Born in 1908 in Baoding, Hebei, Chang was remarkably strong among his peers from his early life. Chang's family roasted chickens, and their business provided sufficient income to allow him private lessons with Zhang Fenyen a local businessman and Shuai Chiao master who practiced baoding shuai jiao as instructed by Ping Jinyi.
Chang distinguished himself early among Zhang's pupils as a promising martial artist. This led to close personal attention and training in areas normally reserved for more senior students. Zhang taught Chang unorthodox training drills and methods to aid him in developing his shuai jiao skill, including using leg sweeps to drive grasshoppers into the air where the correctly positioned hand could easily catch them.
Chang competed in 1933 in the 5th National Kuo Shu Tournament (also called the "All China Full Contact Tournament") and won the heavyweight division over several hundred other practitioners. Now nicknamed the "Iron Butterfly," Chang would go on to win numerous challenge matches before entering China's armed services - traveling across the Kuomintang controlled areas of China to seek out other shuai jiao practitioners in order to test his skills. He may also have first started learning xingyi in this period.
He taught as the youngest faculty member in the Nanjing Central Kuoshu Institute (中央國術館) and exchanged knowledge with other martial arts experts. He created his own variation of Tai Chi and xingyi, Chang Tai Chi, based on Yang style tai chi chuan, xingyi and his shuai jiao knowledge.
Throughout the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II, of which China became a part, Chang instructed large numbers of Chinese Nationalist troops in Shuai Chiao (including the elite Red Wall paratroopers), while continuing to fend of numerous challenges. When not otherwise occupied, Chang visited several POW camps to test his Shuai Chiao against Japanese practitioners of judo, jujutsu and karate. Chang represented the Army in 1948 when he was victorious in a nationwide competition for shuai jiao, Chin Na, grappling and throwing.
When Kuomintang troops under Chiang Kai-shek were driven from mainland China to Taiwan by the Communist rebels, Chang left for Taiwan. On the establishment of the National Police University, in Taipei in the Republic of China, Chang was given a position of Senior Instructor in unarmed training by Presidential edict. He taught there for over 30 years.
Never defeated in martial arts challenge matches, Chang died in 1986 of esophagus cancer which set on suddenly.