An update and a little history

In 2018, in an icy gym in the Hungarian countryside, I trained with Damo Mitchell for the first time. I had met this man in 2008 – then a skinny kid – at Wu Dan Shan. At the time, it was clear that he had a lot going for him. And when I came across one of his books around 2017, my interest was piqued to the max. His writing was of a totally different caliber than anything I had read about Nei Gong up to that point.

As it turned out, his trainings were all full except for this 7-day retreat in Hungary (October 2018). It became a hard slap in my face. The intensity, depth and meaning of this training made all my previous work pale in comparison. No sweet stretches and cozy flowing ‘qigongs’. No fanciful visualizations and imaginary energies. No cups of tea with a cookie. Here people were working at full force on a thorough internal process. A process requiring every fiber in the body to be animated, moved and stilled. (I will elaborate on the purpose and workings of the training later). This school works with traditional methods for inner cultivation without making any concessions to the widespread new-age interpretations of those methods. (While – perhaps paradoxically – all cultural trappings, exotic folklore and romanticism have, on the contrary, been completely jettisoned.) Despite the pain, the sweat and despite the feeling that I would have to go all the way back to kindergarten, I knew one thing for sure: I must continue in this school.

Several courses, an online academy and many hours of self-training later, fast forward to 2023. Mascha and I thoroughly sort out our household goods, sublet our flats and workplaces, quit our jobs (for the most part) and travel to Bali, Indonesia. One big holiday resort and probably the least adventurous country in the world, but Ubud is where Damo has established his school for the next five years.

Five days a week we work mornings and afternoons (and sometimes evenings) through the curriculum of body opening; lots of body opening; Chinese boxing; Tai Jii Quan; Xing Yi Quan; Qi Gong; Dao Yin; Nei Gong; meditation and theory. Blood, sweat and tears. Animating, moving and stilling every fiber of the body is quite no cat’s pee.

Which doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy it to the fullest! Balinese society is benevolently convivial. Friendly. Safe. The climate is delightfully stable and sunny. Nature is endlessly blooming. A class full of weirdos at school (and a happy army of cacao cuddlers in every café around town) offers fully immersive theater and beautiful encounters. Eating tipat cantok. And then the training (!)

With some online work, a handful of family contacts and organizing life in a new country, the days fly by. After months, we have seen little more than our little corner of Ubud. We are living close to school and have bought mountain bikes instead of the scooters everyone here rides. The interpretation of the long ‘winter’ break is taking a radically different shape than hoped for: because the online work I had envisioned is not getting off to a good start, the urgency arises to substantially up my financial game. A dizzying crash course LMS, computer engineering and marketing and the development of two online video courses is still in full swing when school is already starting….

And now we are already wrapping up here to work in the Netherlands for a few months starting in May.
In the fall we will travel to Bali again. There is no doubt that we are not done here for the time being!