What Is a Tonfa?


The Tonfa is a fighting stick invented by Japanese farmers around A.D. 1200. Originally fashioned from the handle of a grinding stone for wheat, the Tonfa consists of an 18-inch-long rounded stick with a handgrip set at a right angle several inches from one end. Usually used in pairs, the original Tonfas let the unarmed working class defend themselves against abuses by the armed noble class.

Using a Tonfa

  • When holding a Tonfa by its handgrip, the long part of the tool lies along the bottom of the forearm, protecting it when blocking against a blow. You can easily swing the main long arm of the Tonfa out to the side to jab an opponent. Traditional Tonfas use red oak rods that fit into one another in peg fashion. Some modern varieties use aluminum to make the weapon lighter and stronger, as well as a ratcheting handle to increase the speed of the Tonfa's swing.

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  • Photo Credit Milenko Bokan/iStock/Getty Images
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