You are sheep among wolves.

By Jon Hillenbrand In Photography, Stories


“Be as wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves.” Good advice. There are things that happen in our lives that help define our nature. Through adversity, some find fertile soil, some arsenic. The fertile soil was under my feet after the flood waters in my life subsided and I have found myself cursed with the brotherly fear that my sisters need protection from the environment around them. Of course when I see a small woman flipping a large man, or using the knife at her neck to stab her would-be rapist in the chest, I think, “This is training that the women in my life need to receive.”

“Redbelt,” is a movie partly about a woman who was raped while a knife was held to her throat. We are introduced to her character months or years after this event has wreaked her life and her shivering and fear are part of the equation when she points and fires a gun at an off-duty police officer who was trying to take her coat. Luckily she is in the confines of a martial arts academy which is closed for the evening. She is convinced to sign up. Her first class, she is asked to leave outside the world she has come to know and depend on. Yet when confronted with leaving her experience at the door, she runs back to it, her island of reason in the deep waters of fear. As she leaves, the instructor attacks her with a rubber knife. He shows her what she doesn’t see. The way out. The way through. She turns in such a way, she uses her mind, and she prevails. Stepping back and crying, she sees perhaps for the first time that this event which has defined her life could probably have been escaped from.

When discussing this scene with a friend of mine recently, a woman who has been victimized by multiple break-ins and robberies, my friend was dismissive that a larger man with a knife is a situation that she could deal with. It’s not even a distant possibility that she could win such an encounter. But I’ve seen the training. It’s not a GI Jane fantasy or the machinations of trick photography during an Angelina Joli slo-mo bullet-fest. The situations are real and so is the idea that, no matter what your size, “there is no situation that you could not escape from. There is no situation that you could not turn to your advantage.”

The mind erects walls in order to build new foundations after a storm. These walls protect us in some ways, but they also block out the possibility that other solutions may exist which could make these walls obsolete. Perhaps that is why some walk alone at night waiting to be victimized, and some seek the training to take control of their lives, control which isn’t about fighting but is about prevailing.

What do you think?