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Tonfa are a martial arts weapon for self defense and martial arts training whether for competitions or attack prevention.
The poor people of Okinawa were forbidden to own or carry weapons like swords, but they were often attacked by others who did have such weapons. And so an exploration of self-defence techniques with new hidden weapons for self-defense began. The Tonfa is a martial arts fighting stick from the kobudo discipline which is the Okinawan art of fighting with weapons made or taken from everyday objects.
The tonfa was originally a wooden handle that fitted into a hole on the side of a millstone used to grind rice and other grains, which dated back to 15th century Okinawa. The handle, which was easily disengaged from the millstone, became a very effective weapon of defense. There is also research that indicates that the weapons origins can be traced back to China, Indonesia and surrounding locations.
The Tonfa consisting of two billets made of hardwood and the long handle is set about 15cm from one end of each billet. The length of the weapon is also the same dimensions as the Sai, about three centimetres past the elbow when gripped. The weapon is used in pairs and is usually of wood, again red oak or white. The weight is very important to the efficient usage of the weapon, if its too light and it lacks power in Kumite, too heavy and the techniques lack speed.
The Tonfa’s circular movements as a farm implement evolved into its rotating strikes as a dangeous weapon. It can be used to block or parry another weapon and can also be spun in a circular motion to thrust or strike attack. Good body movement like the Sai can make this weapon formidable, combining the speed it needs and generates along with the skilful footwork for evasion and attack.
By spinning the tonfa around the short handle, a great tremendous striking force may be generated. By using the long portion in conjunction with the short handle, the tonfa may be used for arm locks or to control an opponent. When held by the handle and flipped with speed and power, the tonfa has the same deadly potential as a baseball bat or a club, however it moves faster, and is easier to control.
No other weapon short of a sword can penetrate your blocks when you correctly use the tonfa to reinforce them. A nunchaku, knife, bat, or bo will bounce off the strong tonfa. The tonfa is a truly remarkable weapon and it has the advantages of a baseball bat, a club, a hammer, a blunt axe, and body’ armor. When the tonfa is held down the forearm, the arm is reinforced with three inches of rock-hard wood. Two tonfa were often used simultaneously, and were very efficient against armed assailants. The side of the tonfa was used for blocking, and the ends for direct punches. Continued practice with the tonfa can help improve balance, coordination and physical strength.
When held at its top using the handle as a bludgeon, the tonfa has the power of an axe or hammer. With two tonfa you can stop the attacks of several men armed with other weapons.Tonfa is the practise of back fist and elbow techniques in open hand fighting.
Training with the tonfa should be only done with a qualified instructor as they are a dangerous weapon.