Historical Insights: The Life of Master Wang Qing Zhai (王庆斋)



The Life of Master Wang Qing Zhai (王庆斋)


Many subjects can be learned from a book or video but martial arts requires a knowledgeable instructor to ensure that the nuances of a kung fu style are learned correctly. The more wisdom a student seeks, the more accomplished teacher they must find. Beginning at the age of 6, Master Yun had the good fortune of getting to learn from the famed martial arts master, Wang Qing Zhai (王庆斋). This accomplished instructor of traditional Chinese martial arts taught students for nearly sixty years at his Shenyang school.

Master Wang Qing Zhai was born on December 26, 1905. He grew up in Dalian, Liaoning Province of China, and began his training at the age of 9. He first learned the traditional boxing style, Di Gong Quan (地功拳) from Zhang Gong Cheng (张功成) before studying under Sun Cheng Yun (孙成云) to learn the Long Fist style, Chang Quan (长拳). It was at the age of 16 that he met famed master, Wang Yun Peng (王云鹏), and began to study the external boxing style from Northern China, Seven Star Praying Mantis (七星螳螂拳), and the internal martial arts form, BA Gua Zhang (八卦掌).


In the early 1930’s Wang Qing Zhai had the great opportunity to study with renowned martial arts master Sun Wen Bo (孙文渤). From him, Wang Qing Zhai would learn Luo Style Duan Men Qiang (罗氏断门枪), the Shaolin-style of Praying Mantis (少林螳螂拳), and Yang Style Qing Ping Sword (杨式青萍剑 ). During his studies with Sun Wen Bo, Wang Qing Zhai met Liu Zhong He (刘忠和) and learned his secret form of Wu Zi Gong (秘传午子功).

Sun Wen Bo was famed for his skill with the Qing Ping Sword, even instructing Emperor Aixinjueluo Puyi (爱新觉罗.溥仪, 1906 - 1967) in the style. It was from him that Wang Qing Zhai would acquire his skill with Yang Style Qing Ping Sword (杨式青萍剑). In his own time, Wang Qing Zhai would become famed with the Qing Ping Sword as well.

At 32, and after over twenty years of study, Wang Qing Zhai was ready to open his own institute. It was the late 1930’s and this was near the end of a hundred year migration period known as Chuan Guan Dong where Han Chinese were migrating from the Shandong region into Manchuria to seek better opportunities. In 1937, Wang Qing Zhai followed his father and brother into the region. He settled in Shenyang 沈阳, founding the 26th Institute of Feng Tian Wu Dao Zhen Xing Hui (奉天武道振兴会第26传习所).

In this institute, Wang Qing Zhai passed along his diverse and prolific understanding of traditional Chinese martial arts to each student. His knowledge and teaching style were highly praised by those he instructed. The school would continue to operate until Wang Qing Zhai’s passing in 1993, almost sixty years later. Over his tenure, Wang Qing Zhai would teach nearly a thousand students, including Master Yun. In 2005 a museum honoring the legacy of Wang Qing Zhai was founded by Qing Zhai’s daughter, Wang Shu Ping 王淑萍, near the location of the original institute.


Throughout his life, Qing Zhai received various awards and won a range of contests. However, none were more praised than his performance during the 2nd Northeast National Martial Arts Fighting Competition (第二届东北武术擂台赛) that took place from August 5th to 13th, 1947. This event was held at the Shenyang International Stadium with over eight hundred challengers entering the competition.

In his Qing Ping Jian match against famed boxer, Ma Xian Tu (马献图), Qing Zhai repeatedly scored points on Xian Tu’s hand but the referees did not call the point. In the next round Wang Qing Zhai used the sword to break Xian Tu’s ankle. With the audience breaking into an uproar, he then turned to the referees and stated, “This time you saw it.” He received first place in Qing Ping Jian and became one of the top ten finalists of the competition.

Referees for the competition

Referees :  Li Yu Lin (李玉琳),Liu Bao Rui (刘宝瑞),Yang Ru Lin (杨汝霖),Xin Jian Hou (辛健侯)

Chief referee: Ji Wen Cai (纪文才)

Side referee: Zhang Wan Cheng (张万成)


The Chinese Communist Revolution had begun the previous year and this was the last time the competition was held. In subsequent years the practicing of traditional martial arts were restricted and many had to hide their knowledge of kung fu. Direct lines of knowledge were lost and the martial arts styles being promoted had limited martial ability.

As a finalist in this competition Master Wang Qing Zhai was ranked as one of the most skilled fighters in the styles he studied. He had learned from famed masters and helped preserve traditional Chinese martial arts in their authentic form, passing on this knowledge to his students. It is this legacy that Master Yun continues on in his studio today and these true forms of traditional Chinese martial arts that he seeks to pass on to each student.


Notable Disciples of Wang Qing Zhai

1937 - 1950: Li Du Ming (李都明),Di Cai San (狄彩三),Qi Yan Zhang (齐彦章)

1950 - 1970: Lian Jin Shan (连金山),Ma Shu Gui (马树贵),Liu Shi Jun (刘士俊),Li Chang Yong  (李长勇),Wang Shu Ping (王淑萍),Li Ji Bao (李继宝),Hu Chun Ming (胡春明)

After 1970: Wang Ji Hong (王吉洪),Li De Yu (李德玉),Ge Zhan Ku (葛占库),Liu Pin Zheng (刘品正),Huo Rui Ting (霍瑞亭),Tian Yu Shi (田雨时),Li Sheng (李胜),Zhang Yun Chao (张云超, Master Yun)




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