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


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.

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 martial arts based, and students learn to block, hit strike shields, stand strong, negotiate using “rock” or “water” verbal approaches, walk away from a fight, consider alternatives to aggression, and develop understandings about who they are, their intuitive feelings and their personal direction.

As a Deputy Principal, Brian implemented and managed the program in two Newcastle High Schools, before being invited to conduct one-day training seminars and then three day training seminars around Australia and in New Zealand.

It is this commitment to developing the powerful Rock and Water program that takes Master Hayes away from his other role as Principal and Chief Instructor of the Hunter Valley Martial Arts Centre at times, but the benefits are surely felt in the development of curriculum at the centre and staff training to reflect the principles of Rock and Water.

Rock and Water was developed as a program for boys, but the benefits for girls were immediately recognised by Australian teachers and the program is taught widely in mixed groups. The impact of the Rock and Water program can be readily seen at the Hunter Valley Martial Arts Centre. All junior classes stop for a mat chat each lesson, where Rock and Water principles such as honesty, compassion, gratitude, patience are discussed. Many of the games played in class come from the Rock and Water program.

Most importantly, we emphasise the relationship between the physicality of martial arts training and the development of social skills, self confidence and resilence. This important principle has influenced the development of our unique leadership program, our ten values, respect challenge and many other aspects of our program.

Brian Hayes 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 Hayes as a teacher and mentor to educational professionals.

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.

Brian Hayes 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 boys and men, with a particular focus on pedagogy and strategies to enhance social and emotional development.

A 6th 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 full-time academies in Warners Bay, Belmont North, Waratah and Morisset. The four 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 is a 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, Lighthouse Education, to manage Rock and Water training and accreditation in NSW, ACT and Tasmania.

Brian has worked closely with friend and mentor Freerk Ykema, to develop quality Rock and Water delivery in Australia. He has taught over one hundred 3 Day Accreditation courses since 2006, and has also shared responsibility with other Master Instructors to deliver the 2 Day Focus on Primary workshops. Brian also continues to teach Rock and Water in 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.

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