Basic Tonfa Techniques

 Basic Tonfa Techniques

For anyone who trains with weapons (Kobudo)  the tonfa is a weapon that can be used very creatively  and can produce results very quickly.


However, to become confident in its use takes a long time



Training with Tonfa will improve many areas:

  • 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



Important consideration whilst learning and training with Tonfa:

  • Regular training practice
  • Start with the simple techniques, then build your 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.
  • Choose Tonfa that are correct for you body size and shape

Basic training techniques:


The origin of Tonfa was for self defence and a major part of Tonfa training is to be proficient in all defensive blocking techniques – Both left handed and right handed. Always practice left and right handed techniques..

Always block away from from your body and ensure the strike is deflected away from your head and body into an area that will ‘open up’ your opponent and allow you to counter attack.

A relaxed grip will enable you to perform some of the striking techniques that require the Tonfa to be spun around for more force during an attacking manoeuvre. But dont grip too relaxed or too tight either.

Most poor blocking techniques come from having a ‘lazy’ grip.

Body position and stance are extremely important when performing all blocks and strikes with Tonfa. A poor body position will result in a weak defencive block and and even allow the strike to make contact.

The basic Tonfa stance is simular to that of a boxer but with the addition of the Tonfa..

Tonfa fighting stance


 Basic Tonfa defensive training techniques


Raised Front  Block:

Raise the Tonfa away from your head at an angle sloping down at approximately 45degrees. This sloping angle is very important and ensures any attacking weapon will be deflected the attack down and away from your body. If the angle it too horizontal you will have the full force of the strike directly onto the Tonfa and transmitted into your arm and body. If the angle if too vertical then any chance of your block being successful could fail. This block will be effective against any vertical, downward strike. 




Lower Side Block: 

The blocking arm is swept down the body line and protects the thigh and knee area. Your Tonfa can also be turned to use the long end which will block low shin level attacks. Either method  will defend against the low attacks and guard the legs. Low attacks are what many people have trouble with spotting and defending against.
Good body movement and speed recognising the type of attack are essential to making an effective block.







Inner & outer Forearm Block: 

 As the attacking strike is made the Tonfa is in the inner or outer guard position [shown here].

 From the guard position ensure the Tonfa is then angled [as in the raised front block]  in order to deflect the strike and not take the full impact on your arm.

 From here you can also defend against an overhead attack if needed.

yThe outer block has the added advantage of ‘opening up’ and exposing your opponents body ready for you to strike with a counter attack.






High & Low cross Block::

This cross block is not suitable for an attack that is made with force – instead it should be used more for trapping and manouvering the opponent. The cross block, however,  is a more advanced technique and requires a lot of practice to get your timing and accuracy right.

These type of Blocking techniques can also be used to defend against a vertical, overhead strike as well as a low strike.

The most important thing is your timing as both Tonfa have to be swung into position at the same time in order to ‘trap’ the incoming striking action

Body movement and final body position are very important in this technique in order to ensure you are able to move into the next st.

Whatever happens, be prepared to take a few hits when practicing these techniques in your training.


 Once you have mastered the techniques above and feel confident to be able to perform these both left and right handed and without having to think about each move..

. then its time to  start sparring.