Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does have a certain level of cult-like behavior to it. Generally speaking, grapplers tend to be a bit more humble than vegans, cross fitters or Jehova’s witnesses. Rolling will do that to you (maybe the above mentioned should try it?). However, pull a grapplers tongue just a bit and you’ll hear of nothing but BJJ all night long. There’ also the apparel, social media photos, and posts, the ringtone and everything else. These are all positive and somewhat playful aspects of the cult-like behavior common to Jiu-Jitsu.
Here’s also a darker aspect, one that refers to the Jiu-Jitsu community only. It is the issue with misplaced loyalty or at least the appearance of it. Despite all the tension loosening up lately, there are still academies in every city with a hardcore stance on this. They prohibit members from visiting other academies in class, Jiu-Jitsu open mat or even communicating with rival members. Not the kind of behavior to pain BJJ in a positive light, wouldn’t you agree?
The Open Mat is an Awesome Experience
The open mat is an experience unique to the sport. Before BJJ, I had never seen the concept of an open mat class. A Jiu-Jitsu open mat offers a great opportunity for grapplers to focus on whatever part of their game they want to polish. For beginners, it is a great time to ask questions and look to figure things out. More advanced students usually use the time to roll or drill. For competitors, though, the open mat is the closest they can get to competition experience. they get to roll with all kinds of training partners, at all kinds of paces. Facing as many styles of Jiu-Jitsu as possible is key for success in tournaments. So, when grapplers from other academies walk in on open mat day, why shouldn’t competitors get the chance to improve further?
The whole concept of creontes seems redundant in today’s world. I mean, loyalty is a huge thing for people training martial arts, and that’s a fact. However, sacrificing progress because of an outdated practice may brand you in the BJJ community for life is just plain stupid. Treating people that go to another academy’s open mat as traitors is a sure way to lose them for good. Plus, it defies the very purpose fo the Jiu-Jitsu open mat. The reason this class takes place each week is to allow students time on the mats to do what they need to. Stopping them is as good as completely abolishing open mat.
Creonteism In Jiu-Jitsu
Just as a short reminder, or explanation for those who don’t know. Creonte is a term used in Brazil for someone that demonstrates immense disloyalty. It usually refers to people that leave a certain academy for another. Back in the day, when grapplers were scarce anyway, this kind of made sense. Having your best competitor leave fro a rival team was a big thing to get over. The label of Creonte was obviously the solution.
The trouble with people branded as Creontes was that this left no way back for them to their own academy down the road. It even affected their choice of the next academy. If people in the BJJ world ever had a common thing to bind them, it is their hatred of Creontes.
While it is somewhat understandable in terms of switching teams, branding someone a Creonte for attending a Jiu-Jitsu open mat is excessive, to say the least. The whole concept has no place in modern Jiu-Jitsu, and especially in terms of visiting other academies. The reason people still fear the name is the main thing holding them back from much faster progress. And this needs to change, fast!
Looking for a few more things to add to your rolls on open mat day? Check out Bernardo Faria’s “No-Gi Half Guard” DVD. It has everything that you need to destroy everyone on the mat from the bottom. Plus, all the stuff from the instructional works just as good with the Gi. Perhaps even better!
The Purpose Of The Jiu-Jitsu Open Mat
The whole purpose of an open mat day is to get away from the usual class structure. Instead of having a structured class that works in a certain fashion, the open mat allows for freedom. Even the warm-up is down to each person individually. The goal is for everyone to get better at their respective aspects of grappling. It is an invaluable tool for anyone training BJJ, not just the competitors.
Speaking of competitors, one of the main arguments for not visiting rival academies goes out the window in terms of open mat classes. Since there’s no structure or curriculum to follow, there are no techniques that might be revealed to rival academies. People coming in are also not going to figure out your competition strategy, as that’s the subject of competition classes. So, there’s no real reason for any academy to reject rival students from coming in for class.
Preventing your students from visiting a Jiu-Jitsu open mat is also unfounded. Just as described above, nobody can steal your secrets during an open mat. Yes, people might be impressed by how good a visiting student is wit ha certain technique. But learning it at the same level is going to take time and dedication, a lot more than an average open amt hs to offer.
In terms of not rolling with people you might meet in a tournament, there’s hardly any dumber reason than this. People usually gladly allow students from other countries or cities to visit them on an open mat. these same people are going to be the rivals of your students in tournaments anyway. So why not allow students from the neighboring academy to participate?
It Is Called “Open” For A Reason
It’s about time the BJJ community wised up to this issue. There should be a clear distinction between competition classes and an open mat class. In my opinion, the fear and importance we give to the term Creonte should go down the drain right away. And not just in terms of the open mat.
Your school isn’t going to lose it’s best students because they visited another academy. Nor is your business going to fail. The thing about visiting other places is that it prompts people to visit you too. Open up your academy and your mind to the idea of global Jiu-Jitsu. Let the students and your academy progress and prosper. After all, it is called an “open” mat.