"Fast or Crush" Jiu Jitsu Styles and Strategies

Published on by Samantha Faulhaber

“Fast” and “Crush” are the two names I loosely apply to my two modes of training. Which one I use depends on my opponent and what I’m working on.

Picture Mackenzie Dern, Gezary Matuda Kubis, or Erberth Santos flying around someone. If I could pick a couple of inspirations for this style they would be top 3 on my list.

What it means
Basically you run around a person so fast they can’t get a hold of you.

Why you might do it

• Your opponent is very strong and/or bigger than you and if they get a grip on you you’re in for a battle.
• You’re working on cutting your angles or doing any sort of passing game that goes around a guard, like bull passing.
• You’re working on transitions between positions and stringing sequences together.
• You don’t need a lot of strength.
• Your timing develops at a high rate of speed.
• You bewilder your opponent and tire them out.

Common problems

• If you don’t have good command of your breathing and ability to stay calm you will likely gas out very quickly.
• Not stopping, ever. You have to eventually stop when you have a good position. The point of this kind of play is to get and stay ahead of your opponent’s efforts. Once you’ve established a dominant position, you need to stay there and work for a submission. Unless you catch a flying sub, you will have to learn to stay solid in good places and let the person “cook”. If they begin to escape you can turn on the airplane engines again.

Mobility consideration

• All this stopping and turning as you run around changing directions can wreak havoc on an ACL if your knee doesn’t know how to unlock. Learn how to rotate your tibia separate from your knee and train it in different positions or live to regret the positions you didn’t train in. Make sure your patella (kneecap) is able to move just a little bit in all directions and doesn’t hurt.
• Being able to kick your heel to your butt will be very helpful to avoid getting caught. Work on regressive hamstring strength and control and make sure your knees and quads are healthy enough to allow you to do so.

Not many people are better examples of this than Lucas Lepri, Murilo Santana or Bernardo Faria.

What it means
When I’m playing “crush” my inspiration board contains a slug and a snake choking down an animal larger than it is. Crush involves a commitment to absorbing all the space in the world and not giving back any of it ever. You want to crush them physically and spiritually. If Fast is exhilarating and light, Crush is evil and satisfying. You take inches and you don’t give them back again in the slow and heavy pursuit of a submission.

Why you might do it
Your opponent made you mad. Just kidding. You like pressure passing and that feeling when you know the person is breaking underneath of you. Use this style when you want to work on precise control and the subtle awareness of space. You will also learn to sense the weaker ranges of a person so you can take advantage and move there.


• Not a lot of movement once you get a good bite on a position.
• You don’t have to be in great shape to execute a good crush strategy.
• When you’re doing it well you get to hear the panic in their breathing intensify because you’re so close to them.
• You develop patience in your timing.

Common problems

• If you don’t have good command of your breathing and ability to stay calm you will likely gas out very quickly (yes, repeated, because breathing is a big deal). Read more here.
• Overexertion. Crush should toe the line between very firm muscular engagement and gripping as hard as you can but stay short of the “as hard as you can” side 96% of the time. You shouldn’t be trembling or getting tired quickly. My instructor Brian Rago likens a lot of the ideal engagements in Jiu-Jitsu to steel cables – very strong but with give.
• Holding on too long to things you’re losing. Sometimes your position will be less-than-perfect and you need to change to stay ahead in the game. If you freeze and try to maintain a locked down position you may end up getting reversed or put into a submission yourself as the best angle slips away into the past.

Mobility considerations

• You need to know what ranges of motion you’re strong in and how to detect and take advantage of where other people aren’t. Keeping your elbows close is good for both offense and defense for the same reasons – adduction (bringing the limb closer to the body) and flexion (as in a bent elbow) are stronger in ranges closer to right angles or a little bit shorter for almost everyone. You use these ranges of motion more in everyday life. See this clip from my Instagram for more about strong ranges of motion in BJJ.
• Thoracic mobility and the ability to push down through different parts of your spine and hips will allow you to create pressure where you need it most. Here’s a really basic video to help you with that. Email me at samantha@movewellphilly.com if you don’t get the idea.