12 Dec 2017

Review: Isolate to Dominate, by Nelson Puentes / Artechoke Media

Black belt Nelson Puentes offers a broad repertoire of techniques to illustrate four jiu jitsu themes. The techniques and the concepts are straightforward enough to apply to beginners yet deep enough to offer experienced grapplers plenty of food for thought. The techniques range from takedowns to sweeps to guard  play and guard passing, submissions and defensive work. All are connected by the concept-led focus. This e-book format gives readers useful background text to read as well as animated gifs and full form videos to view.

This title is an online cloud based e-book via the Artechoke Media website.
Priced: $50

Nelson and Jesse

Nelson Puentes is the black belt owner of popular brand Inverted Gear. Nelson is an experienced competitor and travels the world competing and teaching jiu jitsu. Along with Hillary Witt and Matt Kirtley they produce the popular series of Youtube clips White Belt Asks, Black Belt Answers. With this kind of background, it's safe to acknowledge that Nelson is a good instructor and this (his first standalone instructional) - Isolate to Dominate - is a very good concept based tuitional e-book. Note: this title was originally called From Chile With Love.

E-book format
The format of this product is the same as others from Artechoke Publishing - see my reviews of Mastering the Crucifix and The Sit Up Escape System. Both e-books contain a wealth of excellent material that would benefit beginners and experienced players alike. The format however takes a little getting used to: you have to log in to the Artechoke Website and then read each 'page' of the e-book just as you would a regular print book. The bonus however comes in the form of animated gif photos and full form video at the end of each page. It means you get something substantial to actually read and can sit through video content without having to listen to tons of pre-amble.

This e-book is divided into the following chapters and sub-groups:

Chapter 1: Takedowns - Why Russians Do It Better (this entire chapter is free!)
1-1 O uchi gari
1-2 Sumi Gaeshi
1-3 Russian Sumi Gae
1-4 Outside Lapel
1-5 Morote Seoi Nage
1-6 Russian Tie to Single
1-7 Outside Finish into Leg Drag
1-8 Barzegar
1-9 Modified Back Arch
1-10 Modified Pick-Up
1-11 Rolling Back Take from Bodylock
1-12 Double Leg Finish
1-13 Blast Double
1-14 Drag to Bodylock
1-15 Drag to Single
1-16 Cross Pick
1-17 Double Leg from Front Headlock
1-18 Spin Behind

Chapter 2: Folding Pass - All Roads Lead to the Folding Pass
Guard Domination
2-1 The Folding Pass
2-2 Versus Butterfly
2-3 Versus Spider
2-4 Versus De le Riva
2-5 Versus Knee Shield
2-6 Back Step Finish
2-7 Knee Cut Finish
2-8 Mount Finish
2-9 Leg Entangle
2-10 Turtle
2-11 Half Butterfly/Regain Hooks

Chapter 3: Closed Guard - Total Victory Concepts from Your Back
3-1 Basic Armbar Details
3-2 Flower Sweep with the Pants
3-3 Two-on-One Back Take
3-4 Two-on-One Sweep
3-5 Handstand Sweep without Sleeve
3-6 Handstand Sweep with Sleeve
3-7 Omoplata Sweep
3-8 Alternate Omoplata Sweep

Chapter 4: Shin-on-Shin Guard - Applying Advanced Open Guard Concepts
4-1 Open Guard Entry
4-2 De la Riva Entry
4-3 Dummy Sweep
4-4 Coming Up Into Single
4-5 Arm Feed
4-6 Arm Feed into Back Take
4-7 Super Drag
4-8 Spin Under Sweep
4-9 Achieving Anklelock Guard
4-10 Proper Positioning
4-11 Simple Bump Sweep
4-12 Switch to X-Guard
4-13 X-Guard Roll Option
4-14 Belly-Down Anklelock Finish

Chapter 5: Half Guard - A Leg and a Prayer
5-1 Basic Half Butterfly Sweep
5-2 Alternate Half Butterfly Sweep
5-3 Going to X-Guard
5-4 Post Counter
5-5 Opponent Sits Back
5-6 Reverse Half Back Take
5-7 Alternate Reverse Half Back Take
5-8 Shoulder of Justice Counter
5-9 Shoulder of Justice Single Leg

Concept based jiu-jitsu
Concept based BJJ tutorials are nothing new, the first major release instructional that focused heavily on concepts in my opinion would have been Demian Maia's Science Of Jiu Jitsu video tapes, originally released in 2007. In fact that set still holds up today as an excellent video series and well worth investing in.

Isolate to Dominate is a very apt title, but apart from this main concept theme, there are three others that Nelson has chosen to focus his attention on:

(a) Grab a limb and kill it: the two-on-one principle when grabbing a limb (the main theme as indicated by the title of this set).
(b) Make your hips go pop: hip movements for both attacking and defending
(c) Fastest feet in the south: hooks in BJJ from standing to groundwork
(d) Attack, Attack, Attack: offense based mindset when using BJJ

Many of the above concepts overlap so that one technique can encompass two or more concepts. What is most apparent in this e-book is the broad choice of techniques Nelson has chosen as his application of the concepts. We see core principle applied to attack and defence, stand up and ground, guard play and passing.

I personally am a huge fan of concepts when learning and teaching BJJ. The specifics and the step by step sequences still matter, but concepts help give a broader understanding of the technique. Concepts also help when learning new techniques, you being to see patterns and the brain only has to fill in the details.

Content Highlights & Rolling Practice
Straight away I have to say I liked the concepts Nelson has put together. They are easy to understand and can be applied to a very broad array of techniques. The idea of killing a limb doesn't just apply to your opponent's arms, Nelson is keen to point out that it also includes the legs too.

The first Chapter is dedicated to takedowns - not a subject I'm too brilliant at, but Nelson breaks it down very nicely. The concept driven model helped me see the principles behind quite a diverse selection of judo, sambo and wrestling takedowns. Of the 18 or so takedowns in this chapter, I had lots of fun drilling the blast double leg takedown, drag to bodylock, drag to single and cross pick from the front headlock. While executing them, the concepts in my head were always to the fore - two on one control, kills the hips, hooking my feet, attacking as the priority (or in my case, don't hang around and get lazy.)

Chapter two - the folding pass is brilliant. I must confess, before studying this set, I hadn't really worked on this pass in much depth before. I've played with the smash pass, leg weave and related variations of this but the folding pass Nelson demonstrates is much more versatile and available than I realised. Nelson shows how it can be attained from a variety of guard situations. It was handy too to link the main concepts of this book in with these techniques - mainly the pressing need to kill the hips and take control of a limb. Me personally, I found this chapter plus the final chapter to be my favourites  as they contained a ton of new stuff for me to work on.

Chapter three - closed guard techniques  - this chapter offers a lot of well known favourites (armbars, omoplatas, sweeps etc) seen through the fresher eyes of the concept themes discussed above, notably the idea of killing a limb. Of the techs here, I liked the omoplata sweep (and the alternate version) as it best exemplifies the killing the limb concept (with that sleeve grip and underhook  around the leg).

Chapter four - I felt like this chapter was written just for me. See I love playing open guard and use many various guard systems as part of my regular game but for some reason the shin on shin guard hasn't been high on list. The ankle lock guard (single leg x-guard) on the other hand is something I use a lot - btw Nelson calls is ankle lock guard to emphasize his specific grip around the ankle (ie just like a straight ankle lock) instead of alternative single leg x-guard gripping positions. In both cases, having Nelson remind us of the four basic concepts outlined above helped me understand the technique specifics a lot better. I'm not saying I'll fall in love with shin on shin guard as a result, but I feel a bit more confident playing with it and knowing what to and what not to do as a result of these concept lessons.

Chapter five - the half guard material looks great but I didn't have time to work through the techniques at time of writing. I do however like the way the concepts apply to this position too.

I must confess, with past titles,  I was resistant to the Artechoke Media format. The pages were slow to load and I found the gifs were distracting. Really, all I wanted to do was watch the long form video at the base of each page. I questioned why not simply release the video as a DVD? But over time (and since they're sticking with this format) I've begun to appreciate all the benefits that the 'media rich' format offers. The gifs, while a bit annoying and distracting, are still a very handy and quick way to watch the techniques without the need for a long video, plus they're better than photo stills. The written text is actually very informative and offers the user the chance to reaffirm the themes and details in depth - something that perhaps gets boring when listening to in video form. Finally, it's worth noting, the pages load much quicker now. It is clear Artechoke changed their back office system.

As for Nelson and his instructional here, this is a great set. I enjoy the concept-led focus when covering techniques and especially when it covers stuff I'm not too good at (eg takedowns and shin on shin.) Learning concepts are not a substitute for hard work practising the techniques but they help speed up the understanding behind the technique. I think this set would be of great benefit to grapplers of all levels.


About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


Jesse Saxon said...



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