Great Master Wang Xiang Zhai (1887-1963)
Greatmaster Wang Xiang Zhai was born in 1885 in Hebei province of
China, near Beijing. Due to sicknesses he suffered as a child, he
was lead to the great Xing Yi boxer Guo Yun 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 his secrets.
Guo Yun Shen already in an advanced age,
was very strict in the training of the young Wang.
Even Grand Master Yu Yong Nian often remembers to his students one
story which happens to Wang while studying with his Master Guo:
¡°Guo Yun sheng insisted on the practice of Zhan Zhuang already,
and concentrated the training of Wang in the beginning in strictly
standing pole. The young Wang later on, learned secretly forms and
taolus with older students of Wang¡But one day Master Guo discovered
Wang practicing these frames and then scolded him ¡°Why do you learn
these forms with others, while you are studying (the real boxing
art) with the highest authority (on Martial Arts)?.¡±¡±.
This incident not always known will profoundly mark the young Wang
and even probably inspire him in the future foundation of Yiquan(Yi
In 1907, GM 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 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, GM 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 purpose, Yi Chuan
is also a very high level of martial art, GM Wang was never defeated
in China or by foreigners in any challenge.
From his personal experience in combat
and exchanges with other styles but specially from the strong basis
of Xingyi Chuan transmitted by Guo Yun Shen, he therefore decided
to create a new martial art, centered around the Zhan Zhuang, putting
more emphasis on mental training rather outer form. He therefore
decided to drop ¡°xing¡± (form) ¨C from Xingyi Chuan and called his
new system Yiquan(Yi Chuan) where Yi means ¡°Mind¡± or ¡°Intention¡±
and Quan (or also written Chuan) means boxing.
In his later years, GM Wang put his entire
focus on researching the health aspect of Yi Chuan. In the 20 and
more years of treating various ailments, GM healed and return back
to many people¡¯s lives. For this healing aspect of Yiquan(Yi Chuan),
GM Wang also selected the young Yu Yong Nian to continue his works
and develop the therapeutic aspects of Yiquan(Yi Chuan). From their
collaboration, in 1986, was published ¡°Quandao zhongshu Zhanzhuang
gong¡± or Therapeutic aspects of Zhan Zhuan Exercises - More (Grand
Master Yu Yong Nian)
In 1963, GM 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 pioneering a system for both healing and martial arts.
During his lifetime, Wang Xiangzhai designated
Yao Zongxun as his successor. After Wang¡¯s death, Prof. Yao Zongxun
carried on his teacher's work. In 1984 he created Beijing Yiquan(Yi
Chuan) Research Association, and became its first president.