About Us

Our Story

El Diablo Combatives was founded in September of 2019 by myself, Jason Robillard, and my wife Shelly. We took over operations from Garrick Landis, who had operated as Gracie Fighter Montrose since October of 2018. We have both trained under Charlie Kohler of San Diego Fight Club, San Diego's oldest MMA gym.

We got a relatively late start in the world of combat sports in our late thirties. Originally, we were both high school teachers in Michigan. In 2011, we got the opportunity to travel the country teaching people how to run barefoot (yeah, it's a little weird), so we quit our jobs and spent two years tooling around the US in an RV with our three little kids and our niece. We were both heavily involved in ultrarunning at the time. Eventually the grind of constant cross-country travel wore on us, so we decided to stop in the San Diego area for the winter. Bored of running, Shelly decided to give boxing a try and stumbled upon Charlie and SDFC. After a few classes, he convinced her to try jiu jitsu. After choking me out one night while pay-fighting, Shelly effectively convinced me to give it a try. I fell in love with the sport immediately.

What was supposed to be a brief pit-stop lasting a few months turned into seven years. Despite really not enjoying city life, we stuck around because we loved our gym, teammates, and the sport. And we really enjoyed recreational violence. We trained A LOT of jiu jitsu and also picked up boxing and kickboxing. We even did one pro mma fight each. It was an amazing adventure!

We eventually craved a more quiet lifestyle without crowds, traffic, and noise, so we moved to the beautiful Western Slope of Colorado. While we had talked about eventually opening our own jiu jitsu gym, we expected it to take a few years. Serendipity hit, though, and we were given the opportunity to take over for Garrick, who had to leave the area to care for a sick relative. So... here we are!

The Gym

When Shelly and I talked about opening a gym, we had a pretty good idea about the concept. Borrowing from what we learned from Charlie at San Diego Fight Club, we knew we wanted to create an environment where any and all ideas could be tested to create the most effective version of jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts. Take what works, ditch what doesn't. We also knew we wanted to create just the right culture. We wanted to surround ourselves with like-minded people. Tough, curious people who are eager to learn. And don't take themselves too seriously. And won't get offended by our habitual profanity, innuendos, and dick jokes. Yes, the name of the gym is a joke. If you get it, you'll fit in.

After taking over in September of '19, we were well on our way towards that goal. We had assembled an awesome collection of coaches, had a solid core group of dedicated students, and programs that were just starting to take off.

Then the pandemic hit. 

After being shut down for months, the reality of COVID slapped us in the face. We faced an uncertain present and an even more uncertain future. While it would have been easy to just close up shop permanently, we're stubborn. We made the decision to move forward by changing our entire business model and moving to a smaller location. We carefully studied the CDC guidelines, the state of Colorado phased reopening plans, and our local mandates. Our goal? Essentially pandemic-proof our business so, no matter what's happening in the outside world, our members will continue to have a place to train... even if it's limited to the folks in their household.

As we grew, we needed more space and eventually moved to our last location at 33 North Uncompahgre Avenue in Montrose, one block north of Main Street. We remained at this location for about a year, but the ongoing pandemic proved to be a huge headache. In September of 2021, we closed our downtown location and started a private training model with a focus on law enforcement personnel. If you work in law enforcement and wish to improve your arrest and control skills, contact Jason at eldiablobjj@gmail.com.
Both Shelly and I do still train regularly along with most of our El Diablo teammates, mostly at the new Grind jiu jitsu academy run by Garrick Landis (Grind contact info will be added soon!) We also train at other gyms throughout the Western Slope. 


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