Kill em all: How to be a winner

I stabbed this one guy in the face maybe fourteen times. It was the same technique, over and over. He’d line up his shot on me, aiming at an opening he saw, and charge in. I’d twist my body just a little, roll my sword palm up as I extended it, and wham…Right into his face. In frustration he would speed up, trying to get his shot in before my counter attack. Because he kept going faster, my shot to his face just kept hitting harder and harder.

Eventually I called the bout off because I was getting physically sick. At least one of my shots had caused a concussion on my opponent, and all he had done was angrily shake it off and try to come in even faster. I don’t have it in me to lay that kind of hurt on someone…not in what is supposed to be a sport.

I can hurt people. I can do it accidentally, and I can do it intentionally. When its called for, it’s a thing you do, you deal with the aftermath. When it’s accidental, it sucks. You feel like crap unless you are a sociopath. Most people feel like I do. Humans are cooperative creatures and we find killing and hurting each other extremely difficult, despite what media might tell you. For some reason no one ever wants to report on good cops, nice people, things just going the way they should for everyone…it’s the rare things that attract attention.

In unarmed combat sport, hurting someone has strange gentlemanly rules to it. Punching each other in the face is fun. At worst, it’s a dominance game. Instead of having the biggest peacock feathers, we knock someone out. We don’t really, in our hearts, want to hurt them. We just want to establish our place in the pecking order. Fighters revel in taking more punishment than the other guy, almost as much as they revel in dishing it out.

But break someone’s arm? Gasps all around. Hit someone who’s unconscious, or unable to defend themselves? Hey hey, none of that now. Someone might get hurt. Go back to punching each other in the face. Let’s not be savages, here… It seems strange to non-fighters, who can only imagine a punch in the face as being a life-altering experience. When people like me get walloped in the face, our first reaction is usually a grin…it’s playtime!

With swordplay it’s different. We don’t use sharp swords, but we do use steel swords. There is no escaping the fact that hitting someone with a piece of steel is not a safe thing. Ever. There is always risk. Every organization that does steel fighting has some set of rules in place to alleviate that risk. On one extreme we have full steel armour and weapons that probably won’t kill the other guy. On the other extreme we have…don’t touch the other guy. Some groups use foam or other weapon simulators. Most try to find a balance between armouring up and allowing freedom of movement.

In order to achieve this balance, they rely on one important factor: Cooperation. Each fighter that participates agrees to be complicit in an implied agreement of safe performance. Which is to say, they agree to try not to hurt each other. And in this agreement lies the key to landing yourself lots of wins without needing a lot of technical skill.

Bluntly, if you want to win, care less about hurting your opponent. If the other guy is constrained by his desire to be careful while fighting, and all you care about it hitting him before he hits you…who do you think is going to win the fight? I’m not talking about speed here, either, but intent to hurt. You need to be deceptive to your intent as well. Adopt guards and mannerisms that disguise what you are about to do. Be prepared to ignore shots, too. As much as you can, plan to hit your opponent more than once, especially if they hit you at the same time as your first shot. Immediately strike them back. Confusion is your friend. People will doubt themselves if you are bold enough. Be quick with an apology if you get caught, no one will want to believe you are intentionally cheating the system. When they do start to catch on over time, you can throw in the “martially sound” straw man argument, and make everyone feel inferior for not using your approach, carefully putting aside the fact that you are playing a different game altogether.

Of course, eventually people will react. They will get frustrated and angry, but your bullying will shame them into keeping quiet. They will react the way people do, by trying to mimic your actions. And what do you do once they’ve peed into their own pool, and you aren’t winning as much anymore? Rest on your laurels. Be smug about your successes, and stay out of the pool. Leave behind a group that batters and bruises each other and doesn’t even know why, except that it’s the way things are.

It’s not, of course, a guaranteed way to win. A correctly trained fighter will see what you are doing, and shift from a balanced play of equals to a defensive game. This will capitalize on your over-commitment, and allow him to move into close play if the rules allow it. Expect to receive pommel, elbow, and knee strikes until he figures out your timing and reach…and then the real pain will arrive. He’s able to do this because he is no longer playing a sport, but fighting a martial art. He’s stepping up a level above you, by responding to your intent to hurt with an intent to kill. Lucky for you the weapons aren’t sharp.

All of the above, by the way, completely sucks for your average fighter. Way before that crap happens they just start to hate sparring, hate training, and wonder why they are bothering. Who the hell wants to spend time getting hurt and frustrated doing something you thought was going to be fun and challenging? No one wants to pay money to be bullied. No one wants to give up something they started to love because they are being shamed into feeling weak when they complain about being hurt.

Bruises and pain are a part of learning swordplay. You have to trust your gut about things. Getting hit hard from time to time should have an honest feeling to it. It’s supposed to be like getting caught in the rain with friends…you feel a little foolish but you just laugh it off because you are all in it together. If your instinct is anger or blame…something is wrong. What is supposed to be a supportive system has turned abusive.

Swordplay is a beautiful and complex art. It takes serious dedication to get good at it, and it becomes a part of your life. Respect that. Only allow good things into your life. Sometimes it’s gruelling, sometimes painful, sometimes frustrating…but it should always put a smile on your face. There is a secret Society of Fencers out there, people who only know joy in their fencing and permit nothing to spoil that. You never know when you might join them…

Wednesday WTF: Strong is Beautiful

Anger. I have it.

I love these Wednesday posts. The timing just seems to be right for me to vent and get some crap out of my system. Well, to get out some of the crap the system has put in my head. The system, BTW, is you…we all participate. Let’s get a little smarter together, shall we?

A little good before the bad, Krista Scott-Dixon runs a great website you should have a read of. She has a good community on her Facebook page, and it was there I ran across this story about Sarah Robles, an Olympian. Inspiring woman. Lots of interesting little tidbits in her blog, but what really hits me is her lack of complaint. She shows up to do what she’s good at, things suck but she deals. Why does she raise a fuss about things? Because, as she says, if she doesn’t no one will, and that’s not fair.

Damn straight it isn’t. Stoicism teaches us that the things that are out of our control are not to be valued, and yet there is so much obsession about how people look. People don’t choose to be born ugly anymore than they choose to be born pretty, and yet we think a person is inherently better if they are pretty. WTF?

¬†Seriously, WTF? I’m not gonna talk about the relative merits of this plan, I don’t care. I utterly hate the assumption that success is a “big bikini reveal!” “It’s not to late to get strong, lean and sexy for summer!” Because being sexy is a win, right? We have to win. Win means looking sexy in swimwear. If you can’t rock your beach body, you don’t win! Fail! You fail! Huh. Funny. I know a lot of people. Most of those people aren’t going to fit into the category of “sexy swimwear” types, but most of them are happy, in relationships, and have good careers. It’s almost like they don’t realized that they are supposed to failures.

Sadly, a lot of them feel like failures because of articles like that one. You’d think I’d support that mindset, being a personal trainer and nutrition coach, but you’d be wrong. I promote good eating and exercise because it makes you happy. I don’t give a rats ass how you look in a bikini. Especially not the guys…

So, should you take the new miracle weight loss pill?¬† Let’s take a look at the results. Hmm…you can lose up to 20lbs a year, in conjunction with dieting and exercise. Hmm. That’s about what you can expect to lose in a year with diet and exercise. Maybe slightly more than average. Of course, no data on what happens when you stop your magic pill taking. Probably the same thing that happens when you stop your magic diet plan, magic workout plan, magic all-natural herbal plan or any other crap you think is “the” solution to a problem that someone made up for you…yes! The weight comes back with a little extra for fun’s sake.

Oh woe is us. How does this misfortune happen? Well, it starts when you start thinking that being fat is being on the loser train. Sorry, but you never have any reason to be a smug asshole about what’s happening in other people’s lives. Superiority is a form of hatred, and it turns back on you so fast it’s like you really hated yourself all along. One day you are making fun of “the people of wallmart” and the next your are silently berating yourself for eating so many nachos over beer last night, and holy shit…are my pants getting tight at the waist? Yeah, then the panic sets in. Welcome to the big weight swing that will occupy the rest of your life. Enjoy. Don’t you wish you’d spent a little more time on your own happiness now? Sigh.

And while I’m at it, you can skip that crap about digging on skinny people. Or hipsters. Or any other shit. Guess what? You have better things to do with your life. If you can’t think of something better to do, you come ask me, I’ll give you something to occupy yourself…lotsa garbage around here needs picking up.

Grumble. Look, you need to workout and eat correctly to live well. Get strong because, as Sarah says, it just makes life easier. To quote another hero of mine, Terry Dobson, “Strength has more to do with intention than the size of your biceps.” Don’t settle for being weak. Feeling superior to other people is a weakness, it’s a laziness of the soul. And the companion to that weakness is feeling that other people are better simply because they have things as a result of random chance…like good looks, wealth, and fame. Those things have no intrinsic value, and paying attention to such things weakens you. Be strong to be truly beautiful.

To me, there are few things in life more beautiful than a strong woman…



Listening for performance

I made the big switch yesterday. I moved from regular pedals to clip-in pedals with proper cycling shoes. The transition was unpleasant. I’ve only been using the bike on the 12km commute to work for about three weeks, but apparently that was just long enough to build up some body habits. I’d already noticed that I was starting to monkey-clutch the pedals with my toes in order to secure my grip. Switching to the new pedals showed me I was doing a few other things.

The first thing that threw me off was a maddening desire to turn my toes out. I felt like they were being squeezed in, and there was a very uncomfortable pressure on my knees. I looked down at my feet while pedalling to check my position, and everything looked fine. My feet were parallel, my knees tracked correctly in line with my toes, everything was anatomically correct…which meant I’d been riding with my heels in and gotten used to it. There were a few other little annoyances, all of which added up to a gruelling, exhausting commute. Today was different though.

Eric Franklin wrote a great book called “Conditioning for Dance” that has been influential in my movement studies. One of the big take-aways I got from it was the power of internal self-observation and visualization. Specifically, the concept of paying attention to what is happening internally during a movement. A passive, observant attention. I teach it to my students as a listening. The passiveness has a real value to martial artists, but takes some work.

Years ago, my girlfriend at the time was an archer. Her archery classes fit right into the time slot before my rapier classes, so I would tag along. I remember being intrigued that the goal of the archer wasn’t to hit the bullseye every time, but to work for a tight cluster of shots. The idea was that if you could get all of your arrows to hit roughly the same spot consistently, then all you had to work on after that was to move that spot closer to the bullseye.

The Listening skill I picked up from Franklin’s book is similar. When trying to correct a physical technique, I first have the students pay attention to what is happening without trying to correct it. They put their mind inside the joints involved, and repeat the motion over and over and just try to fully understand what is going on. Once understanding has been achieved, a small correction may be attempted. The process is repeated continuously. Training with very advanced fighters, comfortable with the technique, we are able to use this listening loop during slow rapier sparring with each other. It has a very deep value.

Often we find that the source of a problem is something that wasn’t apparent. Working on my roundhouse kick one day, I felt I was not getting an easy enough rotation in my striking foot. My instinct was that I lacked flexibility in my hip, but before I went back to working towards achieving a full split stretch, I went into Listening mode. I threw a slow series of kicks. With each kick my awareness of the mechanics grew. I felt tension in my hip, but didn’t correct. Just kept throwing the kick. After about ten kicks, I had a solid image of what was going on, and the culprit was not at all what I thought it was. The problem with the right leg kick was a little residual tension in the left knee. By slightly flexing my left knee at one point in the kick, the tension vanished and my right leg kick behaved exactly as I wanted it too.

Cycling to work tonight, I stopped resisting and trying to correct my mechanics. Instead, I just listened to what was happening to my body. My heart rate slowed. I stopped thinking about haste, exhaustion, correct technique. I watched my little bike computer, and settled my cadence and speed. I resolved to keep them constant, and to just see what was going on. As the kilometers moved by, I felt the different muscles working and straining. A lot of my effort was being spent on muscles trying to do actions that weren’t needed. One at a time, I corrected small muscles, teaching them to relax and trust the mechanism. I stopped fighting the bike, and developed a smooth pedalling action. The last few kilometres were a complete joy. I felt connected to my bike. Pedalling was effortless. I pulled into work with a huge grin on my face, a few minutes early…and completely relaxed.

The Flat Spot: Plateaus in training


I can’t figure out why my mind makes the decisions it does. I know my problems, and they are many. My body is not only broken, but misshapen. Scoliosis, a curved back, is only one thing that prevents me from doing what others find are simple actions. Even so, I have a lot of experience. I know how to overcome my flaws. I know the technical steps needed to get better. I know the drills it will take to reprogram myself. I’ve done those and more, but I’m still faced with the question of why I don’t get better.

Everyone goes through plateaus. We learn something new, we get better, and then we stop getting better and just get stuck for a while. Then some sort of eye-opening breakthrough happens and we get better again. For a fencer, it’s often a literal eye-opening experience. About the two or three year mark, our eye suddenly reaches a point of development that lets us see more in the middle of an engagement than we ever saw before. For other athletes, the breakthrough is often in fitness. Weightlifters are often the lucky ones, they can see concrete numbers of improvement without the need for coaches or science. Nothing quite like the first time you easily lift a weight that had been your nemesis for months…

We tend to see our development as athletes as a series of breakthroughs. You look back over your career and see those bright shining times when everything seemed so easy. You were unbeatable, nothing required effort. You just got better and better without trying. We remember those times fondly. We tend to forget that the majority of our career is spent in the grind. The painful slog of repetition when nothing seems to get better. The frustrations, the anger, the desire to quit altogether…or worse, the real surrender of just saying “This is it. This is as good as I will ever get and I just have to accept that.”

The real secret of training is that improvement actually happens in the plateau. That flat spot in the chart of improvement where we think we are doing nothing is actually where we do the work that triggers the breakthrough. It’s the testing ground, the laboratory of self-realization. Our subconscious brain goes to work and starts to pay attention to what we are doing. Every small thing gets analyzed and recorded. Small changes take place, and more analysis is done. Eventually the pieces all fit together…perception, biomechanics, biochemistry, and neural pathways all finish their work. Click. Things get easy.

I spent a few years collecting data on how rapier fencers performed in tournaments. I had a good pool of data. At the time there were over four hundred active fencers, and some tournaments attracted nearly a hundred competitors. I was able to record numbers of new, experienced, and champion fighters, and track how their number changed over time. I found a few things out. They may or may not apply to other activities:

New fighters win less than a quarter of their fights. After about a year, the average fighter wins about a third of their fights. Between three and five years of experience, the average fighter breaks into the fifty percent win range. After five years, a small group advance to win sixty percent of their fights. A very small fraction of fighters break into seventy percent wins. A fighter on a tear will hit eighty percent for a while. Those at the limit of ability hit ninety percent. Most very good fighters will settle at seventy percent, and occasionally rise to the higher brackets before settling back down. One percent of all fighters overall will hit and maintain ninety percent. At all the lesser levels, some people will just never progress. About thirty percent of all fighters never surpass the first hurdle of twenty-five percent wins.

Skill is a logarithmic progression. As you get better, you spend more and more time in plateaus. It takes more and more effort to hit the breakthroughs. More time, more frustration, more drills, more exercise, more everything. Everyone has an internal capacity for punishment, and that capacity measures how much they are willing to pay for improvement. The end value of skill only has so much worth compared to the price you must pay to attain it. That worth is different for everyone. For elite athletes, any price is worth any improvement. For a casual athlete, the initial investment needed to gain entry to the playing field is sufficient. Simply playing the game is enough reward for most people.

As I’ve gotten older and more experienced, the effort required to improve becomes not just harder, but more complex. It used to be easy to improve. Learn new techniques. Drill lunges. Drill more lunges. Lunge some more. Then it got a little more complex…do slow work to develop a tactical eye. Mirror and video work to eliminate openings. Drill combinations. Spar endlessly. Lunges… Things got really complex as I started to get into the finals of tournaments. I had to learn all my weaknesses, and develop strategies to overcome them. I leaned before throwing shots: learn to sidestep before attack, to remove the tell. I was to aggressive: learn to intimidate my opponents so they naturally keep extra measure, giving me more time for tactical corrections. There was a lot of work to do. Then I started to teach full-time, and learned to help others get past their own plateaus by teaching them to embrace the experience for what it was.

Now I’m at the final step of improvement, the last big plateau. The only way for me to get better is to systematically eliminate every flaw I can. Some flaws I cannot overcome. I can’t straighten my back, I can’t regrow tendons. Those aren’t the big flaws anyway. The real errors now are in the way I think, the tactical decisions in the midst of combat. Improvement now requires me to deeply examine why I think the way I do. I need to fully understand the origin of my thoughts, and what varied life experiences have caused me to expect certain responses. Once I’ve got that information figured out, it’s the long process of cleaning the old reflexes and neural pathways out, one at a time. It’s a hell of a plateau, but I still think it’s worth the effort. I haven’t hit my limit yet.

Then and Now: First days of fencing, and a few weeks ago. I’m on the left, Devon Boorman is my “Then” opponent, Jordan Both my “Now” Opponent.

It’s okay to suck

One of the more valuable lessons you can learn in martial arts is that things are hard. New things are difficult and awkward, and you will feel like a fool as you learn. It’s unavoidable. Sometimes you look like a fool even after learning something.

I remember when I finally nailed the jump-spinning inside crescent kick. The kung fu form I was learning at the time required me to execute three of them in a row with no pause. I received zero instruction in how to do it. A senior student demonstrated the movement precisely once, and told me I wouldn’t learn anything else until I could perform it. It took about a week…15hrs training time. I moved from awkward hops and flailing to a sharp spin, jump, and quick kick. Land and repeat. Easy-peasy. Then I got cocky. I started to pick the speed up. I tried for more height, more power. My confidence grew. It was my favourite show-off technique for a while. Until I over-rotated one day and landed flat on my back. In front of the cute girl I was showing off to.

A lesson in humility, and a good one. But I still worked that kick, over and over…even though for months I was still convinced I was going to fall again and look like an idiot. Fear of looking like an idiot, of sucking, is just a part of martial arts training. Just like pain, and frustration. You learn to accept it.

I know a lot of singers. I know even more people who don’t sing. You know why most people don’t sing? Too afraid of letting that first note out of their mouths. They know it will suck, and that scares them. Singers are the ones that let that first croak out, and then the second, and the umpteenth. Eventually they got better. It’s an astoundingly rare person who opens their mouth and has a good note come out.

When I started to incorporate gymnastics and breakdancing into my martial arts classes, I had to deal with a minor rebellion. Some students just completely froze up. Throwing a punch was okay. A cartwheel? Not so much. Dancing? What if I look like an idiot? Well…you will. But so will everyone else. It was hard for everyone, but the ones that held their noses and jumped in and embraced the suck? They got better. Lots better. And they started to reap the benefits of the challenging training.

Fear of failure, fear of sucking. It stops you from moving. And that’s why martial artists need to learn to embrace that fear, and practice overcoming it.

Working security, working the door as a bouncer…you can’t hesitate when it comes time to move. In self-defense it’s even more critical. You must move. And yet, it’s the hardest thing to do. If you can make that one first motion, everything else will fall into place (Somehow! But that’s another post.) But often you won’t make that move. You won’t do anything. You may not freeze, but you might feel like someone put a dunce cap on you. You get dumb. Your thoughts slow right down. It’s fear. Fear of doing the right thing. Fear of standing out. Fear of looking foolish, of doing the wrong thing and being humiliated for it. It can freeze you stone cold, while the most horrible things happen. It happens to people all the time, every day.

There are a lot of things you can do to train yourself past that. Scenario-based training is an excellent method. Getting a job as a bouncer is also pretty good! But simple things are good as well. The reflex that stops you from interrupting a vandal is the same reflex that stops you from opening your mouth and singing. Or taking a ballet class. It’s not nearly as severe, but by practicing overcoming those small fears, we do build skill at overcoming acute fears.

I learned in grade school to be afraid to talk. Opening my mouth brought me ridicule from a particularly twisted teacher. Teaching martial arts taught me, and let me practice, not just talking but yelling. I learned to project and use my voice to control a noisy class. And that simple training let me use my voice as a lash to control rowdy drunks in a bar, to stop vandals and thieves, and stop more than one punch cold in its tracks. Everything in life is practice. Few things are more valuable to practice than overcoming the fear of sucking.

Letting go: Martial arts mind


A few years ago I was lying on my back, on the cold asphalt ground, screaming, staring at my right leg in utter disbelief.

A moment before I was happy…confident. I knew the future precisely. It was unfolding in front of me with a smooth ease. The student was doing the hip throw incorrectly, and I knew why. So I partnered with him and showed him how I could stop him from throwing me by centring my weight down. Showed him what I expected from him, and asked him to try again. He kinda waffled through it, looked a bit hesitant and nervous. I told him to really put some oomph into it. I wasn’t going to let him go until he performed at least the lift part of the throw correctly.

I was prepared. I expected a strong sweep and twist of my upper body. I would lift my foot, and keep my free arm out for a breakfall if the worst happened. No problems. I’d done this a million times before.

When the sweep came, things went wrong really fast. My foot, in new shoes, on new asphalt, stuck to the ground instead of lifting free. With the twist happening on my upper body, my knee locked straight and took the full force of the sweep. I felt it lock straighter than it should ever go, and then felt the sickening snap as it went the wrong way. It was a hellish moment of feeling an extreme wrongness in my body…and then it got worse. The throw continued. My knee, now free of the constraints of one tendon, twisted freely, I felt another snap as I twisted and started to fall. I think the student, at this point, had started to realize something had gone wrong and was trying to stop what had already happened. I fell over his outstretched leg, twisting my knee even further as my foot, agonizingly, refused to leave the ground. There was another snap. My foot came free, and there I was, lying on my back, screaming in pain, wanting to clutch my leg but afraid to touch it.

Yesterday I was folding laundry. Folding laundry is one of the ways I actively practice being a Stoic. I dump the laundry in a pile on the bed. I want to eventually wind up with separate piles: socks paired, shirts and pants folded, towels rolled, etc. I look at the pile and grab a sock. Put it aside. Look at the pile again. Grab a shirt. Fold it, put it where I want the shirt pile to go. Look at the pile…

My eye first lights on a towel, but out of the corner of my eye I see the matching sock to the one put aside. Stoic decision making is about teaching ourselves that the original thought is usually the most correct. But how can you tell what the original thought was? The next jumps on to the first almost before you’ve completed the original thought. When you try to go back to the original thought, you start to rationalize and add to that original thought, which can corrupt it as much as the following thoughts. You cannot just think that first thought and keep it in mind naturally. You have to train yourself.

So I roll the towel, and only think of the towel. I turn back to the pile and pick up whatever my eye falls on next. One thing, then the next. I work at just experiencing one discrete object at a time, one discrete set of instructions at a time. If the thought of the sock nags at the back of my mind? That’s another lesson. Nothing should bother you. If you can take care of it in the moment, take care of it. If you can’t take care of it, let it out of your mind. It’s not your issue to deal with. In this case, I don’t want to burden myself with the thought of an unmatched sock any longer. It’s in my power to find the matching sock and pair it, so I do. One piece of laundry at a time, I teach myself to think and act like a Stoic, free in the moment.

I have only been in an animal state of disbelief in the time it takes me to fall to the ground. When my back hits, my mind takes over. Breathe, I command myself. My whole world shrinks down to the control of my lungs. Stop yelling. Breathe in. In the time it takes that breath to start its ragged way in, I go after the pain. I don’t ignore it. I don’t try to stop it, or control it. I let it flow over me. I try to understand it, to feel it as deeply as I can. I immerse my self into it. My lungs are full. I force myself to let the breath out, slowly, with control. I can hear it shaking it’s way out of me. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. I repeat that over and over to myself.

I’m into the pain now, hunting down it’s source. It’s not the whole leg. It’s the knee. It’s a part of the knee. It’s three discrete points in the knee. My breathe is all the way out. I leave it out for one count. Slowly back in. The spasming muscles in my leg relax, and my foot collapses back on the ground. My knee is bent again. A fresh burst of agony shoots up, but I’m already at the source of it, I can feel precisely what it is. It’s a known quantity and I’m paying attention to it.

I stop thinking of the pain as a fear of what has happened to me. I stop thinking about how wrong my leg felt. I stop thinking about how much pain I should be in, and just be in the pain I am in. One heartbeat, one pulse of existence at a time. Within three breaths the pain is gone. I start to come back to the world. Later the doctors tell me that I tore both my ACL’s, the inside LCL, and the medial meniscus. I’m supposed to be off my feet for weeks, and walking on crutches. I go to work that night, and walk on a cane.

The Stoic virtue of Prudence (Wisdom in later translation) is very misunderstood these days. It’s the sense of time and place we all have, our understanding of when and where we are. To be Prudent is to know that the past is remote and gone. The future is unknown. We have only the present. We view each phase of time a specific way. The past we reminisce about, but we do so free from emotion. The present we try to know, understanding cause and effect. The future we look forward to with tempered optimism. Balanced with the other three virtues we can live a balanced life.

But only with practice. Like folding laundry…