Technical Director of Lotus Nei Gong International
Nei Gong & Nei Dan
Yang & Huang Taijiquan
Baguazhang & Xingyiquan
A Brief Biography
Laoshi Damo (Damien) Mitchell was born into a family of martial artists in Devon, England. He began his studies in 1984 under his mother and father who instructed him in traditional Shotokan Karate and Hatha Yoga. As well as the empty hand, Damo studied the Bo staff and various combative techniques with his father and other teachers including Yoshinobu Ohta and Kenosuke Enoeda. These studies continued into his late teens and branched out into various other Japanese systems including Kendo and Iaido under Sensei Yamada and two different schools of Aikido.
In his early teens, Damo began to study the Chinese systems and in particular the Zhen Manqing system of Yang-family Taijiquan. These studies were again within his family under Paul Mitchell (his father) and Phil James, his uncle (a long-time student of Shen Hongxun). Damo has continued to develop, practise and teach this system of Taijiquan since this time and also studied with Shen as well as his daughter Shen Jin. Then, he began to delve deeper into the various aspects of the internal arts and he continued in this manner for several years until he had gained a sufficient understanding of the nature of the human energy system. Alongside the Zhen Manqing system of Taijiquan, Damo has also studied extensively within the Huang Xingxian and Yang-family systems in Europe, China and Southeast Asia. These studies have been with various Asian masters as well as ‘Western’ adepts such as Sifu Mark Rasmus.
While studying at university, Damo began to learn from various other teachers and gained a thorough grounding in Chang Quan and Tang Lang Quan as well as San Da and various other aspects of the external Chinese styles. From Wang Haitao & Hao Nanren, Damo learnt the Hebei system of Xingyiquan as well as various aspects of Baguazhang. This system of Xingyiquan is based around the development of Jin through consistent practice of the Wu Xing Quan and places less emphasis on the twelve-animal techniques than some other Xingyi systems. Surprisingly, it was Xingyiquan rather than Taijiquan which helped Damo to repair a badly-damaged shoulder which had been causing him a lot of pain for some time.
Damo’s travels in search of authentic teachings have taken him across the East where he returns regularly. His studies have taken him to the Shandong province, where he studied the Hunyuan system of grandmaster Feng over a period of several years. He lived and studied with master Ni in Northern China and also studied the system with other teachers such as Qi Zhaoling and Chen Xiu. While staying on Zitong Shan, Damo also studied various forms of Wushu and Chinese wrestling with the excellent coach Peng.
By this time, Damo had been studying various forms of meditation, both Daoist and Buddhist, for many years. It was the logical step to go in search of an authentic master teacher: this is what initially brought Damo to Wudang Shan and the school of Hu Xuezhi. Since this time, Damo has regularly revisited Wudang Shan as well as countless other Daoist mountains and monasteries across China researching their arts. He has studied various martial styles from different Daoist sects.
Damo’s travels have taken him across Southeast Asia, where he studied Theravadan Buddhism in various monasteries. The monks of Southeast Asia base much of their teachings around breath control and these practices can be directly transferred into Daoist internal exercises. Various trips to Southeast Asia (which resulted in Thailand being Damo’s main home base for many years) enabled Damo to further his studies of meditation and various forms of Yoga. Many teachings of Buddhism are directly transferable into the Daoist arts, and so Lotus Nei Gong includes many practices and principles from Southeast Asian Buddhism.
Alongside his studies in the martial arts of Asia, Damo has also explored Western Hermeticism, which he finds a useful complement to Daoism. These studies were under Sifu Mark Rasmus, who has accredited him to teach this system. Mark has also been a great influence on Damo’s Taijiquan training and the Nei Jia taught within Lotus Nei Gong.
There are also a great number of other teachers of the arts across both the east and the west who were a direct influence on Damo Mitchell’s practice. These teachers have generally taught arts which Damo does not teach as a part of the Lotus Nei Gong school and, as such, they have not been listed on here as they not directly responsible for the teachings being given. Damo keeps his current teachers in Asia to himself and does not bring them into the public eye as this is their wish. He is a member of two key lines which he continues to research and study within. If his teachers permit him to in the future, he will also include them as a part of his training biography.
As well as his martial arts, Yoga and meditation, Damo has also studied various forms of energetic medicine, Qi Gong therapy, Anmo, Tui-Na and Chinese medicine which he has studied under classical masters in the far East as well as at University level in the UK, where he acquired a BSC (Hons) degree in Acupuncture. Damo is also qualified to teach Wing Chun boxing, although it does not form part of the Lotus Nei Gong syllabus.
Damo has studied a great spectrum of martial-art styles but now focuses almost entirely on the arts of Yang Taijiquan, Cheng Baguazhang and Hebei Xingyiquan. Alongside this, he has his regular alchemical meditation practice and Nei Gong training, which he primarily applies within a medical setting.
He continues to study with three key teachers within two lines of internal training, though at the current time he does not wish to make their names public. These studies take Damo into Southeast Asia and parts of Europe regularly, where he trains for several weeks each year. These names will be given publicly in the future but for now he wishes to quietly continue studying with his teachers in an attempt to understand the complex material they are presenting him with!
Damo has taught since 2004. He is a professional martial arts teacher, who spends his time travelling, teaching and writing. He currently lives in the South of Portugal with his partner Roni Edlund and several of his senior students.
He has written several books on the internal arts including:
- Daoist Reflections from Scholar Sage (2016) Singing Dragon
- Yellow Monkey Emperor’s Classic of Medicine – (2016) Singing Dragon
- Daoist Nei Gong for Women – The Art of the Lotus and the Moon (2016) Singing Dragon
- White Moon on the Mountain Peak – The Alchemical Firing Process of Nei Dan (2015) Singing Dragon
- The Four Dragons – Clearing the Meridians and Awakening the Spine in Nei Gong (2014) Singing Dragon
- Heavenly Streams – Meridian Theory in Nei Gong (2013) Published by Singing Dragon
- Daoist Nei Gong – Philosophical Art of Change (2011) Published by Singing Dragon
He has also written several articles for internal-art magazines and has been featured on the cover of the Tai Chi Chuan and Oriental Arts Magazine.
As an authentic practitioner of the Daoist Arts, Damo is always on the lookout for serious students to pass his teachings on to. At the time of writing, Damo has been training intensively in the martial arts of Asia for over thirty years. His aim is to teach the full spectrum of Daoist arts as they were passed on to him.
Damo has taught classes and courses in:
- UK (England & Wales)
- Czech Republic
In 2012, Damo established the Lotus Nei Gong Retreat Centre in Sweden, which enabled three-month-long intensive retreats to be carried out, with over twenty students living together in the forests of Sweden and studying the Daoist arts. Students train in a classical manner from dawn until nightfall in very basic conditions and no outside distractions. It is from within this setting that the majority of our schools martial arts teachers were trained.
Damo has also given radio interviews and gave the joint keynote address at Philadelphia’s 2013 National Qigong Association conference, alongside Radiant Lotus teacher Daisy Lee.
Brief Summary of Damo’s Current Studies
- Yang Taijiquan (Yang Family, Zhen Manqing, Huang Xingxian and Tian Zhaolin variants have been an influence)
- Hunyuan Taijiquan
- Hebei Xingyiquan
- Cheng Baguazhang
- Nei Gong and Qi Gong
- Daoist Meditation Systems (Alchemy)
- Qi Gong Therapy
- Tui Na and An Mo Massage
Brief Outline of Damo’s Past Studies (No longer a part of his practice)
- Chen Village Taijiquan
- Gao Baguazhang
- Liang Baguazhang
- Chang Quan
- Shotokan Karate-Do
- Kendo and Iaido
- Japanese Weaponry
- Wing Chun
- San Da
- Tang Lang Quan
- Shuai Jiao
- Wudang Mountain Gong Fu (Mostly San Feng Pai)
- Various Forms of Indian Yoga
- Buddhist Meditation Systems
- Western Hermeticism
Damo’s Professional Qualifications
- Degree in Social Work from the UK
- Degree in Chinese Medicine from the UK
Damo’s Professional Titles
- Technical Director of the Lotus Nei Gong School of Daoist Arts
- Head Teacher at the Xian Tian College of Daoist Medicine
Underlying Ethos of His School
Damo has been studying the art of personal transformation through the martial, medical and spiritual arts of the east for over three decades now. This journey has taken him across Europe, America and the far East. For a period of ten years he lived with no real fixed abode and instead moved from place to place working on his arts. China and South East Asia were as much his home as the UK during this time though now he has settled in the South of Portugal.
Damo’s explorations took him into the Tibetan, Zen and Thai Buddhist traditions though he found himself drawn more and more towards the Daoist way of understanding life and existence. Though hesitant to identify himself as a ‘Daoist’ this is definitely the path which Damo follows and the place from which he draws his teachings. Numerous teachers and guides have been influential in his studies. He has been in and out of various lineages, spent time in temples and on mountains, lived with hermits and monks and now believes that the way exists somewhere between being a part of society and living slightly apart from it. This is the philosophy of ‘one foot in and one foot out’ which he tries to apply to his own way of life.
Damo’s studies have been through various phases. At one stage he identified with the martial community but now sees that the martial arts world is in such a state of disarray and infighting that progress within this world has become stagnant. In a similar manner the Qi Gong world is stuck in a rut of trying to ‘take the short route’ towards real skill as well as the accruing of more and more movements. Many shallow wells are being dug and nobody is finding water. The Chinese medical world is caught up in the mire of trying to make itself credible by turing itself into poor quality western medicine and so he has stepped away from such communities here as well. Instead his studies involve searching for those authentic masters that still remain as well as teaching within his own school that is part of no larger governing bodies. This independent group is focused upon the exploration of classical principles and teachings with an emphasis upon personal liberation and the development of virtuous expression of inner nature.
For three decades Damo studied the traditional arts and stayed true to the classical way of learning. Now he expresses these teachings in the classical manner and yet has no fear of passing these teachings through the lens of his own personal understanding. In this way his main wish is to try and uphold the original methods of the Daoist wisdom tradition whilst making it accessible and relevant to the modern world. This must happen without watering anything down or losing the essence of the arts. This means that his teachings are clear, accessible and yet still hard work with the classical requirement of consistent diligent study. He believes that all people are born equal, all should have the right to access means to elevate the spirit and no amount of skill can ever be seen as being as important as the expression of kindness and ‘giving service’ to all living beings.