Carol Burris

Master Carol Burris Ku-Dan (9th Degree Black Belt) began training in 1976 under the instruction of J.C. Burris. She was awarded the rank of Shodan in 1978 by Master Harold Long and J.C. Burris.

A quick and strong natural martial artist, she had great success as a tournament competitor between 1976 and 1984. Her quickness and technique made her almost “automatic” in kata, kumite and weapons competition. She accumulated over 200 1st and 2nd place trophies during her competitive career. IIKA Nationals, Battle of Atlanta, Battle of Nashville and Ben Kikers southern tournaments were a few of her wins. She was one of those ladies that could have competed in the men’s division in kumite as well as kata and weapons.

After her second child was born in 1982, Master Burris competed less regularly, focusing her energy on instructing and motivating her students. She then became the co-producer of the Athens Karate games in Tennessee for the final 35 of the 40 annual tournaments.

As an instructor Sensei Burris is without question one of the very best. Her greatest asset is the uncanny ability to motivate her students. Her students are always well disciplined with excellent technique, and they always believe they are the best. She believes that students must like what they are doing in order to be successful, so she always makes training fun without losing any of the rigor or discipline, and they always look forward to coming back to class for the next session. Sensei Burris has learned her lessons well, and she applies what she has learned to assure that her students succeed.

Sensei Burris is an original pioneer for women in karate and is inspirational to women training in the martial arts. She organized “Ladies of Isshinryu in 1994 for the purpose of convincing women to be more than casual members of an Isshinryu school. She stressed that women could be leaders in their dojos and within their communities through the martial arts, and within the larger national arena of Isshinryu. Sincer her efforts started years ago, much progress has been made by women in the martial arts, and Isshinryu in particular. This is not to say that the progress is the result of her efforts alone, but she was one woman that had a message and exerted the leadership.

On January 15th 1994, Sensei Burris became the first woman to be promoted to the rank of Ro-Ku Dan (6th degree Black Belt) by the Board of Directors of the International Isshinryu Karate Association after and intense questioning and testing by the board of review. She has received multiple Hall of Fame awards and inductions, but the most meaningful was her 1998 induction into the prestigious Isshinryu Hall of Fame, where she and Marilynn Fiero became the first females to be inducted.

She has continued being active in teaching seminars, promoting Ladies of Isshinryu, promoting the Isshinryu Hall of Fame, and promoting the International Isshinryu Karate Association. In 2010 she was promoted to the rank of Hachi-Dan (8th degree Black Belt), and in 2022 she was promoted to the rank of Ku-Dan (9the degree Black Belt) by the International Isshinryu Karate Association.

Sensei Burris currently lives in Cartersville Georgia with her fellow IIKA Board member and husband J.C Burris. She continues to teach self defense seminars and kata seminars. She is intently involved with the production of the annual Isshinryu Hall of Fame event in Gatlinburg Tennessee and is a long-time member of the Board of Directors for the I.I.K.A.