The simple tonfa has a very interesting history. During the 17th Century the inhabitants of the island of Okinawa were banned by the invading Japanese government from carrying weapons such as swords and knives.
Adding to this problem to the people of Okinawa was the scarcity of workable metal in the Ryukyu Islands. These conditions and the need for personal protection gave rise to the development of the Martial Arts of Okinawa: Karate and Kobudo.
Like most Kobudo weapons the tonfa was originally used as a farm implement and was converted into a device of self defence from pure need. The tonfa was originally a wooden handle set into a hole on the side of a millstone. This handle was easily disengaged from the millstone to act as a defensive weapon. In this modern age tonfa are used employed by Martial Artists and widely utilised by modern law enforcement.
For the staged weapons fighter the tonfa is a creatively used and easy to find or even construct training tool.
The use of the tonfa will:
- Build up your reflexes and confidence
- Get you conditioned for the impact from other weapons
- Develop your timing and distance needed to fight
- Strengthen your combat techniques, blocks and stances
- Develop your coordination to defend from all angles and with both hands
- Enhance you trust & relationships with your training partners
Some Major Considerations:
- Practise, practise, practise
- Start slow and simple, then build the speed and complexity up over time
- Don’t be over excited and get carried away with force
- Remember you are learning defence. Unless you and your partner are incredibly advanced in the use of the tonfa and have a mutual agreement do not strike back!
- Never try to hurt your opponent
- Never train whilst intoxicated, drugged or in a bad mood.
- If you are injured in any way, stop immediately and assess the damage.
- If your opponent accidentally hits you do not take it personally and never try to get revenge!
- Keep your tonfa well maintained.
Sparring : Sparring with the tonfa can be done against a multitude of different weapons. These can include swords, staffs, spears, knives and really any weapon you can think of. I would not recommend practising against steel or edged weapons though.
Sparring against these will lessen the life of your tonfa and also increase the likelihood of any accidental injury being much worse than it could have been. Experienced Martial Artists should be able to easily adapt their own style’s blocks and forms to match the ability of the Tonfa. You will be amazed at how your Martial training will benefit from this form of sparring.Related Information: