Shihan Joseph C. McClellan


Born October 8, 1953 in Wilmington N.C.  Raised in Charlotte and Belmont N.C.


Married the former Deborah Burch on March 15th 1980.  The father of three sons Steven Christopher, Charles Raymond, Joseph Zachary and one daughter Meghan Elizabeth. The only surviving child is his 22 year old son J. Zachary who is currently a student at Appalachian State University in Boone N.C. Family is the most important and rewarding part of Mr. McClellan’s life. Deb and Zack have been the most important and rewarding part of his life.  

Mr. McClellan has been employed by Duke Energy for the last 32 years. Renshi McClellan has dug holes to supervising a group of schedulers. Presently, Mr. McClellan is a business analysis / project coordinator for Duke Energy. 

Mr. McClellan began his study the martial arts in Belmont in 1975 with Von Helton a black belt in Jee Do Kwan - Korean Karate. Von Helton was awarded a “Pioneer of Sport Karate Award” in 2003 as part of the Living Legends VII Martial Arts Expo & Celebrity Roast for Hanshi Piddington.


In 1976 Jerry C. Piddington bought Mr. Helton dojo and placed Mr. Mc Call over the dojo as its head instructor. McClellan has trained with both Mr. Piddington and Mr. McCall for the remainder of the 1970’s which began his study of American Open Style Karate, a blend of styles acquired from many pioneers of modern day karate. Renshi McClellan’s martial arts heritage runs deep beginning with Hanshi Jerry Piddington’s Instructors: Caylor Adkins – Shotokan, Tom Crites - Shorin-ryu, Mike Stone - American Karate Champion - Shorin-ryu, Robert A. Trias (1922-1989) - The Father of American Karate - Shuri/Shorei, Tadashi Yamashita - Japanese/American Karate Pioneer - Shorin-ryu, Ed Parker (1931-1990) - The Father of American Kenpo Karate, Chris Armstrong - Goju-ryu, Al Dacascos – Kajukenbo as well as the influences of Kyoshi Mc Call’s instructors and training partners: Joe Martin, Buddy Springs, Paul Storm, Ross Scott, Parker Shelton, Glenn Keeney, Bill Wallace, Joe Lewis, Mike Genova, Bobby Tucker, Ernie “Radar” Smith, Keith Vitali, Keith Haflich, Larry Hartsell (one of Bruce lee's original student) and so many other great Karate Pioneers.  

On January 27, 1978 he received his shodan black under Kyoshi McCall. That same year Renshi McClellan became the Head Instructor of the Belmont dojo. He owned and operated that dojo for several years.

In 1981 Renshi began a long absence from the art due to family obligation. Once he returned, the art took him back and has rewarded him much more than he could ever imagine.


Renshi McClellan is a True Warrior and has competed in Full Contact Karate and Sport Karate as a light-heavy and heavy weight. Renshi also competed in Forms competition in Georgia, North and South Carolina in the mid to late 70’s  and early 80's winning or placing in many tournaments ( over 100 wins). Renshi had 6 full contact fight’s with the most memorable competitions being a bare knuckle tournament in Columbia S.C, He won. The following year Mr. Mc Call (Renshi Instructor) won that same bare knuckle tournament.  These tournaments were quickly outlaw due to the brutal fights that were witnessed. At a time when many of the practitioners were Full Contact Fighters going bare knuckle was a rush, a few survivor always never left the fights without serious cuts and bruises.  Mr. McClellan served as a training partner of Mr. McCall (Thunderbolt) his instructor and the number 1 rated fighter in both sport and full contact competition. Mr. McClellan was also fortunate to train with the late Keith Haflich the Unforgotten Warrior of American Open Karate and former number 1 rated light heavy weight in the world. Renshi McClellan is an expert Warrior and Instructor in self defense and KUMITE and Karate Forms as well as the Bunkai.  He has extensive knowledge of children’s problems and continues to study current student programs.


Mr. McClellan served as a member of the Dojo Association, U.S.K.A, S.E.K.A and a present member of the A.K.A.N.A.Renshi McClellan is presently a Sr. Instructor at the American Freestyle Karate Club in Denver N. C.  Mr. McClellan’s major responsibilities are to maintain and journal the dojo’s curriculum. Renshi also serve’s as the Head Instructor of the dojo’s Lil Dragon program (4 – 6 yrs. olds). Renshi is proud to say this is a growing and dynamic part of the dojo as well as a very rewarding part of his day. These kids are the future and a chance to grow and influence their minds and bodies are both a privilege and responsibility.

 In 2004 as a 6th degree black belt he is committed to teaching the art as well as continuing his own personal growth by attending several seminars and training session each year. Mr. McClellan is beginning a new journey as he works toward a goal of obtaining a black belt in American Freestyle Jujitsu under the instruction of 2nd Degree black belt Joe Griffin. Mr. Griffin is a member of both The American Federation of Jujitsu and American Jujitsu Association.

Renshi McClellan asks each of you to remember life is a journey; the only winners are those who do not give up and fight the good fight. Our reward for this journey is peace of mind knowing in the end you will hear these words “well done good and faithful servant”.