Tonfa

Last updated

A pair of tonfa Tonfas.jpg
A pair of tonfa
A pair of tonfa with a rounded body throughout. Practicante tonfas.JPG
A pair of tonfa with a rounded body throughout.

The tonfa (Okinawan: トンファーtonfā, Chinese :; pinyin :guǎi lit. old man's staff / "crutch"), also spelled as tongfa or tuifa, also known as T-baton [1] is a melee weapon with its origins in the armed component of Okinawan martial arts. It consists of a stick with a perpendicular handle attached a third of the way down the length of the stick, and is about 15–20 inches (380–510 mm) long. [2] It was traditionally made from red or white oak, and wielded in pairs. [3] The tonfa is believed to have originated in either China, Okinawa or Southeast Asia, where it is used in the respective fighting styles.

Contents

History

Traditional origin story

The tonfa belongs to a group of ancient weapons called kobudo weapons. When the Ryukyu islands were independent from Japan, Ryukyuans used the tonfa against the Japanese samurai. [4] The Japanese confiscated the weapons of the Ryukyuans, who developed clever ways to defend themselves using everyday objects. The millstone handle evolved into the tonfa. The tonfa along with the other kobudo weapons were working tools that were used in farming and fishing in ancient Okinawa. The tonfa was used as the handle of a millstone tool to prepare grains. [5]

Regional variants

Martial artists of the Khmer Empire wield arm shields at the forearm similar to tonfa in this bas-relief at Cambodia's 12th/13th century Bayon temple Scene de combat (bas-relief du Bayon) (2334494617).jpg
Martial artists of the Khmer Empire wield arm shields at the forearm similar to tonfa in this bas-relief at Cambodia's 12th/13th century Bayon temple

Although the tonfa is most commonly associated with the Okinawan martial arts, its origin is heavily debated. One of the most commonly cited origins is China, although origins from Indonesia to Okinawa are also possible. [6] [7] [8] Although modern martial artists often cite that the tonfa derives from a millstone handle used by peasants, [3] martial arts in Okinawa were historically practised by the upper classes who imported martial arts from China and elsewhere, and it is likely that the weapon was imported from outside Okinawa. The Chinese and Malay words for the weapon (guai and topang respectively) literally mean "crutch", which may suggest the weapon originating from such device. In Cambodia and Thailand, a similar weapon is used consisting of a pair of short clubs tied onto the forearms, known in Thai as mai sok and in Khmer as staupe. In Thailand and Malaysia, the mai sok often has a similar design to the tonfa, with a perpendicular handle rather than being tied on. [3] [6] In Vietnam, a similar weapon called the song xỉ is made of a pair of steel or aluminum bars. The song xỉ is used as a small shield to protect the forearms and has a sharp tip at the end to attack. [9]

A pair of Cambodian "tonfa" or staupe which is an arm shield with a pointed edge Staupe5.jpg
A pair of Cambodian "tonfa" or staupe which is an arm shield with a pointed edge

Types of tonfa

There are different versions of the Okinawa tonfa but the basic design is the same. The small grip is at one end of the tonfa. The main body of the tonfa is where there are variations. The most popular form of tonfa has rounded sides and a rounded bottom which makes a semicircle. The square tonfa has rectangular faces on the main body of the weapon. A paddle-shape tonfa has the bottom half wider than the front half and looks like a paddle. Another tonfa has a rounded body throughout. A crude pointed tonfa has the front heads and back heads ending in a pointed design. This can be used for stabbing defense. [10]

Usage

The tonfa can be used for blocking and striking. [10] The tonfa measures about three centimeters past the elbow when gripped. [8] There are three grips, honte-mochi (natural), gyakute-mochi (reverse) and tokushu-mochi (special). The natural grip places the handle in the hand with the long arm resting along the bottom of the forearm. This grip provides protection or brace along one's forearms, and also provides reinforcement for backfist, elbow strikes, and punches. In use, the tonfa can swing out to the gyakute grip for a strike or thrust. Martial artists may also flip the tonfa and grab it by the shaft, called tokushu-mochi. This allows use of the handle as a hook in combat, similar to the kama (sickle). [7] [8] This grip is uncommon but is used in the kata Yaraguwa. [8]

Blocking techniques involve a sidestepping maneuver. This allows the block to stop the attack while providing a way to gain entry. The block can be used to block high attack and low attacks. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Nunchaku</i> Traditional East Asian weapon

The nunchaku, "nunchucks", "chainsticks", or "chuka sticks" in English), is a traditional East-Asian martial arts weapon consisting of two sticks, connected to each other at their ends by a short metal chain or a rope. It is approximately 30 cm (12") (sticks) and 1 inch (rope). A person who has practiced using this weapon is referred to in Japanese as nunchakuka.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gōjū-ryū</span> Style of karate

Gōjū-ryū (剛柔流), Japanese for "hard-soft style", is one of the main traditional Okinawan styles of karate, featuring a combination of hard and soft techniques. Both principles, hard and soft, come from the famous martial arts book used by Okinawan masters during the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bubishi. , which means hard, refers to closed hand techniques or straight linear attacks; , which means soft, refers to open hand techniques and circular movements. Gōjū-ryū incorporates both circular and linear movements into its curriculum, combining hard striking attacks such as kicks and close hand punches with softer open hand circular techniques for attacking, blocking, and controlling the opponent, including joint locks, grappling, takedowns, and throws.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Uechi-Ryū</span> Style of karate

Uechi-Ryū is a traditional style of Okinawan karate. Uechi-Ryū means "Style of Uechi" or "School of Uechi". Originally called Pangai-noon, which translates to English as "half-hard, half-soft", the style was renamed Uechi-Ryū after the founder of the style, Kanbun Uechi, an Okinawan who went to Fuzhou in Fujian Province, China to study martial arts and Chinese medicine when he was 19 years old.

<i>Bō</i> East Asian staff weapon

A , pong (Korean), pang (Cantonese), bang (Mandarin), or kun (Okinawan) is a staff weapon used in Okinawa. are typically around 1.8 m (71 in) long and used in Okinawan martial arts, while being adopted into Japanese arts such particular bōjutsu. Other staff-related weapons are the , which is 1.2 m (47 in) long, and the hanbō, which is 90 cm (35 in) long.

Isshin-Ryū is a style of Okinawan karate founded by Tatsuo Shimabuku in 1945, and first brought into the United States in 1954. Isshin-Ryū karate is largely a synthesis of Shorin-ryū karate, Gojū-ryū karate, and kobudō. The name means, literally, "one heart method". In 1989 there were 336 branches of Isshin-ryū throughout the world, most of which were concentrated in the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shōrin-ryū</span> Style of karate

Shōrin-ryū (少林流) is one of the major modern Okinawan martial arts and is one of the oldest styles of karate. It was named by Choshin Chibana in 1933, but the system itself is much older. The characters 少林, meaning "sparse" or "scanty" and "forest" respectively and pronounced "shōrin" in Japanese, are also used in the Chinese and Japanese words for Shaolin. "Ryū" means "school". Shōrin-ryū combines elements of the traditional Okinawan fighting styles of Shuri-te.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shōrei-ryū</span> Style of karate

Shōrei-ryū is a style of Okinawan karate and is one of the two oldest karate styles, alongside Shōrin-ryū. It was developed at the end of the 19th century by Higaonna Kanryō in Naha, Okinawa.

<i>Sai</i> (weapon) East-Asian melee weapon

The sai is a melee weapon used for stabbing, striking and disarming opponents. It came to international attention through Okinawan kobudō, elements of which spread to Japan, then to the wider world, when Karate became popular in the mid 20th Century. The basic form of the weapon is that of a pointed metal prong with two shorter metal side prongs (yoku) projecting from the handle (tsuka).

<i>Tanbō</i>

The tanbō is a short staff weapon used in Okinawa and feudal Japan. Today the tanbō is used by various martial arts schools.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ryū-te</span> Martial arts

Ryu-te is an Okinawan martial art founded by the late Seiyu Oyata (1928–2012). The word Ryū-te is a shortened form of Ryūkyūte. Ryukyu is the original name of Okinawa prior to it becoming part of Japan. Before 1995, Oyata referred to his style as Ryukyu Kempo (琉球拳法), but eventually renamed it "Ryu-te" as Ryukyu Kempo was a reference to all styles originating in Okinawa rather than to any one particular style. Ryu-te emphasizes effective self-defense while deliberately minimizing the harm to the opponent. Its practitioners consider Ryu-te neither a sport nor a form of exercise, but rather a method of training the body and mind for the betterment of mankind.

Higa Peechin (1790–1870), often called Machuu Hijaa is a semi-legendary martial artist in Ryūkyūan history who was a direct influence on the development of karate and kobudo, especially with respect to bōjutsu. Pechin is social class of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. A resident of the island of Hama Higa, he was perhaps a student of the Chinese emissaries Zhang Xue Li and later Wanshu, who would have taught him techniques of quan fa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Okinawan kobudō</span> Weapons systems of Okinawan martial arts

Okinawan Kobudō (沖縄古武道), literally "old martial way of Okinawa", is the weapon systems of Okinawan martial arts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Age-uke</span>

Age-uke (上げ受け), which translates to "rising block", or "upward block" is the Japanese term for a technique used in martial arts. There numerous variations in how the technique might be executed, and nothing implicit in the term itself restricts its use to unarmed techniques. It is commonly used with regards to the Karate technique that goes by that name, but can also refer to similar techniques in Kobudo.

<i>Tekkō</i> Japanese weaponized stirrups and horseshoes

The tekkō, are weaponized stirrups and horseshoes which originated in Okinawa, Japan, and they fall into the category of "fist-load weapons". By definition, a fist-load weapon increases the mass of the hand so that, given the physical proportionality between the fist's momentum and its mass, it increases the force the bearer can deliver. Some fist-load weapons may also serve, in the same manner, as the guard on a sword, to protect the structure of the bearer's hand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Okinawan martial arts</span> Okinawan martial arts

Okinawan martial arts refers to the martial arts, such as karate, tegumi and kobudō, which originated among the indigenous people of Okinawa Island. Due to its central location, Okinawa was influenced by various cultures with a long history of trade and cultural exchange, including Japan, China and Southeast Asia, that greatly influenced the development of martial arts on Okinawa.

Matayoshi Kobudo is a general term referring to the style of Okinawan Kobudo that was developed by Matayoshi Shinpo (又吉眞豊) and Matayoshi Shinko (又吉眞光) during the twentieth century. Martial arts have been practiced by the Matayoshi family for over nine generations and draw influence from Japanese, Chinese and indigenous Okinawan martial arts styles.

Ryukyu Kobudo is the branch of Okinawan Kobudo developed and systemized by Taira Shinken under the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai association.

<i>Motobu-ryū</i> School of karate in Japan

Motobu-ryū (本部流) is a karate school founded in 1922 by Motobu Chōki from Okinawa. Its official name is Nihon Denryū Heihō Motobu Kenpō, or Motobu Kenpō for short. Motobu-ryū has the characteristics of koryū karate, the martial art known as or tōdī, which predates the birth of modern karate, and emphasizes kumite rather than kata.

Shinpo Matayoshi was a martial artist who lived in Naha, Okinawa, during the 20th century.

The Zen Okinawa Kobudo Renmei (全沖縄古武道道連盟) is a martial arts organisation that began in Okinawa in 1972, and promotes the martial arts of two experts, father Matayoshi Shinko and son Matayoshi Shinpo.

References

  1. "Rare Kung Fu Weapons | Specialty Weapons".
  2. "Weapons – Tonfa". Lyon Karate. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 "Tonfa history". Tonfa.org. Archived from the original on 14 June 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  4. Randal, J. (1994, June). Tricky Tonfa Techniques. Black Belt, 100-106.
  5. 1 2 Yamashita, T. (1987). Advanced Tonfa: Japanese Weapon of Self-defense. Spain: Black Belt Communications, Incorporated.
  6. 1 2 David (11 February 2009). "A Brief History of the Tonfa". japanesejujitsu.org. Archived from the original on 15 January 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  7. 1 2 "History". cs.canisius.edu. Archived from the original on 14 May 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  8. 1 2 3 4 "Tonfa". RKAGB. 4 June 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  9. Nghia, S. (2017, February 19). song xỉ - binh khí nhà Tây Sơn. Vietnam Pictorial. Retrieved January 17, 2022, from https://vietnam.vnanet.vn/vietnamese/song-xi---binh-khi-nha-tay-son/274089.html
  10. 1 2 Demura, Fumio (1982). Tonfa, karate weapon of self-defense. Burbank, Calif.: Ohara Publications. ISBN   0897500806.

Further reading