Li Cunyi (李存义), a.k.a. Li Zhongyuan (李忠元), was one of the most influential Xingyiquan figure at the end of 19th century and early 20th century.
Li Cunyi was born in Shen County of Hebei Province in 1847. Li studied Xingyiquan under Liu Qilan (刘奇兰, 1819 – 1889) at 20 years old , he later became friend with Cheng Tinghua (程庭华, 1848 – 1900) and studied Baguazhang under Cheng’s teacher, Dong Haichuan (董海川, 1797 – 1882). In actual fact, it was Cheng who passed most of the Baguazhang skills to Li.
Li Cunyi joined “Righteous Harmony Society” at the age of 50 in 1900. Li used to held a saber against the army of the Eight-Nation Alliance during Boxer Rebellion, and the nickname of “Single Saber” Li has became famous.
Li Cunyi has been teaching martial arts to the army of Liu Kunyi (刘坤一, 1830 – 1902) in 1890. Li later ran a “Biaoju” business in Baoding, and he also tough Xingyiquan (both staffs and students) during those years. The business later closed down due to poor management.
Li Cunyi has co-founded “Chinese Warrior Association” at Tianjin City in 1911 which spread the skill of Xingyiquan, this caused Tianjin to become one of the headquarter of Hebei Xingyiquan. Li Cunyi later tough his arts at Shanghai Jingwu Tiyuhui (Chin Woo Athletic Association) under the invitation of the association.
Li Cunyi resided to his hometown and tough the skills of Xingyiquan in his later years. Li passed away at the age of 74 in 1921.
Li Cunyi’s students include Shang Yunxiang (尚云祥, 1846 -1937, his Xingyiquan was later known as Shang Style Xingyiquan by his successors), Li Xingjie (李星阶, 1879 – 1948), Wang Benian (黄柏年, 1880 – 1954), Fu Jianqiu (傅剑秋, 1885 – 1956), Chen Panling (陈泮岭, 1891 – 1967, Chen later resided to Taiwan during the Civil War of China).
Biaoju is an establishment which provides services such as escorts, bodyguards, transport of goods (armed) for a fee.