About Our School


We help fun, adventurous people earn their jiu jitsu black belt.

We’re a student-centered jiu jitsu and martial arts school that uses collaborative, innovative, sometimes radical principles based on science to bring world-class jiu jitsu instruction to creative, curious, hard-working people like you. And we do it in a way that motivates you to stick with this art long enough to earn that elusive, exclusive jiu jitsu black belt. We’re long-time professional educators using our expertise and experience to pioneer new, better ways of helping our students achieve jiu jitsu greatness. If you’re feeling stuck in life, joining our tribe of enthusiastic, hard-working students will give you a sense of belonging to a group of caring friends, provide a whole lotta laughs, help you get a sexy six-pack, teach you how to defend yourself, and improve your mental and physical health.

Our school located in the quaint Western Colorado town of Montrose, which is nestled in the Uncompahgre Valley in the shadows of the picturesque San Juan Mountains. Our school is best described as a laboratory designed to innovate, create, and explore the world of martial arts. Our signature program is Brazilian jiu jitsu, and we also offer boxing, mixed martial arts, wrestling, muay thai, tai chi, and yoga classes. We also dabble in trail running, barefoot running, and outdoor functional fitness. 

Our primary focus is perfecting the art and science of teaching and learning martial arts to provide our students with world-class instruction despite our geographically-isolated location. Because Jason and Shelly (our owners) are both professional educators with strong backgrounds in education, business, and psychology, we use any and all modern scientific best-practices to deliberately design our school to maximize our student's learning of the martial art they're studying. We do not believe in doing things the way they've always been done merely because that's what everyone has always done, and martial arts instruction is no exception. Innovation and creative problem-solving is in our blood. As such, we do things a little differently at El Diablo Combatives, including:

  • We keep our school small by capping enrollment. We don't accept all students and use a competitive application process to recruit new students. Our discerning selectiveness is intended to assure we maintain a positive culture where self-improvement and mutual support remain strong. This also allows our instructors to devote a great deal of time to each of our students. 

  • We focus every aspect of the business on the experiences of our students. We exist to teach and learn, which demands we know our students well and provide precisely what they need to grow. We use methodologies from the field of experience design to help us determine exactly what classes to offer, when to offer them, what will be taught, and how it will be taught to maximize knowledge retention. 

  • We deliberately make training fun. We borrow heavily from Dr. Stuart Brown's theory of "play" as a means of producing deep, enjoyable, intrinsically-motivating learning experiences. Martial arts, especially jiu jitsu, are not easy. Showing up day after day for years is the key to earning a black belt, so we spend a lot of time and energy finding creative, fun ways to keep our students motivated to keep showing up. 

  • We go to great lengths to build a unified community. We absolutely despise the inter-school drama and silly politics that occurs in the martial arts world, and firmly believe we all prosper when we embrace cooperation within a unified community. Iron sharpens iron. It's in everyone's best interest to work together, even if that includes some light-hearted healthy competition. To help facilitate this community-building, we run the Western Slope BJJ Open Mat group on Facebook to help build a unified jiu jitsu community along Colorado's Western Slope. The more people we get to train jiu jitsu, the stronger our community becomes, ergo we do whatever we can to promote the sport within our community. We're also HUGE fans of the BJJ Globetrotters project, and welcome any Globetrotters to our school.

  • We offer an unlimited free jiu jitsu "Introduction" class. We realize jiu jitsu can be an incredibly intimidating sport to the uninitiated, and those first few classes can inadvertently cause people to quit who might otherwise thrive. So we offer a free four week "Intro" class that prepares new students for our regular classes. There's no obligation to join as a regular member, and taking the class does not guarantee we'll accept you as a member. But it does give us an opportunity to determine if you'll be a good fit in our school, or if you might be happier at one of our friends' schools here in the area (currently Montrose BJJ and Agoge BJJ here in Montrose and Grand Valley BJJ in Grand Junction, all are excellent schools I do not hesitate recommending.)

  • We encourage our students to seek out other sources of information. We're firm believers in the idea that open access to knowledge allows all of us to learn, grow, and innovate. To that end, we encourage our students to study anything and everything that can help them reach their goals, including training at other schools, watching instructionals or Youtube videos, reading books, attending seminars, and so on. We also encourage our students, especially our colored belts, to share what they learn with the rest of the school. This is one of the methods we use to assure we're continually improving and evolving our knowledge base and teaching methods. 

  • We foster creativity and innovation starting at BLUE BELT. We understand the needs of higher belts who may get bored learning the same old basics class after class, so we give our students ample opportunity to explore, create, and innovate. We offer a great deal of opportunities intended to allow our students to beyond just "learning technique" and become actual artists. Martial arts in general and jiu jitsu in particular are, fundamentally, creative endeavors. We foster and encourage this creativity because it helps all of us grow and improve, and it also helps motivate higher belts who might otherwise become bored with the more basic curriculum. 

  • We systematically improve our curriculum. Our curriculum is intended to provide a solid breadth of knowledge and skills our students can use to build upon in the future. We're constantly working to evolve our curriculum through collaboration within and outside our school to assure our curriculum utilizes the absolute best knowledge and teaching methods available. 

  • We develop phenomenal instructors and future school owners. Because we're hyper-focused on the art and science of learning and teaching, we naturally develop excellent instructors and future school owners. This is a welcome and intentional byproduct that helps us build the jiu jitsu community locally and beyond. 

  • We support our local schools. We're public school teachers by trade, and fully understand how important our children are to our future. We're heavily involved in supporting our local high school's Brazilian jiu jitsu club, along with any other programs related to improving our schools. 

  • We openly welcome visitors. Because we place such high value on the open sharing of knowledge, we welcome visitors with open arms. This includes any BJJ Globetrotters! Western Colorado is a major tourist destination thanks to our excellent skiing, mountain biking, hunting and fishing, and other forms of outdoor recreation. For those tourists who train, we welcome them to drop in, have fun, and share a technique or two. You can find more information in our "Visitors" section