In November 2014, I traveled to an elite coed bodyguard training school on the outskirts of Beijing to film a VICE.com documentary about female bodyguards, known for their elegance and covert presence. In China, personal bodyguards are a status symbol, and having a female bodyguard is the pinnacle of class. We reported in the country for six weeks, and during every interview I shot, the host gave me some kind of gift. They were mostly tchotchkes, little figurines or plaques, but at the Yun Hai Elite Security training center, the school's co-founder Xin Yang gifted me a weapon disguised as a pen.
He explained that when you unscrew the top, there's a functional pen inside, but on the other end (where the actual tip of the pen should be), there's a sharp point, almost unnoticeable, that can be used to stab an attacker at pressure points in the hand, wrist, or throat. It's made of a material that's untraceable by metal detectors, so you can bring it anywhere, and Xin said he does. Even though it looks nondescript, works as a real pen, and most of my camera equipment looks more dangerous than this thing, I brought it home in my checked baggage.
—DAN CAIN, CAMERA OPERATOR