His name is also romanized as: Lei Jim Yuen.
Shifu Li Zhan Yuan is also known in Dalian as Li Hui Tang.
Some biographies about shifu Li Zhan Yuan point he was born in 1908 or 1901 but this is incorrect, he was born in 1900 in Laixi according to his death certification and the “Shandong / Qingdao Wushu Society” eulogy with his life history.
Shifu Li Zhan Yuan started studying Shaolin Quan Jiben Gong at age 5 until he turned 9 when he was sent away to Dalian (Liaoning), to apprentice as a cook. In Dalian he continued training Shaolin Quan until 1913 when he became the student of shifu Xiao Shu Bin (shifu Yang Wei Xin’s da tu di) and shifu Hu Yong Fu (Lin Jing Shan’s da tu di) at the si jie wu guan.
Mei Hua Tang Lang Quan family in Qin Dao mentions that shifu Li Zhan Yuan started his tang lang quan training in this branch (under two different Mei Hua tang lang masters) instead of Qi Xing Tang Lang. This seems not to be true and I have found no proof of this, not even the names of the masters. This story is only told in Qingdao, not Laixi, Yantai or Dalian and only told after shifu Li Zhan Yuan’s death. On the contrary there are records of shifu Li Zhan Yuan’s time at the si jie wu guan training under the Qi Xing Tang Lang masters.
Shifu Li Zhan Yuan learnt under shifu Hu Yong Fu but he was also the disciple of Xiao Shu Bin and he had the opportunity to train under his shi gung Lin Jing Shan. However, shifu Xiao Shu Bin was his major teacher. He trained daily at the si jie wu guan for over 12 years and began assistant coaching and coaching until he had to leave during the war.
Shifu Li Zhan Yuan also studied Tai Ji Quan, Xing Yi Quan, Cha Quan and other forms of Shaolin such as Qi Xing Quan and Chang Quan.
Shifu Li Zhan Yuan was a 30th. generation knight of the Shaolin Temple and he was also known as ‘Su Lin Da Shi’, he was of course a lay monk and not required the celibacy vow or to shave his head. I have stated that shifu Li Zhan Yuan was a monk living in Shaolin Si around 1913 and that he was also master of a style of Northern Shaolin named Gu Ben Shaolin Quan (a style centered around the Ten Hand Forms of Shifu Gu Ru Zhang). This information proved to be inaccurate, shifu Li Zhan Yuan did not study Gu Ben Shaolin, did not live at Shaolin Si around 1913 and he received the title of honorary Head coach of the temple quite late in his life, in the 1980’s. Around 1913, shifu Li Zhan Yuan was actually an apprentice cook in Dalian, which is where he began his real training. He did not go to Shaolin till many years later. In fact he did not return to Qingdao until the Japanese occupation, when he fled from Dalian after crippling and killing two Japanese soldiers.
Shifu Li Zhan Yuan returned to Laixi and continued teaching until he finally arrived in Qingdao City in 1941, where he opened his school in Taidong district (teaching primarily Qixing Tanglang). Shifu Li Zhan Yuan continued to travel to Yantai to revise under current Qixing head and Shi Ye on shifu Hu Yong Fu side, shifu Lin Jing Shan, right up until the late 60’s. During this time he trained with shifu Yu Tian Cheng amongst others. Even shifu Zhong Lian Bao spent time studying with shifu Li Zhan Yuan in Qingdao.
Shifu Li Zhan Yuan, as many traditional gong fu masters, had troubles during the cultural revolution (between 1967 and 1971 he was sent to Lai Xi countryside by the red guards). There was no option but to adapt to modern wushu in PRC in the 70’s and 80’s. Shifu Li Zhan Yuan developed some routines which were used for competitions but taught distinctly of traditional forms. His school’s traditional forms are not longer than the Hong Kong branch forms, but in competition (because of time requirement) they often stick together several traditional forms or make the form longer somehow. Rhythm, stance and footwork are usually different from Hong Kong Seven Stars. For example, forms such as Tou Tao and Zhai Yao were modified in direction (angles of stepping or turning), to fit in the 14 by 10 metre space demanded in competition, but are not boxed this way, except when competing.
However, in shifu Li Zhan Yuan family main emphasis was on Tang Lang san shou and traditional Taolu. Unfortunately he is better remembered in his position as Head coach of Qingdao Wushu Team and not many of the newer generation of Wushu people, other than his tudimen (students) who are over 40, got much use for his genuine traditional teaching.
There are some minor differences between Qingdao and Yantai forms, one major reason is that shifus in Yantai teach the shifu Lin Jing Shan curriculum directly, while the Qingdao branch teachings were largely developed by Li Zhan Yuan. Therefore, it includes the Lin Jing Shan’s instruction, but it also has influences from the Xiao Shu Liang side and shifu Li Zhan Yuan’s own master, shifu Hu Yong Fu. Shifu Hu, shifu Li and shifu Xiao emphasised different aspects of the boxing (jiben gong, ti fa, sanda etc.) and routines. This teachings influenced to give Qin Dao’s tang lang a slightly different flavor than the Yantai one. But probably his greatest modification to his Qi Xing Tang Lang was adding some Shaolin emphasis to his boxing (Li Zhan Yuan’s family followers name their school as Shaolin Jingang Qixing Tanglangquan). However, regardless of the minor differences between the Li Zhan Yuan Qingdao line and the Yantai line they are all essentially very close. The forms differences are not important, as there is no ‘standard’ tanglang Quan Pu, even amongst the descendants of shifu Lin Jing Shan in Yantai.
Shifu Li Zhan Yuan together with shifu Liu Chong Xi published a book in the 80’s (“Qi Xing Tang Lang Quan”) about bare hand boxing and includes forms such as: Beng Bu, Bai Yuan Tou Tao, etc. The photo on the cover of shifu Li Zhan Yuan’s book is not of him but of another master who wrote a book on Hua Quan at the same time in Anhui Province. This master’s photo ended up on the cover of the Li Zhan Yuan’s book and looks a lot like the famous picture of Lin Jing Shan so it has often been mistaken.
There is other book called “Tang Lang Jian” that includes general considerations on sword and one form. This book is often accredited to shifu Li Zhan Yuan but he did not write it, it was actually written by shifu Liu Chong Xi. There are however several posthumous articles published regarding his teachings.
Shifu Li Zhan Yuan’s favorite form was Bai Yuan Tou Tao (White Ape Steals the Peach). He even performed it when he was in his nineties just before he passed away, and he was still quite impressive.
Shifu Li Zhan Yuan run a school in Qingdao (PRC) until he passed away in 1992.