By John R. Lehman


As a security industry and Law Enforcement Training Instructor in Texas, I get slammed with questions from people from all over the country, (and world), about training programs I offer. One question I always get hit with is so general in its scope that it begs for a full and specific answer.

I was recently asked “do you have any good training coming up?” I answered the question with a question that all reasonable training providers should ask:

“What is your budget?”

To which their answer came back “Good question, not sure”. “What type of training do you have in mind?” I wanted to answer him with another question again but I decided to educate him instead so I answered him this way:

“Training is anything from push-ups to a 10 mile run to martial arts. It’s usually self-paced, up to you to do and it’s usually free or close to it.

“Good training” is typically hands on with self-defense and firearms use, vehicle use, operational organization and other “intellectual” education and can range from 50 dollars to well over 10,000 dollars and last 2 to 3 weeks.

Life altering training is a complete package from a-z and includes personal training with world class Instructors and elite military tier 1 guys in places like Panama, Israel and Africa…and Texas, and starts at around 15,000 and up to as much as 85,000 dollars” and lasts months. Remember that your money controls your training.

“So what is your training budget?”

The first Question I ask, and the answer I get back, is usually all I need to determine a candidate’s experience, previous training and discipline in the industry. I am regularly disappointed with the lack of true education and discipline in my trade. Without trying to insult you who are true professionals in the business, I will address training from an Instructor’s perspective.

If you are serious about your profession, then you have socked away about 5,000 dollars a year for “good” training. You would choose 3 programs a year to invest into, and one of those should be some form of instructor program.

If you can’t afford at least 3,000 dollars to attend one program in one year, you won’t be taken seriously when you answer the question. If your Instructors are worth a damn, they will review your CV’s and previous training record, and will contact your previous Instructors. I regularly call my student’s past Instructors to verify their training. If you know what you say you know and can do what you say you can do, you should be able to prove it in training. I get 10 to 15 calls a month from other Instructors who are checking on my past student’s training. Your Client’s life and my reputation each rely on your ability. Your ability is directly affected by your continued training which is affected by me, the Instructor.

If I ask “what is your budget”
Your answer should be 3,000 to 5,000 dollars (or more) per course.
This assumes that you would only spend part of your budget on a single training provider and course. (And remember that not only do you have to pay for the course, but you will also have to absorb the cost of not working for the training period, extra equipment, ammunition and weaponry, hotels, transportation, credentials, books….)

Never spend all of your budget in one place.
As much as I want all of your training money, I always recommend multiple schools. And other instructors. There are many exceptional instructors out there. If you can’t come to me, call me and I will recommend one for you.

Any Instructor that respects his student will prepare that student for their next step, not just take his money for the current one. The more diverse the training, the more prepared the student will be to handle diverse situations. My greatest complement is the returning student. And they won’t come back if they can’t trust my training.

Now, If you have the professional and fiscal discipline to have a training budget, and that budget allows for at least one “good” training program a year in addition to regular weekly training, you would (in my course) get 10 days of shooting, driving, investigations, first aid for EP, clothing and outfitting coaching, dining etiquette, communications, intelligence gathering and analysis and mission planning. You would also get unarmed defensive tactics and regular exercise training. I have several customizable courses and can bring my courses and Instructors to you.

When you call and ask me “do you have any good training coming up?”

Be ready to answer my question:

“What is your budget?”


About the Author

Mr. Lehman is the Vice President of Athena Academy. He is the founder and CEO of White Star Consulting, LLC based in Dallas, Texas. He is a certified TCOL (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement) classroom and Firearms Instructor, NRA Certified Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, Federal Protective Service authorized Instructor, Texas Concealed Handgun Instructor, ASP Baton/Handcuff Instructor and unarmed defensive tactics Instructor using the Russian Systema discipline. He is a Texas Licensed Instructor for unarmed and armed Security and teaches the Texas Personal Protection Officer (PPO) course. Mr. Lehman joined Athena Academy Instructor’s team on January 2013, with over 27 years of corporate and private security experience.  

Female Russian Bodyguards (Bodyguards in Skirts)

It is generally believed that the profession of bodyguards- close protection is meant only for men. However, in some cases outstanding persons, such as actors, singers or businessmen for some reason prefer female bodyguards.

In Moscow, there is only one special school training female bodyguards. Nice and smart women between 21 and 37 can be accepted there for training. The owner of the school, former security services employee Nadezhda Mikhailova says that people employing female bodyguards first of all insist that these women must be very attractive and demonstrate good intellect. If a man prefers a female bodyguard he does not want to have someone unfeminine by his side. It often happens that expectations of majority of clients wishing to employ a female bodyguard are too exaggerated. They demand this woman must be a slender model-like blonde having a driving license, being able to act as a personal secretary, speak languages, know some fighting techniques and handle all types of guns. The school of female bodyguards usually ignores such exaggerated demands of clients, and certainly takes into consideration those reasonable ones. This is one of the reasons why girls under 21 are never accepted to the school.

Nadezhda Mikhailova says that young applicants usually look great but something is obviously wrong with their minds. These young girls imagine that being a female bodyguard is as cool as to act like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. It is important that women wishing to be accepted to the school of bodyguards must be absolutely healthy, including perfect eyesight. Every applicant undergoes detailed psychological tests and really tough physical examinations. The school owner admits that although the exercises seem to be simple often even professional sportswomen fail to do them properly.

Under such severe conditions only five women have managed to complete a six-month period of studies lately. Nadezhda Mikhailova helped all of them with employment. Unfortunately, she says that wages paid to female bodyguards are lower than that paid to men of the same profession. “It is sad that clients do not believe in the great potential of female bodyguards. Their training level is as perfect as that of men. And it is important that in most cases female bodyguards are more effective than men. It is known that women oftener resort to “peace talks” than force. Women are seldom treated as a source of menace, and this fact helps female bodyguards act promptly and effectively in case of emergency.”

Victoria Korchagina, former biathlon athlete, is now the head of the North-west department of the National Bodyguard Association. She was one of the first female bodyguards in Russia. She explains that there are no special secrets pertaining to female bodyguards only. Like male bodyguards, women trained to become bodyguards are taught to use any item at hand for defense or attack. This may certainly be even a hairpin. Victoria Korchagina also explained that shooting an enemy is an outdate trend. Today, killers prefer strong and fast decomposing poisons. But irrespective of the instruments that killers employ for an attack main goal of personal bodyguards is to always avert or anticipate critical situations. For this purpose bodyguards must not only be able to analyze any situation but also to understand the issue of security as a complex. Indeed, Victoria adds that it is easier and better to teach a bodyguard give his diabetic client injections than have thorough checks-up of nurses coming to give these injections.

Women work as bodyguards. Men have to go.
Women work as bodyguards. Men have to go.

Unlike men, women readily assume more functions. Male bodyguards are more conservative than women: they believe that bodyguard’s hands must be always free and will never help their clients carry baggage. And this attitude sometimes entails really curious situations. One male bodyguard escorted a businessman with his family during a vacation abroad. When arrived at an airport abroad, the Russian group found out there was no tourist operator receiving them there and they had to get to a hotel themselves. The bodyguard would not carry the man’s baggage, and some boy at the airport insisted he could help carry the cargo. At the end, the annoying boy seized a suitcase out of the businessman’s hands and ran away. The bodyguard had to abandon his clients and chase after the boy about the airport for 15 minutes. And the man was no success. It should be mentioned that the suitcase contained all the best evening dresses of the businessman’s wife which meant that the unlucky bodyguard was dismissed immediately after the trip.

Outstanding clients abroad now understand perfectly well that female bodyguards are more universal than men. Even Sharon Stone employs female bodyguards. Indeed, female bodyguards can accompany their female clients in fitting-rooms in a boutique, in beauty shops or ladies’ room in a restaurant. Russia’s Victoria Korchagina was the personal bodyguard of Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson during her visit to Russia. She also was the bodyguard of Sir Paul McCartney during his tour in Russia. The Russian bodyguard admits that it is easier to work with foreign clients coming to this country as they are more attentive to security requirements and are very careful towards the escort. They seldom reveal snobbism while this is still the favorite tactics of many of Russian VIPs.

Female bodyguards may tell lots of unusual details of their work. It is an open secret that they sometimes have to help their clients out of restaurants and parties when the latter are absolutely drunk. Women working as bodyguards of well-known singers, looking absolute macho on the stage, have to escort them even to WC because these men turn out to be panicky afraid of the rest of the world. And it may happen that a female bodyguard must be ready to repel sexual harassment toward their clients. Victoria Korchagina loves her job and she dreams of working with President Putin some day. “This work would be interesting for me from the professional point of view first of all. And also it would be a good chance to learn what kind of a personality the president is. It is also interesting to know what is done for the president’s security,” Russia’s first female bodyguard says.

The history of female bodyguards is really very long. It is known that Chinese emperors had some female bodyguards; women also served as bodyguards in ancient temples of India, Egypt and Mideast. The tradition was not typical of Russia at all. It was under the Soviet regime only that female bodyguards appeared for the first time. First female astronaut Valentina Tereshkova was always escorted by a woman belonging to security services who obviously performed the bodyguard functions.

Today, about 500 women (approximately 2 percent of the total number of bodyguards in Russia) are personal bodyguards. They are usually paid not more than $1,500-2,000 for 15 workdays a month.

Zurab Kekelidze from the Serbsky Institute of Social and Forensic Psychiatry says that both male and female bodyguards have their advantages. But it is a proven fact, he says, that women easier overcome stress than men, they seldom take to alcohol to cope with stresses. What is more, women are usually more careful about their psychological and physical health. They never reject medical aid if it is required, which is not always typical of men. Besides, the expert says that men are guided basically with logic while women also employ their emotional flair and experience. Women often act correctly thanks to their intuition. So, the expert recommendation is that clients wishing to employ personal guards should have a team consisting of both female and male bodyguards.

Delhi Female Bodyguard for $400 per Month!

But that’s where the similarities end, because she has made an unlikely career choice – she’s training to be a personal security officer.

Jyoti is one of 16 women hired in the Indian capital, Delhi, by the Vision Security Group.

Once their training is complete, they will be deployed to protect India’s rich and famous women.

At a training session Jyoti wraps her arm around the neck of her trainer – a man almost double her size – throws him to the ground and pins him with her bodyweight.

 At times [women clients] feel uncomfortable with a man, but with another woman they feel at ease. 
Rajiv Mathur, general manager
Vision Security Group

Jyoti’s convinced she is ideal for this job.

“I’m equipped to guard not just mine, but someone else’s life and possessions too. I’m fully fit – mentally, physically and emotionally,” she says.

The Vision Security Group provides security guards for several multinational corporations, including McDonald’s, as well as for celebrities and business people.

Why are women now entering the arena?

General manager at Vision, Rajiv Mathur, says Delhi’s soaring crime rate has been a deciding factor.

“The clients asked for this kind of service. Most clients who want female security officers are women. At times they feel uncomfortable with a man, but with another woman they feel at ease. And since these women get equal training, they are capable of doing an equal job.”

Black belt

Even walking in a busy shopping street in the capital can prove dangerous for a big businesswoman or a film star.

Women training as security officers

“Don’t mess with us…” is the women security officers’ song

If you hire Jyoti or one of her colleagues then for around $400 a month you are buying peace of mind.

Accompanying Jyoti on a training tour around Delhi’s busy Janpath market, it is easy to understand the benefits.

In her smart black cargo pants, jacket and short-cropped hair, she looks like someone you wouldn’t mess with.

Her black belt in martial arts and training in judo and wrestling reinforce that.

She says she enjoys beating up men.

“Yes, I love it. It’s so much fun. But seriously speaking, I’d like to be someone that other women look up to. Like the supercop Kiran Bedi (India’s first and highest-ranking policewoman). She’s my role model.”

As they let their hair down for the day after training, Jyoti and her colleagues sing a Bollywood song that Delhi’s troublemakers would do well to heed.

“We know how to turn defeat into victory. Don’t mess around with us…” 

Female Bodyguard Fights Back

St. Petersburg — In Russia, where a holiday originally intended to honor women’s struggle for equality has become a celebration of their femininity, Olga Utkina knows that a woman doing a “man’s job” is often viewed with suspicion. Utkina, 27, is a professional bodyguard.

Alexandr Belenky / MT

Olga Utkina, a professional bodyguard, says she dresses well so as to blend in with her clients, who tend to be wealthy women.

Even as a young girl, she fought to protect her classmates and wrestled in sports clubs. Her childhood dream was to become a police officer. “I know that that’s atypical for women, but I felt the need to defend people,” Utkina said in a recent interview. “I was simply born that way, and there was nothing I could do, or wanted to do, about it.”

In grade school, she remembers being infuriated by seeing girls being endlessly tormented — pinched, pushed and kicked — by the boys. So she fought back. “I was amazed how quickly the boys would back off when they met with a rebuff,” she said. “I looked boyish as well; people would often address me as ‘boy’ on the bus, for instance.”

She does not look boyish now, with long, brightly painted nails and long, elegantly styled dark hair. “Conflicts rarely grow into physical fights, but I only grow my nails on vacation, just in case,” she said. “As for my hairstyle, my clients are generally wealthy women so, when I accompany them, I should blend in. … I should look like one of their friends or relatives, like a person from the same circles of society.”

When she finished school, she studied at St. Petersburg’s Lesgaft Physical Training Institute, where she was in the wrestling department. After graduating, she taught karate in private schools, but was already eyeing a job as a bodyguard. Utkina took a special course at the Divo Agency, which subsequently hired her.

She had classes in wrestling and shooting and also in how to dress and apply make-up. Divo head Mark Sazonov said female bodyguards are not seen as an abnormality within the profession, and most of the clients who ask for a female bodyguard are women in business. “The crucial moment when the prevailing mentality toward female bodyguard changed came in the late 1990s,” Sazonov said. “That was when ‘fighters’ were replaced by ‘shooters,'” as clients came to value shooting skills over physical strength.

In her private life, Utkina’s profession has become something of a litmus test for her male admirers. She said there are two typical reactions when they find out what she does for a living. “They either retreat almost immediately or treat me as some kind of exotic fruit,” she said. “What both reactions have in common is that the men don’t really try to find out what sort of a person I am.”

Even Sazonov betrayed a touch of sexism when commenting on his female bodyguards. “Of course, a housewife type wouldn’t go into bodyguarding,” he said. “Female bodyguards are purposeful, self-disciplined, confident and mature, and their lifestyle makes it difficult to have families, as most husbands would want their spouse to be at home more regularly.”

Utkina said she does not make many demands of prospective boyfriends. Unlike many women, she said physical strength and determination are not among the qualities she looks for. “I just want him to be kind and good-natured,” she said. “It’s that simple.” Professionally, Utkina said, men tend to be skeptical from the start.

“They just start flirting with me, saying silly things like, ‘Oh, what a cutie, she can’t be a bodyguard,'” she said. “Women are surprised as well, but it takes them so much less time to get used to it.” Utkina said she’ll stay in the bodyguarding business “as long as it’s fun.” “I know a bodyguard who’s almost of retirement age who is great at what he does. But I don’t think I’ll still enjoy my job as much when I’m, say, 40,” she said. “I’ll need something else then.”

By Galina Stolyarova,
The Moscow Times

Political Asylum for two Female Bodyguards

By Paul Wood in Athens The Greek Government said on Friday it would guarantee political asylum and protection for two female bodyguards of the Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

The announcement is likely to anger Turkey and was another sign that, try as it might, Greece is unable to draw a line under the Ocalan affair, widely seen here as a national humiliation, which has already claimed the resignations of three Cabinet ministers.

The two women and another female bodyguard with a Belgian passport were removed from the Greek diplomatic compound in Nairobi, Kenya, in an operation personally led by the secretary-general of the Greek Foreign Service.

Fresh embarrassment

However, their arrival in Athens promised fresh embarrassment for the government. Along with a Greek intelligence officer, Savvas Kalenderidis, who was sent to Nairobi to protect Mr Ocalan, they are claiming that the PKK leader was misled by the Greek Government and forced against his will to leave the safety of the embassy compound.

This contradicts the official version of events, which is that Mr Ocalan fell into Turkish hands after deciding against Greek Government advice to embark on negotiations with the Kenyans and leave the compound for the airport.

The extent of official help for the PKK leader and his organisation is at the heart of a growing row between Athens and Ankara. Turkey says the Greek Government organised training camps for PKK rebels and that it supplied ground to air missiles for use against the Turkish security forces.

Turkey uses advantage

Turkey says the allegations are based on statements made by Mr Ocalan during his interrogation by the state prosecutor. The Turkish Government is making use of the claims in an attempt to have Greece labelled as a state sponsoring terrorism – pressing home the advantage it secured by snatching the PKK leader from under the noses of the Greek security services.

It has also been claimed that the Greek Orthodox Church funded Kurdish rebels – a claim denied to the BBC by the head of the Church, Archbishop Christodoulos, who said that food had been supplied to Kurdish refugees, and nothing more.

The allegations of training camps for the PKK in Greece and arms supply by the Greek Government are not new. They have been regularly made in the past by Ankara and always denied by Athens.

Western diplomats don’t give them much credence, saying the Greek Government wouldn’t want another row with Turkey added to existing disputes over Cyprus and the Aegean, raising tensions and threatening a crisis which might deflect the country from the goal of joining the single European currency. Diplomats say that is why Prime Minister Costas Simitis was so keen to get rid of Mr Ocalan once his plane landed on Greek soil.

High-level links

However, Mr Ocalan was brought to Greece despite the desperate wish of the government not to get embroiled in the problem of securing his asylum in Europe. It was done by a shadowy group of Greek nationalists, sympathetic to the Kurds, hostile to Turkey, possessing high-level links with the Greek security services.

The outgoing Greek interior minister – who had to resign over the Ocalan affair – pointedly referred to the security services as an autonomous state agency. If the allegations of an official Greek policy to help the Kurdish armed struggle are not be believed, many here are wondering if committed individuals, or even officials, might be implicated in the kind of support for the Kurdish cause which Ankara is claiming.