Grandmaster Wang Xiang Zhai

The foundations of the Zhan Zhuang system as we know it today have been laid by Grandmaster Wang Xiang Zhai. In China, he is known as one of the most famous martial artists of this century, celebrated for his unmatched mastery of fighting skills.

In addition to his prowess in martial arts, culminating in his development of Da Cheng Chuan, Grandmaster Wang Xiang Zhai has also been key in starting up the first Chi Kung hospitals in China.

The following words of Grandmaster Wang Xiang Zhai became well-known and honored by students of Zhan Zhuang:

A small movement is better than a big movement,
No movement is better than a small movement,
Stillness is the mother of all movements.

Grandmaster Wang Xiang Zhai was born in 1885 in the Hobei province of China. Due to sicknesses he suffered as a child, he was lead to the great Xing Yi boxer Guo Yuo Shen to teach him exercises that would improve his health. Wang was diligent and dedicated student. In fact, Guo was so impressed with Wang that he selected him as the preferred student and taught him all of his secrets.

In 1907, Grandmaster Wang, with permission from his teacher, started his journey throughout China to expand his knowledge and understanding of his art. Over the years, he met many of the great boxing and health practitioners of China. He benefited from the exchanges with some of the most renowned boxers of his time. This accumulated knowledge laid the groundwork for founding a system of health and martial training.

In the 1920s, Grandmaster Wang founded Yi Chuan, after a lifetime of practice and research into martial arts, and began to teach the system. Practitioners were so in love with this new art that they called it “Da Cheng Chuan” (meaning Great Achievement Boxing) due to its approachability and great benefits. Though phenomenal for health purposes, Yi Chuan is also a very high level of martial art. Grandmaster Wang was never defeated in the whole of China or by foreigners who challenged him.

He based his teaching on Xingyiquan but kept simplifying and modifying it to put greater emphasis on mental training rather than outer form. He therefore decided to drop ‘xing’ (form) - from Xingyiquan and called his new system Yiquan - where Yi means Mind or Intent and quan means boxing.

In his later years, Grandmaster Wang put his entire focus on researching the health aspect of Yi Chuan. In the 20 and more years of treating various ailments, Grandmaster Wang healed and returned color back to many people’s lives.

In 1963, Grandmaster Wang passed away. The benefits of his knowledge have spread throughout China and to other areas of the world. He is and will forever be remembered as one of the great men in pioneering health practices and martial arts.

During his lifetime, Wang Xiangzhai designated Yao Zongxun as his successor. After Wang Xiangzhai’s death, Prof. Yao Zongxun carried on his teacher’s work. In 1984 he created Beijing Yiquan Research Association, and became it’s first president.