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MOLON LAVE | IDVTAInternational Dynamic VingTshun Association

MOLON LAVE

MOLON LAVE

«ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ»: The official logo of IDVTA!

Molon Lave is now the official logo of IDVTA and is already on the teachers T-shirts. But what does this slogan mean and most importantly, what does it mean for IDVTA?

MOLON LAVE: « Struggle and get it! »
These two words symbolize a concept that has existed for 2500 years. The MOLON LAVE represents the heart of the warrior and embodies the indomitable spirit of humanity. MOLON LAVE is the most important slogan in the military history. These words of Leonidas stayed immortal in world history, and gave him honor and posthumous fame as a global standard and as Depositary patron principles, laws and duties.

The huge army of Persians is arriving in Greece…

We are in ancient Greece in 480 BC. From the faraway Asia, King Xerxes of Persia A’, having gathered a huge army of 600.000 men and 800 ships, is coming to conquer Greece. The battle at Thermopylae had great strategic importance. The strait of Thermopylae was chosen because of the enormous numerical superiority of the Persians against the Greeks.
(At the time of Leonidas, the passage was a narrow path about 12 meters in width below the hill. Today the passage of Thermopylae reaches from 1.5 to 3 km wide, because of the deposition at the mouth of river Sperchios)

The Greek army…

The Greeks were a total of approximately 7.000 soldiers, including 300 Spartans with their king Leonidas. The Greeks, despite the very small number have managed to stop the Persians, and gave battle for six days until the last defender died.

The negotiations…
As Xerxes located in front of the small number of Greek soldiers, imagined that only with the presence of his large army, the Greek army will break up in a few days. So he waited in front of Thermopylae for four days. When the four days passed he sent his agents to seek the surrender of weapons of the Greeks. To frighten the Greeks, he warned that the Persian arrows would be vast in number during battle that they will cover the sun.

A Spartan named Dienekis replied tersely: «Well, then we will fight in the shade».
When he could not frighten the Greeks he promised rich returns to Leonidas to surrender his weapons. Then the Spartan king gave the heroic phrase, «molon lave» (struggle and get them). This appears to have angered Xerxes and he immediately ordered the attack.

The battle and the victory of the Greeks…

The narrow passage had such a width that only 1000 Persians could get in the battle each time. Originally Xerxes ordered all those who had lost their relatives in the battle of Marathon to attack, to fight with passion for revenge. Seeing that this had not given any result he decided to send to battle his personal guards, the «Immortals».

Leonidas put the Spartans in the first part to deal with the «Immortals» and applied the defensive-offensive convoy formation. The plan was to attack in the first phase of the fight with a forward movement of the 300. Later on retreat backwards and finally make a surprise counter-attack.

That way the Persians thought that the Greeks were retreating, so many of them fell in the deadly trap. The maneuver was executed well and many of the great Persians were found dead. Herodotus says that Xerxes jumped three times from his throne (where he watched the whole fight from), as he was seeing his selected corps retreating.

The Greek soldiers had very heavy armor and weapons. Only their eyes were seemed beneath the cracks of the helmet and the rest of the body was covered with cuirass, tuille, brassard, and a large round bronze shield. Even the spear was longer than their opponents and when they fall on Persian shields, they pike the man behind.

On the sixth day since the Persians arrived the Greeks were found in a thriving moral. Xerxes were sending his soldiers in waves without interruption until the sun sets. He wanted to exhaust the Greeks. Until noon, the parts of the Greeks were changing the first line to rest the militants fighting. But by noon and then, mention Diodoros, the sections of the first line refused to change. They had already killed many barbarians, but the thirst to perform and other acts of Valor were not extinguished. The loser Persian army retreated one more time as defeated.

At the end of the battle excellences were given. The most heroic of all was the Spartans and especially Dienekis, who gave the famous answer «Well, then we will fight in the shade».

The betrayal…
Indignant Xerxes held a council. Then a Greek who knew the area, the Nightmare, said he knew a secret passage behind the lines of the Greeks and that he could lead there the Persian army if they give him a large amount of money. Xerxes then sent 20,000 men with the nightmare and just before dawn they were in the back of the Greeks.

When this became apparent, immediately Leonidas convened a council. There was decided that the Greek cities withdraw their forces because it would be useless to lose so many soldiers in a specified defeat. The path would be kept from Leonidas with his 300 Spartans. The Corinthian commander in vain tried to dissuade Leonidas to retreat and to go with them. One of the Pythian oracle had said that Sparta can be saved if its king was sacrificed.

So Leonidas believed that he had to be sacrificed to save his country. But someone had to carry the news at the Senate in Sparta. Leonidas chose the Spartans Euritos and Aristodimos. When the Greek troops retreated, Euritos couldn’t stand to abandon his comrades, and he came back and died with them! Also, 700 Thespieis referring to their common ancestor with Spartans (the demigod Hercules), declare that they are not leaving their positions.

The king gave the battle with all its forces until the end…
Xerxes ordered the attack a little after ten o’ clock in the morning on August 4 in 480 BC. The Greeks didn’t stay on the narrow path but they went out in the open space to fight instead, with a convoy formation. The Persian forces surround them and then began a wild battle. The heroism of the Greeks reached the limits and even many Persian gentries such as Xerxes cousins Avrokomas and Yperanthis died.

And then in a moment, King Leonidas fell dead. Four times the Persians tried to take his body. At all times Spartans protected it and succeeded taking back the body of their king. Then appeared Ydarnis from the backs of the Greeks and began a most brutal slaughter.

The Greeks retreated around the hill Colonos and has continued to literally fight with their “teeth and nails”, since all their weapons were broken, as stated in the text of Herodotus. Xerxes fearing that once again will have large losses in his army, ordered the archers to kill all the Greeks, who all died till the last one behind the hill.

The battle of Thermopylae was of great strategic importance…
Leonidas, with his heroic struggle ensure the salvation of the other Greek soldiers who withdrew. The Persian army suffered heavy losses and morally had lost the battle of Thermopylae. The Greek army withdrew, regrouped and joined with other Greek forces, and finally succeeded repelling the Persians from Greece. Thusly the independence of the Greeks remained and the Greek culture continued to bloom.

At the end of the Persian wars in the battlefield of Thermopylae sign is being placed that says: «Ω ξειν, αγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις, ότι τήδε κείμεθα, τοις κείνων ρήμασι πειθόμενοι» which means: «Hey foreigner, announce to Spartans that we are lying here (dead), devoted in the sacred task that they entrusted to us».

Since the end of that battle and till now, the sacrifice of Leonidas and so many men at that point, is a shining example of heroism and altruism. The sacrifice has been the subject of moral uplift to many armies, since the Roman Empire until the Second World War. Ancient and younger writers have used the battle of Thermopylae as an example of Valor, sacrifice and rigid beliefs against adverse circumstances.

But what Molon Lave means to IDVTA;
Fortunately there is now peace in Greece and Europe. Consider however, in how many cases someone had to defend himself at school, at work, on the road or in other daily activities. The phrase ΜΟΛΩΝ LAVE has a strong and symbolic significance for us all. Life sometimes puts us in situations where we must take difficult decisions, even when we are at a disadvantage.
Those who deal with our martial art, even for a short time, will immediately understand why the slogan «Molon Lave» is chosen by IDVTA.

«MOLON LAVE» and IDVTA:
Never give up – No matter how strong the opponent seems to be, we don’t accept our fate passively.
We fight smart – With proper strategy and technique we effectively overcome any difficulty.
We respect every opponent – We never underestimate any opponent, no matter how small or weak he seems to be.
« Struggle and get it! » – It would be needed a great effort and much trouble for someone to manage to «put us down».
We fight with all our forces – Someone would have to think it twice before deciding to attack us, when we knows that the resistance will be the maximum and that we will fight till the end.

Memorial photographs:
Sifu A. Panagiotopoulos, at the monument of Leonidas in Thermopylae.