A new, free wrestling academy for kids is opening in Hastings this May.
Calvary Hawke's Bay pastor and certified wrestling coach Eric Flores wanted to open Golgotha Grappling Academy as part of his church outreach to share the benefits it has had in his life with local kids.
In February Eric moved to Hastings from Whangārei, where he had coached at the Lions Den MMA gym.
"Learning martial arts was a game-changer for me and I want that for my students.
"I saw how much the kids up there enjoyed themselves and how their characters developed. I know that local kids from Hastings will love it too."
Children aged 9-14 can take part with their parents' permission.
Eric is a certified coach with USA Wrestling and Catch Wrestling Alliance and is a first-degree blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, studying under Professor Gustavo Gasperin, a third-degree black belt under Fabricio Werdum.
He began his martial arts journey at age 11 in taekwon-do when his mother signed him up after seeing his interest in the movies he watched.
He didn't want cost to be a barrier to kids joining so the twice-weekly after school sessions are free.
"My main focus with Golgotha Academy is that kids are active, have fun and are safe.
"Along the way they'll learn how to defend themselves, grow in confidence and learn some of the disciplines, such as self-control, that are part of martial arts."
The hour-long classes include a warm-up then learning two or three techniques before finishing with short bouts where boys will be matched with boys and girls with girls.
Eric says there is a strong safety culture, as folkstyle and catch wrestling do not involve striking.
The sessions start Monday May 3, 3.30pm at the Hastings Sports Centre and will run for the school term.
Parents can get in touch with Eric to sign their children up on the Golgotha Grappling Academy Facebook or Instagram page.
What: Golgotha Grappling Academy for kids aged 9-14
When: 3.30-4.30pm Monday's and Wednesday's from May 3 until end of term
Where: Hastings Sports Centre, 503 Railway Rd, Hastings
Cost: Free, parent's permission is required
Clothing: Boardshorts, knee pads, and rash guard or T-shirt