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 is an advanced-level instructor member of the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain.