Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The tonfa is an Okinawan martial arts weapon from which the modern side-handled police baton is derived. Folklore says these were originally used as wooden handles that fit into the side of millstones, or as horse bridles, and were later developed into weapons when peasants were banned from using more traditional weaponry. Other sources say they have a richer history extending back into Chinese martial arts, and appearing in Indonesian cultures.
The tonfa traditionally consists of two parts, a handle with a knob, and at 90 degrees to the handle, a shaft or board that lies along the hand and forearm. The shaft is usually 51-61 centimeters (20-24 inches) in length, and optimally extends about 3 cm past the elbow when held. Often the shaft has rounded off ends which may be grooved for a better grip.
There are numerous ways to defend and attack with the tonfa. Defensively, when holding the handle, the shaft protects the forearm and hand from blows, and the knob can protect from blows to the thumb. By holding both ends of the shaft, it can ward off blows. When holding the shaft, the handle can function as a hook to catch blows or weapons.
In attack, the shaft can be swung out to strike the target. By holding the handle and twirling the tonfa it can gain large amounts of momentum before striking. The knob can be used as a striking surface, either when held by the handle, or when holding the shaft, using it as a club. The shaft can also be maneuvered to stab at attackers. By holding the shaft and handle together, the tonfa can be used for holding or breaking techniques.
The tonfa is traditionally wielded in pairs, one in each hand, unlike the police nightstick which is a single-hand weapon.
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