Category Archives: justin johnson

ICON Academy Executive Protection Training Dates


Celebrity & VIP Protection Course :  (5 Days) August 1 – 5, 2012 

A five-day course of practical theory and hands-on training in the world of Celebrity & VIP Protection including the fundamentals of Close Protection.  Taught by industry veteran Elijah Shaw, who in addition to his corporate clients, has traveled the world as the personal bodyguard of international public figures such as musical giant Usher, supermodel Naomi Campbell, and rap megastar 50 Cent, the class covers not only tactics but marketing & career search.

 

“Although the program is called Celebrity Protection the content and instruction covers all aspects of the protection industry. Elijah and his team of instructors meet one of the most important criteria of the business – instructors who do or have done what they are teaching, and can teach.”  Tony Scotti, President Tony Scotti Driving 

 

 

Advanced Executive Protection Course:  (10 Days) August 6- 15, 2012  

This intensive 10-day class is an excellent tool for Operators sharpening their skills with a focus on conducting close protection assignments with a potential high threat level. Work with experienced professionals who are not teaching “theory” put practical applications developed from many years of doing the job.  Taught by Instructors  in private security working globally in a number of high-risk environments including Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, Southeast Asia, South and Central America.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the above Close Protection related courses from Icon Services Corporation, including our special financing options, click HERE.  

We stand behind the quality of our teaching methods and can also put you in contact with previous Alumni to talk about their past experiences.  

Group & back-to-back course discounts apply.

 

The New ICON Advanced Executive Protection Course Graduates

 

Congratulating the new graduates of the ICON Advanced Executive Protection Training Course.  Long hours, challenging assignments a few surprises, and the ever present  mantra “drill, drill, drill”.

Thanks for giving 100%! Your efforts showed!

 

Next course:  April 30 – May 9th, 2012  Special Financing & Scholarship Opportunities Available.  For more information click HERE.

A Visual Diary of The ICON Bodyguard Training Academy

Take a moment to check out  a visual diary of students and instructors of the ICON Executive Protection Training Academy. With courses specializing in Executive Protection, Celebrity Protection & Weapons Tactics.  ICON offers real world training by instructors who do the job every day, not just teach “theory” from a text book. For more information about the training courses, including the special finance and scholarship opportunities, click HERE.

 

An Open Letter Regarding the ICON Bodyguard Scholarship Program

 

To the ICON Selection Committee:

I am writing to express my sincere gratitude to all responsible parties for making the Icon Academy Training Scholarship possible.  I was thrilled to learn of my selection for this honor and I am deeply appreciative of your support.  The Icon Celebrity & VIP Protection Course that I attended was truly a learning experience that I intend to use to further my career in the Executive Protection Industry.

I’m currently a law enforcement officer with over fifteen years of experience which has included serving on SWAT, the Gang Unit, the Street Crime Unit, as well as being assigned to the Housing Authority Unit. I can honestly say that being a law enforcement officer does not instantly qualify one to be a bodyguard. While the overall intentions of both an officer and bodyguard are to protect, the methods of protection differ, in some cases dramatically.

During my training at ICON, the CEO, Elijah Shaw touched on different subjects such as the profiles of a celebrity, the challenges one would face in the industry, and of course the responsibilities of a bodyguard.  One of the things I enjoyed was that the classroom time was never strictly lectures; we also participated in a variety of drills and exercises that ensured we understood the subject matter. Also during class, we were being pushed physically by several of the instructors, including Justin Newcomb, a champion Mixed Martial Arts fighter who I now know to be a quiet and reserved pillar in the industry.  Justin Johnson, another talented instructor who is also active in the operational side of the industry, (an important point) provided extensive firearms training during the course that imparted me with some valuable tools.

The week was also filled with some very prominent guest instructors who are very recognizable names in the industry such as Tony Scotti of Tony Scotti’s Vehicle Dynamic’s Institute and Mark “Six” James, of Panther Protection Services. Both were gracious enough to offer their expertise and answer off-the-subject questions during breaks.  I would certainly suggest future students research these individuals so they can fully appreciate what their presence and participation says about the program.

The last part of the training concluded with our participation in a real life Security Detail (one of several running simultaneously). I had the honor of being chosen to be team leader, and responsible for an actual celebrity VIP, T*** D***, of VH1 reality show, “Scream Queens” from the moment her plane arrived in the city.  The assignment was a learning experience in which me and my team were able to take our classroom training and apply it in the most hands on way possible.  Everything that Mr. Shaw and the other instructors introduced in class became reality.   In short they capped an already impressive course with the best illustration I could think of involving understanding what it takes to be bodyguard on a Celebrity security detail.    

In closing, I would highly recommend this course to anyone looking to get in the industry or advance their current skills. I would like to thank the Selection Committee for making the opportunity possible.   While I am not sure if anything like this scholarship program currently exists elsewhere in the industry, it makes perfect sense that it would be found at ICON as they appear to be innovators.  Please thank Mr. Shaw, who I found to be a humble individual whose reputation preceded him, along with the staff, guest instructors, and VH1’s, T*** D***.    I promise you I will continue along this path to success in the Executive Protection field and eventually give something back to others.  I see myself doing this both as a Professional Bodyguard and as well as an Alumnus who will donate towards the ICON Academy scholarship providing a rare opportunity for a future student like myself.

Sincerely,

Curtis Greene

ICON 2011 ALUMNI

What’s So Different About The ICON Advanced Executive Protection Course?

 

In short, everything and nothing.  Security Driving Guru, Tony Scotti recently said to me upon reviewing first hand the ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course , “Why don’t you just call it the “Executive Protection Course”, as all of the fundamentals are here”.  Mr. Scotti, had  a great point, and my response was that I wanted to make sure those that attended knew that in addition to those fundamentals they were also getting something at the class that had a clear distinction from what they could find anywhere else.   –An emphasis on working with Celebrities and the challenges and rewards that come with that segment of the marketplace from people that still do the work on a daily basis.  As we like to describe it; additional tools for the toolbox.

Along those lines, when we made the decision to introduce an Advanced 10 day course, I wanted to again have a distinction in the market.  This time it came in the form of not just teaching how to do everything the “right way” but also how to act (and react) when things go wrong.  the ICON Advanced Executive Protection Course puts an emphasis on operating in a hostile environment with a client and covers a multitude of disciplines including Risk Assessments, Threat Planning, Surveillance Detection, Counteraction Drills and medical life saving techniques, with several curve balls thrown in.   Having recently wrapped a course to positive reviews, I think we are again practicing our philosophy of giving great value and respect to the time and resources expended by the attending student.  Now looking forward to Tony stopping by the next one and letting me know what he thinks.

 

Learn more about ICON’s Advance Executive Protection Course by clicking HERE.

ICON Bodyguard Course Recap

 

ICON is proud to announce the successful completion of our October 5-day ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course!  Thank you to the 17 students that attended, making the commitment of both time and resources to achieve their individual goals of succeeding in the Executive Protection Industry.  

Like past courses, we packed the schedule with as much information, tactics, scenarios and drills as we are able to in an effort to maximize the students limited time spent with us.  In addition,this session, we were happy to have two “thought leaders” in the industry as guest instructors, namely Security Driving Guru, Tony Scotti of Tony Scotti’s Vehicle Dynamic’s Institute and Mark “Six” James of Panther Protection Services.  Both Tony and Mark brought decades of hands-on experience from their perspective fields and everyone, from the instructors on down, were very happy to have them at the Academy.  As one previous Alumni put it, having the opportunity to hear Mr. Scotti speak on the role Armored Cars play in VIP Protection, or “6”discuss the anatomy of the shooting of Former President Reagan from both the attacker and the protectors viewpoint, was worth the price of attendance alone.

 

Next course, January 11-15, 2012.  

To sign up for future classes, which now feature scholarship and special finance options, click HERE.

 

“I recognized the enormous benefits in training internationally with like minded professionals in our field.  Having instructors and presenters that actively work within the industry and who are willing to share their wealth of practical information, transposed to world class training that was both interesting & informative, with a focus on the real aspects of the work.  I will not hesitate to recommend the course to my friends and colleagues in the industry.”  ~ Chris Feretopoulos from Melbourne, Australia on why he choose to attend the course.

ICON Executive Protection Training

Just wrapped up Day 1 of the ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Training Course.   The class was populated by a good group who came in with an open mind and ready to learn (the best type).  Regardless of pervious skill level, egos got checked at the door and everyone showed up ready to work.  Lot’s of ground work was covered on the fundamentals of  Close Protection, particularly as is relates to dealing with a clientele that spends a great portion of their careers in the spotlight.  I love to say we’re not teaching a course based purely off of “theory” but instead the instructors all do the work on a regular basis, and can teach from relevant hands on experience.

To learn more about the training click HERE.

Celebrity Protection: How Not to Go Overboard

 

I know it might sound odd, but you can do effective VIP Protection for recognizable personalities without having to resort to tactics that would paint your Client in a negative light.  We’ve recently seen some horror stories about what happens when a bodyguard is overly aggressive.    Executive Protection Agents can most effectively ensure the safely of the VIP by remembering that one of the most important pieces of the puzzle comes in the planning & preparation stage.  In industry lingo, we term that the Advance, which includes  anticipating encounters  before they happen and having effective systems in place to negate or counter them.

While some view the fans, the press and the paparazzi as a major problem, we have to be aware that, particularly in the arena of Celebrity Protection, those three are a constant.    Taking the wrong approach in dealing with them could have a negative effect to the client, and one that could also affect security.  (Insiders tip, managers and agents don’t like bad press, if the Protection Agent is responsible for it –even if they thought they were doing the “right thing”,  they could still be on the unemployment line).

I try and stress this fact during the Celebrity & VIP Protection Training Course that I teach at ICON.  “Verbal Judo” is sometimes more effective than taking them to the floor.  With that said, it’s always nice to hear it from someone else:

Via the Star Tribune

“The security guys with Kim Kardashian garnered praise for being impressively un-heavy-handed.

Although Kardashian was in a VIP section, the security was not pouncing every time she was approached. One excited woman was gently asked not to rush up on Kardashian but to give the reality star a few minutes to adjust to the scene.

As you can see from my video, the security guys were calm and civil and not shoving people out of the way as she and her fiancé arrived at the restaurant.”

full story HERE.

 


 

What Its Like For a Woman Training To Be A Bodyguard

by Lori Edwards

I distinctly remember coming to the sudden and uneasy conclusion that I really didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into.  My seatmate on my flight had asked me why in the world a girl from Texas would come all the way to Minnesota by herself, especially in January, without any personal history there or family ties to the area.  I chuckled a little and explained that I’d be attending a class that would train me to become a bodyguard.  He wondered aloud if I was serious.  I simply smiled and nodded.

I’m not exactly what you’d picture a female bodyguard to be.  Although I’m very athletic with a daily routine of starting my day by throwing a few punches on the double end bags I have at home and I also have two black belts in Taekwondo, most people don’t suspect it.  In fact, most folks would take one look at me and drop me into the category of “indoor girl” pretty quickly.  And of course, so did my seatmate.  In rapid fire succession, he began showering me with questions regarding all the things the class might require of me, and if I thought I was adequately prepared for it.  The only response I could manage was, “I really don’t know.”

I spent the rest of the week finding out.

The 5-day ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course is arranged very intelligently.  Beginning with some brief welcoming statements and announcements, we jump right in.  ICON CEO, Elijah Shaw, starts with some lectures about team formations and foot drills.  About an hour in, we hop up from our seats and start literally walking out the things that his 17 years in the business has taught him.  Then we move into tactical weapons drills led by Assistant Instructor and resident firearms expert, Mike Briggs.  Holster drills on verbal command with a realistically heavy, but imitation firearm consume the next hour or so.  I must admit, having never handled a weapon either real or fake, this was challenging to me.  Trust me when I tell you, that during the initial movement drills I probably have never found my left and my right so ridiculously confusing.  Thankfully, our final instructor and champion mixed martial art fighter, Justin Newcomb rescued me by announcing to the class that it was time to take two hard laps and meet him in the gym.  Aaaahhhh, relief.  This part is something I know I can do, –Interval training.  The instructors tell us we will have a 5-minute workout.  It’s true.  What they don’t tell us, is that it’s a butt-kicking five minutes.  I’m game, and have the sneaky suspicion this won’t be the last time we’re at the gym. Then back to the classroom to discuss some of the broader issues of Executive Protection.

Did I mention, all this was before lunch?

We spend that afternoon and the next few days repeating the cycle of classroom discussion, walking/formation drills, weapons drills later on, live fire at the gun range), physical training and industry-specific do’s and don’ts.  Each session, we expand and practice our skills, and information received at a pace that only NASA can truly comprehend.  The instructors begin throwing in unexpected surprises to keep us guessing, and learning.  At the end of every day, I am spent.  I had no idea the amount of information that these professionals must process, and how quickly they must process it in order to keep their clients safe and sound.

Add to all that craziness the unique challenges that come with being female, and you begin to get a reasonable idea of my personal experience.  I wanted to make sure that I made a good impression right away, so I showed up on the first day looking nice.  Not formal ball-gown nice, but reasonably professional.  I had spent ample time online researching ICON and was well aware that Elijah Shaw is nearly always in a suit.  First rule of business: Never show up sloppy when the boss expects a suit.  I also knew that this course was very hands-on, and as such, there would be some physical activity.  No details were given as to our daily schedule or the demands thereof, so I decided to land somewhere in the middle.  I wore nice pants, a jacket I could remove easily, and my favorite stiletto boots.  I did fine until break time when Mike Briggs wandered up asking me if I had brought gym shoes.  I had, but they were in the hotel, because surely our kindhearted instructors would warn us of what we’ll need when we’ll need it.  Heads up future classmates:  a deliberate lack of pertinent information is a constant, so come prepared for anything – just like in the real world of VIP Protection. Needless to say, I spent most of the day running laps and all the other physical training in barefoot. (And carefully.  I mean you don’t really want to ruin a $65 pedicure slamming into the gym equipment so I considered it practice in situational awareness).

I also tried my hand at figuring out when it was safe to put my boots back on.  Just as soon as I had convinced myself that the workouts were finished for the day, I slipped them back on.  About that time, Justin Newcomb tiptoed up behind me and whispered, “You’re gong to want to take those boots off again….”.  Bless him.  I actually thought about running the laps while wearing the stilettos, but decided against it.  So I just gave up.  I wore running shoes the remainder of the week, however there’s more to the story where those boots are concerned.

Everything went smoothly until Friday night.  I ended up pulling an all-nighter as part of a real-world exercise through which ICON puts its course attendees.  I took the first client shift, which lasted from roughly 10pm to 6am.  I was wearing a radio device with which I have no previous experience.  In the chaos of last-minute information and preparation, I threw the earpiece on and the radio in my front jacket pocket.  There were several loose wires flapping about, but I didn’t really care as, the clock was ticking and I had to get on post.  No worries right?  Well that is until the instructors came to visit me on site.  There’s something very unsettling about three grown, strong men standing together in a huddle while smirking and rubbing their foreheads.  Mike Briggs convinced me to slip off my suit jacket and got me reorganized into the very picture of a female Close Protection Agent:  black jacket, white shirt, black skirt, black tights and those 4 & ½ inch black stiletto boots.  I’m a mom, so I know what its like to stay up all night looking after someone.  I’ve just never done it in those boots before.  You learn in training, so you don’t make the mistakes in the real world.

Twenty-four hours later, I find myself about to enter Force-on-Force Drills.  In that moment, I have no idea what is about to happen, I only know I’m not really crazy about the sound of it.  I’ve never shot the realistic airsoft training weapons before.  More importantly, I’ve never been shot BY the airsoft training weapons before!  I had nightmarish visions of being in a room with all my classmates and instructors just shooting ferociously until someone has the compassion to yell “TIME’S UP!”.  I worried needlessly.  That’s not what force-on-force drills are about.  These exercises are designed to place the trainee in situations that as closely as possible mimics real world experiences.  Trust me when I tell you they are valuable and bring a whole new element to the course.  To this day I find myself mentally rehearsing some of the multiple scenarios I went through that evening.  In my mind I’m moving the client, negotiating check points, climbing walls, jumping over people or things, asking questions, taking charge, providing cover, evacuating, locating exits, thinking critically, and looking for the less than obvious.

I think that’s the point of good, solid training:  It stays with you.

Before the ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course, I was just a yoga-mom from Texas.  During this course I challenged myself to become something that I’ve always envisioned:  brave, decisive, resourceful and capable.  In the middle of the week I questioned my decision to be there, and I questioned my ability to do this job to the extent that I thought about packing up and going home.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

By the end of the course, I had experiences I will never forget, and was handed opportunities I’d have never believed.  I was challenged far more than I expected, resulting in a depth of confidence I’ve never known.  I loved it so much that I’m actively seeking my next opportunity to train.  I’ll get some gun range time with Mike Briggs later in the spring, and hopefully, I’ll get to take the 10-day Advanced Executive Protection Course soon.  In the meantime, I’m hoping to establish a foundation in the industry through Advance work—The security preparations and logistics that occur before the actual client even enters the area.  We had one assignment specifically on advance work during the course, and I did particularly well at it.   I now find myself making mental sketches of practically any building I walk into, even here in my hometown.  I draw mental route cards, too, when I’m traveling.  So, I’ll be looking for opportunities to continue to implement skills, while my girls are attending summer camps and other things.  Eventually, and with continued training, I’d like to move toward protecting female celebrities at events, and finally as their personal protection.  We girls gotta look out for each other, you know.  I have to believe that for the newcomer or as a refresher, whatever your goals or interests are in the field of Executive & VIP Protection, this course will meet them.

Take it from the “indoor girl” – you’ll be glad you did.

Note:  We plan for this to be the first of several articles by Lori that while chronicle her experiences as a newcomer in the Executive Protection Industry. (of course without violating any client confidentiality.)  We hope that it will serve as an inspiration for others and the realities of the profession.

 

Women Can Be Their Own Bodyguard

Proving that you don’t have to be in the bodyguard business to benefit from some of the safety and fitness training that goes into high-end security work.  ICON CEO Elijah Shaw takes TCL Reporter Emily Engberg through our new Safety & Fitness Course designed for civilian women.

Pulled from elements of our highly acclaimed ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Training Program that has helped bodyguards from around the globe to operate successfully in the world of Executive Protection, this unique course is a great way for women to challenge themselves mentally & physically, while at the same time learning new skills that could one day literally save their life.

To learn more about the course or register, click HERE.