This week our guest is Laoshr Damo (Damien) Mitchell. He is an author and Daoist Arts Teacher. He 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 his father, Paul Mitchell and Phil James, his uncle, a long time student of Shen Hongxun. Damo has continued to develop, practice and teach this system of Taijiquan since this time and also studied with Shen as well as his daughter Shen Jin. Here 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.uding 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.
Whilst 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 the Xingyiquan rather than the 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 Shandong province where he studied the Hunyuan system of grandmaster Feng over a period of several years. He lived and studied with master Ni when in Northern China and also studied the system with other teachers such as Qi Zhaoling and Chen Xiu. The Qi Gong system studied here also formed a large part of Lotus Nei Gong’s syllabus. Whilst 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 and this is what initially brought Damo to Wudang Shan and the school of Hu Xuezhi. Damo stayed and studied internal alchemy with master Hu who managed to put many of the pieces of theory into place with the teachings of the ancient Daoist classics. 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 South East Asia where he studied Theravadan Buddhism in various monasteries. The monks of South East Asia base much of their teachings around breath control and these practices can be directly transferred into Daoist internal exercises. Various trips to South East Asia (including nine months in Thailand) 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 South East Asian Buddhism.
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 as well as having a degree in Social Work and a diploma in health and psychology. He is also a qualified instructor in Wing Chun boxing under Andy Chrysostomou and Andy Newman of the Wing Chun Boxing Collective although he does not currently teach Wing Chun. Damo is an advanced level instructor member of the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain.
Damo has taught since 2005. He is a professional martial arts teacher who spends his time travelling, teaching and writing. He currently lives between the UK, Asia and Southern Sweden.
He has written several books on the internal arts including:
- Heavenly Streams – Meridian Theory in Nei Gong (2013) Published by Singing Dragon
- Daoist Nei Gong – Philosophical Art of Change (2011) Published by Singing Dragon
- The Dragon Dao Yins (2010) Published by Lotus Nei Gong
- Yang Family Taiji Quan Fa (2009) Published by Lian Hua Press – Out of Print
He has also written several articles for internal arts 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 look out 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 28 years. His aim is to teach the full spectrum of Daoist arts as they were passed on to him.