Subject: 保镖 private security guard
Culture: Han Chinese
Setting: late Qing empire, mid-late 19thc
* Kennedy & Guo 2005 p139-140
"In the latter half of the Qing Dynasty, beginning in about 1800, the first organized private security businesses started. The most famous one, and the one most people thought of when they thought of private security, was called Hau You Biao Ju, the 'Meeting Friends Guard Service.' Its prominence was due to the fact that it was owned by Li Lian Ying. Li was the head eunuch of the Empress Dowager, and his influence was considerable. As a result, his private security company, headed by a martial artist simply known as Sun, was the best known.
"It was not the only one, however. Each province had one or more organized private security companies that generally offered personal bodyguard services, residence protection, and convoy protection. "The golden years for these businesses ran from about 1850 to 1900. By the opening of the 20th century, improvements in transportation and communications made the private guard business -- particularly the jobs guarding convoys -- less profitable, and it soon fell into decline."
* Shahar 1998
"During the late Qing, insurance companies, known as biaoju, hired armed guards to escort goods in transit."
* Kennedy & Guo 2005 p142
"By the mid 1800s, the favored secret weapon of bodyguards was a Colt pistol. Although it goes against the romantic image of the kung fu bodyguard, firearms were becoming more and more available by that time, and people in the security business were quick to see the advantages of this new technology. The popular image of a Qing Dynasty bodyguard is a skilled swordsman using his saber to drive off bandits. In reality, he was an intelligent man using his reputation, his connections, and his diplomatic skills to protect his charge, all backed up by a gun."
* Judkins 2013-03-25 online
"A number of historians have noted that firearms were common in southern China during the last half of the 19th century, when the modern Chinese martial were really beginning to assume a recognizable form. We know that bandits in the hills found an ample supply of rifles, and that caravan guards and armed escorts carried Colt revolvers along with their pudao (horse knives) and swords."