Fenghuang was raised in noble luxury as part of a wealthy family of Eurasian eagle-owls, who arranged her to be tutored in Kung Fu under Grand Master Oogway. Because Oogway all at once recognized special skills within the owl chick, he refined them in their mentoring sessions while taking her on as a student at the Jade Palace and a member of the original Furious Five - alongside Shifu, Junior Elephant, Rooster and Snow Leopard. But as she trained, however, Fenghuang gradually grew stronger until learning the Seven Impossible Moves of Kung Fu made her the most powerful of the Five, which throughout Kung Fu history was a position that led its holders into turning dark, twisted and evil.
By the time the young owl's change to evil was complete, she challenged her master to a duel, believing that she deserved to be the next master of the Jade Palace. But because the old tortoise already foresaw her downfall, he presented an inescapable owl-shaped cage to contain her with, but agreed to try and defeat her in battle in order to get her inside. After a long disastrous battle in which her fellow teammates were the audience, Fenghuang fell at Oogway's feet in exhaustion when realizing that she couldn't defeat her and fled from the Palace before she could be apprehended. A rumor eventually sparked that she had ever since been hiding up in the Northern Mountains, too afraid of Oogway being present if she returned.