There is in principal only one kind of Tonfa although the shaft varies in shape from round to rectangular. The Tonfa is length of hardwood from 15 to 20 inches long with a handle attached about 6 inches back from one end. History has also shown the butt ends to be pointed but this is extremely rare. Traditional use: Originally a bean or rice grinder, the tonfa's circular movements as a farm implement evolved into its rotating strikes as a weapon. The side of the tonfa was used for blocking, and the ends for direct punches.
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The weapon is used in pairs and is of wood, again red oak or white oak preferably in keeping with the Bo. The length of the weapon is also the same requirements as the Sai, about three centimetres past the elbow when gripped. The weight like the Bo is paramount to the efficient usage of the weapon. Too light and it lacks power in Kumite, too heavy and the techniques lack speed and become ponderous. Again like the Sai there are three grips, Honte-Mochi (Natural), Gyakute-Mochi (Reverse) and Tokushu-Mochi (Special grip). The latter is not commonly used but is very effective and relates strongly to the techniques of Kama.
The Tonfa is held in the hand with the length lying along the underarm. When choosing a Tonfa, holding the handle, the length should just reach past your elbow. The Tonfa is an excellent weapon for both defensive and offensive techniques, as it provides protection for the arms against striking weapons, and at the same time this weapons can be used or striking, with both the shorter and the longer end.
By spinning the tonfa around the short handle, a great tremendous striking force may be generated. By using the long portion in conjunction with the short handle, the tonfa may be used for arm locks or to control an opponent. When held by the handle and flipped with speed and power, the tonfa has the same deadly potential as a baseball bat or a club moves faster, and is easier to control so watch out.
No other weapon short of a sword can penetrate your blocks when you correctly use the tonfa to reinforce them. A nunchaku, knife, bat, or bo will bounce off the strong tonfa. The tonfa is a truly remarkable weapon and it has the advantages of a baseball bat, a club, a hammer, a blunt axe, and body' armor. When the tonfa is held down the forearm, the arm is reinforced with three inches of rock-hard wood. Two tonfa were often used simultaneously, and were very efficient against armed assailants. The side of the tonfa was used for blocking, and the ends for direct punches. Continued practice with the tonfa can help improve balance, coordination and physical strength.
The Sai (çÞ) is a weapon found predominently in Okinawa (there is evidence of similar weapons in India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia). A short sword with two prongs at the handle, the Sai was a symbol of authority in China and was exported to Okinawa. The use of Sai was adopted, then used by the Police as a weapon. Its basic form is that of an unsharpened dagger, with two long, unsharpened projections (tsuba) attached to the handle. The very end of the handle is called the knuckle. Sai are constructed in a variety of forms. Some are smooth, while others have an octagonal middle prong. The tsuba are traditionally symmetrical, however, the Manji design developed by Taira Shinken employs oppositely facing tsuba.
Traditionally, sai were carried in threes, two at the side, as primary weapons, and a third tucked behind, in case one was disarmed or to pin an enemy's foot to the sandy Okinawan ground. When the Okinawans felt that they were in danger of imminent attack they would immediately strike with or throw their concealed weapon. Since throwing the sai was a common technique, that is another reason Okinawans routinely carried more than one sai. As a thrown weapon, the sai have a lethal range of about 20-30 feet. Throwing the sai was typically used against an opponent with a sword, bo or other long range weapon. The heavy iron (or in contemporary versions, steel) sai concentrate enough force to punch through armor.
To be effective as a weapon, the Sai must be of the right caliber for your body size, and the main prong should protrude just past the elbow when holding the handle. To select the correct size sai for you measure from the end of your middle finger to your elbow and select the sai that is closest to that length.