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What Hollywood Gets Wrong About Bodyguards

When you think about a classic bodyguard, what are the first things that come to mind? Thanks to movies, one of the first things you probably think of is Kevin Costner in the film, The Bodyguard. After that, you probably think of the Secret Service, or presidential bodyguards, that engage in shootouts and fights with spies and assassins. The bodyguards are often represented in films and on TV as stereotypes that are far removed from reality.

The real job of a bodyguard is not that exciting but can contain some risk. Being a bodyguard was part of my duties for 18 years of my life. Whatever image you have in your mind, it has probably been influenced heavily by popular culture including the movies. In this article, I am going to discuss some of the most common misconceptions about bodyguards, especially if you are considering entering this field and enrolling in a bodyguard training course.

The definition of a bodyguard is: a trained security guard who is assigned the specific duty of protecting an individual or family. They are hired to protect high profile people like politicians, actors, musicians and other celebrities or low-profile people like heads of banks, corporations or other industrial firms. Any individual or group of individuals that feel they are victims of the possibility of assassinations, kidnappings, assault and robbery look to bodyguards to provide them with peace of mind.

These dangers put the guard at risk, and as a result, they need to be specially trained to face any number of security threats.

There are many hazards a bodyguard might face on any given day, and he or she needs to be prepared to face them. The number one task the bodyguard must perform is planning and preparation. Being prepared is essential to avoid potential security threats. Part of a bodyguard’s duty is to know their client’s schedule and plan how to protect them. The guard needs to know precisely when and where their client will be at all times and be able to account for every last detail.

They must research all the places their client travels to and be prepared for any sudden changes in plans. When a bodyguard is doing his or her job correctly, they will never be surprised because every movement and decision will have been planned out well in advance. That is why we don’t like unscheduled changes to the itinerary.

On any given day, the bodyguard might be posted at a static position watching over their client and guarding against potential threats. They work long hours and it is not uncommon for them to work double shifts. Unlike television, most bodyguards are never forced to deal with the high level of security threats they are trained to deal with, but some are challenged with significant security threats daily. To stay ready, a bodyguard must be prepared to drive evasively, engage in physical violence or gunfire or any other combination of things to keep their client safe. While it is not as glamorous a job as it is made out to be in the movies, it is none the less a noble profession that protects people from harm. So, let’s look at three misconceptions the film teaches us about this profession.

1. Bodyguards Are Always Big, Brawny Guys

Some bodyguards are indeed large, but some are also small. Size really is not a defining factor in becoming a bodyguard, and in many ways being large can actually be a disadvantage. After all, bodyguards need to blend into their surroundings, and being too large can make them stand out too much.

Yes, some celebrities like to have huge bodyguards, but there is certainly no requirement to be large. What is far more important is that they are fit, strong and healthy and that they can react quickly to dangers to get their principal out of harm’s way. In reality, many celebrities hire their big buddies to be bodyguards and these people have very little if any training and don’t really know what they are doing.

2. Bodyguards Are Violent

Returning to the fact that many celebrities hire their buddies as bodyguards, they tend to be violent because they don’t know what there are doing and only know to revert to beating someone up. However, for professionals like myself, this is the complete opposite of the truth. Although I am trained to inflict much violence, bodyguards are not violent, and in fact, they do everything they can to avoid violence. A bodyguard’s role is to protect people, and by creating violence, they are hardly going to be able to do the job effectively. Also, the bodyguard is supposed to do what he or she can to avoid embarrassing his client.

Bodyguards do need to be trained in unarmed combat, but they will only use these skills when absolutely necessary. Any bodyguard will tell you that it is much better to spend time planning how to avoid violence than to have to deal with it. That’s the sign of a true professional.

3. Bodyguards Live a Glamorous Lifestyle

If you think you want to be a bodyguard because you believe that it will lead to a glamorous lifestyle, think again, it won’t. Yes, bodyguards do get to go to some fantastic functions, major parties and even travel around the world when they look after wealthy celebrities and business people. But let me tell you, most of my time was spent sitting in halls, sitting in cars guarding a resident, or guarding suitcases. The movies blow the lifestyle way out of proportion. Bodyguards are always working. They are not there to have fun, and they are continually planning and looking for potential threats.
A bodyguard may well protect someone with a glamorous lifestyle, and the work can certainly be interesting as a result, but they do not necessarily live a glamorous life themselves.

The Reality

Before you decide to enroll in a bodyguard training course and embark upon this career, I just want you to know the reality of this business. A few characteristics that define a bodyguard include being:

  • intelligent
  • highly professional
  • able to blend into any setting
  • at ease in any situation
  • very organized
  • able to use your initiative in any situation

Don’t Fall for the Stereotypical Image

Despite what you have seen in films or on TV, there is no set size or appearance for bodyguards. They come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Don’t let stereotypes fool you, and instead, find out what is really involved in becoming a successful bodyguard before you decide to become one yourself.

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