Is there anything to this "Creonte" name calling in BJJ?
When I first started training in Brazilian JiuJitsu, I tried out a few different BJJ academies in my area and quickly learned there was a big difference between academies as far as instruction and the attitudes of the different instructors. One local BJJ academy I tried out seemed very strict and almost cult like in its following of the head instructor. After advising this instructor of my intentions of trying out a few more academies before signing up for a membership, he seemed very annoyed at my decision. After telling a friend who attends that particular academy of my experience, he told me the head instructor has not allowed a few of his students back, calling them "Creonte's," after learning they attended another academy without his prior knowledge or permission.
What the heck is a "Creonte?"..........
Grandmaster Carlson Gracie first used the word Creonte when referring to Vitor Belfort’s departure from "Team Carlson Gracie," to "Brazilian Top Team." The term comes from a popular Brazilian soap opera that Carlson enjoyed, called Mandala. The show aired during 1987 and 1988 and featured a character named Creonte Silveira who became the basis for the term coined by Carlson. Brazilian actor Gracindo Junior portrayed the villainous character who constantly switched allegiances in order to save his own skin and come out on top, even if succeeding came at the expense of others. Carlson drew parallels between the soap opera’s self-serving character and his former prized pupil when Vitor left Carlson to train with his former teammates.
ADCC veteran and popular BJJ Coach, Tom DeBlass, reveals his concepts on dominating the closed guard. You can learn more here!
The situation started a long time ago in Brazil. During the early days of Brazilian JiuJitsu, each school had very different styles of Brazilian JiuJitsu. There were very few competitions, but when JiuJitsu schools met in an event, it was time to check out if their new secret techniques worked against the other schools. At the time there were no video cameras, so even in competition the exchange of information was limited because very few could remember the different techniques used. The biggest issue for a school was when someone from its team would leave and start training at another school because the BJJ practitioner would take all the techniques and concepts learned from his old school and teach them to his new, rival school, which caused bad blood between schools.
Even today, I have seen Brazilian JiuJitsu practitioners labeled as "Creontes" because of situations perhaps they may not be able to control. Maybe they travel a lot with their work and have to attend classes out of town under a different instructor. Or their work schedule is such that maybe they have to attend two different academies in order to get sufficient mat time. Or perhaps they have a friend at another academy and like to train with a friend a few times a month.
Like I previously mentioned, when I first started out in Brazilian JiuJitsu, I tried out over 5 different academies in my area. Some of the instructors encouraged me to train at different academies and some acted very upset that I would even consider another academy after training at theirs. In my opinion, if you as an instructor are confident in your skill set and teaching ability, he/she should have no issue with a student trying out another academy because he/she should know what they bring to the table and attending another academy to train would only solidify their skill set and teaching ability if they are in fact as good as they think they are in their teaching of Brazilian JiuJitsu.
At the end of the day “life happens” and Brazilian JiuJitsu is not life or death, or even a profession for 98% of practitioners. Sometimes you move to a different part of the state or switch academies because you feel you aren't getting the best instruction for the money. After all, you are the person paying good money for Brazilian JiuJitsu instruction and in my opinion, you have the right to try out another academy if you feel like your needs aren't being met in one way or another.
Well known Brazilian JiuJitsu Champion and highly respected Instructor, Tom DeBlass, has an interesting perspective on the subject:
"I never tell my students they aren’t allowed to train somewhere, I let them make their own decisions. Furthermore, I welcome guests from around the country and world from different teams to visit my Academy at anytime. I love it. I give seminars all over the nation and soon the world. Meeting new people in the Jiu-Jitsu world is something I love and I’m thankful for. We all share something beautiful, Jiu-Jitsu.
However, if you open a school down the road from my teachers school I will not visit you. It’s not that I wish bad things upon you, but why would I spend a day so close to my teacher and not choose to learn from him? Now a days our schedule is so busy it’s hard to share as much time on the mats as we’d like, yet a training session is always a free day and phone call away, regardless of how much time passes.
Our team is blessed with many great teachers and I am lucky to have learned from so many. We have proven our Jiu-Jitsu on the world’s biggest stages competitively. Next ADCC like many others in the past we will have a representative in each weight class, do you understand how amazing that is? I am forever in debt to my team and teachers.
Loyalty doesn’t mean you cannot visit other schools. Loyalty doesn’t mean you cannot be friends with people from other schools. Loyalty simply means you have a home base. If you are part of an amazing team you understand the commeradery we share. My best friends can be found right on the mats along side me.
DeBlass went on to add that loyalty should be a two way street:
So many teachers expect loyal students, but let me ask you this, are you loyal to your students?
Do you understand it is your job to serve your students, not your students job to serve you.
They are paying for a service, so I am very curious where things have gotten mixed up over time.
Loyalty is a two way street, so rather then demanding loyalty from your students, give them reasons to be loyal by providing them the best service and care you possibly can.