Xiao Li looks like an ordinary personal assistant. She can type, she can drive, she can speak foreign languages and she can also disarm an armed attacker within seconds. Believing that sometimes women are stronger than men, the 27-year-old Xiao, from Shandong Province, is one of the growing number of women choosing to join the world of bodyguarding. After seeing the tough lives of many State-backed athletes after retirement, Xiao, who stands over 1.8 meters tall and trained as a professional wrestler for 12 years, gave up her dream of becoming an Olympic champion and joined the Tianjiao Special Guard/Security Consultant Ltd. Co earlier this year on a friend's recommendation. "I believe being a female bodyguard has a more promising future," .
Former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi was famous for his female bodyguards, and some celebrities have also adopted them, though their numbers remain small compared to men. "Now many millionaires and celebrities in China are considering hiring a female bodyguard," Ai Jianhong, director of the female bodyguard team for Tianjiao told the Global Times. "It is a kind of status symbol." As the ranks of China's rich grow every year, the widening income gap and widespread corruption continue to fuel public resentment towards the rich. It is estimated that there are 3,000 bodyguard companies competing in the market. Ai refused to reveal how many bodyguards they are training, but according to a notice on their website, the company is urgently recruiting another 1,200 retired special forces with a promise of 500,000 yuan ($79,500) a year.
Rich and famous Chinese women, who fear their wealth might attract crime, and foreign clients who do not want another man around their wives and daughters prefer female bodyguards, said Ai. Harsh training Even though Xiao is strong and tough, she couldn't become a bodyguard overnight. She and another nine women went through a one-month training process in a camp based in Sanya, Hainan Province in March. Her daily training began from 6 am, including running and crawling on the beach, practicing how to subdue an armed attacker and fighting against other male trainers.
"They never really treated us like women," Xiao said, adding her bruises and heavily tanned skin are souvenirs of the training. But there was only one woman who failed to get through the process. What scared Xiao most was not fighting against male trainers or getting hit in the face, but the "fight club" in the middle of the ocean. The loser would be pushed down from the board into five-meter-deep water. Xiao could not swim so she told herself she had to win. Guns are illegal in China. The women used rubber guns instead during the training. Xiao said she had no idea how to fire a weapon.