The Kata of Earl Squalls

Inner Core is the martial art created by the late Sensei Earl Squalls.    Master Squalls taught children, particularly children of the inner city, many of whom would not otherwise have had the means or resources to study martial arts.  He stressed improvisation, and approached his art with the mind of a jazz musician, comfortably improvising at a moment's notice, and doing so with considerable flair.  Unfortunately, though his art was singularly unique in its techniques and approaches, much of it has been lost to time.  In the 1980's, video cameras were very expensive commodities, certainly beyond the means of a struggling martial arts instructor.  Very little of what Sensei Squalls created has been preserved on film or video.  Though he won many kumites, and kata competitions, we have no film clips of him doing so, and know of none.  Recognizing his contribution to martial arts, the four Inner Core empty hand kata have been incorporated into the Iron Crane School curriculum, as electives for those who chose to perform them.  We share them with you, as glimpses into the creativity of Earl Squalls, who, even today, inspires those who knew him well.

These were filmed in approximately 1984.  Performing the Kata is Soodchai Phonsanam ("Ting"), who was 12-13 years old at the time.  "Ting" was Squalls most advanced student and his performance is a testiment to Squalls talent for teaching children.  At the time of filming, Ting was a Brown Belt (Squalls would not permit testing for Black Belt until the student's 18th birthday).  Master Squalls created the entirety of Inner Core #1 & 2.  Inner Core #3 involved Squalls eliciting input and suggestions from his students, and Inner Core #4 was strongly influenced by Phonsanam, who was encouraged by Squalls to take an active role in its formation.

As a final comment, Master Squalls (as did Soodchai Phonsanam) studied extensively with Grandmaster Isidro Archibeque.  Archibeque's influence is clear in the pattern and presentation of these forms.  By way of comparison and contrast, we include Phonsanam performing Dancing Dragon, one of Archibeque's forms, which bears striking similarity to the Inner Core forms.  We shot the footage at
Master Armstrong’s Dojo in Tacoma, Washington.

Inner Core #1


Inner Core #2


Inner Core #3


Inner Core #4


Dancing Dragon


Inner Core Redux


Inner Core Slo Mo Redux


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