Nobody likes having a stack pass done to them, but as with anything else, there’s a way to counter and turn the tables. You can prevent the stack pass from progressing and you can get in a good position for multiple attacks.
A common entry to the stack pass leaves the elbows flared, which gives you a perfect opening for this early stage defense. Your goal is to reach your hand just past the same side armpit of your opponent, and establish a gable grip. This will lock you into your opponents shoulder and any lack of discipline with their arm will result in an easy submission. This means that once your opponent discovers that they can not advance their position, and that their arm is in danger, a common response is to batten down the hatches and try to keep their arm from being exposed.
Sometimes a quick yank of the gable grip, accompanied by flaring your leg out and pushing will expose the arm, but if your opponent is grabbing onto your belt, or they are very strong compared to you, this may be difficult. The solution is to use a pulsing technique that gets used in many other areas of jiu-jitsu to overcome static resistance. There are a number of different terms for this technique, but my favorite is to refer to it as “jackhammer”. Just as a jackhammer can pulverize concrete by repeatedly banging away at the problem, you can overcome strong static resistance with this jackhammer style. The key is to repeatedly give it all you’ve got, give a slight rest, then give it all you got, over and over until you get the results you are looking for.
In this case, we are jackhammering both the gable grip and the leg to expose the arm. Once the arm is exposed, there is a plethora of submissions available. In this lesson, we look primarily at the two most common, which are the armbar and kimura submissions. Triangles and omoplatas are good options as well, but they require more positioning change, which means more risk of something going wrong. They are there as backup options if your primary choices are defended.
For the kimura, make sure you always have tight control of the arm. There are a few different variations of grips, but the mechanics remain the same. For all of the variations, you want to hug the arm tight to your chest, then extend your legs to bring your opponents arm to 90 degrees away from their body. This extra pressure reduces their ability to move their arm, helps prevent escape, and tightens the shoulder. The end result is that a small rotation of your core is all that is needed to finish the submission.
If the kimura slips, or if you can’t keep good control of the wrist, then the armbar will work as long as you guide the wrist up to your neck and keep constant inward rotating pressure on the elbow. Once you have some space to pull the elbow into, keep the wrist tightly controlled between your head and shoulder and apply pressure to the elbow.
On the other side of the coin, this defense shows the dangers of giving your opponent access to your armpit when you are doing the stack pass. My preference is to come in low and to keep my elbows collapsed inside and towards the hips. Once I establish a good gable grip, then I can be sure that the early stage defense and counter presented here will not be available.