Frequently-Asked Questions

This is a collection of a few of the most common questions we receive here at El Diablo Combatives. And, quite possibly, the longest jiu jitsu FAQ in existence! If you don't find the answers you're looking for here, shoot us an email at eldiablobjj@gmail.com or stop by our school in Montrose!

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About Our Business

  • What is your schedule?

  • What Are Your Rates?

  • Why are your rates higher than your competition?

    • We're good. ;-) Seriously though, we offer great instruction tailored to you, which is time and labor-intensive. If you're searching for a cheaper, more generic "one-size-fits-all" experience, we encourage you to check out the other schools in our area. We won't be offended.

  • Do you require students to sign contracts?

    • No. We value freedom. We understand our students need flexibility because life is unpredictable. As such, we don't lock you into long contracts. We always operate on a month-to-month payment system with only two requirements - you must be set up on a automatic payment plan and we need a 30 day notice when cancelling (by emailing us at eldiablobjj@gmail.com.) Memberships can be paused for up to a year if you're going to miss training for more than a month. Read about our specific terms of membership here.

  • Where are you located?

  • Is EL Diablo Combatives a legitimate martial arts academy?

    • Yes! Our jiu jitsu program is modeled after the program designed by fifth degree black belt Charlie Kohler of San Diego Fight Club, one of the oldest gyms in San Diego. We also have multiple amateur and professional fighters fighting out of our school. If you're an experienced practitioner, we're more than happy to roll if you have any doubts. The mat, after all, never lies.

  • How do I get started?

  • Can I try a class before enrolling?

    • You can try a lot more than just a class. We offer a free, no obligation Introduction Class that meets once or twice per week. The purpose of the class is to ease you into training to alleviate anxiety and nervousness. We go through rules, procedures, etiquette, and the very basic elements of the various classes we offer. We will also do some very basic grappling to help prepare you for the rolling (the term we use for live sparring) in our regular jiu jitsu classes. The class repeats content every four weeks, but you may take the class as long as you would like. The Intro Class also allows us to assess if you'll be a good fit at our school without making any sort of commitment.

  • Do you offer daycare?

    • No. We may consider this for the future, but we do not have the infrastructure to make it happen right now. Do not leave children unattended at the gym UNLESS THEY ARE OLD ENOUGH TO SIT QUIETLY FOR THE DURATION OF CLASS! Unsupervised kids are both dangerous and annoying. Unsupervised kids will be given a can of Red Bull and a kitten.

About Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

 

  • What is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

    • Brazilian jiu jitsu is a ground fighting system developed in... you guessed it, BRAZIL! There are a ton of stories out there on the Web explaining the history of the sport, which is pretty fascinating. The important part - jiu jitsu was designed to allow a smaller, less athletic person beat a larger, more athletic opponent using techniques and basic simple machines like levers and wedges. It's kinda like the American folkstyle wrestling you see in high schools and colleges, only a lot less intense. And there are chokes. And joint locks.

  • Why should I train Jiu-Jitsu?

    • It's a really fun hobby that is physically, intellectually, and sometimes emotionally challenging. Research shows most people train because it's fun, which is the reason we focus on the science of "play" in our school. There are lots of other benefits, like giving you a sense of belonging to a chose-knit social group, improved health and fitness, giving you an opportunity to test yourself should you decide to compete, and learning to defend yourself or, more importantly, giving you an accurate assessment of the limits of your ability to defend yourself. For a small percentage of folks, it's an avenue to becoming a bjj instructor (which is a major focus of what we do here at EDC) or an mma fighter (which is also something we dabble in here.)

  • Is jiu jitsu safe?

    • Pretty much. We don't want to sugar-coat this; jiu jitsu IS a fighting system and we DO engage in a lot of live, physically-demanding sparring. However, we place a high value on the health and well-being of our training partners because without them there will be no training. The sport itself is designed with safety in mind, and we add in our own layers of safety (like having new members attend our Intro Class before attending our regular classes.)

  • Is jiu jitsu good exercise?

    • Yes! During a typical 90 minute class, we might burn anywhere from 800 to 1200 calories. And it's about as functional of a fitness methodology you'll find. If you're looking for a good way to drop a few pounds, this sport will get the job done.

  • I'm horribly claustrophobic. Is jiu jitsu going to be a problem for me?

    • Maybe. While we're pretty good at helping people overcome their apprehensions about training, it's not for everyone. This is one of the reasons we make our Intro Class free and without obligation. You'll know pretty quickly if the sport's for you or not, and we want to make it as easy as possible to test the waters.

  • Can I use this for self defense?

    • Yes, but this needs a serious qualifier. We have a lot of people with pro fight experience at our school. That experience of fighting people who are trying to harm you as much as they possibly can erases all illusions of the effectiveness of what we teach. Any self-defense skill is better than none, but there are no secret ninja techniques. Anyone selling you those ideas are stealing your money and blowing smoke up your ass. We're more than happy to step on the mat and test our fighting systems versus anyone claiming to have secret, magical skills. Really effective self-defense involves some simple concepts and techniques practiced repeatedly and at full speed for years and years. We DO provide this, but our recommendation will always be to avoid bad situations in the first place, then run away if that fails. Actual "street fights" are brutal, unpredictable, and often end with the participants being sent to the hospital, jail, or both. So yes, you CAN use this for self-defense, but we'll go to great lengths to teach you the LIMITS of your abilities to defend yourself.

  • Is jiu jitsu the same thing as 'cage fighting' or what I see in mma?

    • Jiu jitsu is a component of mma and is used primarily when one or both fighters start ground fighting. Almost all mma fighters will train some jiu jitsu, while a few use jiu jitsu as their primary fighting system. Jiu jitsu doesn't include many components of mma, including strikes, slams, or a big cage.

  • Who can/should do jiu jitsu?

    • Jiu jitsu is great for anyone who enjoys challenges, enjoys learning, doesn't have a strong aversion to physical contact with other people, and can tolerate the frustration of losing to people you probably think you should beat. People who really enjoy problem-solving, puzzles, or people who really like working with ideas will thoroughly enjoy this sport.To some degree or another, almost all of us at El Diablo Combatives are fun-loving, open-minded and accepting, slightly hippy-ish, slightly sadomasochistic, geeky nerds. If that describes you, then yes! Jiu jitsu is for you.

  • Who SHOULDN'T do jiu jitsu?

    • People with anger management issues, who lack humility or empathy, have fragile egos, very little emotional resiliency, people with poor hygiene habits, passive-aggressive drama queens, or people with a pathological need to win tend not to do well in this sport, and definitely won't do well at El Diablo Combatives. As mentioned above, jiu jitsu is designed to allow smaller, weaker people to beat bigger, more athletic people using techniques and basic scientific principles. That means some of our better children will probably be able to dominate you in the very beginning. Not everyone can deal with that. If you're a turd of a human being, we're not the school for you.

  • Do I need to be strong, flexible, and in good shape?

    • Absolutely not. As long as your doctor cleared you for jiu jitsu, the best way you can get in shape is by doing jiu jitsu. Due to the unique nature of the sport, learning when you're not at your physical peak is actually a bit of an advantage. If you want to train, DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU'RE MORE FIT! Start today. Fitness will come in due time.

  • Am I too old to do jiu jitsu?

    • If your doc cleared you, you're good. Shelly and Jason didn't start until they were in their late 30's. We have members in their 60's. We've trained with people in their 70's. Age isn't an excuse.

  • Do I need experience to train here?

    • Nope, though we enthusiastically welcome training partners with experience because we love to learn. But experience isn't required. Our school is explicitly designed for students with zero experience in ANY sport, let alone martial arts.

  • I trained <insert other martial art here>; will that help me in jiu jitsu?

    • Maybe. Wrestling in all its forms, judo, muay thai, boxing, kickboxing, or any other martial art that includes full-speed, full-contact sparring will help you get acclimated to jiu jitsu. Even non-martial art contact sports like football or water polo will help. Other martial arts that don't include full-speed, full-contact sparring probably won't be as useful other than you'll probably pick up bjj pretty quickly. Learning one art usually makes it easier to learn another art.

  • Why is jiu jitsu is more effective than other martial arts?

    • We're pretty skeptical about any claims about anything being "the best" here at EDC, and jiu jitsu is no exception. BJJ is GREAT for learning how to control the body of a resisting opponent and either put them to sleep or break their limbs, which is a handy skill for emergency situations that teachers, police officers, security guards, etc. may face in their line of work. But jiu jitsu isn't effective against weapons of any kind, groups of attackers, or grizzly bears.

  • What are the belt rankings in jiu jitsu?

    • Jiu jitsu has different rankings for kids and adults with sixteen being the age of transition. The kids belts include white, gray, yellow, orange, and green. The adult rankings include white, blue, purple, brown, and black. There are also two "coral" belts and a red belt, but these take 35-40 years+ to earn.

  • How long does it take to get the next belt?

    • Jiu jitsu adult belt promotions are notoriously conservative and it generally takes 2-3 years of regular, dedicated training to get from one belt to another. Brand new white belts at El Diablo Combatives should earn their blue belt in two years if they attend classes regularly. Because we publish our entire curriculum and belt testing criteria, new students can go ahead at their own pace and earn their blue belt a bit earlier.

  • How long does it take to get a stripe on my belt? 

    • "Stripes" are the pieces of tape you see on jiu jitsu belts. Because promotions are so conservative, most schools, EDC included, use stripes as an intermediate indicator that a student has made tangible progress towards the next belt. Each belt level below black can have four stripes before promotion to the next level. Timing varies greatly given we don't put a lot of stock in extrinsic motivators, especially for our higher belts.

  • Are there tests to be promoted?

    • Sometimes. We take our role as stewards of the art seriously. We teach high quality jiu jitsu and we have exceptionally high expectations for our students. Part of maintaining the integrity of our school and the sport includes accurate, thorough assessments. These tests are not easy and are designed to be stressful. Some students may demonstrate mastery in other ways, ergo testing isn't ALWAYS used.

  • Are there fees for testing?

    • No. Unannounced and excessive fees are a huge pet peeve of ours. Our students pay a premium price to train with us; we are not going to burden them with crap fees.

  • Why aren't I getting promoted?

    • Ask your instructor. We welcome this question; it gives us an opportunity to discuss your strengths and weaknesses and what you need to do to advance.

  • How long does it take to get your black belt?

    • Basically forever. Don't set this as your goal. Trust us on that one. Our job is to keep you motivated long enough to make that journey, but it's too long-term of a goal to be effective.

  • What is the difference between self-defense and sport jiu-jitsu?

    • This is a somewhat silly false dichotomy that wastes a lot of training hours. "Sport" jiu jitsu is a style used in tournaments and other competitions and is based on a points system. Sport BJJ includes a lot fun and beautiful techniques, but those techniques are largely useless when someone's punching you in the face. But it's still jiu jitsu, and competitors are as capable of using the art to defend themselves as those who learned "self-defense jiu jitsu." At El Diablo Combatives, we teach a style that is easily adaptable to any situation.

About Your Experiences as a Student

 

  • How are classes structured?

    • We like to experiment a lot with our teaching methods here at El Diablo Combatives, but most of our classes follow a format where we do a short warm-up, briefly review what we covered in the last class, learn something new, practice the new material, then do some live rolling that gives us an opportunity to test what we've learned. We also play A LOT of games that help reinforce the skills we're learning, such as our world-famous DiabloBall™ game.

  • How long are the classes?

    • Most classes range from 60 to 120 minutes. Check our schedule for exact times.

  • Am I required to come to class?

    • No, but we encourage all our students to attend, at a minimum, our two regular jiu jitsu classes held during the week. We also encourage advanced students to participate in our more advanced programs specifically designed for challenge and growth.

  • Do you offer morning/daytime classes?

    • Morning and day classes depend on instructor availability and demand. If you are interested in these times and we're not currently holding these classes, let your instructors know.

  • How do I refer to my instructors?

    • We prefer first names. Or "coach" if you want to get formal. Please do not refer to us as professor, master, or god forbid, sensei.

  • Will I get 'beat up' or potentially injured as a new person?

    • Beat up? No. We promote (and strictly enforce) a deep respect for the health of our training partners. Injured? We can't guarantee that, but the point of our free Introduction Class is to make sure new students are as safe as possible. Students who cannot train safely will be removed from the school.

  • Are you guys all a bunch of meatheads looking to beat up random people?

    • No. We're more like Dungeons and Dragons dorks who like to teach other how to beat each other up. We don't beat up random strangers. Our friends, however, are another story.

  • Are classes co-ed?

    • Yes. We work off the assumption that anyone interested in combat sports also has a desire to be treated like everyone else. Aside from making special accommodations for physical disabilities or injuries, we treat everyone the same regardless of gender.

  • How can women benefit from jiu jitsu?

    • Of course! Shelly, one of the co-owners, has been doing jiu jitsu for years. Stop by and have a chat with her; she's a great female ambassador for the art.

  • What are the general hygiene concerns?

    • Jiu jitsu involves a lot of close physical contact. As such hygiene is a HUGE priority at El Diablo Combatives. We expect all our students to show up for training clean, showered, and smelling halfway decent. Use deodorant and brush your teeth. If you have any small cuts or scrapes, tape them well. We expect all clothing to be freshly-washed. If you recently pooped, wash your ass. We expect sick students to sit out. Further, we clean our mats at least twice daily.

  • How should I prepare for my first class?

    • Be well-hydrated, bathe, and wear comfortable workout clothing. If you have a gi and belt, bring them along with a water bottle and a pair of flip-flops (we wear shoes off the mat; we do not wear shoes on the mat.) Read up on our rules, procedures, and etiquette. If you have any questions, show up early or shoot us an email at eldiablobjj@gmail.com.

  • How often should I train, as a beginner?

    • We recommend training two or three days per week until your body acclimates to the workload. Avoid the urge to train every day, at least for the first few weeks or months. There is such thing as 'too much, too soon."

  • Why do you guys start from your knees when rolling?

    • We have limited space and a lot of us are old. ;-) We do, however, have multiple days dedicated to take-downs, especially in our Combatives (MMA) and Competition Team Classes. They're prominently featured in our curriculum.

  • Do I have to compete?

    • No. While we do compete occasionally, it's not mandatory and rarely factors into promotions. While we encourage it, it's not mandatory.

  • If I compete, can I pull guard?

    • No.

  • If I start training at your school, can I also train elsewhere?

    • Yes! We're huge fans of the BJJ Globetrotter philosophy, which encourages training with anyone and everyone regardless of affiliation. We do this mostly for selfish reasons - we want to learn from anyone and everyone. If you DO train elsewhere, expect us to ask what you learned so we can larn it, too.

  • I started jiu jitsu recently, but I’m getting frustrated with my lack of progress: how can I overcome this?

    • Jiu jitsu is a frustrating sport. Sometimes you reach a plateau where you see little progress. Sometimes you even seem to regress. If this happens, talk to us. We're good at solving these kinds of issues, and we'll help you develop a plan to overcome this temporary lack of progress.

Visitors

 

  • Do you allow visitors?

  • Do I need to make reservations to attend classes?

    • Generally, no. You can just show up. If you have any questions beforehand, shoot us an email at eldiablobjj@gmail.com.

  • Do you have any gym rules or etiquette that I should be aware of?

  • If I show up at your school, am I going to get smashed?

    • No, unless that's what you're looking for and explicitly tell us. We generally roll pretty hard with each other, but we treat visitors like respected guests. We don't generally pair our less experienced students (i.e. - spazzy) with guests until we get an idea of the guest's ability to deal with newer people who may not have learned to relax, yet.

Clothing and Gear

 

  • What do I wear for practice or to train?

    • If you're doing our regular jiu jitsu class, you need a clean gi free of rips or holes (the uniform we wear for training), a belt, and underwear. Most people wear a shirt under their gi jacket, but we don't require it. If you're doing any other jiu jitsu or combatives class, wear clean grappling shorts (they can't have pockets, which can be dangerous if you catch a finger or toe) and a clean, tight-fitting shirt. For the striking classes, gym shorts and a tshirt are okay. 

  • Do you have required uniforms?

    • No, we don't require specific gis or other uniforms.

  • Do you rent gis?

    • No. We do have some loaner gis we'll let you use for free. Just ask the receptionist or instructor; they'll help you with the ftting. Just leave the gi in the dirty laundry basket before leaving.

  • What is the best place to purchase a jiu jitsu gi?

    • Usually Amazon. Also, we can order you a gi for a very competitive price. We can give you some tips on good values. The really expensive gis aren't always worth the price. 

  • Do I need to get a belt when I buy a Gi?

    • Yes.

  • What if I forget my gi/ belt at home?

    • We'll let you borrow a loaner.

  • Do I need any protective equipment?

    • Many people wear mouthguards for jiu jitsu, but they're not required. For the cCombatives Class or any of the striking classes, mouthguards are required. Cups are highly recommended. Headgear and wrestling shoes should only be used to protect injuries.

Kids Class

 

  • How old does my child have to be to start training?

    • We generally allow children to start training as soon as they develop the maturity to not act like a screaming banshee while our instructors are trying to teach. For most kids, this tends to be around the age of ten, but we have students as young as four. We typically assess kids on an individual basis if they're not let in middle school.

  • Will jiu jitsu make my child "bully-proof"?

    • Given both Jason and Shelly have been teaching at k-12 levels for years, they're both intimately familiar with the nature of bullying among children. The way jiu jitsu is usually sold as an "anti-bullying" system is both ignorant and dangerous when exposed to the cold, hard realities of our modern world. We take a different route. Jiu jitsu is a fighting style, and we're teaching your kids how to fight. However, all parties who get into fights in schools today typically get punished. It's not fair, but it's the world we live in. We train for the world that IS, not the world we WANT. We don't want your kid to get suspended (or worse - expelled) because they broke a kid's arm trying to legitimately defend themselves. We teach both our kids and adults that violence is always the absolute LAST option in any situation. If violence needs to happen, we're ready. But we teach situational awareness, avoidance, and de-escalation tactics as the go-to ways to prevent being victimized by bullies. Interestingly, we've found the confidence gained from learning all these methods almost always cause bullies to pick on easier, weaker victims.

  • My child is already very energetic. I'm afraid the training will encourage aggression, is this true?

    • We're pretty good at assessing child behaviors and personalities. The vast majority of children actually get less violent when they learn martial arts, in part because they have experienced the consequences of violence first-hand in the controlled setting of our school. Some kids, though, can become more aggressive. If we believe your kid falls into this category, we won't allow them to train under us. Learning to control your behaviors is a major element of our kids program.

  • Will my child have a hard time if he/she isn’t athletic?

    • No! Jiu jitsu is designed to allow a smaller and/or less athletic person to defeat a bigger, stronger, faster opponent. Learning the techniques of jiu jitsu makes up for a lack of athleticism.

  • How large are your class sizes and what’s the ratio of instructors to students?

    • We cap the number of kids in our program to fifteen, and we typically have at least two coaches leading the kids' classes because class size matters. A lot. At worst, we'll have a 10:1 ratio. Typically, it's usually closer to 4:1.

  • Are the classes safe for my child?  

    • Generally yes, but we ARE engaging in a very physical sport that involves simulating breaking limbs and choking people unconscious. We go to great lengths to assure our training sessions are as safe as possible, which we do by eliminating excessively dangerous techniques, carefully monitoring student progress, and matching kids in a way that minimizes injuries.

  • What qualifications do your instructors have to teach my child?

    • All our instructors have been doing jiu jitsu for years and have worked with kids of all ages extensively. Both Jason and Shelly (our owners) are long-time public school teachers with a combined 40 years of experience in Michigan, California, and here in Colorado. Both also possess Master's degrees in education, have strong backgrounds in child psychology, human development and physical education, have worked as coaches in other sports (football, wrestling, running, baseball, and bowling), and have led kids' jiu jitsu and wrestling classes for several years. Shelly has previously taught at Cottonwood Elementary in Montrose, and Jason currently teaches at Montrose High School where he leads the jiu jitsu club. In short, you won't find more qualified kids' instructors anywhere in Western Colorado. 

  • How are classes structured?

    • Our kids' classes are structured like our adult classes (see above.) We follow the same curriculum, though it is modified to account for the differences in physical, cognitive, and emotional development.

  • Will my child have fun? Will he want to stick with the program?  

    • Probably. Our school is unique in that we use the science of "play" to guide a great deal of our teaching. Above all else, we understand our classes have to be intrinsically enjoyable for our students to remain interested for the long-term. As such, we do what we can to make our classes fun. It helps that all our instructors are basically grown children themselves and haven't lost the joyful wonder of exploring and learning new things.

  • Is jiu jitsu just for boys, or can my daughter join, too?

    • We've found the sex of a child has nothing to do with them being successful on the mats. We welcome everyone who is interested in learning and mature enough to take our classes.

  • Are there any additional training fees, testing fees etc.?

    • No. The only expense beyond membership fees are for equipment, like a gi (for jiu jitsu) or gloves (for boxing.) We do not require the specific gear we sell, and we'll help you find gear that's a good value.

  • Can you accommodate children with learning challenges?

    • Yes! Our extensive experience as public school teachers involves working with children with all manners of challenges. We also understand the language. Just showing us an IEP or 504 plan is usually enough for us to develop appropriate and effective accommodations. Please note, however, all children need to demonstrate they're emotionally and socially mature enough to take our classes without ruining the experience for the rest of the class.

If you have any questions that are not answered in this FAQ, email us at eldiablobjj@gmail.com.