Tonfa Buying Guide
Tonfa are traditional weapons associated with Okinawan martial arts. Tonfas are usually used in pairs for both defensive blocks and striking in offense. Although simple in appearance, the tonfa can take years of hard practice to master. The type of tonfa you should purchase depends on your stature and what you will be using them for.
Construction and Materials
The tonfa is a straight forward design consisting of a long shaft with a handle attached perpendicular around a third of the way down the length of the weapon.
The long stick is the "body" and is used as a type of truncheon, the hand is the "grip" and the the short part of the stick which protrudes above the handle is the "head".
Tonfa were traditionally made from hard wood such as Oak or Ash. These are robust, strong and feel great in the hand. They are unforgiving if you accidentally hit yourself however.
Nowadays we have more varieties of tonfa available to suit different usages.
Training tonfa - usually made with a PVC core with an outer foam wrapping. These are less robust than wood but great for the inexperienced user. They are less likely to injure themselves or others when practising with foam tonfa.
Competition Tonfa - usually have a superior weighting, balance and grip. They are more expensive and designed to be used by experts in competition.
Display Tonfa - These feature ornate designs, exotic woods, or painted features. These are best used for kata practice where they add flair to a performance, but are not going to be damaged by striking another weapon.
Choosing the Right Size Tonfa
Training (Practice) Tonfa are usually all of a similar size (around 51cm or 20")
Other types of tonfa are available in a wide range of lengths, styles, and grip types.
To ensure that the tonfa is comfortable, easy to control, and fully protects the arm, it is important to purchase the correct size of tonfa.
For the correct size grip you should measure the width of your knuckles and choose a grip which is this size or slightly larger. It is better to go for a slightly larger grip than one that is too small.
To select the correct body length, simply measure distance from your hand to the elbow. The body of the tonfa should not extend beyond your elbow by more than 1 inch.