Now, before the Jiu-jitsu Times readers crash the web servers with comments about how they either don’t care about an antiquated idea of school loyalty, hear both sides of the debate.
Of course we all want to be seen as loyal. Literature and movies are filled with traitorous villains who shed their loyalty for a better offer. Why does Brazilian jiu-jitsu have such a problem with loyalty for one’s school?
Master Carlson Gracie coined the term creonte (named after a dishonest character in a Brazilian TV drama) to describe BJJ students who were not loyal to their school.
This tradition comes from the older days of traditional martial arts, where the instructors were often teaching their arts without much in the way of compensation. It was a reciprocal relationship between the master, who shared his knowledge, and the student, who swept the mats and showed loyalty to his school.
Before the age of YouTube, where everyone can see what techniques every other BJJ team is doing, each gym had their own fiercely protected “secret” techniques that they would bring to the intensely contested competitions. Those barriers have dissolved and top guys like Marcelo Garcia show their rolls before competing. There is far less proprietary BJJ knowledge out there in the modern era.
Critics say the notion of loyalty is an outdated and even cult-like mentality.
And they have some good arguments!
The growth of BJJ in the USA and other western countries has lead to a rise in the professionalism of how BJJ schools are run. Clean facilities with strip mall store fronts, pro shops, juice bars, and professional business systems in place have taken jiu-jitsu schools a long way from the garages and empty community halls it started in. And like any service or product that a student is paying for, they want to know what value that they are getting for their dollar.
This has made it possible for instructors to make a living from teaching BJJ and keep the doors of the school open. But it has also shifted that traditional martial arts attitude of loyalty to one’s school. One can hardly imagine having a restaurant getting angry because you also choose to eat at other places; customers have the right to choose where they spend their money.
So, BJJ is caught between an old tradition (that does have some merits) and the newer model looking at martial arts instruction as a consumer service.
The difficult thing to quantify in this debate of how much of a personal relationship that the instructors and students invest in one another. I trained at the same BJJ school for more than ten years and could not imagine it as purely a business relationship. Many instructors invest far more in the students than just teaching three moves and collecting their membership payment.
How do you feel about the BJJ loyalty debate? Is the idea no longer relevant? Is there any validity to calling someone a “creonte”?
Read also: Reasons You Left Your Old Bjj School