Sanjugokajo-28 Sticking with a body of glue and lacquer – Feb 15, 2015, Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan

Sticking with a body of glue and lacquer is a figurative instruction for fighting at close quarters. If you are struggling at close quarters, you should stick to your opponent, as if you had a body of lacquer and glue, with your legs, with your hips and also with your face, so that there is no space between both.

If there are spaces between you, your opponent can apply various techniques. The rhythm of this sticking to your opponent is identical to holding down the pillow, namely it is to be carried out with a calm spirit.


If you think this sounds like the advice Musashi gave us in number 14, “surviving the critical moment” you would be correct. In that article Musashi is telling us how to survive a cut which we cannot avoid in any other way but to move through to a body-to-body position. In this case the advice is to use the same method of sticking to your opponent in an offensive way. He reminds us that we ought to re-examine article number 23, “holding down the pillow” to find the way to do this.

In that article we are told to react to our opponent and suppress his attacks in the very instant that he begins them, to hold down the head of the strike. If we do the same here, move body to body with the opponent, stay calm and use our sense of how he is trying to move to prevent that movement, we will frustrate our opponent so that he will eventually try to separate or try some other desparate measure. At this point we will be ready to strike into the gap that is created.

For kendoka of a certain size, tai atari is so effective that their sensei and judges tend to discourage it in them in favour of more standard and beautiful kendo. In the sort of fight Musashi is concerned with, one ought to use whatever advantages one can find.

It is as impossible to fight an opponent who is inside your hilt as it is to fight one who is 30 feet away, yet much damage can be done from the inside position. One can lean on, bump against, and otherwise tire the opponent out. One can also strike from this short distance, causing more direct damage.

Musashi warns that we must stick as close as laquer is stuck to a saya, if there is any space at all our opponent can maneuver and attack us. We must smother him completely, from head to toe and side to side. Later we are told to cover him with a square position, as wide as we can make ourselves, so that we cover his arms, legs, everything. We should also make ourselves tall so that we overlap everywhere.

This and the next three articles are related.

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