'Dark Guardian' to Open Superhero School in New York

PHOTO: Chris Pollak, aka "Dark Guardian," plans to open a school for superheroes in New York early next year.
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It's where all the future Spidermen and Catwomen will learn the tricks of their trade.

At least that's the hope of self-proclaimed superhero Christopher Pollak, who goes by the moniker "Dark Guardian" and plans to open a school for superheroes in New York City early next year.

"The idea is to teach martial arts and self-defense but also to teach heroic ideas and values at the same time," Pollak told ABC News on Wednesday. "Whether that's how to deal with bullies or how to help other people in the community, there will be a whole big curriculum to teach those things and we'll use superheroes to help learn lessons in the classroom."

Pollak, 29, is no stranger to vigilante crime-fighting. As the Dark Guardian, he has spent one to two nights a week for 10 years doing "superhero" acts in New York, from patrolling tough neighborhoods at night while wearing a bulletproof vest to walking around handing out food and money to the needy.

"I think it's something I got when I was a young kid," Pollak said. "I didn't have a lot of positive role models, and looked up to superheroes and what they stood for, how they go out of their way to help somebody or save somebody. I wanted to emulate that in real life."

Everybody is there to become a hero in their own way.

Pollak is part of a group of like-minded fighters known as the New York Initiative, and two fellow superheroes known as "Zero" and "Spider" will help Pollak run the superhero school, he said. The group hopes to open the school in Brooklyn sometime in early 2014, and is currently fund raising through Indiegogo to help fund it.

"It's going to be a great thing," Pollak said. "Everybody is there to become a hero in their own way through what we learn in class. It's all about giving back to the community. We'll do fundraisers and seminars for the community and a free program for underprivileged kids."

"It's also going to train people to do what I do: patrol different areas, try to deter and stop crime, and help the needy," he said.

Pollak is not the first to adopt a superhero persona in order to fight crime; a group known as the Rain City Superhero Movement in Seattle, Wash., grew to fame last year after a member known as "Phoenix Jones" used pepper spray on a group dancing.

Other groups in Salt Lake City and Orlando have also popped up, along with with websites to help members organize themselves, such as Superheroes Anonymous and Real Life Superheroes. On these websites, participants can do everything from share their crime-fighting stories to learn about patenting their looks and names.

We're really talking heroism: being kind to others, mindful of other people, not ignoring problems

Pollak said he met his crime-fighting cohort online, after discovering that multiple people in New York were doing the same activities. While he does don the occasional face paint, Pollak said he typically works costume-free in khakis and a leather jacket.

During the day, Pollak is no Clark Kent toiling away at a desk job. He teaches martial arts to students in New Jersey.

"There have been a lot of varied experiences, whether dealing with groups of drug dealers, or pimps in Harlem, or going out and handing out food and water and supplies to people living on the streets," he said, noting that he's paid for his pursuits out of pocket.

When the school opens, Pollak said he hopes the focus on heroism will differentiate it from other martial arts schools.

"We're really talking heroism: being kind to others, mindful of other people, not ignoring problems. Don't have that bystander effect, instead be the person to step up and help somebody when you see someone in need," he said.

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