Female Bodyguards…the early days of Japanese female close protection

In 1979 when Margaret Thatcher  was coming into power as Britain’s first female Prime Minister, rejected a female bodyguard team while attending the Tokyo economic summit.  Thatcher was assigned a detail of 20 “karate ladies”.  She rejected the offer for the level and type of protection based upon not wanting to be singled out and treated differently than her male counterparts.

The Japanese secured the event with 26,000 police officers.  Since Thatcher had not used female close protection at home, she was content with having predominately male executive protection on her side.  We can’t know for sure if the female bodyguards were given another task during this event or if they were just put the way side.  But, we think that the Japanese government in some ways was forward thinking.  They obviously saw the value in having a female close protection unit for visiting female dignitaries.

Of course there are many reasons female’s should be looked at as a valuable resource when planning protective assignments.  Looking at what type of client you have is always a precursor to assigning the best man OR woman for the job.

The Pope and Berlusconi’s Close Protection Bodyguards

Can we say that the Pope and Berlusconi’s close protection agents failed?

Within 10 days we saw two attacks happen to the two most famous and well guarded men of Italy.  First there was the attack toward Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Milan on December 14, which caused him a fractured nose, and broken teeth.  Then there was the over zealous person who attacked toward Pope which took place on December 24, in Vatican during Christmas Eve Mass, which caused him no body harm this time, but his image was probably a little bruised.

We sure are not going to doubt their close protection agents abilities.  It is known that personalities like Silvio Berlusconi and the Pope will have some of the best security details around.

So, then, what went wrong?

Every professional close protection agent will tell you that when your principal is a politician or someone who has adoring fans any public exposure can be a security team nightmare.   VIP’s whose existence is dependent upon their fans support, have to deal with people who want to shake their hands or hug them.  So, can a close protection agents stop a fan from trying to ‘’touch’’ the Pope or Silvio Berlusconi?  For sure she can’t stop all incidents.

For the Pope’s attack, we are sure that everyone who was taking part in Christmas Eve Mass was checked for weapons before they even entered the church.  The person who attacked him was a common woman, who waited for him to be close enough for her to show her over zealous admiration and the she jumped in to say hello a little too close.  The Pope’s close protection agent as we  see  on the video reacted very fast and took her under control.  In this kind of situations you can’t do many things.  You cannot know how someone from the crowd will react, if he is a really a fan or he is waiting for the right moment to attack. You just have yourself alerted  to any suspicious actions and react fast to prevent the worst.

From the other at the case of Silvio Berlusconi’s attack we saw a 40 year old guy who was among the crowd holding a small metal souvenir replica and when he came closer to his target he threw it and cause the damage to severe damage to his face. In this case what would his close protection agent do? What is very important to think here is that when someone wants to throw an item toward you, they generally  need to have the space to do it.  We have seen in many cases where an attacker uses paint, different kinds of vegetables, cakes, etc.   Being part of a close protection team means you have to pay attention to people that are around you, especially what they are holding items that may not be compatible with the environment.   It is on human’s first reaction as something is coming toward you to cover yourself or change direction.  But, when you are in charge of someone else’s safety, then you have to think and act immediately and become the human shield between your principal and the thrown object.  This is something that we can’t learn all at once, but in our training at Athena Academy you will learn how to adapt to these kinds of situations so that you can be prepared for the eventuality that some day you will probably deal with the common issue of items being thrown at your principal.

Denida Zinxhiria

Founder, Athena Academy


Do female close protection operatives aka bodyguards have to act and look like male bodyguards?

Breaking the myth of a female bodyguard acting like a man.

Lately, it has come to my attention, the fact that some clients looking to hire  female bodyguards are asking how many black belts in martial arts the bodyguard has  and how huge and threatening does she look?  Is it enough to consider ones martial arts skills or size or gruff appearance?

Well, first of all, we have to clarify that a female bodyguard is not only trained in  martial arts.  In fact, it is far more important for females in executive protection to learn the business as a whole.  This includes protective intelligence, advance operations and security contingencies.  Some bodyguard training courses start their training from 3 days (we will discuss another time what you should look before booking yourself in a training course) and goes until 10 days and in some cases even longer.   However, any course, no matter the length of training days is never enough to learn all the appropriate skills to becoming a bodyguard (female bodyguard), much less an accomplished martial arts practitioner.  Both male and female close protection agents need to hone their hand-to-hand combat skills that are needed to fend of an attacker.  Also, it is important that whether your looking to hire a female bodyguard or you are already a female close protection agent that you establish an annual training plan.

Female bodyguards are hired for reasons that suit the clients particular needs.  A female bodyguard should be just as poised and polished as her male counterpart as she fills the same roll.  However, female bodyguards sometimes are projected as a woman with tattoos, leather vests and short hair with spikes.  This just is not the case.  Female bodyguards should maintain the look that best suits their clients needs and above all – always looking professional and fit the environment and the event.

A bodyguard is much more than a huge person who can punch and throw a threat down.  If the clients wants someone to hold the enemy down then he could hired a wrestler.  The most important is not how to react during the attack but how to prevent the attack. How many martial arts or wrestlers can guaranty you that they will get out an attack without any injuries? In a bodyguard team what is well known as a react on an attack is parry the attack and helped the clients to escape into a secure zone.  They don’t stay and continue the fight with the attacker.  During my career I have worked with and train small sizes female bodyguards who had the same exact training and professional exposure as their male colleagues.  They had enough training in how to prevent the attack and even how to react during one without losing their femininity.  So if you are someone who needs to hire a female bodyguard we would recommend you to look first the training she has gone through, do they fit you and your personality and environment.  Are they if they are certified and authorized.  We would say ‘’the mind comes first and the size second’’.

Those that are wanting to be female bodyguards need to understand that you may be who you want to be.  But, its important to know that the more you can remain versatile the more work you will obtain.  Those wanting to hire a female bodyguard have choices.  Don’t hire because you are looking for beauty, but hire based upon their ability to protect you and the more they assimilate into your environment the less you become a target.

Those that train with Athena Academy Female Bodyguard course learn important skills in presentation and etiquette.  Find out more by visiting http://www.athenaacademy.com

Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder


Women Protecting Women – The Muslim/Egyptian Female Bodyguard

As the world changes so do policies, cultures and old fashioned ideas.  Muslim women in Egypt are playing a more dominant role in the protection of other females.  This is really nice to see as these women live in modern societies where the women they protect are the next generation in business management, the legal system, entertainment and corporate leadership.

To learn a little more about women bodyguards, check out the female bodyguards of Cairo by going to this article.  Also, if you would like to know more about hiring a female bodyguard or training as a female executive protection agent, visit http://www.athenaacademy.com

Part 1 of the series: What you NEED to know about being a female bodyguard

There’s a lot of talk when the discussion focuses on the female bodyguard and her ability to handle an attacker.  One will hear…”You may not know she’s there until she knocks you down her attacker” or, “Don’t let the small size fool you — she is well trained in martial arts”.  However, comments like these never really point to the actual job of a woman bodyguard.  Here are a couple of things to understand about a female bodyguard that go a lot further than her ability to knock an assailant on their hind quarters.

First and foremost female bodyguards are strategists.  If you are not thinking that this plays the dominate roll, then you have no business in the business.  Also, for consumers or would-be clients, if you don’t see a strategic plan in place by your female bodyguard or there is no discussion we recommend you take a second look.

Strategy is part of planning.  Strategic planning is what a female bodyguard does to keep tight controls.  First and foremost if your not developing a plan then you have already lost control.  Planning is paramount to having ones finger on the pulse, so to speak.  Are you a strategic thinker?  Are you well organized, a prerequisite to being a strategist?

I really don’t care how fast you can draw your sidearm or what martial arts you are trained in, if you have no organizational skills, planning experience or are not a strategic thinker…then you should really not consider being a female bodyguard.

Every facet of working with a client starts with organizational skills.  Developing and cataloging information on your client and their lifestyle gives women bodyguards the ability to have important data when and where needed.  The planning skills a female close protection agent needs makes the clients life easier from ones experience in travel security, knowledge of clients needs and expectations and an understanding in goals and objectives they may have.

In part 2 of this series we will discuss deeper into the planning and strategy skills a female bodyguard needs.

Denida Zinxhiria, CPSS

How to Hire Female Bodyguards

We predicted the surge of the need for female bodyguards a couple of years ago. It was not that it was rocket science, but the fact that a female bodyguard or female executive protection agent, have so much to offer not only on their own, but also in conjunction with their male counterparts.

I won’t discuss this time around what makes hiring a female bodyguard such a good choice. I think its pretty clear that there is enough room and special circumstances that warrant hiring women bodyguards in todays world. What I will speak a moment about is what to look for when you are hiring a female bodyguard.

1. Look for the same thing you would in hiring a male bodyguard. Yes, what ever preconceived idea you would have of hiring a male agent goes for the female executive protection agent. You hire based upon the circumstances of your particular needs.

2. Hire based upon experience. If I told you I would like to come over and work on your Mercedes, would you automatically allow that? Probably not, as you know your fine German automobile is created with high-performance characteristics and require parts that are not “off-the-shelf” and a mechanic with related high performance experience. Why would hiring a female bodyguard be any different? You want to know know if they have any formal education not only as an executive protection operative, but what about higher educational experience?    Have they achieved and professional development in security, investigations or psychology?  Have they attended a criminal justice program or gone to a business school?  Maybe they have additional education in para-medicine or other applicable transferable skill sets.  It is true that you want your bodyguard to know how to protect you, but you also want them to have some intelligence because their ability to think quickly and maybe use their skills of persuasion before their skills in using knuckles may go a lot further.  You get the point.  Look for overall experience that is demonstrated by their professionalism when they sit down with you.

3.  Look for a photograph.  It is true that if you don’t tell the prospective agent who you are, they probably will not want to tell you who they are.  In some cases it is necessary to enter into a non-disclosure before you wish to divulge your identity.  However, if you are dealing with a reputable organization you should feel comfortable in sharing a bit about yourself.  Whether you are hiring an a one-person operation or an entire company, having a professional head and shoulder photo is not too much to ask.  Looking for a photo does not mean you are looking for someone of specially good stock.  No, rather your wanting to know if one is play cloak and dagger games or if they are a professional looking to present themselves in their best light.  Also, at times it is necessary to match a person based upon characteristics.  However, work in conjunction with your point of contact in this regard.  They will always have this in mind.

4. Look for all the right paperwork.  The right paperwork depends upon where in the world you will be going.  For example, if you hire a bodyguard in California, USA you will need to hire one who is appropriately licensed as a security company or private investigator.  Private investigators can provide you with protection as long as their is an investigation that they are conducting as well, ie: who is threatening you.  A security company can provide you with security for any reason, including uniformed security but they cannot provide you with threat investigations.   If you are travelling with a bodyguard that started in an area where its not the law to be licensed and you are going into jurisdictions where they do require licensing, you are usually okay.  Most of the laws are to keep the consumer protected in respective states and other jurisdictions.  Also, if your female bodyguard is not armed, you never really have an issue as they are just a travelling companion.

Do they have a passport?  As part of the paperwork process ask them if they can travel at a moments notice, if need be.  Ask them what resources they have such as car services, private jet services, secure hotels, networks of other professionals if need be.  Making sure they have the legal authority to travel is paramount.  Also, do they carry insurance?  Do they have international driving privileges, do they enter into a written contract?  All these are necessary when evaluating your potential female bodyguard.

5. Do they know their business?  One of the first thing your female bodyguard should always do is conduct a threat assessment.  This is not always done in the detail we may like due to budget and time constraints.  However, your female executive protection agent should do a one on one assessment of your needs.  You as the consumer cannot just tell them you need a woman bodyguard.  No, you must quantify your needs with some explanation, documentation or your concerns.  Female bodyguards can’t see through walls, so help us help you.  Some of our questions during our assessment may seem invasive and they are.  For example, do you have anyone besides your mate that your having a relationship with?  Or, a complete list of medications you are on would be another necessary inquiry.  These issues help us to protect you.  So, expect your female close protection agent to ask tough questions so they can develop the most appropriate plan.  Remember we are strategists first and bruisers last.  If your female bodyguard does not do an assessment of some reasonable sort…get out of there!

6. Personality, Presentbility, Professionalism.  Look for the female bodyguard to be reasonably personable.  You may be travelling with such one for long durations, living in close quarters or other such circumstances that warrant your female close protection agent to have a decent personality.  True enough we are not there to be your best friend, however, we should have a personality that you feel comfortable with.  The bodyguard you seen in a movie acting aloof or unapproachable it not what your looking for.  You want someone especially in one-on-one situations (just you and your bodyguard) to act friendly towards you, but respect your space and know what not to do.  This comes to our point on professionalism.  Look for a female bodyguard that behaves kindly to others, knows how to get what is needed through tact and diplomacy – not by use of force or the fact that they are a “bodyguard”.    Professionalism is many things and someone that is polished in appearance is also a deciding factor, but don’t be fooled.  A female bodyguard that shows up in a tidy little suit does not mean she is qualified, remember to look at the big picture we have discussed here.

Stay tuned for our next installment or feel free to contact us by going to our website: http://www.athenaacademy.com

Denida Zinxiria, CPSS