Rock and Water decreases bullying and depressive feelings, and increases self-esteem, self-regulation and social acceptance



Basically, Rock and Water is a course that is delivered over a number of lessons to students in primary or high school. A series of exercises and games are practised to develop confidence and self-reflection. The games are diverse and many have a martial arts origin. The program has a strong appeal to students  who enjoy the active nature of the many games and drills. Students learn to  stand strong, negotiate using “rock” or “water” verbal approaches, walk away from trouble, consider alternatives to aggression, and develop understandings about who they are, their intuitive feelings and their personal direction.


The program has a strong connection to the Respect Matters Australian Curriculum. Schools that employ the Positive Behaviours for Schools model find that the program is effective at any level of intervention from Tier 1 general behaviour to Tier 3 intensive intervention. The Rock and Water Program fits appropriately into the NSW PD/H/PE Curriculum, particularly in the domains of Self Management and Interpersonal Skills.

As the program developed in the last 20 years, teachers and counsellors have found that the program has efficacy with younger students, girls only groups, and with children Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a result, in addition to the comprehensive three day training, two day specialist workshops have been developed for Primary School teachers, a Focus on Girls and Women, and a Focus on ASD. Teachers and counsellors are strongly encouraged to attend the three day training initially in order to gain a thorough understanding of the philosophy and method of the Rock and Water program.

Rock and Water Themes

Four leading threads are inter-related in the program: How do we build a sense of purpose in students? Physical exercises are constantly linked with mental and social skills. The program leads from simple self -defence, boundary and communication exercises to a strong notion of self-confidence. The program offers a framework of exercises and ideas about students and adulthood to assist boys and girls to become aware of purpose and motivation in their life.

Topics include: intuition, body language, mental strength, empathic feeling, positive feeling, positive thinking and positive visualisation. Discussion topics include bullying, sexual harassment, consent, life goals, desires and the importance of finding and following one’s inner compass.

The Four Key Threads

1 Grounding, centring and focusing. Learning how to stand firm and relaxed. How to concentrate your breath in your belly and focus attention (first external, later transformed to an internal goal).

2 The golden triangle of – body awareness – emotional awareness – self-awareness.  Emotions are expressed in the body by way of muscular tension high breath/ low breath etc. Therefore, increasing body-awareness can lead to more insight and experience of one’s own patterns of reaction which, in turn, can offer a chance to deepen and further develop emotional awareness and self-awareness.

3. Communication. The development of physical forms of communication as a basis for the development of other, more verbally oriented, forms of communication.

4. The Rock and Water concept.  The tough, immovable rock attitude versus the mobile, communicative water attitude. This concept can be developed and applied at various levels: the physical, the mental and the social level. At a physical level it means that an attack can be parried by firmly strained muscles (rock) but also — and often even more effectively — by moving along with the energy of the attacker (water). At a social level — for instance in a conversation — it is also possible to choose between a rock or a water attitude and the same choice applies to the way in which one maintains relationships with others. Finally, at a spiritual level, the apparent opposites between rock and water disappear. Insight and experience come about when a realisation occurs that both ways are needed to reach self-fulfilment and that people, in their deepest essence, are connected to each other and travel along a path together.

Evidenced based

The Rock and Water program is an evidence based program. Evaluations and research have been published in a book called Bringing it All Together: 22 cases of Rock and Water in different educational settings. Important research in the Netherlands through studies at the University of Utrecht, and through the Trimbos Institute, concluded powerfully that Rock and Water showed efficacy in reducing bullying, depressive feelings and disengagement, and also reduced acts of violence in schools.  These studies are published in our website for those interested in further details. Each year new research emerges. . Findings are always very similar. Rock and Water will reduce bullying in your class room, will increase self confidence and self control and enhance better social- and communication skills. As a result of this, academic achievement will increase.

The Gadaku Institute

The Gadaku Institute was founded in 2002 and has become the international coordinator of the Rock and Water program. In Australia the Gadaku Institute cooperates with Master Instructors in each state and territory. Their mutual goal is to stimulate any further development of the Rock and Water program in as many educational settings as possible throughout Australia. The name ‘Gadaku’, an Aboriginal word meaning ‘young boy’, is used with the permission of Dätiwuy elders of Arnhem Land.

Brian Hayes, Director of Rock and Water Australia, has developed a strong reputation as a program presenter. Check the testimonial page to see what teachers, community nurses, chaplains and mental health workers have to say about the program, and the qualities of Brian as a teacher and mentor to educational professionals.

Research by Rutgers WPF and the Trimbos Institute (peer reviewed and published in the international Journal of Sexual Aggression, April 2015) has shown that the psychophysical resilience programme Rock and Water helps to boost self-confidence, curb impulsive behaviour and deter sexually transgressive behaviour in boys. The whole article can be found HERE

The latest scientific research from Europe has just been released. Rock and Water decreases bullying and depressive feelings, and increases self-esteem, self-regulation and social acceptance….all our kids and schools should be involved! To read the research click here Results National Research Anti Bullying program

Freerk Ykema is the founder and author of the world renowned Rock and Water Program. A Physical Education and Remedial Teacher at Schagen in the north of The Netherlands, Freerk had a keen understanding of and connection with young people who struggled to find their purpose in life, expressing their frustration in anger, withdrawal or inappropriate behaviour. Inspired by his own experience in schools and his understanding of the physical nature of young people, Freerk developed a unique program  using a psycho-physical approach to learning. This evolved into the Rock and Water program.

Rock and Water gained recognition and awards as an outstanding educational program in the Netherlands. In 1999, Freerk was invited to visit Newcastle by Richard Fletcher, at the Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle, to present at a National Conference on Boys Education. Freerk held his first 3 Day Workshop after the conference, and so began a movement that has seen over 20,000 teachers trained in the Rock and Water program in Australia.

Rock and Water is currently taught in over 15 countries, and the program has been delivered to more than 2 million students worldwide. There are numerous positive evaluation of the program, but in 2014, the renowned Trimbos Institut in the Netherlands published results of a study that showed that Rock and Water has resulted in a decrease in sexual violence where it is taught to teenage boys.

Freerk has developed the program significantly over the last few years, developing, in addition to the Three Day Comprehensive Course,  a Focus on Primary Schools, Focus on Girls and Women and a Focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Each course is a specialised workshop, over two days, with accompanying manuals developed for each program.

Freerk Ykema continues to visit Australia annually to connect with his Master Instructors in Australasia, as Director of the Gadaku Rock and Water Institute.

Master Instructor Brian Hayes has been involved as a teacher of Rock and Water since he met Freerk Ykeema, the founder and Grandmaster of the program, in 1999. Freerk had been invited to present a workshop at the University of Newcastle, and, with a deep interest in boys educational programs as well as a passion for promoting self defence abilities in boys and girls, Brian Hayes attended. He liked what he saw and began to implement the program immediately as an instructor.

Brian  is a teacher with over 25 experience in high schools, as a history teacher and deputy principal. He has extensive experience in developing programs to improve outcomes for all students through authentic pedagogy. He worked as a presenter for the Family Action Centre  as it delivered modules Australia wide for the Success for Boys initiative from 2003 to 2005,  with a particular focus on pedagogy and strategies to enhance social and emotional development.

A 7th Degree Black Belt and a national and world champion in karate, Brian left teaching to pursue his passion for martial arts leadership in 2005. He is currently principal of the Hunter Valley Martial Arts Centre, which has several full-time academies in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. The five full-time studios employ over 30 full and part-time teachers and administrative staff, so Brian’s focus has been to develop dynamic leadership teams.

Brian was appointed by Freerk Ykema as Australia’s first  Master Rock and Water trainer, and has taught accreditation workshops in schools in NSW and interstate. In 2014, he was invited by Rock and Water founder and author, Freerk Ykema, to present a workshop at the International Rock and Water Advanced Trainers Workshop in Utrecht, in The Netherlands. He was engaged as a Rock and Water facilitator for the Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle from 2006 until 2014. His role was to present Rock and Water accreditation workshops to teachers, community workers, correction services, counselors and chaplains throughout Australia. In late 2014, he was invited by Freerk Ykema to form a new company, Rock and Water Australia, to manage Rock and Water training and accreditation in NSW, ACT, TAS, WA, SA, NT and VIC.

Brian has worked closely with friend and mentor Freerk Ykema, to develop quality Rock and Water delivery in Australia.  As Australia’s most experienced Master Instructor, Brian has taught over three hundred Rock and Water Accreditation courses since 2006, and now shares responsibility with other Master Instructors to deliver the Rock and Water Australia wide. Brian also continues to work with his team of  Rock and Water instructors to deliver programs in local primary and high schools, as well as host Rock and Water intensive camps at his Hunter Valley Martial Arts Centre in Warners Bay, NSW.

Brian has developed his leadership and learning program for industry, and worked with management, new miners and miner drivers at Donaldson coal for over two years. The program aimed to develop Communication, Courage and Mindfulness in the context of leadership and personal growth within the mining industry. Using the framework of the Rock and Water program, participants engaged in hands on learning using a psycho-physical didactic to gain new understandings on overcoming personal limitations, understanding boundaries, negotiation skills using Rock and Water principles, and avoiding conflict with dignity.

Brian has also worked in partnership with the RAAF to deliver Family Resilience Workshops, and in other corporate settings. The Rock and Water Program has enormous potential as a leadership, team building and resilience and well-being program for application in a range of business and commercial settings.