Why The Term “Creonte” Is A Load Of B.S.

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If you’ve trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for a while – and particularly if your coach is a traditionalist -you’ve probably heard the term “creonte” thrown around.

In the BJJ world, it’s often used to refer to someone who leaves their academy to train at a new one, even if only to visit a friend at another gym. While some people use the term as a joke, others take it very, very seriously and use it to cast shame upon and instill fear into their students.

Admittedly, I don’t have a coach’s perspective on this concept. I’ve only been training for about four years, and my blue belt is only impressive to white belts or no-belts. Perhaps I don’t have the expertise needed to fully understand why a paying student shouldn’t be able to occasionally learn from other instructors and meet new people who share their passion.

Or perhaps today’s idea of a “creonte” is as ridiculous as I think it is.

To me, an instructor who refuses to let his students visit other gyms is afraid, even if he tries to disguise that fear as a desire for respect. He’s afraid that his students are going to prefer that gym over his gym, and that they’ll ultimately take their talent (and their money) elsewhere.

He might also take it as a personal jab that his students don’t feel like they can get all the jiu-jitsu they need out of him and him alone. He views his teachings as a delicious, hearty meal and doesn’t understand that his students can enjoy what he cooked and still want to squeeze in a little dessert. Rather than hearing, “I want a little bit extra, a little bit of something different,” he hears, “What you’ve done for me is not nearly enough, and I need to search elsewhere to get my fill.”

Those fears are reasonable . . . and even admirable. They show that the coach has the desire to give his students everything they need to help them achieve their goals in jiu-jitsu.

The problem comes in when rather than figuring out how he can create a better experience for his students, the coach prohibits them from finding out if someone else is running a better BJJ program. Instead of questioning his own methods, he forbids his students from training at other gyms, effectively trapping them in more ways than one.

Oftentimes, a coach will insist that his reasoning for prohibiting cross-training at other gyms revolves around the concept of respect. According to him, training anywhere other than their gym is like openly cheating in a relationship. If we were still in the older days of jiu-jitsu when there weren’t as many people in the sport, I guess I could see their perspective. Back then, the internet didn’t exist, and the idea of there being secret techniques that could be passed on to other gyms and used against the people who created them was a legitimate concern.

But we’re in 2016 now. The internet and overall willingness to share techniques has made the idea of “secret” moves laughable. Jiu-jitsu academies are everywhere, and the people who train are often connected through social media long before they actually meet in person.

And damn it, we want to train together!

The biggest issue I have with the concept of creonteism is that students are shoveling out significant amounts of money to train – anywhere between $100 and $200 for a standard dojo membership. Sure, there are rules to follow, just as there are in any club or gym you’d belong to, but nobody should have to feel imprisoned in their own gym when they’re paying to be there. It’s like buying a new pair of jeans and being told you can only buy jeans from that particular store for as long as you wear jeans. If a coach wants to pay me to train at his gym, well, that’s another story.

More importantly, though, a good professor will want his students to learn, regardless of how they achieve that education. I mentioned my lack of experience as a jiu-jitsu instructor, but I do have experience as an English teacher. My goal was to ensure that my students were able to speak English properly, and I didn’t just allow them to attend other classes and seek out other resources; I encouraged it. Their education was my priority, and even though I did my best to be a good teacher, I knew that they still might have gaps they needed to fill in and that another learning method might help them grasp the language even faster.

Jiu-jitsu is like a language all its own, and it’s equally as complicated. What would happen if you learned, say, Portuguese from just one teacher and only practiced speaking with other students who had learned solely from the same teacher that you had? You might get a pretty good grasp on the language, but you’d probably never be fluent until you picked up different vocabulary words and expressions from people who had a different experience with the language than you. The same is true when you learn jiu-jitsu, and a professor who forbids you from occasionally venturing out to new gyms is doing nothing but putting roadblocks in your journey.

That’s not to say that you should be visiting four other gyms every week. Many academies focus on a similar set of techniques during the week, so by missing class, you’re missing valuable information. It’s not fair to your teammates or your coach when you’re absent for two days because you’ve been training elsewhere and then take up their time trying to get caught up on the week’s techniques.

Occasionally taking a class from another instructor, though, can help you learn new things and enable you to make new friends in the jiu-jitsu community. If you don’t want to miss class, you can even just show up to another gym’s open mat to roll with people you don’t normally train with.

If your instructor is super preachy with the creonte thing, you can stick around if you want to, but my advice would be to find another professor who puts your jiu-jitsu journey ahead of his own pride. A good coach will use his fear of losing students to help motivate himself to be better at what he does, and a bad one will use it as a reason to keep his students trapped. You might belong to a gym, but your jiu-jitsu journey is yours and yours alone. A coach who tries to claim it for himself is not one you want to be dragging along for the ride.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Awesome! I’ve heard the term before but never had any idea of what it meant, probably because I fit the definition so well that nobody said it in my presence. Another really nice article. Keep them coming!

  2. To be a creonte is much deeper than change gym, team or coach and it doesn’t have anything to do with share or have fun with friends on another mats. I can tell the author of the article has good intentions but is not someone deep on the BJJ culture, after almost 40 years on the mats I can say that. Be a creonte is basically a traitor, someone you helped, someone you trusted or that kind of thing. For example you are training for free with your coach working extra hours with you to make you ready for a fight and than when you become pro you turn your back to all the people that helped you. Or someone with a higher belt with you having all the support and that just leave with no “good buy”. Or someone doing secret training on “your back” and things like that. basically everyone knows what to be a traitor means and that is it, nothing to do with to train here or there… The article is totally mistaking the concept.

  3. As a Jiu-Jitsu coach that came from an old school background, I’d suggest you guys to have someone from a higher rank give his or her opinion about it too.
    Time has changed, I personally changed. I offer seminars in my school with different coaches from teams outside my own. I personally cross train and I even try to find places for my students to go when they are away or even in nearby towns.
    However, not all coaches respect other coaches, soliciting their students and trying to make visitors switch teams. In that case I advise my students to not go to a non trustworthy place. It is a matter of respect.
    Here in my school I constantly receive students from other teams; I advise my students to treat visitors as if they were their own teammates. I never solicit anyone’s students, and matter of fact I have refused to enroll someone’s student in respect for that coach. However I had students going in places where they had to literally fight and not really train.
    So, yes, BJJ is for all, it is a lifestyle, we should all crosstrain in this new BJJ world. But always have in mind that some coaches and schools lack on ethics and good moral. After all, respect in all levels should be a common practice,

    BTW: the word creonte was first used by Carlson Gracie Sr. We have to understand the BJJ scenario in Rio de Janeiro in the 80s and early 90s. Before the Internet, when teams were extremely competitive, competition training was always with closed doors, etc.
    BJJ has a rich history, I witnessed it all in Brazil. If it weren’t for all the old school guys, BJJ would not be what it is today.

    Oss!

  4. I`m so agree with coments ,at Argentina the same things. Creonte is the guy that firs apreciate the help all give to him, and then close the door behind him without a Thank you for train, teach, encourage him. “Need a higher rank to give his or her opinion about it” at least in topics like this one.

  5. A creonte is not one who cross trains but a team hopper someone with no honor or loyalty. If your in a negative environment I can understand having to switch Academies or team but if your only reason for leaving is because you think your team is the reason your not a world champion and it’s not on you then your a creonte. The article has good intentions but is misinformed on the term.

  6. The whole idea is based on the instructors insecurity. There are many reasons to switch gyms, traffic, distance, soccer pratice is in the oppsite direction, price, places to eat on the way back, x is closer to the other gym on those days and she’s got the kid in those days. It says more about the person saying it than the customer.

  7. Tough perspective. As a blue belt, Inwas a sponge in terms of learning and never once thought that I wasn’t learning enough, good, sound techniques that were effective against competitors from around the globe, nor did I feel qualified to question the curriculum at the time; all I knew was that my instructor had a valid answer for all of my questions and I was constantly learning. Personally, I’m glad I wasn’t so arrogant to think that my instructor valued my money more than me. Maybe he did, maybe not. But over 20 years later, I have no regrets.

  8. If I’m paying you 150 per month and I’m not happy or I’m moving, I can do whatever I want.

    You charge me if I’m not there, it’s a business.

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