söndag 6 juli 2014

A response to Tim Spriggs creonte article

First I would like to state that yes, you are a much more accomplished jiu-jitsu athlete than I am and no, I will probably never even reach your athletic ability.

For those of you who haven't read his article you can find it here!

Now that that is out of the way let's discuss your article, which is well written by the way, and why it bothers me.

I figure I will start out replying to the points you make and then move on to clarify my own.

1. “They don’t pay me to train there. I can go where ever I want.”  This line of thinking is similar to that of athletes in mainstream sports such as basketball, baseball, football etc. in that money talks. The creontes that use this excuse are mostly correct when it comes to not getting paid to train (I only know of one person that was paid just to train.) 

But this point of view is wrong in BJJ. Unlike major professional sports, your coach and team brings you up from nothing, white belt to black belt. You go from not knowing anything about the art to mastering it with the help of a dedicated instructor. The camaraderie that grows with your teammates is unlike any other sport. Your teammates are not just your co-workers, they’re your family.

Yes the instructor and his/her team do teach you a set of skills and hopefully also conveys all the amazing personality traits that you will find in most seasoned practicioners such as respect, humility and confidence. However THAT is exactly what I, as the consumer, is paying him/her for. This is no differrent than if I were to attend a piano class and have a skilled musician help me out. I do agree that the bond between teammates in jiu-jitsu is a special one that I also believe can only come from training together in this specific manner. However the bond between hockey-players, soccer-players and pretty much any other tight-knit team carries the same significance. And it doesn't just apply to pro-teams but to the sunday-league aswell. It's about working together as a team and to truly excel I believe that that bond has to be strong. 

Obviously my teammates are not my co-workers because neither I or them are getting paid to do this but instead we take time out of our lives to pursue this endeavour. I believe that they are teammates and friends. A select few will, in time, go on to become an important part of your life and become really close friends and maybe, just maybe, one day reach family status. But to label them as family just because we decide to pay the same guy for his knowledge seems silly to me. 

I feel that it is important to realize that there is a differrence between teamspirit and labeling people as family. I'm all for making everyone feel welcome and part of the group. It's imperative to bring everyone into the community so they can benefit as much as possible from the sport and feel like they belong. However being a good teammate and trainingpartner doesn't necessarily translate into clicking outside of the mat. And that is indeed the beauty of this sport. You don't have to be best friends outside of the mat and hang out 24/7 to improve and foster a great environment for people to grow on the mats. The important part is that you are always respectful and work your hardest. 

I find it ironic when a guy leaves his team to join another more “established” association, only to end up bowing out (conceding victory to another teammate so they can go on deeper into the tournament, or get the gold medal) or in some cases fighting their new teammate. In both scenarios the creonte would have better served his or herself by sticking with their old team. Think about it, in both cases you end up having to face them anyway, you might as well fight for the top spot on the podium. On top of that, why would you want to train with the person going after the same title as you? Last time I checked, the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t go to training camp with the Baltimore Ravens.

I do agree on the closing-out aspect which is ridiculous but is not the case for debate today. You state that they would have ended reaching the same level even if they had stayed behind at a team where they didn't WANT to be. Whether they left, got kicked out is highly irrellevant to the point I'm making. An athlete performs much better if he is in a healthy state of mind, this I hope you agree on, and being in an environment where you don't want to be is unhealthy. The reasons for why you don't want to stay can be numerous, your instructor may be exceptionally knowledgeable in the art of jiu-jitsu but there are other aspects to his personality that far outweighs the benefits. I have personal experience from this, and to be fair I did get told that I was not wanted (in much harsher terms) instead of leaving on my own accord, where the instructors personal traits conflicted very much with my own and it provided a place where I was not able to grow as fast as I could at a differrent place. 

If a person decides to leave just to "reach the next level" by joining a bigger/differrent team they should be free to do so with nobody giving a crap. It's their journey and who are you to say that they are making the wrong choices? Maybe they embrace the challenge of earning that top spot to fight in the absolute for their team instead of having it by default? Iron sharpens iron is a well known saying and it definately applies to jiu-jitsu. If you want to become the best, what better way than to train with people who put you through the ringer every single day? Now imagine you get to do  that an academy where you WANT to be aswell. Does  this not set you up for success? Which is ultimately what any high level athlete is working for.

Obviously the Steelers and Ravens don't train together. It comes down to two things basicly. Money and fear. There is ALOT of money on the line for these enormous franchises and they want to protect their investments. Secondly, and IMO most important, the fear of being shut down when the opposition knows your game. If you are confident in your ability you should not worry about what the person facing you knows about you. In jiu-jitsu on the other hand there is not alot of money on the line, unless for a very select few perhaps, but there is pride and honor. You touch on this subject again later in your article where you state: "And best believe, they are going to tell all their new “brothers” about what you and the rest of your team’s strengths and weaknesses are."  Again this reasoning stems from fear of getting beat by some who knows your game. Hate to tell you but most of your, and every other high level jiu-jitsu player, matches are available online for everyone to study. An excellent example of this is Dan Lukeharts review on Keenan. 40 minutes of him dissecting Keenans game for the entire world. And not to mention BJJ Scout putting out tons of material where he goes into great detail on many elite athletes game. Instead of being angry strive to improve on your weaknesses so that the next time you eventually face this individual or one of their teammates you can surprise them when they are workin on old information and you have evolved past that. If you let fear control your mind like that you will always be stuck no matter how many gold medals you bring home.

                      Just some random guys training together despite not being on the same team.
                                                      (Picture taken from Jackson Sousa's instagram)

The worst part about being a creonte is at the end of the day, you end up never having a place to call home. 

Why is that? I've settled in great at my new academy with many new friends and definately feel that it's my second home. I doubt it's any differrent for any other person who has changed academy for whatever reason. The sense of belonging has nothing to do with making a decision to leave and everything to do with being an open, honest and humble person. If you end up at an academy where you are happy with the people you will be happy and grow as a person and martial artist. And as long as you are happy with your journey don't let nobody tell you differrent.

You went through all the trouble of joining a new academy only to not have the full trust of your team.

Trust is earned not given, just as respect. Every person, no matter where in life, has to show his peers that he is worthy of their trust and respect by carrying him in a manner in line with those goals. If you're a good person the trust and respect will come. If you're an asshole no matter what you do, people will never respect or trust you fully. Fear you? Quite certainly but never trust or respect.

Creontes always lose? It depends on what you mean by lose obviously. But last I checked Grippo is doing great both on and off the mats. What did he lose? Keenan took 3rd in the absolutes losing to one of the greatest in Buchecha, is traveling the world with his girlfriend and enjoys his training. What did he lose? And as for me, yes I still lose at competitions but I always did. I'm still in love with jiu-jitsu and the community. I've met numerous friends on my trips and yes I'm still friends with most of the people from my old academy because they are not limited by a label as silly as creonte. 

It all comes down to a really simple thing. Be happy with your journey and let others do the same. 

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