More than a century ago, the architects of The Lemp Brewery complex faced a problem: how should they keep their beer cold? Refrigerators weren't yet around, and it'd be too difficult to tow an iceberg down from the Arctic. Their solution: going 100 feet underground, where old caves were naturally cool... or so they thought. In fact, the chilly air here wasn't caused by lack of sunlight?it was the result of an ancient curse. Today, visitors can still tour the subterranean brewery, now appropriately known as the Abyss. It's hardly abandoned. Around every turn waits a new monster, none of whom are friendly enough to offer any complimentary growlers.
The Abyss is just one of Scarefest's three chilling destinations. Creepyworld houses 12 attractions, including a series of mazes filled with everything from burning cars to ravenous zombies. In another part of town, a haunted house known as The Darkness plunges visitors into a world of terror. In its two-decade history, the haunted house has even shown up on national TV, which is not too bad a gig for a place infested by deranged clowns.
The sounds of flailing feet and fists correctly striking padded opponents pervade Absolute Martial Arts’ 3,600-square-foot facility, where students learn how to lose weight, tone up, and defend themselves simultaneously. Atop a large mat that the staff disinfects daily, professional instructors lead structured muay-thai kickboxing classes that slowly introduce exercisers to the fundamentals of the 1,000-year-old sport, which is similar to kickboxing and dissimilar to napping. Many of the trainers, including Thai-native Master Toddy, boast years of extensive training and practice, pushing students beyond their perceived limits but always keeping their safety in mind. It also offers Brazilian jiu jitsu and mixed-martial-arts classes to allow students a chance to explore new forms or augment their muay-thai practice.
When asked about their teaching qualifications, the instructors at Finney's HIT Squad?including Jesse Finney himself?all point to their win records. All of them have a competitive fighting history in their chosen disciplines, and several have earned championships or black belts. As full-time employees of the gyms, they school guests on MMA, kickboxing, boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and wrestling. They also access their inside knowledge of the industry for fighter-development programs, which strive to transform beginners into professional combatants without stuffing them into hollowed-out punching-bag cocoons for 5 years. For amateurs and experts alike, they assert that "you fight how you train," and aim to simulate official rounds inside their onsite cages, boxing rings, and matted arenas. In 2011, their professional chops helped Finney's HIT Squad take the title of Best MMA Gym in the Riverfront Times Best of St Louis feature.
Despite their investment in competitions, however, the staffers view the two gyms as all-inclusive spaces. Whether they are instilling confidence in children through kids' jujitsu, orienting a new member to the fitness equipment, or leading a women-only martial-arts class, they mentor students of all backgrounds.
Bryan Guidry and Dave Burke lead students of all levels and ages through a variety of martial-arts classes. They teach students the grappling maneuvers of Brazilian jujitsu, the throwing moves of judo, and the kneeing and elbowing of kickboxing.
The multitalented team of instructors, which includes trainers certified in Agatsu Kettlebell and Commando Krav Maga, helps to strengthen hearts, bodies, and minds during self-defense, fitness, and fight courses. Instructors lead beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of kettlebell fitness, a class that incorporates fundamental swings, cleans, snatches, and Turkish getups to simultaneously work several muscle groups at once.
The team also helps to build endurance by leading participants through Latin dance steps in Zumba and through a tapestry of kicks and punches in cardio kickboxing. Additionally, trainers helm courses in krav maga, a form of martial arts designed to increase confidence, protection, and Bruce Lee comparisons. Following a functional warm-up, instructors run through drills to teach students how to escape from chokes and disarm an opponent using lighting-quick pressure and weakness-point attacks.
At age 7, Jung Oh Hwang began practicing martial arts in South Korea. As a young man he represented his home country at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where he earned a silver medal in Judo. At Hwang's Martial Arts, Grandmaster Hwang and his staff make it their mission to promote happy and healthy lives in their community.
For the past 15 years, Grandmaster Hwang, his students, and his supporters have dedicated both time and money to supporting the lives of the HMA students and positively impacting the larger community. Hwang's has raised more than $750,000 for the local community and has a named playroom in the new St. Matthews Kosair Children's hospital.