Surprise Your Opponents With The Dead Orchard

Setting up traps is one of the most secure ways to secure a finish in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or any grappling sports. Nothing screams checkmate more than having your opponents step right into it as you apply and eventually catch them with your planned submission hold. Usually, the more aware your opponents are of these setups, the chance of catching them with it lessens, which is why hiding it in plain sight is essential. This article will discuss how to surprise your opponents with the dead orchard.


Overview Of The Rubber Guard

To understand the dead orchard, we must first discuss the rubber guard, which is the guard precursor to initiate the submission. The rubber guard was developed by Nino Schembri and Eddie Bravo, who further enhanced the technique with Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet guard system. Eddie would then aim to break his opponent’s posture by bringing his leg behind their head for control and keeping it there. Doing so opens up different possibilities to attack with sweeps and submissions. A variation of the open guard is the rubber guard, which the guard player performs by putting their leg over the opponent’s back while grabbing their shin using the opposite hand. The guard player grabs their shin palm up (hand facing upwards) as their forearm comes in contact with the opponent’s collarbone. Doing this helps the guard player break the opponent’s posture down while neutralizing the guard passer’s ability to pose a threat. Generally, the rubber guard is focused on clinching with the opponent to control the distance while keeping them at bay, leaving them guessing about your possible attacks. The rubber guard is proven to be an effective guard strategy, be it for MMA, Gi and No-Gi BJJ, and even self-defense situations, as this gives an option to neutralize the attacks from an assailant.


What Is The Dead Orchard?

The dead orchard is named after Nathan Orchard, who is known for being dangerous in leg locks and with the rubber guard. This move addresses a common issue from the rubber guard where the opponent escapes from the gap on the side where you use your hand to control the shin. The dead orchard is a triangle where you have both the opponent’s shoulders trapped inside and your legs locked outside beside their shoulder, allowing you to attack both arms with an armbar, one of the strongest setups in grappling. When appropriately applied, the dead orchard is an effective submission because it nullifies the opponent’s ability to pull back, posture out, or stack to defend from the attack. Even though you might not submit the opponent with a choke, having both their shoulders trapped inside a triangle is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, structures for an attack as it promotes a closed wedge system. Because of this, it leaves both the opponent’s arms vulnerable to attacks such as the armbar, Americana, or wrist locks.


Ways To Set Up The Dead Orchard

The dead orchard can be set up in different ways. While it has different setups, everyone arrives at the same goal of trapping both the opponent’s shoulders in a triangle. Below are three ways you can set up the dead orchard.


1) The Pump

To start, place your right leg behind the opponent’s head, grab (hook) your right ankle using your left hand, and leg curl. Doing this keeps the opponent down and prevents them from posturing up. Move their head downwards for control by swinging your left leg towards the right foot while using your right foot to hook below the left foot. Doing this can add more downward pressure for additional posture control. Using the “pump,” extend and squeeze your leg together to force the opponent’s right elbow to the center line. This squeezes their shoulder blades together, enabling you to lock in the dead orchard. Lock in the dead orchard with a figure-four triangle above the opponent’s shoulder. Doing so isolates the opponent’s right arm, making them vulnerable to an armbar, Americana, or wrist lock. When finishing the armbar, control the opponent’s wrist and extend your hips to hyper-extend the opponent’s arm.


2) Backdoor

From the same video above, at 3:13s. Nathan Orchard will show how you can enter the dead orchard position from the backdoor escape. Starting from the rubber guard and attempting to transition to the dead orchard while keeping control over the opponent’s posture, once they decide to perform the backdoor escape, the opponent’s arm has to extend as they pull out. When they do, make sure that their elbow is in place on the centerline. For example, in the high guard, once the opponent’s elbow is on the center line, it will be easier for you to apply the triangle. Lock in the figure-four while trapping it over the opponent’s shoulders as they attempt to escape the back door. This now exposes half of their arm from the elbow to the hand, and you can finish with the dead orchard armbar.


3) Gag Reflex

From the posture control with the rubber guard, perform the gag reflex as a bait. As done by Eddie Bravo, the gag reflex is driving your fist on the side of the opponent’s neck to block their carotid artery while applying the rubber guard. While many grapplers disregard the driving of fists, they may pass out due to the disrupted blood flow when the threat is not addressed.

Assuming you have your left foot behind the opponent’s head and your right hand to secure the rubber guard, use your left fist to apply the gag reflex. The opponent’s left hand is likely posted on the mat, making it safe from the dead orchard. The next thing the opponent does is to defend from the gag reflex using their left hand, and if not, they may pass out. As they move their left arm from the mat to defend from your left fist by blocking it, perform the pump. Swing your right leg over to force the opponent’s left arm across. Lock up the dead orchard and finish with your desired arm attack.



Once locked in, the dead orchard is one of the most powerful ways to control the opponent’s upper body. Work on your flexibility, drill the rubber guard, or work your way from the high guard if you are new to it. See how it works to unlock a new area of your game.


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