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Midlife Crisis in Canvas: Week 4

Updated on June 12, 2016

Week 4 ... Flooding, films and flowing

Midlife Crisis in Canvas: Week 4

Day 20-21

As I sit down and right this I’m quite taken back that this journey is on the home stretch to make it a month. The weekend was a non event. The open mat I was to attend on Saturday got cancelled and then a freak storm came into the Northern Beaches and flooding devastated downtown Collaroy and Narrabeen. I was caught trying to walk back from Dee Whyas the huge waves pounded in. It was dark by the time I got to Collaroy beach and I did a double take as I saw waves breaking in the Collaroy Beach hotel carpark. Emergencey services were everywhere and I guess BJJ was taking a break.

My body craved the break I gave it on Saturday although I still stretched. On Sunday I did get to watch UFC 199. I watched a 45 year old Dan Henderson get his hand raised over a younger and deadly Hector Lombard. Nobody gave Dan a chance except me. I Literally ran around the Dee Why hotel like a soccer player who just scored a winning goal. It seems that middle age may indeed be a myth.

Day 22

I saw Adrian and Tony this morning and briefed them on my progress. The sirens, the cold and the rain meant I slept fitfully. Adrian looked me up and down and remarked that “I looked tired, but looked well”… a backhanded compliment that I was happy to hear. Normally a lack of sleep would initiate a downward spiral. Being more in touch with my physicality seemed to be averting this.

I went to the miidday class at Mona Vale. Mauricio was doing some cleaning up. The class consisted of takedowns predominantly and some king of the mat. Takedowns were merely tackling practise to me. As a breakaway for twenty years of rugby that was my wheelhouse – what wasn’t was my lower back. I always liked King of the mat. It forced you to think about what your bad habits were from specific positions. Sort of like the BJJ equivalent of couples counselling. Much like couples counselling your opponent did not hold back.

As usual I was paired with the tall American Marc Gagne. Marc provided a perfect foil to me. He was lanky, fit, patient and strong. It reminded me of the pace I had to stay at rather than trying to override people with bullocking strength. He was also the same age and as a result was more than understanding when it came to working around injuries. He had improved a lot since January and was a constant benchmark of my own progress. During the rolling he locked me up in a body triangle that took me two minutes to pry open. It was an exhausting class but one of the most productive I have done.

From there I went straight to my physio appointment. Craig worked my back again. I am sure he thoroughly explained what he was doing but all I can remember was howling in pain. I have another session on Wednesday and I will ensure that he briefs me accordingly. I am also to be subject to a gymnastics session.

I was wrecked when I got home. I tried to do some push ups and couldn’t even manage one. Listen to the body. Rest.

Day 23

I travelled into the city after hearing the news that one of the guys from the veterans group I am affiliated with had died. I was not close to the man but it sat with me heavily. Thankfully it was not to the all to prevalent suicide that plague the veteran’s community but all the same it was a sad loss of a man before his time. I reflected on my own journey and the numerous times I have looked into the abyss and wondered whether I should give in to my destructive self. By aligning myself to such organisations and undertaking the journey I was on I actually wanted to articulate a specifically effective method to arrest some of the health issues that are all to common amongst those who have served.

I wandered into the UFC Gym and found Dave stretching in the grappling area. We exchanged the usual banter as to my progress and latest UFC news.

Dave worked me through three specific exercises. He showed me the effective use of hips in “technical mount” or “side mount” (jury is out on which of these terms are correct but at least its not the “cerebral palsy mount”). The opening of hips and hip strength were clearly the key to execute these correctly. From that position you put on a Kimora grip and could put on an arm bar, an Ezekiel choke or take the back. My foot kept cramping so I will have to revisit this next lesson. I also revised the pillow choke and the bow and arrow.

Lastly in the roll I had to be reminded to get the underhook when committing to a guard pass before I could go to side control. Damn … I knew that. It occurred to me that I am actually forgetting techniques I have been taught. I will endeavour to review my journal and take those techniques for revision during rolling at the end of session at Mona Vale.

Day 24

Has it really been that long? I awoke with a light session as I was aware that I had a hard training day today. I went to see Craig the physio and waited for him to put me through a BJJ specific workout and stretching session. Craig was no joke and had liaised with his friend that trained UFC fighter Richie Walsh. I knew that this was going to be an absolute grind. I warmed up doing chin ups, bike riding and working a heavy bag. My boxing was not as crisp as usual and I hurt my wrist. Craig swept in like a Great White and chewed me up like an abalone diver. Hip raises, hanging chin ups, jump squats with a barbell, bench press with hips raised. My arms, hips and chest were blasted to bit. The ending alternate medicine ball throws and sled pushes turned a power workout into a killer cardio session. I walked out shaking like an epileptic playing Xbox.

I stumbled into the BJJ Mona Vale gym completely exhausted. You know you look in bad shape when you get told to take a break before you even start. When a Brazilian BJJ instructor tells you to take a break you probably need to go to hospital. I watched the end of a session. I said g’day to the others, told them I would be back in the evening and in a state of disrepair got about my day.

I caught up with an old school friend. Mark certainly had the wild streak in him and he had been out in the surfing in the king tide. Needless to say I was impressed. We swapped stories about our wild pasts and both of us reflected that we were lucky to be alive at 40. That really was extraordinary to me when I thought about it. “I guess it makes you a good Dad”: I thought out loud. Not for Mark – he had a daughter. It just made him a paranoid Dad.

I walked into Mona Vale Gym. The warm ups actually helped iron out the kinks from the mornings session. We learnt how to attack from semi side control and north south. After repeated drilling we rolled.

During this particular roll I fared reasonably well until Mauricio targeted me. Passing his guard proved almost impossible. I am convinced something in my posture was incorrect. He tied me up and tapped me five times in as many minutes. So much for feeling like I was progressing. As I left the gym thoroughly unimpressed with myself I gingerly I thanked him and asked him for his feedback. He told me he was going full speed to prepare for competition and hence why I found it so much harder. That made me feel much better. I was not being toyed with.

Good – I thought. That’s what I have to learn to beat.

Day 25

I woke with the body complaining loudly. In effort to curtail this I spent a lot ore time on stretching this morning. Amazingly I have already noticed a distance. I am still a far cry from running out and buying a yoga mat… although that would probably be a good angle to sort out my love life. I am relieved to know that both Dave and Mauricio both work on their stretching and are still not too enamoured in the process or satisfied with their results.

I noticed in my strength and conditioning my swiss ball roll outs had improved by two since the test to 28. Iwas going to try and knock over my visit with Ben and get back in time for Thursday session at Mona Vale.

Ben was delivered late to me again. This makes every visit late except for two. I have reconciled with the general apathy one gets confronted with when dealing with the authorities that manage it. We are back in court next Thursday so I will represent my misgivings there. Whilst waiting for my son with a Kinder surprise and his books to colour in I stewed on how unfair and powerless I felt. I practised mindful diaphragmatic breathing as I felt my blood pressure increase. When I ruminate I begin to boil away like an unwatched pot of spaghetti. Shit goes everywhere. I had to focus on being a black belt on what I could control and not losing my shit over what I couldn’t. The spaghetti needed to stay in the pot.

Seeing Ben was amazing. I am looking forward to his vocabulary growing so I can have proper conversations with him. I told him I loved him and he hugged me back and said “I love you too Dad”. Very few statements can be as enriching and elicit such pain all at once. Perhaps “England beat All Blacks in Rugby World Cup final” would be close.

Monkey Mania cardio session ensued. My son made sure that even if I did not make it training that night that I would be sufficiently worked over.

My meeting for pre production of the TV Pilot I had penned, “D List”, went well. I have a good relationship with the director and producer and it was great to talk shop for awhile. Richard is a directing wunderkind that is destined for success. He is lucky to have found a perfect partner in life in Carol his wife and Lauren his best friend as his producer. They are all good people and have the passionate approach to life that I actually try and emulate now. My legs were still throbbing from the day before. Unfortunately, there was no way I would make it back to Mona Vale in time.

Day 26

On Friday I had meetings that had me stranded in the city with not enough time to get back to Mona Vale. The morning meeting of Tim Glastonberry’s movie was the highlight of the day and I reviewed footage of a pilot “The Double” I had filmed with fellow actor/director Lance Bonzer. It was solid work and something that showed a different sid to my comedic chops. I scheduled in a visit to the Dojo at Bondi Junction for an open mat. I had trained hard in the morning and noticed I felt quite comfortable apart from my left hand I injured shadow boxing. Don’t ask.

I camped out in the afternoon at “About Life” up the road from the Dojo and did some writing. About Life is an all singing and all dancing health food store/buffet. You can drown literally yourself in kale juice and chia puddings and the word “organic” applies to even the utensils. I had something called a butter coffee that uses healthy oils instead of milk and apparently better for your diet. I’m not convinced but I knew I would need the caffine.

The open mat at the Dojo is something I will definitely become a regular at. I had a blast. I was still surly from the day before. I got in three rolls with black belts and rolled with a 14 year old kid who had placed 3rd in the worlds. He was fast and technically very good. It was like trying to nail a jelly fish to a wall. I focused on not bullying myself into positions. I was also watched by Dave and Daniel like a hawk and knew I would be berated should I just force myself into position using strength and not leverage and technique. They would have personally killed me if I actually hurt him. Afterwards I praised him for his heart and had a chat to his very proud Dad. I had a lot of fun and met some new faces. This is what made all the painful mornings worth while.

I ate pizza after 8.30 pm effectively destroying any pretence of dieting that weekend. It was SSSOOOO good. Note: Anything that is hot in Winter after 7 pm is comfort food.

Day 27

Rest Day. Enough said. I sat around all day, read the paper and procrastinated on every chore I had scheduled convinced that I would do it on Monday’s public holiday. I watched the Wallabies implode and blow a ten point lead to England. I don’t want to talk or write about it. That completely fucked the day up.

Day 28

It is a bitterly cold Sunday. The type of cold that requires a jumper to keep you warm and a jacket to block the wind chill. As the last three cities I lived in were Brisbane and Dubai, I was still working on my winter collection. Training when it was cold always takes me back to my time at Duntroon when we would run around Lake Burley Griffin during the single digit temperature atypical of a Canberra winter. You would not so much run as skate around the lake. I worked until 2 and then headed over to the Dojo for a session with Dave.

I was a little bit late as it is impossible to gauge the run from Northern Beaches to the Eastern Suburbs on a weekend. It can range between 20 to 90 minutes. Dave and I reflected on things I wanted to revise. As usual I got told to relax more…. I should lay off the coffee perhaps. That is standard feedback and a little annoying. One month down and its predominantly all I hear. We also revised specifically.

  • Breaking grips – how have I not been taught this yet?
  • Kimura grips – like the BJJ version of gaffa tape … universally applicable
  • Pillow choke – a Dave favourite
  • Arm bar from side mount – watch knees and space
  • Defeating arm bar defence – roll back towards head with kimura grip
  • Arm bar defence

Seems like a lot, but between the guys at Mona Vale and Bondi some of this stuff is really starting to settle. I finished up with kettle bell squats and dead hang chin ups on rings. Great for forearms. Have to revise journal on techniques learnt tomorrow.

The Venerable Dan "Hendo" Henderson...45 y.o


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