Creonte or Pioneer? Understanding the Realities of BJJ Loyalty – BJJ Fanatics

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A major shift in how loyalty is understood in Brazilian jiu jitsu has become the new reality. According to the mythology of BJJ, one joins a team and stays with that team until the very end.

All those who leave the fold are labeled creonte, which is a term attributed to the late grandmaster, Carlson Gracie. Creonte is meant to describe those who are disloyal and changed allegiances easily. No one wants to be labeled a traitor, but where the line is drawn between creonte and jiu jitsu pioneer has become forever murky. North Americans perceive loyalty as a convenience that is appreciated until there is a reason to find service elsewhere. We move houses, we find better prices, gyms change their marketing and services or we want better coaching for our needs; Capitalism and the free market make changing gyms similar to changing cell phone plans.

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Butterfly Back Take by Adam Wardinski

North Americans are consumers. We see ourselves as individuals instead of as tribe members. The individual prides himself on having independent choice in all areas of his life.  Now sometimes individuality comes down to the choice of team patches to sew on your back and other times it might include choosing no gi over more traditional gi-based styles. Ether way, the societal, cultural norm is to express our individuality through customization, and that is perhaps why Brazilian jiu jitsu has become so popular since hitting the shores of California: the game has infinite possibilities. One player might choose to embrace the Butterfly Guard of Adam Wardinski, the Leg Attacks of Craig Jones and the Back Attacks of John Danaher; throw in Gordon Ryan’s approach to Guard Passing and Neil Melanson’s unique approach to the Guard and you have your own “style”. The choice is infinite.

3 Submissions Every BJJ Black Belt Should Know by Craig Jones, Bernardo Faria & John Danaher

When Jiu Jitsu Renegade, Kurt Osiander left Ralph Gracie Academy in San Francisco there was bad blood between the two men. Osiander quickly established Empire Jiu Jitsu and Gracie further confused his situation by physically confronting Flavio Almeida at a tournament over gym turf and respect.  In the end, Osiander moved forward and time will tell how he handles the responsibilities of the pioneer, but given the influence of his infamous Move of the Week series, he will find his way to sure-footing. 

ARM BAR ESCAPE BY KURT OSIANDER

 

Money gets in the way, because the teaching of jiu jitsu is a business.  While there is much mythology relating to selfless teaching of our martial art, the reality is that schools need to make money. Some schools make their money mostly from fees, while others require mandatory team uniforms at a premium or tiers of classes, and this is also part of the North American reality. People pay fees to belong. People buy expensive outfits to show their style. People seek their instructor’s approval and recognition through belt promotions. Gone are the mythical days when the professor set up a small room in a favela and students wore whatever single uniform they could find until it fell apart. Many of us have closets full of kimonos and go to large, air-conditioned gyms in nice areas. 

God complexes are created and destroyed, as despite the mythology, jiu jitsu teachers and students still have ego. When Eddie Cummings left the blue basement at Renzo Gracie’s NYC academy, there was a hullabaloo about the reasons why Eddie would forsake the Danaher Death Squad for Unity Jiu-Jitsu. When Dillon Danis was exiled from Marcelo Garcia’s school, it was said to be because of ego challenges. In the end, we will never know the true stories and perspectives of what was going on in those moments, but it undoubtedly comes down to these high-level students seeking a different approach to their games and wanting to switch to a school wherein their egos could be soothed; with the loss of a master each of these individuals could pursue their technical goals as equals in a competitive atmosphere.

Understanding the Closed Guard with Gordon Ryan and Bernardio Faria

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BJJ is in a constant growth phase. Black belts are consistently being developed in new areas across the world, and with each new black belt comes the opportunity to strike out on one’s own to found their own team or academy.  When ATOS asked Keenan Cornelius to leave this year because he wanted to retain his intellectual and sponsorship rights, he struck out on his own and visited various high level gyms. When this included a few training sessions with Gordon Ryan and the DDS, one thing had become clear: the tradition of hiding your secrets from opponents had crumpled under the weight of the value of pushing opponents to develop the art and themselves. Where will Keenan end up remains to be seen, but after the bold statement of competing under the BJJ Globetrotters non-affiliation affiliation at Worlds, Keenan will undoubtedly continue to forge his own path forward. 

Open Source jiu jitsu has never been more available to the average practitioner. Whether he lives in San Diego, New York or Boise, legitimate techniques can be learned from some of the world’s greatest athletes and teachers via online video.

The garage gym may be less prevalent than it was in the Gracie days of old, but across the world many people still head out to a few puzzle mats in their garage, watch a single video and learn it with their friends. 

The true jiu jitsu pioneers understand that striking out on their own to create their own brand and sharing their intellectual knowledge is far more valuable than attempting to hoard that knowledge in small tribes of secrecy. The reality remains that diversification is the backbone of evolution, and while loyalty and respect are critical for any team to function, there will always come a time when the highway calls the hero towards adventure. Will you heed the call or remain in the safety of the tribe when your name is spoken?

Craig Jones is one of the best grapplers in the world today and he is notorious for his lower body attacks. He has one of the most unique leg attack systems there is, including how to attack from half guard, butterfly guard and 50/50 guard. Become a leg lock machine and learn to get them from everywhere with Craig Jones.

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