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Weapon type: Percussion weapon
Designations: Tongwa, Tonkwa, Tunfa, Tuifu, Tuifa
Use: Weapon, traditional weapon
Working time: til today
Distribution: Japan , Okinawa , today worldwide
Overall length: approx. 50 cm
Handle: Metal, wood, hard rubber. Approx. 15 cm long.
Particularities: Today the tonfa is used as a baton for many police units.
Lists on the subject

The tonfa ( Ryūkyū ト ン フ ァ ー , Tonfā ) is a baton with a characteristic cross handle with a wide range of uses. The tonfa is used in martial arts , martial arts such as Kobudo , Ju-Jutsu and self-defense . Various police units use the tonfa as a weapon .


The Tonfa as a weapon used by the Austrian police.
Schematic representation of a tonfa baton

The exact origin of the Tonfa (also called Tongwa / Tonkwa , Tunfa , Tuifu or Tuifa ) can no longer be traced; However, there are texts and pictures that prove that it used to be a crank on millstones. The handle or the long part of the clay barrel was inserted into an opening on the side of the millstone so that part of the clay barrel stood up and with the help of which the millstone could be turned. Since a heavy millstone would hardly be able to be moved with the current shape of the Tonfas, a larger grip piece may have been used because of the greater lever power.

Initially developed as a tool, this crank could also serve as a well-camouflaged weapon. It is assumed that the tonfa was originally used as a weapon in China ( Chinese   , Pinyin Guǎi , W.-G. Kuai  - "crutch") and was also used in many other Asian countries. However, contrary to many assumptions, both the original use and the subsequent development are not of Okinawan origin. There are different approaches to explaining how the tonfa found its way into the Japanese martial arts. One reason for the more widespread use as a weapon is likely to be found in the ban on carrying swords outside the samurai caste, similar to other Okinawa peasant weapons (such as sai , kama , nunchaku , etc.). In order to be able to defend against any kind of attack, a wide variety of field devices have been repurposed and repurposed. However, the use of these weapons was also practiced in the upper classes of Okinawa.

Today the Tonfa is better known as a baton or multi-purpose baton (MES), multi-purpose baton (EMS) or multi-purpose rescue baton (RMS), a police weapon and from numerous films. However, these new forms have little in common with the original weapon and especially with the traditional application, in which the tonfa was basically used in pairs. A traditional type of application can still be found in the various schools of Kobudo.


The forearm wood in the modern tonfa is usually 50 cm long, in the traditional 1–2 cm longer than the forearm. The handle wedged on it is about 15 cm long. It was originally made of wood, but is now also made from other materials, such as B. made of hard rubber or PVC . Most of the time, the handle and the grip of the forearm wood are also provided with a knob and grooves to prevent the weapon from being pulled out or dropped.


There are many different ways to practice the tonfa. In the most famous one, you put your fist around the handle, so the forearm wood protects the forearm. Fast twisting movements from the wrist are possible here. The original tonfa was used as a pair weapon with the aim of blocking the opponent's blow (1st tonfa) and then inflicting an injury on him (2nd tonfa).

Furthermore, you can grab the tonfa below the cross handle, so the cross handle protects the hand and you can use the long side like a short stick. If you grab the tonfa at the long end, you can use it like a war hammer or a tomahawk .

Areas of application



The Tonfa as a weapon used by the German police

Tonfa - police internal designation "MES heavy" (purpose stick, heavy) - is one of the most important weapons of the federal police and riot police of the states and for the protection of the police officers in arrests of violent or as a means of direct force used mostly by members of the riot police, In the patrol service of the state police , its use is significantly less common with very few exceptions, here the police officers are equipped with an official version of a telescopic baton in the majority of cases .

In addition, the multi-purpose baton can also be used to break windows, for example.


The Tonfa has also been used as a baton in the Bundeswehr for some time. However, this weapon (referred to as multi-purpose rescue stick or short RMS) is solely the military police ( military police ) reserved. The RMS is used as an "aid to physical violence" and thus represents a means of deployment below the threshold of firearms use. German military police have to practice their skills in handling the tonfa every year in the course of training.

Legal situation

According to Section 42a of the Weapons Act , carrying Tonfas is fundamentally prohibited in Germany (Appendix 1 to Section 42a, Paragraph 1, Subsection 2: "1.1 Cutting and thrusting weapons (objects which, by their very nature, are intended to be cut using muscle power directly , Impact, stab, punch or throw injuries) "). Exceptions to this rule are the use for photo, film or television recordings, theater performances, transport in a locked container or carrying in the context of a legitimate interest, for example in connection with the practice of a profession, the cultivation of customs, sport or a generally recognized one Purpose is given.


Web links

Commons : Tonfas  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Gerhard Schönberger: Kobudo: traditional weapon art from the Far East. DEE-Verlag, 1992, ISBN 3-927884-24-3 .
  2. Peter Crepon: Classic Tonfajutsu. BSK Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-00-015757-3 .
  3. Archive link ( Memento from June 28, 2011 in the Internet Archive )