||The Tonfa is the third weapon introduced
in the Ryukyu Kobujutsu syllabus and is always received well
by students who have found the weighted Sai a task in usage.
It is a return to the wood and the feeling of open flow and
The weapon has been made famous by the police batons designed on
the same style and used albeit in a rather basic fashion by many
police around the world. Whilst this reflects the effectiveness
of the design it has in some ways diminished the full potential
of the weapon as the police usage is restricted and very basic.
There is in principal only one kind of Tonfa although the shaft
varies in shape from round to rectangular with widening and narrowing
designs. History has also shown the butt ends in some countries
to be pointed but this is extremely rare to see today.
|Tonfa Tsukai Kata Requires
Click on the play buttons to view a clip of Tonfa Tsukai Kata.
The weapon is used in pairs and is of wood, again red oak
or white oak preferably in keeping with the Bo. The length
of the weapon is also in keeping with the same requirements
as the Sai, about three centimetres past the elbow when gripped.
| The weight like the Bo is paramount
to the efficient usage of the weapon. Too light and it lacks
power in Kumite, too heavy and the techniques lack speed and
||Again like the Sai there are three grips,
Honte-Mochi (Natural), Gyakute-Mochi (Reverse) and Tokushu-Mochi
(Special grip). The latter is not commonly used but is very
effective and relates strongly to the techniques of Kama. The
usage is prevalent in the kata "Yaraguwa"
Kumite is undertaken against the Bo and the ability to block and
strike simultaneously is important. The gap between block and counter
must be kept to a minimum and Tonfa is the perfect weapon to learn
this. Merely rotating to look impressive does not represent the
ability and understanding of combat.
Continuous kumite (Renzoku) provides the perfect environment for
the Tonfa to be used with a sense of freedom whilst testing the
highest levels of control. This must be explored to understand the
true merits of this weapon. The line between the art and the reality
must be studied well.
Tonfa is the practise of Uraken(back fist) and Hiji waza (elbow
techniques) in open hand fighting. 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.
Although there are stories of Rice millstone grinding implements
and horses bridles etc. as being the origins of this weapon, these
are merely coincidental in my opinion. The weapons origins can clearly
be traced back to China and be found in Indonesia and surrounding