Zhang Zhankui (张占魁, 1865 – 1938), a.k.a Zhang Zhaodong (张兆东), was born in a farmer family at Hejian County, Hebei Province, China. Zhang started martial arts by learning Shaolin Boxing at young age. Zhang resided to Tianjin City in 1877, where he met Li Cunyi (李存义, 1847 – 1921) and later they became sworn brothers. Li introduced Zhang to his teacher Liu Qilan (刘奇兰, 1819 -1889) and thus Zhang became a disciple of Liu and studied the art of Xingyiquan.
Zhang Zhankui met Cheng Tinghua (程庭华, 1848 – 1900) at Beijing in 1881. Zheng, with the introduction of Cheng, has become the student of Dong Haichuan (董海川, 1797 -1882). Although Zheng was a student of Dong, his Baguazhang skills were mostly obtained from Cheng as Dong Haichuan passed away in the winter of 1882.
Zhang Zhankui worked as a detective at the magistrate of Tianjin in 1900 with a high success rate of arrests. Zhang was well known with his lighting speed martial arts skills and thus earned him the nickname of “Lighting Hands”.
Zhang Zhankui, together with Li Cunyi and others, has co-founded “Chinese Warrior Association” at Tianjin City in 1911. Zhang has hold the posts of chief referee or judge on numerous large scale Chinese martial arts events from the late 1920s to the mid 1930s.
Zhang Zhankui taught his martial arts system of “Xingyi-Bagua” (形意八卦) at his home in Tianjian during his final years. Zhang has taught thousands of students over his life; Han Muxia (韩慕侠), Li Jianqiu (李剑秋), Zhao Daoxin (赵道新), Jiang Rongqiao(姜容樵), Qian Shuqiao (钱树樵) are some of his famous students.