The Acts of Kindness Program
Just after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, I was watching the news when President Bush commented that one of the positive aspects of the events were the millions of acts of kindness that Americans were showing each other as a result. At the time, I was working in partnership with The National Association of Professional Martial Artists (NAPMA --now defunct) helping them develop their monthly school management curriculum. After the tears and trauma of 9/11 I felt that kindness was indeed a powerful force --and it occurred to me that kindness might even be the ultimate form of self-defense. I started to work on a program called RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS to be launched through martial arts schools nation / worldwide.
At the time, NAPMA had about 2000 schools involved in its program --and in doing the math I envisioned that we could in about a year's time collectively do well over a million acts of kindness thru our schools, their students, family and community members. So I called 2 friends of mine who I felt could help along the idea, Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee of Washington, DC, and Fariborz Azhakh of Woodland Hills, CA. I asked GM Rhee if he could represent the idea on Capital Hill, perhaps by proposing a National Kindness Day in honor of the victims of 9/11. He went to work on it through his connections and the request was written into the Congressional Record, but never became a proposal beyond that due to competing requests. Fariborz was a computer whiz, as well as a long established master teacher of the martial arts, who helped us design the first website in the world that allowed people to perform acts of kindness and would then tabulate the totals worldwide. The program crashed at 250,000 recorded and documented acts of kindness facilitated by martial arts schools --and we were already on to various projects and didn't bring the site back into service.
However, one of my students, Brian Williams, now the head of www.thinkkindness.org, picked up the idea of kindness as self-defense --and has since been responsible for millions upon million of acts of kindness through his work with public and private schools all across the nation --and in Kenya as well, where he has championed incredible humanitarian projects.
Conception and execution of The Random Acts of Kindness Program thru NAPMA and consequently in all of my work since 9/11 is, I believe, my single most important contribution to the international martial arts community. Prior to the program, kindness was rarely if ever brought up in the context of teaching the martial arts, but today kindness is, indeed, taught as one of our most important and valuable tools of self-defense.
Thank you to the team at NAPMA, Grandmaster and living martial arts legend Jhoon Rhee, Master Teacher Fariborz Azhakh of www.martialinfo.com, Brian Williams of ThinkKindness.org, and the hundreds of thousands of people who have participated in our kindness programs.