Real-Life Superhero Dark Guardian to Train 4-Year-Old Crime Fighters
GREAT KILLS — A real-life "superhero" is mentoring an army of miniature crime fighters.
Dark Guardian — whose everyday alter ego is Staten Island martial arts instructor Chris Pollak — will launch the HERO program this month — aiming to teach his skills to kids as young as 4-years-old.
The program, at the LaSalle Mixed Martial Arts gym, at 4207 Hylan Blvd. in his home borough, not only teaches students fighting and self defense skills, but also modest superhero skills — "focus, ingenuity and basic agility skills" rather than the how to leap tall buildings, he said.
"Kids of course love superheroes, but they don't necessarily see how it translates to real life," Pollak, 29, said. "I'm hoping to do that with this program and they can live an heroic lifestyle themselves."
Dark Guardian, who patrols the streets of New York City in a bulletproof vest and black and red leather jacket, also plans to instill a sense of helping others.
He had planned to start the hero academy in Brooklyn last year, but focused on a partnership with the LaSalle gym after failing to raise enough money through an Indiegogo campaign.
"We teach them a lot more than just punching and kicking," Pollak said. "We teach them a lot of life skills, believing in yourself, how they can make a difference in their world and their community."
He plans to hold food drives, trash clean-ups, graffiti removal and fundraisers with his recruits.
But he won't be taking his heroes onto the streets to stop criminals. Instead, he'll urge his students to call the police if they see trouble.
Dark Guardian, who first put on his costume and became a superhero when he was 18, was featured on HBO documentary "Superheroes."
He's currently focusing on the Bronx because of a string of sexual assaults that started in February, he said.
The "HERO" program will launch on July 20 with a free event where kids can design their own masks, develop their own persona, learn self defense and how to deal with bullies.