Understanding and Applying Self-Defense Strategies

Rated 4 out of 5 by from True to title Great explanations of techniques and she shows techniques with help from her students
Date published: 2020-05-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not great, but ... Only because this can't be taught in a few lessons by video. I am a martial artist and I know that unless a person will learn, practice continually and advance in the art, self-defense techniques are of limited value. They might give you time to strike a lucky blow and get away, and that is something. But you won't win a fight on this.
Date published: 2020-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very practical This course was much better than I thought it would be. Self defense is very hard to teach without the pupil actually being there. The instructor did an outstanding job.
Date published: 2020-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really Informative An excellent course that helps me to be more aware of the predetors that are amongs us.
Date published: 2020-03-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from May have some good information. Will say more when I finish the courses. Company shipping policy SUCKS. Choice for shipper takes 14 days to get the product. USPS would have it here in 3 days for lower price. Very unhappy with response for shipping and long wait. Thank you.
Date published: 2020-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good theoretical and practical presentation!! Only about 1/4 through but, am learning a lot. Well presented and demonstrated ways to train with or without a partner. Theory explains why the solutions will work. Also, it doesn’t teach how to beat the assailant to a pulp. Defend yourself and your loved ones, stop the threat and get away.
Date published: 2020-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great way to safely learn basic self defense. Just purchased a few days ago and found it to be easy to follow instructions to self defense.
Date published: 2020-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect Presentation Technique This is my first attempt to study the art of self defense. As a retired engineer, I am naturally very critical of all products and looking for flaws. I find the audio/video quality to be excellent. The presenter does a remarkably good job of delving into the psychology involved from both the defender and threat's perspective. The course pace is just right for me. The course is much better than I had expected and I would recommend it to others without reservation. This should be a must course for the uninitiated in the art of self defense.
Date published: 2020-02-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very uneven. The presenter espouses Krav Maga. She, and the viewer would have been better off if she had espoused a traditional martial art. Krav Maga was introduce into the U.S. from Israel strictly for financial gain. It is a system of fighting without either historical, ethical or moral components. It falls far short of the legal requirement for proportional response in self-defense.
Date published: 2020-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent instructor The instructor has a very clear, easy to follow style. She is very thoughtful and gives pros and cons of many options. I learned a lot.
Date published: 2020-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome instuctor! The instructor is very thorough about the situations one might face if being attacked. I learned so much, even though I thought I knew some things already from taking self defense classes. But real world self defense is different from classroom self defense. The instructor also had students of various body builds and sizes for demonstration, since we never know when training how tall or muscular our attacker will be.
Date published: 2020-02-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nutrition made clear I am learning a lot on understanding how all of our bodies interact with everything else.
Date published: 2020-02-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what I expected Probably a decent course for the right target audience but not what I was expecting. This is a female-centric self defense course. I was looking for more/ different information on male to male pre-violence, dynamics of street fighting, leverage and power techniques.
Date published: 2020-02-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too Much Theory The instructor seemed carried away with her "vast knowledge" of human anatomy and other topics. Rather than simplifying and clearly demonstrating effective techniques, she seemed to want to show the complexity of it all. My background, trained and have successfully used Marine Corps techniques.
Date published: 2020-01-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Maybe for some but not me. Purchased it, watched a couple of classes, and sampled others. I'm afraid I'm more a business or science oriented person and this course took too much time to get to the point. I exchanged it for another course. Sorry.
Date published: 2019-12-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Gratuitous foul language greatly mars the course I work in the Public Safety field and have done so for many years. I got this course to supplement my training and to assist my family in being able to defend themselves. Sadly, I am unable to recommend this course to my family because of the gratuitous foul language. I can see that--maybe--in a scenario a "bad guy" might employ some filthy language, although even that is really unnecessary and would not improve the quality of the course. However, the professor and also her helpers at various points employ a good amount of gutter language that is not something I want to watch, nor is it something I want my wife to watch, nor is it something I would want children or teenagers to watch. I have purchased a large number of Great Courses classes over the years and most of them have been excellent. There is no reason why this course needs to include foul language, but if for some reason the Teaching Company thinks that it helps the course, they should warn customers about it before they buy it. Much of the other information in the course is helpful. If you don't care about what kind of language you or your loved ones here, you can find some value in this class.
Date published: 2019-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really a great course. I am moving into a position where the self defence strategies course is invaluable. This course has already taught me alot and woke me up to the fact that at age 70, I can defend myself. I highly recommend this to anyone who needs the confidence to defend themselves or others.
Date published: 2019-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Detailed and Insightful The accompanying book supports the video in explanation. The course is detailed on concepts and handling of self-defense scenarios. The content continues on what martial arts training I already have accomplished (Bo, fighting sticks, katana). Self defense is important to me, this course is helpful.
Date published: 2019-11-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Instructor and staff are obviously accomplished martial artists. Course is fine for up talking, not really violence audience. I’d prefer to see more applications without the silly term playing. I’m disappointed with my purchase. The “Mister Rogers” approach to self defense helps no one. No fault of the instructor but the fault of the Great Courses staff who set criteria for the presentations
Date published: 2019-11-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not impressed I have bought several great courses and have been satisfied. When I bought this to teach a class of students self defense, I was horrified to start hearing profanities. We got about halfway through the course- after that f bombs that were dispersed throughout the lessons. I did not feel it was professional or appropriate for the students.
Date published: 2019-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course could save your life. As a person who grew up in a major city and is "street smart" I learned many new concepts, especially regarding mindset and ways to avoid dangerous situations. This is different from most martial arts in that it is just what the name implies. This is not for sport, it is to keep you safe in everyday life. To me the psychological concepts are the most helpful. Tammy Yard-McCracken is excellent at conveying this complex material.
Date published: 2019-08-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pertinent I have only completed half the course at this time but I have found it useful for my purpose. I don’t believe you can learn self-defense from a video but it does give one a starting point in terms of possible moves to protect oneself. Looking forward to completing the course to determine what else is possible for me to do to stay safe.
Date published: 2019-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A lot of info, explained very well. Good for beginners and intermediate level. A good review for the experienced as well.
Date published: 2019-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Instructive and Entertaining I found this course provides a solid foundation. Ms Yard-McCracken provided clear and distinct techniques to employ in most situations. I enjoyed her sometimes colorful language regarding incorrect usage or thinking about how to defend. As the course progressed, I found the section of how our brain functions in these situations quite illuminating. The one aspect that anyone wanting to be able to engage in self defense must learn is to develop the mindset to inflict sufficient damage on anyone at anytime when attacked in order to get away. On a side note at the beginning of each lesson the DVD displayed disclaimers regarding the legal aspects. Ms Yard-McCracken throughout the course explained quite clearly and at length if the material demanded, that certain approaches required the person to seek out the professionals in these areas be they instructors or attorneys. She also stressed that one doesn't need to be paranoid, but one should always be aware in their environment and be able to note those things that appear to be out of place. As a senior citizen, I do work on her request that we make ourselves hard targets.
Date published: 2019-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Avoiding Dangerous Situations I purchased this course and my wife frowned on the purchase. After finishing a third of the course, both my wife and I are happy that we are going through Ms Yard-McCracken's course. My wife says Ms Yard-McCracken reminds her of our daughter. My wife and I may be different than a lot of people who purchase this course, since we are both either side of 70, which means the physical side of self defense is not as appropriate. However, the techniques to be situationally aware and to avoid getting oneself into danger is as important for seniors as it is for adults under 55. Although this is all common sense, it is not common to see oneself as a victim; a victim that could and should have avoided a bad situation. Looking at situations through the eyes of a predator, and understanding the psychology of an attacker is a very, very useful skill to add to your situational awareness tool kit. If this is all you get from this course, it is well worth your investment of time and money. (And much cheaper than a trip to the hospital!) The 'frosting on the cake' in this course are good physical defense practices to use to physically get away from bad situations of violence against you as a person (which should have been avoided by using good situational awareness covered within the course). Any physical contact with an attacker gives you a high probability that you will be physically hurt in some way, and possibly seriously hurt. The tools of avoidance in this course are invaluable.
Date published: 2019-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive, not just physical moves The instructor is so qualified both by her education in psychology, training in high level self-defense, and extensive experience working with violent people as a therapist, and as a trainer and educator. The format is excellent with her talking some, but using live subjects to demonstrate the physical part, including how to work safely with another person or work alone if you don't have a partner. I like that the course is so much more than physical moves. It is about the mindset of violence, human behavior, and how to over come mental barriers to protecting yourself. The course provides a thought framework that covers almost anything imaginable to self-defense, including prioritized goals, legal matters, the types of violence, reading violent people one might encounter, what their goals are if they do violence on you, what your goals should be in a violent or potentially violent encounter, and how to avoid an encounter progressing to violence.
Date published: 2019-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy to follow the instructions I believe this DVD is an excellent introduction to self defense . I ordering additional copies for my two adult daughters and two of my friends. The DVD is also very professionally in presentation.I believe that women will appreciate it's approach.
Date published: 2019-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Understanding and Applying Self-Defence Strategies Extraordinary. The instructor has distilled violence and self defence into axioms that are easily remembered and readily applicable. Axioms like: "the golden move", "the false gods of always and never", "the Monkey Dance", victimology of "the ATM, & toy" are insightful and accurate. The instructor is credible,engaging, articulate and passionate. She was clear on the limits of the material she was sharing ,(in this format vs personal instruction). Yet,even here the "solving the meat puzzle" exercises serve to illustrate and re-enforce the instruction and points she was making. The best part was the articulation. The "why " this conflict happened, and the "how" to deal with it.
Date published: 2019-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great for a novice! This course is well organized and well presented and the instructor is likeable and has excellent presentation skills. Most people interested in the program could gain something from it but a novice would gain the most.
Date published: 2019-02-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Different Strokes for Different Folks I've ordered a lot of Teaching Company video courses over many years, and this is the first one I've ever returned. Although the instructor is obviously very qualified and competent in the subject matter, her teaching style just doesn't work for me. It seems to me that, for a practical "hands on" course in physical self defense techniques, the psychological mind set should be on self-preservation and survival rather than on "having fun". But, I guess it works for others, based on their reviews.
Date published: 2019-02-10
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Understanding and Applying Self-Defense Strategies
Course Trailer
Waking Up Your Natural Human Animal
1: Waking Up Your Natural Human Animal

At its core, self-defense means learning to understand violence and carry out decisions necessary to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. The great news is that you already have the ability to do this. In this first lesson, tap into your own body’s resources and access your inner animal.

34 min
Other Bodies as “Meat Puzzles”
2: Other Bodies as “Meat Puzzles”

Self-defense requires an understanding of our physical selves. Our bodies are essentially “meat puzzles”—blood, flesh, and bone assembled for optimal living, but with a variety of weaknesses. Practice drills of timing, balance, and more to learn how your body works, and how to identify weaknesses in others.

32 min
Natural Targets on the Human Body
3: Natural Targets on the Human Body

Continue your study of the meat puzzle by reflecting on targets. Consider how bones line up to create strength, how to spot weak structures in opponents, and ways to maintain balance in yourself. Develop “targeting” as a skill through shadow boxing, combinations, and blindfold drills.

38 min
Weaponizing Your Body
4: Weaponizing Your Body

Lunges, strikes, punches, kicks: Your body has numerous weapons at its disposal. Here, you will practice a number of drills to build the movements and ingrain patterns—a.k.a., muscle memory. Put it all together with combination patterns and environmental scenarios. Then, find out the best things to do after you disable your opponent in an attack.

41 min
Generating Power by Playing Smart
5: Generating Power by Playing Smart

One important aspect of self-defense is understanding how your body will behave in an attack. Your “survival stress response,” or SSR, is the body’s natural alarm system—a flood of hormones that will change the way you think and act. Get to know your SSR as you study ways to generate power, from kinetic chains to exploiting gravity.

33 min
Expanding What You Are Willing to See and Do
6: Expanding What You Are Willing to See and Do

In a self-defense encounter, you enter a decision cycle called the “OODA loop”—observe, orient, decide, act. Because every second counts, the quicker you can move from observe and orient to decisions and action, the better off you will be. In this lesson, you will explore ways to expand what you see—because how you see controls what you can do.

32 min
Responding to the Ambush
7: Responding to the Ambush

Round out your study of the body’s survival stress response and the OODA decision cycle. The term “reactionary gap” refers to the distance between the awareness that something is happening and the moment we take action; training and repetition are ways to close this gap. Learn responses to bear hugs and other ambush techniques, and practice your reps to condition yourself.

27 min
How Violence Occurs
8: How Violence Occurs

Here, shift your attention from your own body’s physical reaction and reflect on the nature of violence. Although the experience of violence can be chaotic, the process of violence is somewhat logical. Think about the motivations and goals of predators, and unpack the six primary elements common in the process of violent attacks.

25 min
Predator Behavior and Violence
9: Predator Behavior and Violence

Continue your examination of predator motivations. Some predators, like muggers or carjackers, want resources, whereas others may simply enjoy violence. Delving into the ways they see the world can help you better understand your surroundings and avoid dangerous situations. Consider habitual areas, natural lines of drift, and the role of chance.

28 min
Social Conflict and Violence
10: Social Conflict and Violence

The “asocial violence” of the previous lesson occurred wherever the predator is hunting. In this lesson, Dr. Yard-McCracken explores violence in social settings, from the primal chest-thumping of drunks in a bar, to the thirst for vengeance after a betrayal, to violence as a means to achieve social status. Learn “tactical breathing” to de-escalate yourself.

31 min
Escape and Evasion
11: Escape and Evasion

Because getting home safely is the primary goal of self-defense, escape and evasion are critical tools for personal safety. The four elements of a violent encounter are the target (i.e., you), the threat, the environment, and luck. See how escape and evasion tools apply to each of these elements.

27 min
How and Why Conflict Escalates to Violence
12: How and Why Conflict Escalates to Violence

Why do conflicts escalate to violence? From a psychological standpoint, we all have a hierarchy of needs, with survival and security at the base of the pyramid, and belonging and esteem toward the top. Reflect on the nature of tribal behavior, how humans “other” people outside their group, and the connection between “othering” and violence.

32 min
De-escalating Your Monkey Brain
13: De-escalating Your Monkey Brain

One way of thinking about humans is that we have a lizard brain (focused on survival), a monkey brain (focused on emotion and tribal behavior), and a rational brain. The “monkey brain” is an evolutionary survival mechanism that can get us into trouble by escalating conflicts. Learn to control this part of your brain to prevent violence.

33 min
When and How to De-escalate Threats
14: When and How to De-escalate Threats

In the moments before an attack, you won’t have much time to reflect on the threat. In this lesson, examine ways to read nonverbal communication and practice what law enforcement professionals call “intelligence gathering.” Listen to what someone says, watch how they move, and recognize threats in the making.

26 min
Verbal Boundary Setting and Predator Test
15: Verbal Boundary Setting and Predator Test

Physical training is about winning in a conflict, but the real win is to avoid the conflict altogether. “Boundary setting” is a strategy for bridging the gap, helping you ward off threats before they turn into violence. Gain a few insights into how to set boundaries with potential threats—and how to recognize predators.

28 min
Physical Boundary Setting and Defenses
16: Physical Boundary Setting and Defenses

If verbal boundary setting doesn’t work, physical boundary setting may help you defend yourself without coming to blows. Find out how to get “tactical ready”—a guard-up fighting stance that shows you know what you’re doing, without escalating the conflict. Explore basic parries and positions that will help you play defense.

39 min
Ethical Articulation Skills in Self-Defense
17: Ethical Articulation Skills in Self-Defense

What are the legal and ethical implications of self-defense? This course is not about the legal term “self-defense,” but rather is about understanding how to make decisions to keep yourself safe. Here, Dr. Yard-McCracken offers a few rules of thumb for understanding the ethical parameters of defending yourself.

26 min
Physical Cheats in Self-Defense
18: Physical Cheats in Self-Defense

The rules of fair play are ingrained in all of us from an early age, but self-defense is about getting home safely by any means necessary. You don’t have to (and likely shouldn’t) fight fair to get away from a violent attack. Examine a variety of creative ways to attack the threat’s body, moving from pain to injury to damage.

36 min
Joint Locks in Self-Defense
19: Joint Locks in Self-Defense

Joint locks are an unconventional but potentially effective way to fight. Apply what you know about the body’s physical structure to practice locks on hinging joints (elbows and knees), ball and socket joints (shoulders and hips), and gliding joints (wrists and ankles). See full demonstrations of each lock as you learn them.

32 min
Preparing for Defense on the Ground
20: Preparing for Defense on the Ground

The game of defense is different if you are on the ground. You have less time, and will more quickly run out of energy, strength, and opportunity. As you’ll see in this lesson, ground work is something of a paradox: It’s seriously uncomfortable, but the more comfortable you get with it, you’ll find it’s also a seriously fun way to play with the meat puzzle.

32 min
The Ground Problem from Start to Finish
21: The Ground Problem from Start to Finish

Continue your study of defense from the ground. Success on the ground means surviving to your feet, so follow the process of defense from start to finish. Unpack issues of mobility, flexibility, pass-throughs, controlled falls, and more, and look at techniques from wrestlers and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

37 min
Weapons in Self-Defense
22: Weapons in Self-Defense

Guns and knives are obvious weapons for defense, but they are bound by laws of Every Day Carry (EDC). When it comes to defense, improvised weapons such as pens, keychains, and coin purses can be just as helpful. Survey potential stabbing weapons, blunt-force objects, and other tools at your disposal.

39 min
Protecting Your Very Important People
23: Protecting Your Very Important People

Avoiding a conflict can be as simple as running away, but this becomes challenging if you have a partner or children with you. As someone who has studied self-defense, you become the person capable of taking and maintaining control of the situation. Enhance your skills of observation, prevention—and physical defense.

34 min
Adapt Your Self-Defense to the Environment
24: Adapt Your Self-Defense to the Environment

Now that you’ve reached the end of the course, you are your own bodyguard, armed with a toolkit of ways to de-escalate conflicts and defend yourself if a physical threat presents itself. Watch a few final demonstrations to help you put together everything you’ve learned in different environments, and then consider the arsenal you have developed and what you can continue to learn.

33 min
Bonus: Extended Warm-Up, with Adaptations
25: Bonus: Extended Warm-Up, with Adaptations

Full warm-up session with adaptations and modifications.

21 min
Tammy Yard-McCracken

Training experiences introducing people to their own adrenaline so they learn they can be afraid and still find ways to access their human brain.


Eisner Institute for Professional Studies


Kore Self-Defense & Krav Maga

About Tammy Yard-McCracken

Dr. Tammy Yard-McCracken is the owner and chief instructor of Kore Self-Defense & Krav Maga, a training center in Northern Virginia. She is a certified expert Krav Maga instructor with Krav Maga Global (KMG), and she holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Illinois State University, a Master of Science in Professional Counseling (LPC) from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and a Doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) from the Eisner Institute for Professional Studies. Dr. Yard-McCracken has been established as an expert witness in Virginia and Texas civil and criminal proceedings and has served as a professional consultant to legal counsel on issues of human behavior and violence. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member for Argosy University and Houston Community College, and she has authored numerous articles on conflict management, instructor development, and gender issues in self-defense. In addition to having more than 25 years as a practicing psychotherapist, Dr. Yard-McCracken is a certified conflict communication instructor and is credentialed as a self-defense instructor with Chiron Training. She is a board member for Conflict Research Group International and a core instructor with Violence Dynamics, which teaches seminars on self-defense. She has also provided training and instruction for private companies, international safety and security organizations, and nonprofit groups serving populations at high risk for violence.

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