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Kovar Systems
Point to Ponder

No Ordinary Moments

By Dave Kovar

I am a novice historian with a special interest in 13th Century England, the Civil War and WWII. Although I am a fan of peace, there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from studying warfare.

One such lesson is that of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. As the battle approached, both the Union and Confederate Armies knew that this was a win-at-all costs event and that the winner of this battle would likely win the war. Colonel Chamberlain and the 20th Maine were charged with holding the left flank, located on a hill called “Little Round Top”. Holding the left flank was of particular importance because it would keep the Confederates from being able to effectively march on Washington.

On the morning of the Battle, Colonel Chamberlain, who was also suffering from malaria, made a commitment to his superiors that he would hold Little Round Top at all costs. As the day unfolded, the Confederate army attacked Little Round Top with wave after wave of soldiers, leaving the 20th Maine outnumbered, with high casualties, and little ammunition. Momentum continued to swing to the Confederate side, and finally several of the Colonel Chamberlain’s Lieutenants approached him, pleading to retreat. But instead the Colonel uttered two words that would forever be associated with the Battle of Gettysburg, "Fix bayonets.”

Rather than retreating, Colonel Chamberlain led a direct charge. Surprising the Confederates, they were able to capture 100 soldiers as the rest scattered, while successfully holding Little Round Top and the left flank.

The Union won at Gettysburg and, of course, eventually won the war. Some historians look back at Colonel Joshua Chamberlain’s effective stand at Little Round Top as one of the defining moments of the war. Many feel that if he didn't order his troops to "Fix bayonets" and charge, the whole outcome of the war could be very different and the United States as we know it might now be two separate countries.

Fast-forward 75 years later and the world is faced with its biggest threat ever, Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany's attempt at global domination. Had the United States not been united, some historians will tell you that we probably wouldn't have been strong enough to stop Hitler. So in a very real sense, the world is a different place due to one man's decision to "Fix bayonets" 150 years ago.

So what does this story have to do with running a Martial Arts school? Nothing...AND everything. It has nothing to do with the exact details of running a Martial Arts school but it has everything to do with the importance of our decisions regarding how we treat our students, how we interact with our staff, and how we promote our business. You see, there are no “ordinary moments.” Every time you tell a student "I believe in you, you CAN do this" you help shape their future. Every constructive discussion you have with a team member helps to shape their destiny. Every business decision affects the future of all parties involved.

As professional Martial Arts instructors, we are in a great position to positively influence our students. Imagine how bright the future of our industry would be if we treated all of our relationships as sacred and all kept in mind that there are no “ordinary moments.”

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by Dave Kovar