the killer. 

What a condensed day. You can imagine this is what the Army trains on for years at a time. Was happy to drag my sorry ass home for a brief shower and passing the f out. 

Day 3 – Finishing School

Exhausted, and sore af, we walked over to the dojo for the second round of self-defense class. I was NOT looking forward to this morning class.

My ribs felt broken from knee kicks, and the rest of my body felt like I got my ass kicked (which I did). 

Today was less direct fighting and more protecting your house (yay!) and how to defend against a knife or a gun. 

Luckily Tim and his goons, as they will now be known (aka other teachers), used a taser knife in teaching us better techniques.

Ayman (President of AppSumo) joined me in the class luckily got tasered in his taint. Ha!

Key highlights from the second part of the day. 

  • Review your home security. Tim talked about his house, and how his setup helped him stop a burglar. You’d think he’d have a welcome mat to ask intruders to come in so he can practice ass whooping…

    Tim recommended starting from the outside, reducing any vulnerabilities and working your way inside. His home security went like this:

    • Lots of outdoor lights and cameras for full visibility
    • Reduced hedges/bushes in front of windows to better see out your window. It makes it harder for people to hide behind them.
    • Reinforced windows and shatterproof film.
    • Secondary alarm system for if intruders get inside or cut power to inside the house
    • Security cameras, I recommend Deep Sentinel
    • Guns located around house for usage in case of threat
    • Emergency Access Plan for the family for what to do in case of a threat. Where to go inside and outside the house.
    • Safe rooms for waiting until the police arrive. 

I’m sure this is just part of his home security. I’ve implemented many of his tips to better safeguard my house. 

  • Stress test is real deal. At the end of the day of fighting and learning they made us do 80% intensity wrestle another person with a plastic knife and a similarly intense exercise with the gun. It was very realistic and showed what you really learned plus need to improve.
  • DO what you love. The instructors genuinely loved sharing how to defend and use a gun. Was inspiring to be around people who are passionate about their work. Tim said at night after the class he practiced dry firing at home when his family was asleep. Yea, hardcore.
  • More people should learn self-defense and shooting. Guns still terrify me and learning self-defense is work … BUT both great skills to protect yourself and others around you. Realized it’s not very regularly taught in any of our learnings.
  • Injuries help us improve. Someone kneed me in the ribs, and I’m still sore while writing this. Ayman brought up a good point that it’ll help me be more aware of that part of my body from now on, and defend it better if I need.
  • Do 1 physical thing a week you don’t like. Tim briefly commented about how his workouts always include 1 activity he doesn’t enjoy like Sambo training. I respect that, and it makes me want to add in jiu-jitsu weekly.
  • Have a lawyer. If anything legal ever happens it’s a great thing to call a lawyer. Realized I don’t have a criminal lawyer if something ever happens. They recommended finding someone from the USCCA to have on retainer just in case. These people know criminal law and gun rights very well. MULTIPLE attendees were lawyers and cops, both recommended not saying anything to police officers when they arrive on scene. “I just had a traumatic experience and I’d rather have my lawyer present when we discuss.” You may say something in your state of panic after an incident and better to be relaxed than put yourself at risk. Realize when you shoot a gun or an incident you are always a suspect. Your silence can be used against you in an incident, so make sure to say you “took appropriate action” and are going quiet with 5th amendment.
  • Even more shooting tips. 
    • Minimize movements so you’re maximizing firing at your opponent. 
    • Your eyes drive the gun.
    • Arms straight and hands grab as much gun real estate as possible. 
    • Pull slowly on trigger. Should be a surprise when it goes off.
    • Dry fire is key. This is a “fake” bullet that jams your gun. This is great practice and also shows your body position when shooting. Helpful to make adjustments and practice gun jams. 
    • FN guns are really good looking.

After I was done with the 3rd day, I was exhausted.

It was a REALLY exhausting experience overall, but a very powerful one as well. That was the point to get tired and see what muscle memory kicks in which would be very similar to a nerve-racking real life experience. 

This is not a class where they get you La Croix and they cater to your every whim. The teachers are considerate, but mainly focused on maximizing your learning on guns and self-defense in a 48-hour window. 

For anyone looking to protect themselves and family better I highly recommend the course. It’s definitely on the higher spectrum of physical and mental challenges one can do but that’s the point. We don’t have enough of that in our day-to-day lives nor are we ready if the threats get posed to us. Be prepared. Our Boy Scout motto I like to remind myself from time to time. 

Gear they recommended:

  • Everyone was wearing 5.11 or Kuhl clothing. Guess it’s a military thing. 
  • Tourniquet – they were saying everyone should have one on them at all times. I had to google what a Tourniquet was (even how to spell it). Turns out it is the device used to apply pressure to a limb to limit the flow of blood.. You see it in the movies all the time and apparently it can save a LOT of lives. Tim recommended carrying it at all times and surprisingly a majority of the people there had one on them. Basically here is how it works:
    • Find the source of bleeding (tourniquets are for limb injuries NOT head or torso)  
    • Apply direct pressure to see if that slows the bleeding 
    • Position tourniquet two inches from the injury (closer to the heart)
    • Twist to tighten ensuring blood slows
    • Mark the time. Tourniquets can be applied for no longer than 2 hours. Mark a clear “T” with the time on the person’s forehead or highly visible spot. 
    • Original version (or a DIY if needed)

  • Battle belt – great for holding all your ammo
  • Dry Fire bullets (I’ve never shot these and they were extremely helpful in seeing where your shooting technique is wrong).
  • Dry fire flashcards. Practice makes things less unexpected. He said to buy dry fire flashcards to practice shooting.
  • Anthem Athletic Jiu Jitsu Shorts
  • Rash guard shirt
  • Love me some Nuun tablets to drink throughout the day for electrolytes!

Other places to learn about self-defense and gun shooting:



What’s ONE tip you learned or will research further?

Comment below (or share on socials) and I’ll select one and send you FREE survival gear.

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13 responses to “My Review of Sheepdog Response Class with Tim Kennedy”

May 22, 2020 at 2:24 pm

Thank you for the review. I will certainly apply some of my newly-found knowledge to my up-coming Sheepdog Response course!

November 28, 2021 at 2:34 am

Thanks for this. I’m scheduled for the Protector level 1 course and I’m afraid I’m going to get hurt during the grappling portions. Did anyone get hurt?

February 27, 2020 at 10:15 am

I’m surprised how many of your classmates carried a tourniquet. I also had to google to check what it was. Totally agree with you on the value of an in-person course in our digital age, I also find that I enjoy those more than a virtual course.

February 27, 2020 at 9:06 am

Nice Noah. This is jam packed with actionable content. Deep Sentinel is some kind of hidden gem because I can’t find them on any review sites, but they’re awesome. Feel like I just read the “4-hour guardian.” 😀

February 27, 2020 at 3:49 am

I’ve been keen to take a Sheepdog course for a long time, I’ve been training Jiu Jitsu for a year and a half and it has helped me immensely both mentally and physically.

I’m interested to take an EMT foundations course and learn more about treating trauma.

David Parkinson
February 26, 2020 at 6:05 pm

Krav Maga teaches you that you cannot assume what level of force your opponent will take so you must always be prepared to use deadly force.

Also, you’ll do *something* in a survival situation, but it may not be the right thing. The ways and situations you drill impact your survival.

February 26, 2020 at 6:01 pm

This was a great read! As I am in Australia, I can’t really apply the gun learnings, however I am keen to get some cameras for the house.

Also, on “doing one physical activity a week” – I did that with Jiu Jitsu almost one year ago. Just started out once a week, then twice.. now I average 3x/week training and have competed three times. Definitely do the jits!

I am still nervous before every class. 100% empowering though.

February 26, 2020 at 12:19 pm

Really good article. Learned a lot. I like how you laid everything out.

February 26, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Very informative, thoughtful post.

You have a number of great BJJ schools in Austin. That said, I am partial to the Machado Brothers. A good friend mine has trained with the Machados for over 20 years. I have had the pleasure of training with the youngest brother, John Machado, on a few occasions. John’s older brother, Jean Jacques Machado has a school in Austin – jjmachadoaustin DOT com

Aside from a tourniquet I would also suggest having and Adult & Infant CPR Mask Combo. The ones we were issued are by MCR Medical. You can find the kit on Amazon. The key with this is that it has a two way valve that prevents fluid exchange. This kit is bit bulky (because of the plastic masks) – something that is a bit more compact, that will also provide some protection, is CPR Face Shield Mask Keychain Kit with Gloves (also on Amazon).

The taser knife (already googled it) looks like a great training tool – a good way to get closer to “live” training. Which leads me to another bit of advice. Whatever self-defense course or martial arts training you take up make sure that you regularly work in “live” (read – as close to realistic but being safe) training. The other key word here is “regular” (read – consistent) training. These weekend, eye opener, seminars are a good start but in order to make any skill a part of you you must consistently train. It is a life journey.

Finally, I will add, while you are looking for a school to train at, look at how the senior students as well as the instructors treat newcomers. A good, healthy minded, school will be far away from a gym atmosphere and more like a band of brothers and sisters – where everyone is looking to make each other better in all walks of life not just the training hall.

Thanks for doing what you do – helping the community learn and grow.

February 26, 2020 at 11:34 am

For a Canadian this is all so weird!
You, on a couch with a gun and a taser and living in a safe neighborhood, afraid someone is just going to break in…
This is all too crazy for me and I just hope we’ll never get to that level of paranoia over here in Canada.
But I know this is just wishful thinking…

Makoto Kern
February 26, 2020 at 9:55 am

Awesome write up! I’ve been following TK for a while and always wanted to do his class. Definitely do BJJ, it’s fun, hard as shit and just a great overall workout to keep you in shape.

Lenny Gale
February 26, 2020 at 9:41 am

A good push to make some home security improvements.

This stuff is like buying insurance. It’s easy to put-off because adulting is scary, but once you do it, you have zero regrets.

February 11, 2020 at 10:52 am

Great blog post, I will definitly try to find a jiu jitsu class in my area 🙂 Gun Law is a little bit more difficult in Austria, but i will check that out too. Hope you feel a little bit more safe now.

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