What Does Creonte Mean in BJJ?

What Does Creonte Mean in BJJ

In BJJ gyms, practitioners are treated as a family by the coaches equally, irrespective of their belt levels. So any student who leaves his gym without a serious reason or just for the sake of testing something new is known as creonte in BJJ circles.

Carlson Gracie was the one who coined this term. Loyalty is the fundamental element in the BJJ brotherhood. And leaving one’s family is rightfully considered a derogatory act and behavior. Though it is the right of the practitioner to leave or stay in the gym as he is paying all the money. It is actually seen that the guy who pays all the dues never leaves the gym. The BJJ practitioner who does not pay his dues or brings trouble to his BJJ family often leaves the dojo.

It is a Brazilian-Portuguese term that means traitor. BJJ is a very sacred art due to which the old school BJJ masters wanted their curated techniques to remain in their own lineage as they had spent years in order to coin and master those techniques. And any student who tried to reveal that technique to others by leaving the institute was labeled by the peers as a “creonte”.

1. Meaning of Creonte

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art whose philosophy consists of honor, loyalty and legacy. A term that is widely used in BJJ is “creonte”. It is basically a Brazilian Portuguese term that translates as a traitor in English. It is used in BJJ organizations, gyms, and schools to refer to a student who is disloyal to the BJJ gym and the instructor.

This disloyalty is labeled when a BJJ practitioner either left the BJJ institution, started an independent school, or switched gyms with a rival coach. In this process, the relationship of the practitioner with his former instructor/coach is also affected (which shouldn't be) and the practitioner is then labeled as a creonte. It is because in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the BJJ fighters are just like family and they take care of each other as a single unit. So, leaving one’s family is perceived in a negative way.

2. Carlson Gracie’s Inspiration for the Name Creonte

The term creonte was originated by the late Grandmaster Carlson Gracie. Creonte was the name of a character from the Brazilian soap opera “Mandala”. It aired on Rede Globo in the 1980s. Late Grandmaster Carlson Gracie was a huge fan of this vintage serial.

The character’s name was Creonte Silveira. Creonte was notoriously known for his disloyalty in the show. Carlson Gracie enjoyed the show and took the term “creonte” from it. The guy Creonte used to betray everybody. That is why Carlson Gracie started calling “Creonte” to every BJJ practitioner who left his gym.

3. Loyalty in BJJ

Loyalty in BJJ is considered and implemented way more than just the concept and as a way of life. Being faithful to the gentle and sacred art of BJJ is one of its core principles that every BJJ practitioner must adhere to. Before BJJ gyms functioned as businesses in capitalist societies, practitioners used to depict diehard loyalty to their coaches/masters by only sticking to one BJJ institute.

Loyalty is still an essential part of BJJ but with the trend of BJJ schools and gyms, diehard loyalty is seen rarely. It is because in the past, the BJJ masters did not take financial allowances from their students. They just took students and trained them under their guidance and shared all of their techniques and secret moves and expected them to remain loyal to their masters.

In BJJ, the students and the instructors treat everybody as if they are a family. Loyalty towards your team and the instructor is shown by staying in the gym/school and defending its name by winning tournaments and world championships. BJJ instructors use all of their energy and time to teach their students and make them excellent grapplers so if any student tries to leave the institute, his decision is not appreciated at all.

4. Training At More Than One Institute

It is not compulsory for a BJJ practitioner to train only at one gym as long as he has valid reasons to move on. Sometimes, BJJ practitioners leave the gym because of some valid issue with the instructor or students.

Essentially, it is the right of every BJJ practitioner to decide which Dojo she/he is going to join or switch according to their personal preferences and socio-environmental factors. They also switch or leave gyms if they are moving to another state or country.

Training at more than one BJJ institute is still okay if the fighter represents only a single institute while competing and respecting former peers and coaches/instructors. Training at more than one gym benefits the practitioners in a way that they become aware of the new styles that they may not have been familiar with in the past.

This concept is totally acceptable nowadays. But back in the Carlson Gracie era, it was considered abhorrent.

4.1. Secret Techniques & Moves

BJJ coaches used to teach their elite students some secretive moves and techniques. These moves then help the practitioners to gain victory over their opponents because of the peculiar differences in the application of the techniques. This concept was quite common in the Gracie era.

When practitioners leave their institutes and join other gyms, there is a chance of the instructor-taught techniques to go viral. Every instructor has his own way of applying the grappling techniques and these special ways are taught only to the most loyal and accomplished practitioners.

It keeps their competitive game better than their rivals. So if a practitioner switches to other BJJ institutes, his coach labels him with the title of “creonte”. It means that he is being disloyal to his coach and his former BJJ team as he can reveal the secretive techniques of his original school. That practitioner was no longer liked by the coaches.

5. BJJ Instructors Views On Creonte

BJJ instructors do not encourage or endorse this concept anymore. They look down on calling former students as creontes. The specialized techniques were taught only to the most loyal and deserving students in the past but today with the vastness of technology and information, there is no secret way/technique left. Every fighter has his own way of implementing techniques that makes him an exceptional fighter. Nowadays BJJ instructors do not get much offended by their students when they leave the gyms. There are few instructors who look down upon their former students and call them creontes.

6. Rickson Gracie’s Opinion On Creonte

Rickson Gracie is of the opinion that creontes do exist and are a burden on the instructor as they drain the elite knowledge of the instructor institute by abandoning him.

“Why should I waste my knowledge on a student who seems disloyal?”

(Rickson Gracie)

Rickson Gracie said that instructors train their students with love and respect. They treat their students like a family and leaving your family is nothing other than betrayal. Representing the flag of the gym is considered sacred and abandoning that flag and team to join another is considered disloyalty.

7. Vitor Belfort - World’s Most Famous Creonte

Vitor Belfort is a Brazilian Mixed Martial artist. He was one of the best students of Carlson Gracie. He came to Carlson Gracie’s gym to train in Vale Tudo when he was 8 years old. He was a very talented and active student. Carlson Gracie was very fascinated by Vitor Belfort and took him under his wing.

Carlson Gracie promoted Vitor to the Black Belt level when he was 17 years old. He even took Vitor to Los Angeles in 1994 to open his own Gracie BJJ gym. He treated Vitor like his own son and taught Vitor everything about BJJ that he himself knew.

Vitor Belfort entered the UFC tournament in 1997 when he was 19 years old. Carlson Gracie was by his side at that time. He fully supported Vitor. In 2004, Vitor Belfort lost his UFC Light Heavyweight title to Randy Couture. This defeat was very devastating for Vitor. He left Carlson Gracie’s gym and joined the Brazilian Top Team.

Upon this Carlson Gracie got furious and started calling Vitor “creonte”. After that, it became a custom to call every student creonte who frequently and out of habit switches BJJ institutes.

8. Keenan Cornelius Left Atos Jiu-Jitsu

Keenan Cornelius is another example of creonte. He is a former student of Andre Galvao. He used to train at Atos Jiu-Jitsu under Andre Galvao. He then left Atos to start his own school, Legion AJJ (American Jiu-Jitsu). Andre Galvao did not appreciate this move of Keenan and both Black Belts never came on good terms till this day.

9. Modern Attitude Towards Creonte

Modern attitude towards creonte is broad. It is not considered a derogatory term nowadays. Due to more influx of BJJ practitioners, the term “creonte” is now seen as outdated. Occasional BJJ students do not have a hardcore loyalty.

The stigma of secretive techniques does not exist today that is why the concept of creonte is also somehow dead. It is sometimes used to make fun of practitioners or mock them if they have left their former institute.

10. How To Leave Your Gym Honorably?

There can be some reasons due to which BJJ practitioners leave their original gyms and join a new gym. But that does not mean that it will make you a creonte. For a valid reason your instructor will understand your stance and won’t be mad at you.

10.1. Explain the Reason of Your Leaving the Gym

Talk to your gym instructor and make him understand why you are leaving the gym. It can be because of your moving to another city or state or it can be because your gym’s goals do not align with your priorities. Whatever the case is, discuss it with your instructor. Once he understands your stance, he will surely understand you.

10.2. Do not Criticize Your Old BJJ Coach & School

After you have switched to another gym, never talk bad about your former BJJ coach and school. Always talk good things about them as it shows a fighter’s character.

10.3. Always Greet Them Nicely

It can happen that you may encounter your former coach and training buddies in any tournament. So whenever you see them, greet them nicely. Even if you win a tournament or get promoted, show gratitude to your current as well as former coaches.

11. Why do BJJ Practitioners Change BJJ Institutions?

If BJJ practitioners have a valid reason to leave the gym, they should not be referred to as creonte.

11.1. Bullying in BJJ Gyms

Often, the higher belts in the gym are hard on the lower belts for no reason at all. Nobody likes to get bullied and so are the lower belts students. Bullying can also lead to serious problems or injuries. If the coaches are not ready to silence those bullies, practitioners leave the gym for their own good.

11.2. Cleanliness & Hygiene

If your dojo is not clean enough, it can induce diseases and illnesses. For that reason try talking to your instructor about that, if he does not solve the issue leave the gym for your own betterment. BJJ is a combat sport in which cleanliness and hygiene is very important.

11.3. Your Coach Doesn’t Focus on Students

Today, many BJJ gyms are only business oriented. There are some gyms where coaches focus more on money than the quality-training of his students. In that case, the grappler must switch to a gym where his skills are sharpened and he can make a career in BJJ.

11.4. Difference Between Goals

The most important part of joining a gym is that its goals align with the practitioner’s goals. For example, the practitioner wants to compete in BJJ but BJJ gym has no team or even guidance for the competitive circuit. In that case, the practitioner must switch to a gym which pays attention to the grapplers who want to compete or have a competitive team.

11.5. Favoritism By The Instructor

At some BJJ gyms, the coaches pay more attention to the world championships holders. They often neglect new students or those who have not achieved much. It affects the training of these students. If you feel that your coach is showcasing favoritism towards some students, seek training elsewhere.

12. FAQs

12.1. Does Every BJJ Practitioner Who Switches Gym is Creonte?

Nowadays the concept of creonte is very broadened. And BJJ practitioners switch gyms in terms of finances and to seek better training for their BJJ career. So it is not true that every BJJ practitioner who switches gyms is creonte.

12.2. Why did Vitor Belfort Leave Carlson Gracie’s Gym?

When Vitor Belfort lost the title of UFC Light Heavyweight to Randy Couture, he was upset as he thought that he is not a good fighter. So to train better, he left Carlson Gracie’s gym and joined the Brazilian Top Team that infuriated Carlson Gracie.

13. Conclusion

As creonte means a traitor, it was considered a negative term. It was used to describe a BJJ practitioner who switched BJJ gyms. This resulted in the revealing of secretive techniques to other gyms where the disloyal students enrolled. Loyalty is an important part of BJJ that is why practitioners are called traitors when they switch their gyms/schools.

Photo credit: @wikipedia

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