Tonfa history



Tonfa girl kicking

Tonfa History and the origin of the Tonfa.


As with most martial arts weapons the true origin of the Tonfa is debateable.

The Tonfa is generally considered as an Okinawan martial arts weapon. However, exactly where the origin of the Tonfa comes from is not certain, but the expert s believe it originated from somewhere within either China or possibly Indonesia.

These Chinese and Southern Asian martial arts both used this form of weapon and it is thought that it was brought to the Japanese island of Okinawa through their initial influences.

The Chinese, however, believe that the Tonfa was a development and also a adaptation of the crutch and were brought about by the restrictions placed on the use of weapons during the reign of the ruler ShoShin in order to to stabilise the country after a long and bitter period of civil wars.

These restrictions brought about the development of some very unconventional weapons developed from various farming and agricultural tools. It is said the Tonfa was the development of a wooden handle from a millstone, which was a common tool at the time.

This is the considered opinion as to the origin of the Tonfa and is probably quite true given the evidence we have today on this weapon.

In modern times the Tonfa itself is considered to be  the basis for the PR-24 side handle police baton, which is used by police forces the world over. However, the police combat application is considered different as it is more for crowd control rather than a weapon as such.


The Tonfa has always been traditionally made from red oak wood and always made in pairs for use as a double handed weapon of self defence.

Although primarily used for self defence the Tonfa makes a formidable offensive attacking weapon.



Once mastered this very versatile martial arts weapon  lends itself to a series of many different attacking combinations that will render an opponent quite useless with just a single blow.

There is also know to be a similar weapon called the mai sun sawk and is used in krabi krabong, itself an ancient martial art. Without doubt there are similarities between the two weapons and the Mai Sun Sawk could very easily of been the predecessor the Tonfa itself.

Effectively a Tonfa is a stick with a handle, which, over the centuries, has been turned into a formidable martial arts weapon. In my informational you can find out additional information about this martial arts weapon including Tonfa techniques and training methods.

The Tonfa is also know by various other names:

  • Tonfa

  • Tonfa sticks

  • Tonfa baton

  • Tonfa sword

  • Tonfa lightsaber