Burns Hopes Jiu Jitsu Will Improve Strength, Technique In Year Two


He might never become a black belt but Artie Burns is learning a few moves during the offseason. Sitting down with Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews, Burns said he’s taking jiu jitsu classes during the offseaon to improve his game heading into Year Two.

“I’m taking jiu jitsu,” he told Matthews. “Learning how to control my body. Work on my strength. Because we jam a lot. Jiu Jitsu is a lot of hands on. It’ll help me better with tackling, take downs and stuff like that.”

Burns’ comments on jamming is another indication of how much Cover 2 the Steelers used and how much they will continue to run in 2017.

Martial arts is becoming a popular offseason training exercise for NFL players. Tons of big-name players have tried it. Odell Beckham Jr, Demarco Murray, and Zach Ertz to name a few. I’m not sure if any Steeler has used the workout as a tool in the past but there are several MMA fans on the roster. Last year, Arthur Moats compared it to NFL training.

“The cardio aspect is the most intense part, I think,” Moats said. “In both sports, if you get tired, it doesn’t matter what skill level you have. You’re not going to be able to perform at your best. The cardio plays a huge aspect of it.”


And Sports Illustrated has a great article following around one of the go-to NFL/MMA trainers, Jay Glazer. Worth your time if you’re interested in the phenomenon.

Burns reiterated that overall, he wants to get stronger this year to handle the league’s best and strongest receivers.

“To be able to play against some of the bigger receivers. Guys like Dez. Guys like Julio. Guys like that.”

Burns will hit the ground running, comfortably entering camp as the starting RCB, likely opposite Ross Cockrell. If that’s the case, the Steelers’ base defense secondary – slot is a different story – will have the same faces as it did leaving the 2016 season. Mike Mitchell at free safety, Sean Davis at strong. That alone will create comfort, confidence, and progression. And the team will be hoping Burns takes the next step forward and become the Steelers’ top cornerback.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • D.j. Reynolds

    Jiu Jitsu would make a GREAT nickname for JJSS! That was my initial thought when reading the headline.

  • will

    “Because we jam a lot.” – Artie Burns above
    Really????????….in Coach Butz’s “Seems like Coach LeBeau’s zone-play 10 yards off of the line of scrimmage” defense??? Maybe they jam way off of the line of scrimmage ( within 5 yards?) Please help me understand his comment.

  • Alex Kozora

    Steelers played more C2 than anyone else last year. They press a lot. Quick change from LeBeau’s scheme.

  • Conserv_58

    Alex, former Steelers’ great OLB, Greg Lloyd was an avid practitioner of marshal arts. He earned his fourth-degree black belt and masters status in tae kwon do, a Korean form of martial arts that features hand and foot fighting. At that level a practitioner must register their hands as they are regarded as lethal weapons. Once his football career was over he immersed himself in marshal arts. I believe he’s still involved as a teacher.

  • Alex Kozora

    Good info, thanks!

  • Rob H

    Being stronger and using his hands better will both help for sure, but Burns will gain the most improvement from working on his technique, and recognition. Both come from work on the practice field and film room, and he has shown the attitude and work ethic to make me believe we will see big gains in both of those areas as well.
    Would love to see him become best buds with Sutton for the next 8 years, since those are already two of his strengths.

  • Taylor Williams

    That’s great Burns. But I doubt your coaches would implement a press zone scheme to utilize your new strength.
    You’re part of a bend don’t break family.

  • Grant Humphrey

    It’s at least 10 yards off the recievers

  • Thomas

    I feel like boxing would be more applicable…the latter specializes in grabbing and holding your oponent, things I would like to keep to minimum lol

  • Steve Johnson

    They’re making the transition from LeBeau’s Defense. Looks like they will play more man-to-man zone this year.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Tunch & Wolf attributed a lot of their success to the arts. Tunch actually trains players w/ Tunch’s Punches, martial arts type of hand placement for both offense of an defense of lineman. Wolf used to own MASC in Bridgeville…I think.

  • Luke

    Martavis Bryant did the same thing with the MMA training a few years back with Jay Glazer if i remember correctly

  • Shane Mitchell

    As a football player who later became heavily involved in martial arts, particularly Kenpo,shootfighting and Jui-jitsu if I knew the hand techniques from Kenpo back when I played football I would have been on a completely different level as a football player, just little things like raking someones hands off of you, which I was taught as a OLB but was greatly enhanced learning a similar technique in Kenpo, in football they taught me to rake down the wrist with my hands at contact, in Kenpo you start the rake above the elbow joint then down to the wrist the difference is massive someone much smaller can not only force the hands off starting the rake above the elbow but it also pulls their head down with it throwing off their center of gravity to open up all kinds of pass rush moves. How to trap someones hand that grabs you and leverage them out of your way controlling one limb, where to hit on the hand to force it to open automatically to lose their grip and the hand will lose feeling from hitting a nerve. How to trap a hand when someone grabs you and lock their shoulder to gain leverage, a favorite technique of James Harrison pass rushing off the edge, its not a standard dip and rip that he uses someone taught him that technique and its from martial arts. Its a dream of mine to be able to work with Steelers players for just an hour. Any young football players that read this try to find a Kenpo karate studio in your area and you will learn the most advanced hand techniques in martial arts and I guarantee it will make you a better football player in a hurry.

  • Alex Kozora

    Maybe Sean Davis should give it a shot, too. 🙂

  • cencalsteeler

    Tae Kwon Do, Boxing, Karate or Judo would benefit alot more than Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu is more of an art form of ground n pound and grappling. Look for Burns to either look for an arm bar, a rear naked choke or attempt a body triangle on a wr in the near future, lol. I’m poking fun here, it’ll do some good, but imo, wrong discipline to hand fight or establish positioning at the los.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Yes!!! he needs it more than Burns, no one would ever stiff arm him again.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Jiu Jitsu Smith-Schuster? ! I like it! Lol.

  • AndyR34

    Nice explanation and encouragement.

  • Registering hands as lethal weapons is completely untrue in the States. You can be judged more harshly by the courts if you’re a trained fighter who has hurt someone, but there is ZERO basis in the myth that you have to register yourself as a deadly weapon.

  • Real

    “As a football player who later became heavily involved in martial arts, particularly Kenpo,shootfighting and Jui-jitsu if I knew the hand techniques from Kenpo back when I played football I would have been on a completely different level as a football player, just little things like raking someones hands off of you, which I was taught as a OLB but was greatly enhanced learning a similar technique in Kenpo, in football they taught me to rake down the wrist with my hands at contact, in Kenpo you start the rake above the elbow joint then down to the wrist the difference is massive someone much smaller can not only force the hands off starting the rake above the elbow but it also pulls their head down with it throwing off their center of gravity to open up all kinds of pass rush moves. How to trap someones hand that grabs you and leverage them out of your way controlling one limb, where to hit on the hand to force it to open automatically to lose their grip and the hand will lose feeling from hitting a nerve.” YO THAT IS ONE LONG SENTENCE LMAO

  • Real

    “As a football player who later became heavily involved in martial arts, particularly Kenpo,shootfighting and Jui-jitsu if I knew the hand techniques from Kenpo back when I played football I would have been on a completely different level as a football player, just little things like raking someones hands off of you, which I was taught as a OLB but was greatly enhanced learning a similar technique in Kenpo, in football they taught me to rake down the wrist with my hands at contact, in Kenpo you start the rake above the elbow joint then down to the wrist the difference is massive someone much smaller can not only force the hands off starting the rake above the elbow but it also pulls their head down with it throwing off their center of gravity to open up all kinds of pass rush moves. How to trap someones hand that grabs you and leverage them out of your way controlling one limb, where to hit on the hand to force it to open automatically to lose their grip and the hand will lose feeling from hitting a nerve.” YO THAT IS ONE LONG SENTENCE MY MAN LMAO

  • Carlos

    I’m pretty sure Craig Wolfley has mentioned Jiu Jitsu as a part of his multi disciplinary training. Good for Artie.

  • Applebite

    It didn’t hurt Ronnie Lott one bit….

  • Brenton deed

    Not sure about that. Those arts are primarily impact (striking) arts … all of the drills e.g punching in horse riding stance etc (not a practical technique but designed to develop hip/shoulder/arm coordination) will help a OL ( hence the “Tunch punch”)

    Maybe some blocking techniques would be useful too for DL/OLBs but I think hapkido, ju jitsu , judo and win chun would be very useful for their emphasis on “grappling”, joint lock, type techniques.

    The ground work only dominates the Brazilian ju jitsu. Hapkido and win chun focus on immobilising with grappling/ joint locks and then delivering the coup de grace with a blow while standing so they seem as though they could be useful.

  • Conserv_58

    I was told that years ago by a marshal arts practitioner. So I took that as being true.

  • Conserv_58

    I found myself gasping for breath after reading your first sentence. DANG! That is one long sentence. Ladarius Greens’ Steelers career didn’t last that long. 🙂

    I do appreciate the information though.

  • will

    Richard Sherman seems to use that technique quite well.

  • NCSteel

    Loved that guy.
    Underrated.

  • I always heard that too. Turns out people are full of it, haha.

  • toonasteel

    Bravo Sir!

  • JFarq86

    Lloyd was my first thought. You could almost see the training in the way Lloyd would chop the ball free to force fumbles.

  • Jake Milman

    I’m actually shocked it has taken this long to be incorporated. Bjj is great.