The “C” Word /// By: Lea Young
No, I’m not talking about THAT “C” word, but the one that the majority of the BJJ community doesn’t like talking about – CREONTE.
While there is no literal Portuguese translation for the word, it is said that the term came from the late grandmaster Carlson Gracie who adopted the name from a character in a novela (Brazilian soap opera) who had many allegiances and changed his mind and loyalties frequently.
Otherwise known as a “traitor,” in the English language, creonte refers to a student who is (or perceived to be) disloyal to their academy – especially if they had a long-term relationship with that school.
While I understand the importance of loyalty, especially to a team that you were “raised” by, WHAT IF there were circumstances that made you change the way that you felt towards your academy that made you lose your passion for jiu-jitsu? Would you still be considered a creonte if you decided to leave your team because it wasn’t a good fit for you anymore?
For example, I live on a small island where there are only a handful of jiu-jitsu academies, spanning over a few affiliations. When I first moved home, even though I was still a white belt, I was indirectly told that once I picked an academy, there was no "take backsies.” Academy loyalty is huge on a small island, as everyone takes pride in their schools… almost to a fault. There is gossip, there are rumors, and sometimes as much as you want to spread positive vibes, things can (and do) get nasty.
So… what happens when things change? We cannot deny that life happens. Priorities change, people change. When those changes start to affect your academy – i.e. quality of instruction, lack of leadership, change in morale/team spirit, deterioration of equipment (mats), etc., and it starts to negatively affect your training and your passion for the gentle art, what would you do?
In my case, leaving my academy would mean not training on island anymore. As unhappy as I could be, nothing would seem more disrespectful or disloyal than going to train with another team on the island. I’d be better off training at home in secret and foregoing any chance of being promoted because I am not happy where I train but love jiu-jitsu so much that I couldn't give it up completely.
While some people are lucky enough to stay with the same academy or affiliation from white to black belt, a lot of us are not afforded that luxury for a multitude of reasons. So before you are quick to call someone the “C” word, think about it. They may have been struggling with the difficult decision to leave for a long time and that it probably wasn’t just a selfish act for their own benefit (and if it were, you’d definitely be able to tell). While it is sad to lose a training partner or student, everyone is on their own journey and it is not anyone else's place to judge them for their choices that do not directly affect us.