His name is also romanized as: Fan Yu Tung / Fahn Yat Tung / Fan Yuk Tung / Fang Yuk Toung.
Born in in the 21st year of the Daoguang reign (1841) in Jimo county, Shandong province. Shifu Zhao Zhi Min writings says he was from Mo Hsien District.
Shifu Fan Xu Dong’s father passed away when he was 3 and mother when he was 5, and he was a cowherd in his teen years. Shifu Fan Xu Dong studied under shifu Wang Rong Sheng and had extraordinary skills, he was nicknamed as “King of the Mantis Boxing”. As he was a large man weighing about 300 pounds he was also known as “Giant of the Broadsword” or “Giant Fan”. This type of build is often found in North Eastern China and Korea as well.
Shifu Fan Xu Dong developed notable skills with the “iron sand palms” and became well known as the result of an incident with a farmer’s two bulls. One day as shifu Fan Xu Dong was crossing a field the two bulls charged him. In defense he kicked the first bull and used a palm attack to strike the other bull. Both bulls perished and the farmer became angry. Shifu Fan Xu Dong pointed out that he had only been defending himself. The farmer reluctantly accepted this, however, word spread about shifu Fan Xu Dong’s accomplishment.
He become even more famous in the Guangxu years (1874-1908), during the Qing dynasty, because he was sent to Siberia (Russia) where he took part in a challenge match. Shifu Fan Xu Dong did not have the resources to do this trip and the Yantai gong fu community held martial arts demonstration and collected entrance fees to fund his trip there. Shifu Fan Xu Dong defeated the Russian boxer and after defeating the Russian fighter, he picked up a broadsword and waved it about his head. The people started chanting “The Giant With the Broadsword”. This match made him a national hero.
The Hong Kong branch of Qi Xing Tang Lang mentions in its tradition that shifu Fan Xu Dong wrote five books on Shaolin boxing and tang lang quan. These hand written five volumes called the “Shaolin Authentic”. One book was on herbalogy, another was about Luo Han Gong (Arhat Boxing) and the others were on the principles and concepts of Northern Praying Mantis Gong Fu. These five books were later hand-copied in Hong Kong by shifu Huang Han Xun. The original illustrations and calligraphy on Luo Han Gong by shifu Fan Xu Dong was reproduced in one of shifu Huang’s books in which he added photographs to depict the movements. These books apparently were in shifu Luo Guang Yu’s possession (one of shifu Fan Xu Dong students). Shifu Jon Funk stated that there are two copies of the original book by shifu Fan Xu Dong that he is aware of, and one copy is in North America. Shifu Ho Yun Chung (shifu Huang Han Xun’s student who resides in Midland, MI, USA), hand copied his own copy. The idea of shifu Fan Xu Dong writing these books is discussed by the PRC Qi Xing Tang Lang branches mentioning that students that were senior to shifu Luo Guang Yu were not exposed to the Luo Han Gong routine documented in these books. They support the theory of this routine being added to Qi Xing Tang Lang Quan in later dates in Hong Kong, not by shifu Fan Xu Dong. I find the total absence of the Luo Han Gong from mainland systems a strong argument that it was not added by shifu Fan Xu Dong or learned by him at all. I think we have to believe that Luo Han Gong was added to Qi Xing Tang Lang by shifu Luo Guang Yu and not added by shifu Fan Xu Dong.
Shifu Fan Xu Dong was very rich throughout his whole life and he taught openly in Yantai, Shandong and had many students. In his old age he was assisted for many of his tu di men.
Shifu Huang Han Xun wrote that shifu Fan Xu Dong passed away in the Spring of the 24th year of the Republic (1936) in his hometown at the age of 95 years old. According to other qi xing tang lang quan sources in PRC shifu Fan Xu Dong passed away in 1925.