No sporting activity is as distorted and misunderstood by the general public as the martial arts, with the possible exception of full-contact Amish rake fighting. Thanks to special-effects-laden movies and a host of ill-researched television shows, many people believe that practitioners of the martial arts are capable of superhuman feats of strength, speed and agility.
The truth is, most people who study the martial arts are not superhuman; they're just developing and fine-tuning the innate physical and mental powers with which all humans are born. Through rigorous practice and intense personal discipline, students tap into their potential -- and then use it with spectacular results. And if you don't believe it's spectacular, wait until you see a pre-teen split a board with one swift blow (especially spectacular for those of us who can barely break wind). You can witness both youngsters and deeply experienced martial artists in action at the World Martial Arts Academy "Kicks for Kids" demonstration. From 4 to 6 p.m. at Oakville High School (5557 Milburn Road; 314-892-9000 or www.wmaatkd-stl.com), students of the academy and their instructor Grandmaster Young Chul Rho (possessor of a ninth-degree black belt in tae kwon do) show you just what real-life martial artists can accomplish. The WMA has invited several other Masters to participate, so it should be quite a show. Admission is $7, and all donations go to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. -- Paul Friswold
Links to the Past Just golfing around
Looking at old photographs is fun: laughing at that dude's plaid pants and his crazy windblown hair, checking out the links way back when. Maybe you don't have old golf course pictures in your photo albums, but the Normandy Area Historical Association does -- and its members are showing off their snapshots from 2 to 4 p.m. at the free "Normandie Golf Club Through the Years" program at Normandy City Hall (7700 Natural Bridge Road). Reminisce about birdies, eagles and sand traps with two golf club members, a couple of caddies and Jim Healey, golf historian and author of Golfing Before the Arch: A History of St. Louis Golf. Bring your photos and memories, but leave the nine-iron at home. -- Alison Sieloff
Icing on the Cake Sweet times on the ice
Hockey: It's a whiz-bang game -- too bad the grownups have lost sight of the puck through a miasma of money-money-money. Such an exhilarating sport shouldn't get dirty-checked by both blood and cash. But things at the pro level haven't gotten so bad that the kids still can't enjoy the game while learning to master its intricacies. That's where the St. Louis Blues Youth and Amateur Hockey staff's Super Skills Showdown Competition steps onto the ice, specifically on Saturday, November 13, at the Ice Zone at St. Louis Mills (5555 St. Louis Mills Boulevard).
Super Skills is designed for the peewee level (kids twelve and younger) and the bantam level (kids fourteen and younger). At the competition young players show off their skating speed, puck handling, shot hardness and the accuracy of said slap shots and wrist rockets, and awards are given to the winners of each category, as well as to the young competitor with the best overall score. Call 314-622-2515 for times, more info about the 2005 competition dates and to register ($25 per participant). -- Alex Weir
Shake out Those Pompons!
Being on dance team in high school was way cooler than cheerleading. Dance team got to wear sequins, and we all know those were practically like Prada in eleventh grade; cheerleaders incessantly yelled and did herkie jumps -- bo-ring. This Saturday and Sunday (November 13 and 14) you can see which kind of spirit-starters light that fire under your cheering behind at the Athletic Cheer and Dance National Championship Series (www.athleticchampionships.com) at America's Center downtown (701 Convention Plaza; call 314-342-5000 for times). Tickets cost $10 to $12. -- Alison Sieloff