Wang Maozhai (1862–1940) was one of Wu Quanyou's of Wu-style t'ai chi ch'uan three primary disciples. When Wu Quanyou's son Wu Chien-ch'uan (Wu Jianquan) moved from Beijing to Shanghai in 1928 he remained to lead the Wu-style Beijing group. He was the founder of the Beijing Tai Miao t'ai chi ch'uan Research Centre. In 1929, the first documentary book on Wu-style t'ai chi 'The record of Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan' was published by Wu Chien-ch'uan, Wang Maozhai and Guo Fen. His primary disciple was Yang Yuting.
In 1933, Yuan Liang became the fourth mayor of Beijing. Yuan was deeply interested in martial arts, and asked head of Beijing Physical Culture Institute (北平体育研究社) Xu Yusheng (许禹生) to recommend a teacher for him. Xu was one of the first modern educators in modern China. Between age 20 – 24, Liu Dekuan came and taught him at his house. Beijing Physical Culture Institute was the first time martial art was taught to the public outside of the traditional private master-disciple system. Many of the first generation instructors were great masters, they were responsible, as a necessity for teaching large classes, systematizing, formalizing, and in many cases creating (ex. Bagua Jian) many of the empty hand and weapons routines in traditional martial art. So Xu knew everyone.
Yuan Liang had one pre-condition, that he would fight each candidate, if he loses, he will be the disciple with no questions asked. The first few candidates, afraid to harm the most powerful man in Beijing, held back and ‘lost’. Yuan was deeply unsatisfied. He demanded Xue Yusheng produce someone better.
It is at this point that Xue Yusheng thought of Wang Maozhai. Also a senior disciple of Quan You, Wang was not much involved in the business martial art. Throughout his life he operated a profitable building supply company called Tong Sheng Fu (同盛福) in the center of the city (Don Dan district). He didn’t need to teach, and worry about any politics associated with it. As predicted, Wang Maozhai had no reservations when he met Yuan Liang, and beat Yuan Liang as he would with anyone else he met. Of course he did not injury Yuan Liang, but gave Yuan Liang a very clear idea of his skill. Yuan Liang, thoroughly impressed, immediately knelled down.
When word of this went out, Wang Maozhai, who was previously only known inside the professional circle, became famous overnight. Many flocked to him. Wang, throughout his life, always felt his teacher Quan You was slighted by the nobles of Qing Dynasty, he always told people “my teacher is Quan You, and his teacher is Yang Luchan (not Banhou).” He could not have cared less of ranks and titles, in fact he was antagonistic. He refused to teach anyone related to the Qing nobles.
The people flocking to him now were the elite of Beijing’s political and commercial world. Everyone want to be ‘brother’ with the new major. After a careful selection process, Wang Maozhai also admitted seven other famous businessmen of Beijing at the same time as Yuan Liang. During the same ceremony, Wang allowed his disciple and successor Yang Yuting open his door. It was here that Master Wang Peisheng joined the group.
Master Wang’s experience training with the new elites of Beijing was very interesting. From very early on he got the opportunity to train with Wang Maozhai directly. He remember as a teenager going to Wang Maozhai’s home in the winter, and next to the door he would see all these coats and pelts made of the most expensive, exotic material. This is before the age of advanced man-made fibers, winter cloth tend to be heavy and bulky, made of cotton. Except if you are very rich, then you can afford materials like mink that is incredibly warm and extremely light at the same time. It was quite a sight for a boy from poor family.
As mayor Yuan Liang was deeply interested in traditional culture, he initiated many projects restoring and promoting traditional art and architecture around the city, hoping to turn Beijing into this cultural heritage site appreciated by all foreigners, who would in turn oppose Japan’s design on it (Yuan went to university in Japan). With Yuan’s patronage Wang Maozhai established public classes at the Grand Temple (Tai Miao 太庙). Eventually thousands flocked to those classes, making Wang Maozhai the leader of largest Taiji school in history (that record was broken when Yang Chengfu went to open his school in Shanghai).