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Midlife Crisis in Canvas: Week 2 continued...

Updated on May 29, 2016

"Judo" Gene Lebelle

The back straight ...

Day 10

I awoke wound up like a steel trap. I threw myself into my morning training regime. In order to release the angst of what was looming that day. By the end of it I was shaking. I Consumed a protein laden breakfast, worked on my scripts and mentally prepared for the 5 hour interrogation that I was to endure that afternoon.

I got to see Ben though. As long as I focused on that I remained happy.

I wandered in the city beforehand in a daze wondering if I would ever have an interview as important as this. Using every relaxation technique that I had garnered from acting and martial arts I corralled the butterflies and put them to work. I was a good bloke I told myself. I deserved my son in my life. I met up with my Mum who had come down to offer me some support. It meant a lot.

In a weird case of serendipity, I ran into Tim Glastonberry just before hand. I had gravitated back to a healthy café for an egg white omelette that I had eyed off during the catch up with him the day before. Tim was there eating exactly that. Great minds think alike! We spoke of his film and he asked me how I felt about the rest of the day. It was good to see him. Tim’s enthusiasm and feel good storyline distracted me from the business at hand.

I went into the meeting and saw Ben for the first hour. My son and I drew pictures and discussed trains. As per the well established tradition we shared a Kinder Surprise and Ben would babble about his day. After a few minutes I even forgot I was being watched and enjoyed the precious time. The time came to an end and I said goodbye to Ben. He pressed his forhead against mine, something he had begun doing since January. As a Dan Akroyd and Conehead fan I reciprocated. As a father my heart reached out to him.

The next four hours was retelling the story of my life. It was a careful reflection on my history and my growth as a human being. The assessor had a file thicker than the King James Bible so I knew she was well versed on how we got this situation. She also was independent of FACS and as a result much more objective to what I had experienced in my marriage and As it came to a close I realised that I probably had represented myself well. Much like leaving a job interview for the job I always wanted I walked in silence down the street – numb and tingling at the same time. It was out of my hands now. Just try focusing on being the best me I can be.

On the way home I spoke to Mike Cullen about the play he had be in to tell him how good it was. I impressed my sincerity on it and told him he was an Australian Buster Keaton. It’s true… he is.

Day 11

Training this morning was intense. I included lumbar rollouts to fix the burgeoning knot in my lower back. It was pretty deep. Luckily Dave Brooksbank was also a qualified physio and I would be training with him tomorrow. He would point me in the right direction.

Igor had gotten back to me about the T.V pilot I had sent him and told me he liked it. I returned my attention to the the rewriting of elements of D List Dicks. I had noticed that I had attempted a rewrite post surgery that I only vaguely remember thanks to the Shedule 2 drugs I had been on. It had more mistakes than my shortly lived marriage. The fact Igor had generously overlooked this in favour of the story line and pacing was a tip of the hat from a seasoned professional. I reminded myself that relying on talent and not being disciplined in the little things can bring you undone over a linear diagnosis of true worth. Next time reread your work properly before sending it. Just like speed and power in a BJJ scramble is great, in a 20 minute roll form wins every time.

I have been still fairly shaken about the previous day. I noted two kind text messages on my phone from Tim and Lance Bonzer both letting me know I was in their prayers. This made me smile. Both of them knew I could get pretty annoyed at being badgered by Christians. I wasn’t an atheist by any stretch of the imagination – but my ex-wife was a born again and I have never been a fan of hypocrites. I rang Tim and we discussed the project. We organised to go location scouting on Saturday. I took a breath and realised that I was not alone.

I ran into Tony Vandenhurk and showed him the progress of my journal and also discussed how my body was holding up. Just. He talked about dragging some guys down to his Ju Jitsu gym – not to be confused with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I really should get down there. Once I have the grooves properly oiled in my routine I will.

I walked into the gym at Mona Vale. Maluna, Marucio’s wife was there. Mauricio was off training the Bulldogs on Thursday. Gill the brown belt from last week took the class. It was bloody cold as winter had announced its presence throughout the week. As a result there was a much more comprehensive warm up. Unfortunately, I had one to many coffees and they percolated inside my throughout a better part of the session. My two favopuriter rolling partners Troy and Marc showed up to class. Gill took us through the in’s and outs of the leg press Leg press and the Guillotine choke. It is certainly a very potent move that is easy to set up and hydraulic once applied correctly.

We hit the rolling part of the class. I focused on breathing and trying not to grip too hard due to tendonitis. At the end I had a solid workout and had a new technique. I walked home listening to Joe Rogan and realised I had not been thinking about yesterday for the last hour. I crawled into bed very tired and for the first time in a while drifted off to sleep immediately.

Day 12

I trained hard this morning. I left the handstand push ups alone as my shoulders were jarred from last nights rolling. I had a No Gi training session lined up with Dave at Bondi. It was always good to break up the training I felt every now and then with a no Gi session. The scrambles were faster and certain techniques were focused on. It also gave me a chance to rest my forearms from the grips that accompanied BJJ in Gi.

I met Megan there for a cup of coffee before hand. She was accompanying me down to the gym to talk about signing her son up. Dave had been running intensive jnior classes for quite some time in order to burn off the energy of some of the more hyperactive kids in the Eastern Suburbs. Megan’s son, also called Ben, was defined by his inability to sit still. He treated any walk down the street as a parkour obstacle course and was constantly doing handstands and chin ups around the house. After careful consideration Megan had decided that BJJ would be the right combination of discipline and athletic endeavour to return his energy levels to that of a human being and align his focus. I saw it as an opportunity to train a future world champion.

What?! I’m just saying… (as I fade off living vicariously through the next generation…)

Megan had a charity boxing match coming up and was asking Dave advice. As I stretched on the mats I could hear the conversation that few boyfriends have to listen to as Megan talked about how good her right cross was. I could have told him that.

The two Dan’s were at the gym with Pinky again. Dave initially helped me try and work out the knot in my back. Turns out the knot is deeper than a Hopoate digit and I will need to go to a physio to get rid of it and continue the rollouts on my hips. After 15 minutes we touched fists and hit the mats

Dave and I began rolled for a few minutes. I went for a completely non functional headlock and Megan yelled out “Don’t hurt him”. I laughed in disbelief and realised that to the uneducated it may look like I had the semblance of an advantage. Not. At. All. In order to display the grappling skills of a bloke who trained over three hours a day for fifteen years Dave swept me and somewhere along the line put on a choke I could not escape from. ”Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble… unless rolling with Dave Brooksbank”.

After some time I slowed my breathing and began to flow better. Little did I know That Uber Black Belt Dan Sainty had begun paying attention. I gave up my back in an effort to see if I could defeat Dave’s rear naked choke and Dan’s voice boomed inside the Dojo.:

“Why did you give up your back?!”

Dave and I stopped and glanced at each other. I knew that any answer was the wrong one. “To test out escaping from the rear naked choke” I answered with about as much confidence as I had when losing my virginity.

Dave’s coach then told me to reassume the position and go again…..and again….and again This time Dave wasn’t messing around – Dan was watching and the pace of the scramble increased accordingly. I must admit although a little out of my depth I enjoyed the intensity and the need to impress. Dan quickly inserted himself into the roll and began to display flawless technique on how to dominate position after an arm drag from a broken guard. He mentioned something I had begun to realise with some of the techniques recently. Breaking the angles and controlling the angles of attack in a transition. Dave dutifully acted as Dan’s demo and he quickly demonstrated 7 ways to take immediate advantage by changing trhe angles and controlling the outside and the under hooks. It was the first time I had received any direct instruction from Dan. It had begun at the close of my session with Dave. I accompanied Dave out the front and thanked Dan on the way. His cobalt blue steel eyes stared back at me. I wondered if he could see my heat signature.

I turned to Dave “Well that is going in the journal”… 100%

Day 13

What the hell did Dave do to my back? I was tense as well and it was bloody cold. Whatever the reason I have developed some type of palsy on the left side of my body. My arm, hip and back started jolting in random spasms! Dave mentioned that his pressure point massage would radiate out and more than likely be originating from the hip… he did not mention I would be re-enacting My Left Foot. It’s days like this I am glad its raining and the rugby replay of the Waratahs slaughtering the Chiefs was on TV.

I laid down on the couch and committed to get the most rest out of my rest day that I could. I fell asleep watching Fast and Furious 7 – which I firmly believe was made for that specific purpose. I dreamt of having arguments with the Diaz brothers about my rear naked choke technique.


Day 14

I woke up at 5.30 am. It was so cold last night. My electric blanket was on full power and I had being lying on my left side all night. Magically all the pain had gone. There was still a knot near my hip and back but it was clear that it was smaller. I will need to see a physio to work it out properly. I did some hip rollouts and deep squats in the morning.

As I did not train yesterday I had a very poor nights sleep. Unfortunately, I have been using coffee to override these days of over tired agitation. I went for a slow jog and limited myself to two coffees. I was a little relaxed with the diet today as I had a chocolate bar. Screw it –I have earned it.

I reflected on the different techniques that I had been rehearsed through:

  • Defence of the rear naked choke
  • 3 breaking of the guard techniques
  • Guillotine choke
  • Body triangle
  • Guard pass through the middle
  • Hezekial choke
  • Angle change in transition
  • Leg press

I have a few open mats this week coming and will use them to test these techniques as much as practising on my rolling. I spent the remainder of the day scouting locations for Tim’s film in Marrickville. As usual his enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I came home and immediately scanned over the last 14 days in my journal. I just realised that I am writing in my journal about writing in my journal… it’s a self licking ice cream of navel gazing. Seriously though, part of this journey is to try and improve my connection to my inner voice by sheer quantitative practise. Like rolling and drilling martial arts – you get better with practise. As I note one too many spelling mistakes I have to reacquaint myself with the timeless adage:

Practice does not make perfect – Perfect practice makes perfect.


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    • profile image

      Dave Brooksbank 

      5 years ago

      Great read. Keep up the good work mate


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