Friday, September 6, 2013

Are you a "Creonte"?
Jiu-Jitsu like many Martial arts, there is the element of instruction and competition. An established instructor dedicates his time and effort to teach and show his students all of what he knows. The rewards are great, the teacher sees his students learn and grow in the sport. If they compete, they bring trophies and glory to the academy.
The student for his part invests his money and his time to learn and in returns to the school either more money or glory and trophies. The "Creonte" problem arises when some students change schools. But let's back up for a moment and look at the term Creonte. "Creonte" was the name of a character in a popular TV Soap opera in Brazil. The character had many allegiances and changed his mind and his allegiances frequently. The term got adapted to BJJ by Grandmaster Carlson Gracie to describe a "traitor". In Brazil, a student that changes schools to another "Team" is widely ostracized by friends and foes alike and receives the tag of "creonte". The term has made its way to the US and many newbies in BJJ have been up in arms about the thought of being labeled one.
The cultural differences between Brazil and the US create some misperceptions, so I thought it was time to clarify the tag. A creonte is generally accepted as the fighter that changes schools and ends up competing against his old school. The problem is obvious, the Academy and its instructor invests al the time and efforts to create a good fighter only to have he or she turn around and move to another school and use the knowledge against the master. Simple enough right? Not so.
The situation started a long time ago in Brazil. During the early days of BJJ, each school had very different styles, some emphasized sweeps, other closed guard attacks and other top games. There were very few competitions then and when school met in an event, it was high time to check out if their new secret techniques worked against the unsuspecting other schools. Additionally, at the time, there were no video cameras, so even in competition, the exchange of information was limited as few could understand and remember what technique caused what. The obvious problem for a school was when someone from its team would leave and start training at another school. That fighter would take all the new stuff and show to the enemy, therefore creating the huge stigma.
Of course, in Brazil then as now, if you want to move to another area or another state, there were plenty of schools from the same team.
If you lived in Rio and trained at Carlson's and moved to Sao Paulo for example, it was easy to find another Carlson Gracie school there. The same cannot be said about the US. The American society is a lot more mobile than the Brazilian and moving from State to State is a very common thing in a person's life. Additionally, there is very limited BJJ resources throughout the country, so it becomes very difficult to stay within the same Team as you move about. Say you live in LA and train with the Machados.
Your job makes you move to Atlanta where there are no Machado representative (I am not sure, just an example). What are your choices? Stop training altogether or go train at another school and be called a creonte?
Of course you need to train somewhere and anyone should understand these situations and no one can call you a creonte. If you have the choice, stay within the same Team, if you don't go train Jiu-Jitsu because that is the important part. Additionally, if you don't compete, you should be free to move from school to school without the tag anyways.
Also the advent of mini video cams and the increased number of competition have taken away a lot of the necessity for secrets.
So are you a creonte? The answer is: Be true to yourself and if you can be true to your school! And if anyone calls you a creonte, tell them to come talk to me!


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