Carol Burris, Hachi-dan (8th degree black belt), began training in 1976 under the instruction of JC Burris. She was awarded Sho-dan rank in 1978 from Master Harold Long and Master JC Burris. A quick, strong, and a natural martial artist, she had great success as a tournament competitor between 1976 and 1984. Master Burris’s attention to detail, her quickness, strength, and coordination made her a natural for kata competition. She was a frequent competitor not only in female divisions but also with men as she won many championships and trophies. Among some of the major competitions with repeated wins were the IIKA Nationals, Joe Corley’s Battle of Atlanta, Roy Hinkle’s Battle of Nashville, and Ben Kiker’s southern tournaments. A strong and skilled kumite competitor, she won first place in the ladies’ divisions so often that it seemed “automatic.” Throughout her competitive years, she accumulated over 200 1st and 2nd place trophies. Her tournament competition ended as she turned her focus and energy toward active instructing and motivating her students.
As an instructor, she is one of Isshin-Ryu’s best. Her greatest asset is her uncanny ability to motivate her students. The ability to train well-disciplined students who have excellent technique, and who believe they are the best, is a skill she possesses. As an instructor, she believes that students must really enjoy what they are doing in order to be successful. Following that belief, she makes training fun without losing any of the rigor and discipline. Her students leave training looking forward to coming back to class for the next session.
Sensei Burris, an original pioneer for women in karate, has been and continues to be inspirational to women training in the martial arts. She organized “Ladies of Isshin-Ryu” with the intent of convincing women they could be more than casual members of an Isshin-Ryu dojo. She helped them learn they could take on leadership roles within their own respective dojos, within their communities through the martial arts, and within the larger national arena of Isshin-Ryu. Since her efforts started decades ago, much progress has been made by women in the martial arts as well as in Isshin-Ryu. This is not to say that the progress is a result of her efforts alone, but she was one woman who had a message and she exerted the leadership to be heard for all women.
On January 15, 1994, Sensei Burris became the first Isshin-Ryu woman in the IIKA to be promoted to the master rank of Roku-Dan (6th degree black belt). She went through an intense questioning and testing process before the IIKA Board of Directors to be promoted. Throughout the years, she continues to be recognized for outstanding contribution to Isshin-Ryu Karate and for her work in karate at the community level. In 1996 Carol Burris was inducted into the World Head of Family Sokeship Council and received the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame’s Female Pioneer Award. Two years later, in 1998, Master Burris became one of the first two women inducted into the prestigious Isshin-ryu Hall of Fame, and that same year she was recipient of the IHOF Female Instructor of the Year award. Burris was the first female to be appointed to the International Isshin-ryu Karate Association Board of Directors and continues to strive to keep the organization strong.
Master Burris has learned her lessons well, has applied her knowledge to help her students succeed, and she continues her work promoting Isshin-Ryu Karate.