Bagua  Mysterious Weapon Seven Star Staff
by Zang Xuefan

Editorís Note:  Seven Star Staff is a special weapon of the Baguazhang School.  There are not many who are skilled in it and those that can do all three lines are very few.  In his early years, Zang Xuefan  received instruction from Wang Qichang, who was a student of the famous Baguazhang Master Guo Gumin.  Therefore he also received the fine points of Guo Gumin and Li Ziming.  At that time he wrote down the complete principles of the three routines of the Seven Star Staff that Guo and Li had given to him.
 
 

The Seven Star Staff is one of the special weapons of Baguazhang.  According to tradition, the founder of Baguazhang, Dong Haichuan, unexpectedly saw a snakeís movements and  created this staff.

The Seven Star Staff is made using Sichuan "bitter bamboo" (golden bamboo).  Because this type of bitter bamboo has a very small empty center space, bordering on having a solid center, it is called "solid bamboo".  Select a thickness of 2.33 cm of bitter bamboo seven joints.  Each joint is  23.3 cm long, making the whole thing 163 cm long (4 ft. 9 in.). Use wire needle to pass through it so that the center  can be filled with  350 grams (7 oz.) of mercury. Therefore it is called the Seven Star Staff.   Another account of Dong Haichuan goes, "It is long not accustomed to short, is double not accustomed to single, however one inch small, one inch skill; one cm light, one cm agile. This staff moreover is like that, small and agile, and its agile skill can be understood.  Students if they can play with it, it will ensure the hands and feet coordinating, the body and waist  coordinating, the whole body and the eyes coordinating, the eyes and the mind coordinating. The hands arrive, the staff arrives, and the steps arrive.  Understanding these three arrivals and four coordinations is why it is called Seven Stars Staff."   The three arrivals and the four coordinations are the seven stars.

Use bitter bamboo to make the Seven Stars Staff. You need not rigidly  adhere to the seven joint formula, each joint being seven inches and filled with seven ounces of mercury.  You can make the length to suit you. Choose bamboo with enough joints be substantial. The amount of mercury used should be enough to cause it to feel good in your hands.

Fill it with mercury to complete the Seven Star Staff. It was already light and agile. Now it is hard and strong. It perfectly fits the hands. The flowing action of the mercury must be good. It is used in striking the enemy.  The mercury flows to the end of the staff causing the strike to have the strength of 10 pounds.  It strikes the outside, but wounds the inside. The pain is enormous. Strike  lightly and you wound the bones.  A heavy strike then stops the channels. There is no other staff like this one.

Dong Haichuan composed a poem praising this staff: "Do not say that because it is light and short that it cannot be a weapon. Light and agile are incomparable like an immortal's footprints.  Up and down, front and back, even the gods cannot fathom it. Strike lightly to wound the bones, strike heavily to stop the channels."  He also said, " The Seven Star staff, how it is like a long snake. The hand grasps the middle and the head and tail escape. Strike the head and the tail moves and the hand also moves. Strike the body and the head and tail both move."

The Seven Star Staff major function is to strike acupuncture points and attack the enemyís bodyís weaker joints. Therefore a cultivated moral character is required before being taught. It is usually only taught in the family.  Dong Haichuan first only taught this staff method to his first student, Yin Fu.  Later, Yin Fu taught it to his first student, Zeng Qi (Zeng Shangsan).  Zeng Qi became friends with Guo Gumin. He taught the staff method to Guo and Li Ziming, who were the first to teach it widely. Today, in Beijing few people study it and most only know two lines. Those that know all three lines are fewer and fewer.

According to tradition, Dong Haichuan created four lines of Seven Star Staff. It is not known why he did not teach the last line.

The characteristics of the Seven Star Staff are:  the construction is tight knit, the substance is rich, it has both form and spirit, empty and full must be understood, the movements  are graceful, the nature of the strikes is strong.  Its functional methods include: striking, scooping, splitting, jabbing, dotting, flicking, sweeping, parting, sticking, tossing and sliding.

The requirements for practicing Seven Star Staff are:  " The hands and feet movements are unified. The staff must follow the waist. When changing the grip, the palms face each other. The turning body and staff mutually chase each other.  Vertical managing horizontal becomes horizontal managing vertical. The diagonal staff strike coming must get power.  Very much avoid the single hand grasping the end of the staff, still more avoid both hands  waving together. Praise the 48 characters.  When practicing you must not be away from them. If you are away from them, then the techniques wonít be exact.  When changing, if you are not agile, you will suffer loss."

Master Dong Haichuan suddenly saw the movements of a snake and created the Seven Star Staff. It has points bordering on  myth.  According to tradition:  When Dong Haichuan was in the Qing Dynasty Palace, he did not use the long staff to  fight men but used thee flowing mercury in a bamboo staff.