Sunday Rant-A Salute to Executive Security International (ESI)

Almost 40 years ago I attended the Executive Security International (ESI) bodyguard training, at that time located in Aspen, CO. I subsequently spent a number of years in the “protection” business, and without the ESI training I would have been less successful, and much less effective.

ESI was founded by martial artist Bob Duggan. Bob was a student and associate of the late “Soldier of Fortune” Michael Echanis.  Bob was the unarmed-combat instructor. And a damn good one. His techniques and training I still use to this day. But it was the afterhours philosophy, history, and “there I was” stories after hours that I really cherish.

It was there I met Wally Dallenbach Sr. a former Indy car driver from East Brunswick Township, New Jersey. He drove in 180 Indy Car races between 1965 and 1979, winning five times. He is the father of NASCAR driver and commentator, Wally Dallenbach Jr. They were the “driving” instructors. Wally showed up with rattle-snake banded Stetson, a huge cup of coffee in his hand and loudly announced, “Now we’re going to have some fun.”  And we did.

Firearms and tactics instruction was by, my now friend, John Farnam and his associate Mike Brave. They have both excelled and exceeded my biggest dreams. Both are still in the firearms training business. John has Defense Training Institute (DTI) and Mike works in the legal industry. The instruction at ESI was solid, hard, and focused. The truth is, if a bodyguard is in a gunfight, it’s probably already too late. Even so, Farnham trained operators will make the best out of a crappy situation. And win.

Dave Richmond, Clint and Bobby, and several others added depth and breadth to the training and instructions.

The student group I was with was as varied as you could possibly get.

There was the head of the private security for a state Governor of Mexico. And the son of a well-known New York City diamond merchant. Dad wanted the best, so he had ESI train his son.

An internationally known financial counselor that ended up a best-selling author, world-renowned speculator, and libertarian philosopher who has garnered a well-earned reputation for his erudite (and often controversial) insights into politics, economics, and investment markets was with us. I heard that he later became one of the ESI owners. For many years his “newsletter” was considered the best for financial inside news.

There was a young son of a very large Oklahoma cattle family who was also a well-known magazine cover model. He figured he was the best person to take care of him. He seemed to partner up with a former member of the Swiss National Ballet who had decided to give up dancing to provide protection for his wife and the other dancers and wanted the best training.

Another of the students evidently took over the security for a number of US nuclear facilities and their personnel.

There was a Canadian female judo champion had never fired a gun in her life. We had to drag her off the range at dark as she was determined to pass the training. She did pass.  A few years later she was forced to use that skill to protect her client. She passed that one too. I had dinner with her and her husband a few years later, she didn’t think she would have survived except for the ESI training.

So now, almost 40 years later, I get to write this little salute to Bob and ESI. Thanks for the training, the experience, and mostly for the memories that keep this old man warm on these cold winter nights.

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