Broken Structures In BaZi: ‘Po Ge’ (破格)

September 15, 2023

Everyone has been on my blog long enough to know there’s an apparent dichotomy in the quality and balance of BaZi charts. It’s why some people are high-functioning, whereas others aren’t and can barely get their act together.

A key step in BaZi analysis is identifying the “Useful God” (用神) for the BaZi chart. Get this step wrong, and the entire chart analysis will also be wrong. What the “Useful God” is or isn’t will change the meaning of all the elements, as well as the “Ten Gods” (十神).

When we’ve identified the Useful God, we want it to be strong and undisturbed. This is the most critical element that’s supposed to balance the chart, so naturally, we’ll want it to be strong. All high-quality BaZi charts will have this trait.

There are situations when the Useful God is not just weak but being harmed as well. In Chinese terms, we call it 破格 (pò gé) or the chart having a “Broken Structure”. Imagine the Useful God being the lynchpin or foundation for the chart: if the lynchpin is removed, everything collapses.

A “Broken Structure” is perhaps the most unfortunate trait to have in one’s BaZi chart, and the fact that one has a “Broken Structure” also means the definition of the “Useful God” now needs to change. The true Useful God will now be the one that protects the original Useful God. Identifying Broken Structures doesn’t require you to memorise any of the names of the structures because they are simply the interplay between the elements and Ten Gods. Understand the 5 Elements & Ten Gods well enough, and you’ll easily identify a broken structure.

This technical post introduces some of the more common Broken Structures in BaZi.

7-Killings/Qi-Sha Overpowering One’s Daymaster

One of the most easily interpretable broken structures is 7-Killings overpowering one’s Daymaster. We call it 七杀攻身, directly translating to meaning “7-Killings harming the body”. ‘Qi-Sha’, or 七杀 in Chinese, refers to the element that controls (克) your Daymaster and shares the same polarity. 7-Killings are only a problem when a Daymaster is weak. Statistically, most charts’ Daymasters are considered weak, so this is a very common issue in people’s charts.

It’s not so much a matter of one’s Useful God being harmed but more of one’s Daymaster being utterly exposed and unprotected. 7-Killings can manifest as enemies, stress, and sickness. A strong Daymaster is not worried about 7-Killings.

When 7-Killings appears in a weak Daymaster chart, we want a few things to happen:

  • 7-Killings must be ‘converted’ using Resource. We call this 印绶化煞。
  • 7-Killings must be ‘converted’ using Output. We call this 食伤制煞。
  • 7-Killings must be ‘absorbed’ using a Stem. We call this 劫财合杀。

The above are three ways that 7-Killings can be remedied such that it doesn’t harm a weak Daymaster. Following this logic, a broken structure can also mean the above three attributes are negated or rendered useless. Let’s explore further.

Wealth Clashing With Resource: 贪财坏印

In charts where the Resource ‘god’ acts as the Useful God, encountering the Wealth Element would be the biggest taboo. Basic BaZi theory tells you that the Wealth Element ‘controls’ the Resource Element. The technical term for this in Chinese is called 「贪财坏印」, and it describes a dynamic whereby someone forgo their title and honour for the sake of money, which is why 「贪财」is used, meaning “greed for money”.

In a case where Resource is required to protect the Daymaster from a strong 7-Killings, encountering the Wealth Element is considered calamitous because the Wealth Element weakens Resource and strengthens 7-Killings. This is a classic example of a Broken Structure involving the Wealth Element (财) clashing with the Resource Element (印绶) and causing a collapse in the chart structure.

The same logic can be applied to the other two cases involving remedying 7-Killings.

Hurting Officer Clashing With Direct Officer

The case of Hurting Officer Clashing with Direct Officer is called 伤官见官 in Chinese.

This is a huge taboo when Direct Officer (正官) is a beneficial element and is supposed to play the role of the Useful God. A common manifestation of such a structure would be getting into trouble with the law or authority figures, which naturally stems from a character flaw or lack of moral compass. Direct Officer represents someone’s morality and restraint after all, so to have this ‘god’ being harmed means the chart-holder will be an antithesis of these traits.

If this broken structure appears in a female chart, it would be considered a Spouse Harming BaZi chart because Direct Officer represents the husband.

There are some special scenarios where Hurting Officer encountering Direct Officer is considered a few things, but these are exceptional scenarios.

Peer/Rob Wealth Clashing Direct/Indirect Wealth

The Wealth Element is welcomed when the Daymaster is strong because it means the chart-holder has enough life force, drive, and energy to pursue wealth instead of being burned by it.

Peer or Rob Wealth harming Wealth accurately is akin to the relentless and mindless pursuit of wealth, often getting people into trouble.

If a Daymaster is strong, we intuitively know the chart no longer needs to encounter Peer or Rob Wealth because these two ‘gods’ further strengthen one’s Daymaster. When Peer or Rob Wealth shows up as negative ‘gods’, they manifest as enemies, competitors, and the chart-holder holding a more self-centred approach to life.

Peer or Rob Wealth harming the Wealth element is considered more inauspicious than having a weak Daymaster and strong Wealth Element because the former often results in a more tumultuous life. In the case of male charts, it’s also considered very Spouse Harming because the Wealth element represents someone’s wife.

Indirect Resource Harming Eating God

This Broken Structure falls under the umbrella of Resource ‘gods’ harming Output ‘gods’, but special mention needs to go to Indirect Resource harming Eating God. It’s so special that I’ve dedicated a blog post to it before.

Indirect Resource harming Eating God is called 枭神夺食。枭神 (xiāo shén) is the negative term we use when Indirect Resource is negative in one’s chart, and 夺食 comes into the picture when Eating God is being harmed. 夺食 refers to “Eating God being taken away”.

Eating God is considered one of the four auspicious ‘gods’ in BaZi, with Direct Officer, Wealth, and Resource being the other three. To have a positively placed Eating God in your BaZi chart is a huge blessing. It represents abundance and the source of someone’s wealth, after all. If the Wealth Element happens to be a positive element in your chart, Eating God will take the chart quality up another level.

We definitely don’t want Eating God to come under harm, knowing all the positive things that Eating God can represent, which is why Indirect Resource Harming Eating God is probably one of the most feared Broken Structures in BaZi, right next two Hurting Officer harming Direct Officer.

At the end of the day, you’ll realise that a Broken Structure arises when the original Useful God of the chart can no longer be used. The priority now shifts to remedying the broken structure by alleviating the harm to the original Useful God.

As long as you have a good grasp of the basics, identifying a Broken Structure is not tricky, and you will be able to assess the quality of a BaZi chart accurately soon enough.

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