Creonte: Is This Still a Thing?

The popular belief is that this term comes from Carlson Gracie to describe a traitor. Supposedly, he took the term from the name of a character on a Brazilian soap opera who was always changing whose side he was on. Ever since then, the term has stuck. It gets thrown around here and there still when a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner switches schools.

I suppose the term itself isn’t really heard often in regards to higher level competitors and practitioners, however, it does get tossed around on lower level belts when they change academies. But is it betrayal? Well, that depends. Let’s look at a few examples and see if we can find out if Creonte is still a term we should be using.

First of all, this idea really seems to be a left-over from the era of Jiu-Jitsu in which academies had their “secret” techniques. Instructors didn’t want other academies they were competing against to figure out what they were doing or how to counter it. So if a competitor left their school for another, they were considered a Creonte for giving away their secrets. In Jiu-Jitsu today, there aren’t really any so-called “secret” techniques to give to a competing academy. Does that mean that a competitor ought to leave a school for another whenever they feel like it?

Again, it’s all very situational. For most people, switching academies isn’t a decision they take lightly. There is a bond of friendship, brotherhood, and family that comes from training and competing together. To break that bond is no simple thing. It is like leaving family, or breaking up. I’ve spoken with individuals who have left their academies for a variety of legitimate reasons and they still felt very hesitant about making the switch for fear of offense or breaking a bond.

Some people simply cannot afford to continue their training at their current academy and need to switch to a more affordable alternative. That’s ok. A person has to take care of themselves before anything else. That said, I imagine many good instructors would be willing to help their students work through such issues, depending on thestudent’s previous dedication.

Another reason a person might leave their academy is because they simply are no longer challenged there. James Watson, a geneticist, said “If you’re the most intelligent person in the room… you’re in the wrong room.” I believe this applies to skill as well. If a person is the best at their gym and can no longer progress there, then yes, it is time to move on. Again, a person must do what is best for them and their goals.

There are a variety of other valid reasons a person may no longer wish to train at their gym. Is this something that ought to be held against them? Well, no. Jiu-Jitsu is becoming a very open community. Attempting to suppress the free movement between schools can be detrimental to the community as a whole. I believe the idea of a Creonte in Jiu-Jitsu is a highly outdated one. Instead of becoming angered at students who leave, perhaps we ought to more closely inspect why they left in the first place.


  1. There is something to be said about a loyal student. Loyal to the instructor, the academy and the fellow students. If you are considering switching academy's for financial reasons or personal reasons have some balls and talk to your instructor and see what you can work out. Instructors a invested in each of their students and to just jump ship for the next best thing to me is unacceptable. Then the instructor doesn't find out until he sees you at a tournament an a competing gyms patch on your gi. That is Creotne.

  2. Spoken like a true gringo. Being brazilian like I am and having trained since I was 8 years old, I say, with all due respect, you have no right to judge, since you show that you dont get brazilian culture at all. In brazil we find that the knowledge that you received you gotta give back. We dont want to see people get all the knowledge from a club and when they are black belts they fight on the tournments with someone else's name on their back when they did nothing to help him out. Some gyms specialize in neglecting their low-rank fighters and draining the high-rank from other gyms because they are more famous. That's wrong too. Sometimes you have to leave the gym, that's ok, but you dont forget where you came from or the master that helped you throughout your entire career. You said the gym is like your family and you're right. Would leave your family and pretend you came from other families? Or would you tell everyone about where you came from with pride and visit your family every once in a while? Yes, brazilians get emotionally involved with the things they do, the people they get along with and the things they do. It hurts when someone we love leave us, but some people dont get attached, we are not like that and we wont apologize for being brazilians, we care about those people. I am not saying you are wrong, I am saying you should broden your view about the matter.

  3. Beautifully said. I'm definitely sending my old professor a Christmas card. I went back to my old gym for a belt ceremony (A few hundred miles away) because some of my dear friends were advancing and was surprised with a stripe because he knew I'd been training hard elsewhere. And I think it was less about the training than the bond. Like he was saying, "You're still family, wherever you are." It was really emotional. Gahhh. Gotta get back up there… Thank you for sharing this viewpoint.

    I think anyone who leaves a gym in his heart is missing something inside.


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