As a young martial artist, I was drawn to the dynamic and competitive nature of Tomiki Aikido. The style’s emphasis on randori, or free-style practice, allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of the techniques and how they could be applied in real-life self-defense situations. I was also inspired by the founder, Kenji Tomiki, and his innovative approach to aikido. Tomiki believed that the competitive aspect of aikido would help practitioners refine their techniques and develop their skills to a higher level.
Over time, my passion for Tomiki Aikido grew, and I became dedicated to spreading its principles and teachings to others. I wanted to help others discover the physical and mental benefits of martial arts, as well as the practical self-defense applications. As a result, I became a sensi, or teacher, and began instructing students of all ages and skill levels.
Through my many years of teaching, I have seen firsthand the positive impact that Tomiki Aikido can have on a person’s life. It is not just about the physical techniques, but also about the mental discipline and focus that come with practicing martial arts. It has been an honor to share my knowledge and experience with others and to continue to promote the art and teachings of Tomiki Aikido.
I am Dr. Raymond Crowel, holding a Shodan rank and proudly representing as a notable aikidoka at the MTA dojo. My initiation into the world of Aikido started in Michigan, where I began my training in Yoshinkai Aikido under the expert guidance of Takashi Kushida. However, as life often does, college and personal responsibilities drew me away from the dojo for some time.
By 1998, my passion for the art was rekindled. I found myself immersed in Tomiki Aikido, learning and evolving under the mentorship of Sensei’s Frank Farris and William Ball. This phase not only sharpened my skills but also offered me the chance to compete on national and international platforms, a journey I cherish deeply.
Being a psychologist adds a unique layer to my perspective on Aikido. I see it not merely as a means for ethical self-defense but as a profound art that propagates peace across every aspect of our lives. To encapsulate its essence, I resonate most with the translation of “Aikido” as “the way of spiritual harmony.”
My martial arts journey likely began with my love of film. Rather than Bruce Lee movies, the film that resonated most with me was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. While there are many memorable fights in the film, what I found truly inspirational was that the heroes of the film use violence as means of control and response as opposed to the usual display of aggressively dispatching their foes. Conversely, it’s the lead character’s proclivity towards violence and hubris that drives most of the film’s conflict.
Even the more fantastical elements of the film made me curious as to what the human body is actually capable of. Flying gracefully through the trees is not possible in reality but the movements and manipulations of skilled martial artists teeter on that same level of mystical expertise.
I would love nothing more than to never have to throw a punch in my life and instead, softly but firmly instruct others on the mistake of embracing violence and aggression. Aikido has helped me move my body in ways I never thought possible and aligns with my values of peace and love for all.
I began my journey into Tomiki Aikido in 2001 under the guidance of Sensei Frank Ferris at the Baltimore Tomiki Aikido Center in Federal Hill, Baltimore, MD. This coincided with my pursuit of a BFA in Painting at The Maryland Institute College of Art. After about three years of dedicated practice in Aikido and Yoga at BTAC, I expanded my horizons by continuing my Tomiki Aikido training under Senseis William Ball and Jaminez Williamson at the Maryland Tomiki Aikido Center.
Between 2010 and 2013, I diversified my martial arts experience by cross-training in Shorin Ryu Karate, under the expert guidance of Sensei Grandmaster Elton Trower in Melfa, VA. My commitment and hard work paid off when I achieved the rank of Shodan in Shorin Ryu Karate.
Over the course of more than two decades, I’ve had the privilege of participating in numerous Tomiki Aikido tournaments in the United States and abroad. In 2022, I was honored with the prestigious Keith Benedict All Around Champion Award at the U.S. Nationals in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Currently, I hold the esteemed rank of Shodan and serve as an assistant instructor in Tomiki Aikido under the guidance of Sensei William Ball. My teaching and practice take place at the Maryland Tomiki Aikido Center, which is located within the Baltimore Martial Arts Academy in Catonsville, MD.