Creonte – Loyalty, Disloyalty, and Traitors in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu


The term Creonte is a specific one to the BJJ community. A Creonte refers to a person who is disloyal and a traitor. however, this perception is often very much one-sided and open to interpretation. Loyalty in Jiu-Jitsu is something we can hear about all the time. It’s talked about in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu probably more than in any other sport. More than in any cultural groups, clubs, gyms etc. And why people talk about it that much? Let’s see what a Creonte is and if there’s any substance to all the controversy behind it. Is it really something worth talking about? What’s the real meaning of a word Creonte?

Getting a black belt in BJJ takes the better part of a decade for most people. Actually, it often takes more than a decade. During this time, you’ll meet lots of people on the mats. At your own academy, those that you know from day one are no longer just training partners. Now they’re friends and good ones at that. In some circles, this is even perceived as a family. No matter how you name them, the bonds that form between teammates after years of training together are strong. But, are they strong enough to make you stay at your academy even if it is not the best option for you, due to various reasons? Are you too afraid of being labeled a Creonte, or you have no problem with such a tag?

The term Creonte is the source of much controversy in the Jiu-Jitsu world. From training at multiple academies at once to switch to another team, you can become a Creonte in a matter of hours. Respect is a huge part of the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and grappling martial arts in general. However, respect is not always bound by loyalty, and being a Creonte means being disloyal and not necessarily disrespectful. That said, bailing on an academy in need for selfish reasons is not a respectful thing to do in any circumstances. However, looking for the best option out there for you, while being straightforward about it is a different thing. This is just one example of why the lines surrounding the term Creonte are blurred at best. Let’s dig deeper into it.

What Does Creonte Mean?

Let’s start with a very popular nickname for “disloyal” people in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They are often called “Creonte”. And nickname Creonte is something that Grand Master Carlson Gracie made up. Carlson made that name for people who would leave his gym and go to another. He would just describe them as traitors. Yes, some people call those guys a TRAITORs, BETRAYERS… and it’s completely unacceptable in modern society.

When you’re a student that’s playing at an academy, you might run into a “no training at a different place” policy. This is actually quite common in the world of BJJ. Not only that but things might even go as far as prohibiting attending seminars that take place in your town, just because a different academy is an organizer. Imagine having Rafel Lovato Jr. teach a seminar and you can’t go or you’ll be labeled a Creonte. Some go as far as even frowning upon positive social media posts regarding other academies. If you congratulate someone for their success in competition you might once again end up a Creonte.

Creonte BJJ If you’re part of such an academy, you might want to consider your future. Even at the expense of becoming a Creonte. The thing is you’re going to be a Creonte only to that academy and its die-hard members. McDojo gyms are quite famous for employing the threat of Creonteism as a means of keeping their students from leaving.

In terms of training at a few neighboring academies on a regular basis, I can see the contradiction. These are all different competition teams, often in direct rivalry due to the vicinity. Training regularly is going to make it tough for you to choose a team as well. But not going to a seminar, or an open mat without becoming a Creonte is just plain dumb.

Honestly, a successful academy with a coach that knows what they’re doing should not have  Creonte philosophy. If an instructor knows how to motivate students, keep them happy and treat them fairly they’ll return on their own. There’s no need to use scare tactics of public branding. Furthermore, they should be going to common events like seminars and the odd open mat along with you.

Creonteism In Competition

When it comes to tournaments, the Creonte situation gets a bit messier. Competition means you can end up standing opposite anyone, teammates included. In most cases of students from the same academy, the outcome is a gentlemen’s agreement. IN rare cases people do go for a roll more than a fight, staying safe and playful. However, if you’re training at three different academies, you’ll need to at least be crystal clear about which one you’re going to represent. Now, if all three academies are comfortable with your choice there’s no issue here. however, examples like this are quite rare in the BJJ community.

In essence, there’s no need to brand someone a Creonte if they train at multiple locations but only compete under one banner. After all, BJJ is about exchanging experiences, not about working in secret. If you think a student training at multiple locations is going to uncover heavily guarded secrets, you’re completely mistaken. At the local level, competition is never too big. that means competitors face each other so often that it doesn’t matter if they train together or apart. They’ll still know what their opponent likes to do. Kind of seems the whole Creonte thing is just another McDojo stunt, doesn’t it?

Loyalty In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu Creonte So, what does loyalty actually mean in terms of grappling? Does it mean blindly following whatever an instructor says? Or, does it mean respect and logic above any emotion? In truth, loyalty doesn’t just happen just because you train at an academy and pay for the pleasure. That’s anything but loyalty. That’s just business and if you’re bound by such constraints, you’re in a McDojo. Run far and run fast.

This brings us to another burning subject? Are you really a Creonte if you bail on a McDojo? The instructor is certainly going to portray you as one, no doubt about it. However, do you really owe such a place any loyalty? McDojo gyms are actually not legitimate among the real members of the BJJ community, so what does that make you?

Moving away from the McDojo example to a more legitimate one. You’ve been at an academy for a while. You have friends, learned a lot and competed on multiple occasions. However, due to one reason or another, you need to switch academies. Regardless of the reason are you really a traitor? Have you let your team down because you of moving because it really makes sense for you?  If BJJ s truly about respect nobody should stand in your way. Furthermore, people need to support your decision and look forward to seeing you on the open mat or at a competition. That’s the adult thing to do. Not frown and call each other names.

BJJ Gym Owners don’t like to lose students

I’ll come back to Creontes, traitors, and betrayers when I explain how BJJ academies work and why is that so.

When someone decides to open up a BJJ school he decided to put all of himself in that academy. He won’t earn a lot of money, he won’t be rich, unless he’s a world known star. But he will make some money and he will always want more. Just like everyone else, it’s normal. And as BJJ is not an Olympic sport, BJJ gym owners can’t get a lot of money from the town, or country so, monthly membership fees are something that gym owners are “living” from. That’s the main reason why they feel bad when someone leaves their gym.

Ok, they don’t feel bad only because of money. They also feel bad because they lost someone they invested their knowledge in etc. But does that give them right to call someone a traitor and betrayer?

You’re NOT Creonte for Changing a place to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

NO! No one has right, no matter how “hurt” he is, to call you a betrayer for changing a place where you will train BJJ. If you change gym that means you were not happy with your last gym. Maybe, you were happy, but you think you will be happier in a new one. Few of your friends are in other gyms. Or that gym is closer to your home. There are numerous reasons for changing a gym and there is no one you have to give an explanation to why you did something. You just did it because you think it’s better for you and that should be enough for everyone to understand your move.

Who’s Guilty of Your Wish to Change Gym?

The interesting thing here is how Instructors and gym owners never question their selves, whether it is their fault you left? They just name someone Creonte and that’s it. Even more stupid is when people training at your previous gym call you a creonte knowing that when they left they will be “creontes” too.

Why is it never Instructors fault? Are instructors born for what they do? Do you have to like your first BJJ instructor to stick with him for the rest of your life?

What if you noticed that your instructor does not really care for you at all? He does not care about your knowledge or your progress? Or your instructor simply doesn’t like you. Is it still normal for you to stick with him?

What if you think you can’t progress in your gym as much as you would progress in another one? What if you are still training there because you want to be loyal?  Or you don’t want people to talk about you as Creonte? Does that situation make you loyal or stupid? Well, in my opinion, you are stupid if you’re making decisions against yourself to be loyal to someone who obviously doesn’t deserve it in your mind. Being loyal doesn’t mean you have to work against yourself.

Rickson Gracie’s opinion on “Creonte”

Recently, I was listening to some Rickson Gracie interview where he said, “why should I waste my knowledge on a student who seems disloyal?” If you think about this sentence a bit deeper all you can notice is hypocrisy in it. Every student’s money is worth the same. And if the instructor is taking someone’s money he is obligated to treat him as same as anyone else in the class. He may like him or dislike him but he is taking his money and he should have that in memory all the time. The only fair thing instructor can do is to say to that guy to leave and never come back. If the instructor is taking someone’s money and he doesn’t want to share his knowledge with him then that makes him a bad person.

What Really Makes You a Creonte

While I think most of the time it’s stupid to call someone disloyal I also believe there are disloyal students too.

If you know that your instructor is teaching on Tuesday night you should respect that. And if you decide to go to the other gym down the road to a rival school on Tuesday night without your instructor knowing it. That makes you disloyal in my opinion. That is also making you disrespectful to your team and your instructor. You should be honest with yourself and your instructor and leave your gym. Because why would you lose time listening to some other instructor when you can learn from your own on that Tuesday night? And I’m not talking about seminars, just to be clear on that.

Conclusion about “Creontes”!

The point is that you should be loyal to those who are loyal to you. You should be fair to those who are fair to you. And you should respect those who respect you. You should not respect instructors who like you for the first two weeks and after that, they forget that you exist.

Being loyal is not the one-way street, it’s mutual in every aspect of your life so is in BJJ. At the end of a day, you should be your own top priority. That’s why you are there and for your money, you can choose what you think is the best for you.

You’re not obliged to give your money to anyone. If you’re unhappy, the only thing that will happen will be for you to stop training. You will feel stupid in a few years when you find out you wasted so much time on wrong places and wrong people.

What I want to say is that being loyal and being stupid should never go together.

Related Articles:

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