JC Burris

Grandmaster J. C. Burris, Judan (10th Degree Black Belt), began karate in 1965 under Grandmaster Harold Long while a student at the University of Tennessee. Master Burris studied at the Harold Long School of Karate in downtown Knoxville. The now famous dojo was located at the corner of Gay Street and 5th Avenue and was a breeding ground for some of the most talented and respected karate-ka in the southeast United States. The dojo was located upstairs where the windows of the main floor and kumite area were covered with bamboo sticks so that no one could fall out onto the street.

Master Burris’s first dojo was the Maryville Isshin‑ryu Karate School in Maryville, Tennessee, which opened in August 1967. Later in January of 1968, he opened the Burris Martial Arts Center in Athens, Tennessee. For several years Master Burris was teaching at both the Athens and Maryville dojos, while teaching classes at Cleveland State Community College, teaching the football teams in two different neighboring counties, and teaching Karate to the Athens City Police Department. In addition, he continued to travel to Knoxville to train with Mr. Long and to compete in karate tournaments on weekends.

Tournament competition was the primary focus of Master Burris’s first ten to twelve years of training. Tournaments were “open” in those days, and he competed in Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia, Florida, and Ohio.

Master Burris was inducted into the Isshin‑ryu Hall of Fame in 1984. Other awards include the Isshin‑ryu Hall of Fame Instructor of the Year, the Isshin‑ryu Hall of Fame Spirit of Isshin‑ryu Award, and he was inducted into the World Head of Family Sokeship Council. Of particular significance was a KIAI award in 2019 when Master Burris was recognized to be one of four Isshin‑ryu 10th Degree Masters, representing the legacy of Master Harold Long.

Master Burris promoted the Athens Karate Games, an all Isshin‑ryu Karate Tournament, for 40 years from 1973 to 2012. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Isshin‑ryu Karate Association, a position he assumed upon the retirement of Master Harold Long. As Master Long’s senior student, he continues to carry on the legendary tradition that Master Harold Long had worked so hard to establish and develop. He continues training, teaching, and promoting the art of Isshin‑ryu as Master Long expected him to do.

Mr. Burris currently lives in Cartersville, Georgia, with his wife and fellow Isshin‑ryu Master Carol Burris.