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A History and Future of Excellence: Ronin South Africa

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Established in 1995 on the southernmost tip of the African continent, Ronin South Africa is probably one of the longest-standing, internationally reputable close protection training providers worldwide.

Ronin SA’s CEO, Advocate Timm Irvine-Smith’s background is quite multi-faceted. He has served in the South African Police National Protection Services during the tumultuous years of the early 1990s through to 2005. In addition, he is an Advocate (barrister) of the Supreme Court of South Africa and an Advanced Life Support Paramedic. He continues to serve within a specialized police unit as an operational medic.

Timm has gained experience in both the governmental and corporate close protection sectors. Hence, he identified a dire need for a credible training provider that supplied reality-based training in the close protection sector. With the fortunate recruitment of some star graduates onto the instructor panel, Timm and his staff have built Ronin South Africa into what it is today.

Their constant striving for excellence has led Ronin SA to earn a global reputation amongst employers. In fact, Ronin South Africa graduates are often recruited preferentially, purely based on their training pedigree.

The Ronin SA Difference

Ronin South Africa approaches close protection training from a distinct viewpoint. They believe a Close Protection Officer should have both tactical and professional pre-hospital medical competencies (minimum of Intermediate Life Support) to fulfill their client’s expectations honestly.

This rests on the simple observation that a client legitimately expects to stay alive in your presence. They need to be protected from any threat, attack, accident, or personal medical emergencies such as a heart attack or anaphylaxis.

After all, the descriptor of the profession in some circles is “bodyguard,” which comprises two words, namely “body” and “guard.” If you don’t know anything about the body you guard, you should merely refer to yourself as a “guard”! Ronin SA is not popular for pointing out this simple reality but remains unapologetic about it.

Ronin SA focuses on the development of the individual rather than on toys or gimmicks as these come and go over time. Instead, our instructors seek to develop the flickering flame of excellence that brings the individual to Ronin South Africa.

Candidates become secure in the knowledge they have gained and that there are other individuals like them who prize excellence. Some discover the realities of close protection while on course and decide not to pursue this career path but feel enormously enriched by the valuable insights and life skills they gained to navigate life in this ever-changing world.

The company’s course offerings reflect the philosophy of “Bodyguard.” They offer courses reflecting both sides of the philosophy. For instance, a close protection course to fulfill the tactical criteria and an Emergency Care Diploma to meet the medical standards. Of the 2000+ graduates that Ronin SA has trained, around 10% are “dual qualified,” and those that are, remain highly sought after in the employment sector.

It should be noted that none of the courses are for the faint-hearted but rather for those that relish a challenge as there is an approximate 30% failure rate on some modules necessitating a return to pass the program. This is yet another reason why Ronin SA enjoys credibility with employers globally.

The Ronin South Africa Close Protection Course

The Ronin SA Close Protection Course is a 5-week, full-time program that, due to its multi-disciplined nature, is highly relevant to a host of land-based and maritime security applications, be they within either a hostile or a medium-risk environment.

Many of the graduates have military and police backgrounds. However, this is not a requirement to attend the training. Civilians with suitable background checks, an open mind, disciplined work ethic, and a good level of fitness do very well.

The training provided covers a broad spectrum, including:

  • Pre-hospital Emergency Care,
  • Pedestrian Escort,
  • Venue Security,
  • Protective Driving,
  • Conflict Management,
  • Firearms, and
  • Operational Preparedness.

In the course of these, participants attend and participate in two real close protection operations.

Ronin South Africa

The Emergency Care Diploma Course

In keeping with the philosophy of having a dual-qualified CPO, Ronin SA produces uniquely trained Emergency Care Personnel (Level 5 Diploma). As a result, they are equally at home in the traditional ambulance services as well as austere environments, e.g., close protection, maritime, and aviation.

The Emergency Care Diploma Course consists of:

  • Online pre-study (three months),
  • Classroom phase (six weeks), and
  • Practical phase (750 hours), which can be completed in as little as 20 weeks or up to 18 months (1.5 years) post-course, as the individual’s life circumstances dictate.

Students graduate at an Intermediate Life Support Level (AEMT equivalent) and can transition to a US Paramedic (NREMT) bridging program via a partnership with a US college.

Accreditations at Ronin South Africa

Ronin South Africa holds dual accreditation in both the United Kingdom, as well as in the southernmost African nation. The SA national qualifications framework stipulates one of the most comprehensive close protection curricula worldwide, mandating close quarter combat, pedestrian escort, advances, advanced driving, and firearm competence on both a civilian and government level before certification can occur.

In most countries, the civilian and government standards differ, but this is not so in South Africa. As a result, Ronin South Africa had a leading role in determining the national standard in 2004 and 2019, collaborating with police, defense, and intelligence institutions.

Ronin SA has also had the privilege of training delegates from police and military elite units on behalf of the government.

Post Course Support

The company provides extensive support to its graduates. This includes a dedicated graduate profile page on a database that preferential employers have access to. The graduate database provides networking opportunities. In addition, it entails the ability to find local contacts in all corners of the globe, secure in the knowledge that they have undergone the same training.

In addition, we share real-time job opportunities via a closed mailing list as well as a Signal group.

Ronin SA’s reputation is a positive feature on any CV. According to a recent survey, 73% of graduates found work within three months of successfully completing their training.

Continuous Professional Development

A very recent addition to Ronin South Africa is DevCru: www.devcru.net. They are a continuous professional development subsidiary where Ronin instructors provide CPD to both graduates as well as non-graduates in the field of pre-hospital medicine and other relevant subjects to close protection.


Ronin South Africa provides a well-rounded, all-inclusive course offering that will deliver an above-average grounding for anyone seeking to enter the close protection industry or broaden their current skill set.

We are humbled by the honor of being awarded a place in the Top 3 of “Top EP Schools in 2022” by EP Wired. Furthermore, we sincerely look forward to meeting you on a course in the near future.

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