He recieved his early education at home. Some years later Mr. Feng attended the Northeastern Military Academy for further training and graduated from that institution.
After some schooling at home, Gen. Feng Chan-hai entered army service and joined the 27th Division of Fengtian (Fengtien) Army in 1918. In 1924 he was appointed a battalion commander in Qilin (Kirin) Army and in 1928 Mr. Feng was promoted a regimental commander.
When the Japanese military invaded Qilin (Kirin) following their occupation of Mukden in September, 1931, he withdrew his troops from Changchun to the interior of the province carrying away with him a large quantity of arms and ammunition where he organised with a number of compatriots a Volunteer Force to oppose the Japanese advance. When he occupied Fangcheng district in Qilin (Kirin), Gen. Feng also organised and trained up a Big Sword Corps of 4,000 men and fought against the Japanese. His Army once recaptured Qilin (Kirin) City from the Japanese but voluntarily evacuated it in order to spare the inhabitants needless suffering.
During the Japanese invasion of Jehol, Feng Chan-hai took part in the operations, but was forced to retire when the Rehe (Jehol) Defense collapsed. Then he served under General Chang Hsueh-liang.