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The image of the dynamo is used in Da Xuan to give a feeling of how the training gets started. In the beginning, it takes quite a bit of willpower, effort and juice to get going, but at some point the momentum of your efforts begin to make the practices move themselves. It's not that we stop at this point, as with the dynamo we still need an effort to keep it going, however that effort is now supported by energy coming from the practice itself, and that energy is exponentially increasing. 

Practically speaking, this means that it is necessary for everyone to go through an initial period that is basically like a run up to get going. I found in myself and with many of my students, the first 6 - 12 months of the training were definitely the hardest. It's not that there aren't more difficult moments later on in practice, but as we get on, we are more and more equipped to deal with those increasingly difficult challenges, and we are more and more familiar with dealing with challenges in general.

What this also means is that after we spend all the effort at the start in the difficult stage, at some point the practices gain traction and we start evolving at an exponential rate. Every year I have this feeling that I made more progress in the previous year of practice than all the years preceding that put together. The basic idea is that this never stops, and we keep growing and evolving and discovering new things right throughout our lives until the moment we die.

(image from a random google search, click on it to go to the creator's website)

In my own research into many other modalities of training, which was quite substantial, it was typically the other way around. I was often talking to coaches who would say the first 80% of the results in the given modality were much easier to achieve than the last 20%, and so you ended up with a progress curve that was flipped. Typically what separated the champions from the casual practitioners in any of these modalities was the willingness to put in extraordinary efforts to move through that last 20% of progress, and at the world class level it was really all about devoting one's life to get that 1% over the nearest competitors.  This kind of progress is called Logarithmic Growth:

For the casual practitioner interested in gaining good health quickly, it would apparently make sense to invest in the easy gains by aiming for this reasonably easily achievable 80% of quick growth. But how do you keep going once you've hit the grind? How do you avoid the inevitable point where you are working tirelessly to make small progress? You can shift modalities and start again in something new, but this doesn't allow you to surpass this invisible barrier, it just puts you back at the beginning.

I want to now introduce the concept of the marshmallow test, for those who do not already know about it. It was an idea that researcher Walter Mischel used in the 60s and onwards to study how willpower and delayed gratification impacted people's lives. The test was simple: a small child was given a marshmallow and told that they could eat it right away if they wanted, but if they waited for 20 minutes without eating it, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.  They tested a bunch of children and followed up with them over the next 20, 30 and 40 years. The children who had the willpower to resist the temptation of the quick fix and wait for the second marshmallow were universally more successful at everything in their lives than the children who wouldn't wait and immediately ate the first marshmallow.
Walter Mischel talking about the Marshmallow Test
When we engage in a good tradition of self cultivation, it is basically a marshmallow test for your personal growth and evolution. Are you willing to give up the quick gains of most of the modern systems of health and wellbeing, put in the effort of your willpower to keep on going until it gains traction and starts to accelerate rapidly? The lines will cross at some point and the exponential curve will over take the logarithmic curve, but until that point it's going to be behind, and we must endure this for a period of time that is definitely not short. 

I'll continue this line of thinking next month, looking more at what we do in the Da Xuan tradition to allow our progress to be exponential. For now, I will leave you now with a saying that is found in most Chinese systems of martial arts and self-cultivation: 

You have to eat bitter before you can taste sweet. 


PRIMORDIAL BREATHING - Freeing the Breath (Qi)

This syllabus covers breathing methods that will work to train the physical aspect of the lungs: the breath capacity, rhythm, freeing the airways, various methods of breathing, and opening the diaphragm. Although they are reasonably simple practices, they are profoundly effective and critical for building a strong foundation that will prepare you properly for engaging with more complex practices of Internal Alchemy (nei dan), or to simply maintain a healthy breath and emotional landscape.

Course Dates: Next Course TBA

DAO YIN - Establishing the Structure (Jing)

Dao Yin appears on the outside to look very much like pilates or yoga. The practice is done primarily lying on your back, learning to extend, roll and rotate using the power of the lower center and the strength of the back while progressively reducing tension in the extremities. The practices of Dao Yin are some of the most effective for building the structure, training the weak links, and establishing the link between the center and our back, the source of our energy. Being predominantly a lying practice done on a yoga mat, it keeps us in close contact with the ground, allowing us to align our backs and feel with increasing clarity the parts of ourselves that we don’t often get to look at.

Course Dates: Next Course TBA

DA XUAN FAMILY QI GONG - Internal Training (Jing + Qi)

The Da Xuan family qi gong is at the centre of the school, covering the most important qualities - the ability to feel energy without fantasy, the linking of the body, and grounding. This course introduces the topic and gives the participants a firm understanding of how to begin the process, bringing clarity by approaching the topic from several angles. For more information about Da Xuan Qi Gong and where it can lead, please visit my teacher's page here:

Course Dates: Next Course TBA

SHEN GONG - Calming and Focusing the Mind (Shen)

If we do not understand the way our mind functions, and cannot calm and stabilize our thinking and attention, then it will be very difficult to engage in any other topic with any degree of depth. Shen Gong trains the qualities of attention so that we may engage with all our other practices completely and without distraction. When our mind is free to focus completely on a given task, we can complete the task in full and finish with the mind available for whatever comes next - whether it be listening to family and friends or undertaking a new task. Unlike the spiritual training of Shen Dan, in which we investigate our fundamental identity, Shen Gong trains the purely pragmatic functioning of the mind.

Course Dates: In Progress (1st February – 28th March)


Classes are cooking! Tuesday morning we are looking at Dao Yin in depth, and Saturday we are working on foundational basics. If you're in the area and looking to join us, then please drop me a line!

For people on the Sunshine Coast, i am in the process of sorting out a weekly class there too, to be held at Sun Med. At this point, I will be teaching Qi Gong on Wednesday afternoons, but there are still a few more things to put in place before I can confirm and announce a starting date. If you're keen on attending this class, please drop me an email and let me know!

I will also be starting a video class that will be going over the seated practices of Da Xuan. It will be a 60 minute session and open to everyone, and will be $25 to attend. Stay tuned for a starting date announcement!

You can always find all the times and details of the classes I run on my website, just click the button below.


The Glenrock retreat was super awesome! I presented alongside Joe Fairleigh, who shared his considerable Ayurvedic knowledge; Soisci Porchetta who brought everyone back in touch with their playful sides with plenty of games and balancing practices, and Arnaldo Cardozo who taught Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I taught some basic Daoist physical practices, internal alchemy and Da Xuan qi gong over the course of the weekend. We were also lucky to have Ryan capturing plenty of wonderful moments with his photography skills, so there should be some nice photos up on Facebook and Instagram sometime soon.

We're all super keen to do more of these retreats, and all things going to (a very loose) plan, we should be holding 2 more this year. I'll be announcing the precise dates on my website and on whichever social media platforms I remember to use as soon as I know them myself. 

I'm also hoping to get to Infuse in Newcastle for 2 other workshops, and to Praksis in Canberra to teach again in the near future. Details to come. 

If you're keen to have me in your city, please drop me a line!


This year is already looking like it will have plenty on for me. Loads of people are withdrawing from social media, and I can't see myself sticking around very long when it's all empty. In preparation for that, I already have this mailing list, and have added a part to the front of my website with important announcements, so you can easily check in on what I'll be up to in the old school fashion of just directly visiting my website.

I'm looking forward to this next chapter, it's feeling like it will be quite new and different to what I've done up until now. Time will tell :)

Oh, and happy Chinese new year to all (solar new year was the 4th Feb just gone, the lunar new year begins with the new moon on the 12th). Let's get Ox-y!

Happy training,
Copyright © 2021 Craig Mallett, All rights reserved.

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