Uploaded on Mar 26, 2009
Tonfa form #2.
These clips are for entertainment and general informational purposes only. We are not instructing you, or encouraging you to do or to believe anything, except to view, enjoy, and think. Never forget that martial arts, like any rigorous course of physical activity, presents the risk of injury, sometimes serious, disabling, or even fatal. Actual techniques should only be practiced in a controlled environment emphasizing safety, under the direct supervision of a Black Belt instructor (in whom you have trust and confidence), and only after you have been cleared by your personal physician.
Tonfa, in one form or another, have been around since the inception of martial arts. In the modern world, they stand in the shadow of other more portentous weapons. A typical Tonfa might be a flat cut, or circular cut wood plank, about 24 inches in total length, with a handle projecting perpendicular, several inches in from one of the ends. Traditionally, these were solid, single piece units, with the handle mounted/anchored through the plank, and permanently fixed into position. They did not swivel, nor were they mounted on washers to facilitate spinning or rotation around the axis of the handle. Modern Tonfa can be found with built in swivels, ball bearings, or free spinning handles, facilitating rotational moves. I prefer traditional units. They manipulate and maneuver just fine, without the add ons (all of the accompanying video was shot using traditional weapons...free of tricks or gimmicks).
In essence, it is a two handed weapon (one in each hand), which allows for full movement of the body, and use of feet as appropriate (generally I prefer sweeps and balance attacks over kicks). Because of the physical properties of the side handle configuration, tremendous rotational velocity can be developed in even the tightest of spaces (not unlike the rotational characteristics of nunchaku). Twin Tonfa can be rotated and spun like Arnis middle sticks, and in fact, many Arnis drills and techniques can be executed with Tonfa, after only minor adjustments. They can be used as thrusting weapons, and fit perfectly into the postures and stances supporting traditional (hard style) low, high and mid blocks. If that's not enough, a little creative
improvisation reveals that gripping the trunk of the Tonfa permits using the handle as a striking element, much like a hammer. Or...with an additional sprinkle of improvisation, the trunk held Tonfa begins to act like a cane or extended hook, opening up a world of pull downs, joint locks and control techniques.
Black Belts will invest approximately 12-18 months of hard work in becoming excellent with the Tonfa. Law enforcement personnel undergo a much truncated basic training regimen. They are not Tonfa experts, they carry only a single unit, and use it with one hand free. This facilitates control options crucial to law enforcement, but limits the tactical array available with two Tonfa. Regardless, Tonfa, even as a solitary unit, has proven its value in non lethal police applications.
At Iron Crane, we teach Tonfa to advanced students, typically after they have experienced middle stick fighting (Arnis), knife defense, and Bo. By the time students pick up Tonfa, the basic instincts, stances and footwork are in place. The student is first introduced to the basic moves, then becomes proficient with combinations of the basics. Once students can move the weapons with confidence, they learn Kata. Each Kata is progressively more complex. So...over the course of training, you acquire the moves, explore the nuances, perfect them, and then solidify the knowledge with a crowning Kata. Kata #1 addresses the basic pattern off of a down block, introduces double blocks, and multiple strikes. Kata #2 goes to the next level, emphasizing the
down block/high block sequence, followed by the basic strike pattern. The middle sections close with transitional cross body swings. Both forms are modeled on Shotokan's Taikyoku forms. Katas 3, 4 (Tonfa Tiifa); and 5 (Hama Higa) represent Black Belt level concepts. Each embodies a unique array of skills, angles and techniques. Tonfa Tiifa is widely popular with West Coast Isshinryu proponents. Hama Higa (named after the Okinawan Island, probably where it originated) is also taught at Isshinryu schools, but is equally popular with virtually all Okinawan derivative systems. Kata #3 was created at the Iron Crane Dojo, essentially as a final repository for techniques not preserved in the other forms.
For more information visit www.ironcrane.com
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