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Midlife Crisis in Canvas: Week 5

Updated on June 20, 2016

Troy "The Tree Stump" Pitman going to work

Leaden legs and iron will

Week 5: Midlife Crisis in Canvas

Day 29

So it was the Queen’s Birthday. I celebrated it with my training routine. I am sure the Queen would be happy to know that I did 34 swiss ball roll outs. I confess It was not on her account … I am a republican.

Not sure why they give us the day off on the Queen’s Birthday. I actually had an opportunity to meet the Queen once and blithely turned it down to the horror of my offsider in the Army PR team that was managing the coverage of her arrival. I had an important audition to attend and could not be bothered. This – amazingly – is still a talking point amongst people in the know… if it was David Campese or Mel Gibson it would have been a different story.

I took the time to catch up on my journal and reflect on techniques learnt. Reflective learning is very much part of the process I can use visualisation to get better. There has been numerous studies that confirm that once practice, visualisation can improve performance by as much as 80% in the success rate of execution of athletic endeavours.

This is also the same excuse I used for sexual fantasies. Although it seems a less noble pursuit once people start getting naked.

Day 30

I was busier than a cattle dog drinking from a fire hose today. I ran my training regime and stretching and headed to a physio appointment with Craig

Craig got his thumbs so deep into my back that he left dimples a Cabbage Patch kid would be proud of. It was marginally less painful than the last two times. That is to say I was probably being tortured within mandate of US Home Security laws. I could could still barely hear what he is saying. I suffer from chronic tinnitus. When in extreme pain or stress it gets particularly annoying. During my session with Craig it was like an old black and white T.V was next to my left ear. In most BJJ rolls were I get choked it sounds like a school of cicadas live in my head. In a weird way it can be a little comforting at times.

I saw my new psychiatrist at Edgecliffe. I won’t elaborate too much but there was a point where he asked “So, no anger issues then?”. I burst out laughing. My family would love that one…

It was freezing by the time I got to the Mona Vale Open mat. Troy the tree stump was there and a Swedish mate Marcus had returned. I focused on flowing. During a roll with Troy I chatted incessantly about inane crap and actually found that the monologue distracted me. All of a sudden 6 minutes was over and I had probably been the most constantly smooth roll I had done in a while. I’m not sure if it annoyed Troy or not, but I am sure that it is not a common practise at BJJ gyms. Troy took us through arm bars. It was a light but productive session and I did learn a bit. I walked home in the cold looking across the inky black stillness of Narrabeen lake and wondered how the Children’s Court mention would go on Thursday. I had a hard day programmed tomorrow to take my mind off it.

Day 31

Stretching in the cold winter morning has a feeling of pulling apart half thawed hot dogs.

I lightly trained and did some research on a feature film project I have been working on. I was intimidated about the day as I had programmed in four sessions. It was to help me shock my system and look for a quantum leap in conditioning, as well as help me sleep as I was stressed about the next day. Before I went to meet Craig for the start of pain I checked in on an interview of Michael Bisping on MMA Fighting. I interviewed the 37 year old Middleweight champ when he was still fighting to become a contender. His tenacity is his strongest point and he was famous for training the house down. Its all about hard work.

Craig put me through a very tough leg oriented work out. As I write this 24 hours later my core and quads still ache considerably. Deep squats, hang heaves, sleds and medicine ball throws. My last was getting up and down with a plate over my head. Sounds simple until you do it as buggered as I was. I left his gym on unsteady legs and staggered down to the BJJ gym where Mauricio awaited.

Midday at Mona Vale. My legs felt like they had been injected with cement. Twice in the warm ups I fell over like I had been on a 72 hour bender (yes … that is an educated reference). Craig had seriously taxed me and I was already gassed before the warm ups. We worked on a judo trip from standing into knee ride and then side control to armbar. Marc was back from Tokyo and the easy going yank and I chatted through the session which was a welcome distraction to the complaint from my lower body. We did King of the mat for a majority of the back end instead of rolling. My guard passing was solid. Only two of my sweeps were coming together. I have those great tombs gifted to my be Tony and I am sure some revision will get me back on the right path.

I mistimed my run to the Dojo. Even with smooth connections I walked through the door after commuting almost 2 hours later. I didn’t notice the time as I was in a meditative state of pain tolerance. Dave ALSO focused on arm bars. If I don’t get an arm bar at the next open mat I am going retard choke myself out. He also worked on my flexibility… with some moves that were to convince me that the pain I was feeling was in my mind.

Of course its in my mind! That is where pain receptors are!

Day 32

Court today and then Ben. I trained in the dark and my nerves for the pending hearing had me pushing hard. Court did not go according to plan. I got blindsided with the news that my attempts to become primary carer of my child were thwarted by his very wealthy and duplicitous mother’s family... It was completely unexpected news as I thought it was all a formality. This hit me like a truck.

I saw Ben a few hours later in my suit and was still in shock as we once again went to Monkey Mania. Thanks to my attire I could not participate as much in chasing him through it. I am also suffering from ridiculous Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) in my legs. More Magnesium and less expectations in court would have made this day a lot more digestible.

I hate saying goodbye to Ben and today it was twice as hard knowing what I knew from that morning. As I write this, 24 hours later, I am still shaken up. I have rarely felt so alone. I am hoping that the BJJ experiment will be up to the task of chasing away the clouds that are rolling in… its going to be a rough few days. I read some of the books that Tony Vandenhurk gave me on BJJ basics. Amazingly, even though I was in a shit state, I noticed I was quickly engaged and not dwelling on what had passed.

Searching for something of good humour and inspiration I went to Collaroy Cinema and sat and watched “Eddie the Eagle”… The cinema was empty, so I cheered for Eddie and wept openly for my son.

Day 33

I dragged myself through the day. The grey clouds matched my black mood and I was short with anyone I had any dealings with. The DOMS in my legs are at their worst – as is normally the case 48 hours following a shock session. In my black mood I kept an eye on the BJJ session scheduled that night. I did some light boxing in the afternoon to get my eye in again. Within 6 rounds I was easily firing off 6 punch combos. I closed my eyes and threw correctly instead of hard. My taped up wrist held up well from its sprain.

I walked into the gym in the dark and was surprised to see over 10 people at the gym for a Friday evening class. Last Friday we had three. I was introduced to various people. The two that stood out was a young Brazilian named Gi… this led to a “Whose on first …?” moment as I kept thinking he thought I was asking him what his attire was.

Mauricio was instructing and revised us through techniques I was familiar with. Still I kept making mistakes…

  • Breaking guard by standing and passing
  • Kimura from guard
  • Sweep if Kimura defended

In an exercise that I can only speculate was to identify future paralympians amongst us, he had us do the first roll with one arm in our belt. This had me feeling like a dog chasing a car. Every time I caught my opponent I realised I was poorly equipped to do anything. It resulted in a lot of laughing and scrambling. I had one technique that might work and I almost put on the pillow choke but the time was up.

Amazingly out of all the times I have rolled, this particular session was the time I felt the most comfortable. My last roll with with a younger, taller and very athletic blue belt and I more than held my own. I clung to that during a lonely walk home. Rest day tomorrow.

Day 34

It is a rest day today. Although I have a session booked with Dave at 4.30 pm in Bondi. This left me all day to walk around and dwell on the last week of training. The niggling injuries were annoying me in my back, left wrist and right hand. I am unusually tired at the moment too. The tough thing with depression is that it really effects you physically. I tried some mindful exercises of eating foods that were healthy and tasty and listened to ACDC on my way to Bondi. “Highway to Hell” and “Back in Black” are my favourite songs. I know … I’m an archetype.

I got to the gym early and had a good chat with Dan Sainty. Dan and I were both fans of role playing games and we discussed the types of personalities that overlapped with military and martial arts. A need for romance and adventure was a common denominator. My life has always had adventure, although the romance side reads like a splatter movie. I will intend to call my biography: “My life as a collision sport – the Andrew George articles”.

Dave showed up and we had a quick update and launched into the training side of things. As it’s a rest day I will keep it brief.

  • Working on guard passing
  • Arm bar from guard
  • Working an over hook to arm bar from guard
  • Scissor sweep

All in all very tight techniques where I could string a chain of threats together from my back. I caught up with a talented young actor and mate Jack Douglas. He and I talked about doing a podcast and a stand up work shop. I think it is a very solid idea as he has natural comedy chops. We then watched the Wallabies lose a test series. This has now officially been a shit week.

Day 35

A good training session this morning. I was feeling very strong, particularly in my one armed dumbbell press. Training after a rest day can be exhilarating. Gains are normally evident and tendonitis has normally decreased. My left wrist still hurt doing handstand push ups. I watched the UFC after work. Nothing like combat sports to make you forget a Wallabies defeat. I noticed that I was game planning watching the fights once they grappled. This is a recent habit and its good to know I am feeling much more educated.

I caught up with Tim Glastonberry and and we scouted locations. He took some stills of me in the rain for his poster for the film “Vessles”. We sat and talked films and writing for hours. Tim is hard not to like and his enthusiasm is as infectious as Ebola.

I crawled into bed. 5 weeks down.


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