Among the ancient kobudo weapons of Okinawa, the bo and nunchaku have attained the most popularity. Despite that, the tonfa (tunfa, tuifa, etc) has maintained a small but loyal following of practitioners. The reason why is the dynamic versatility that the weapon allows.
If you’re wondering where the tonfa came from or what it looks like, take a quick peek at this video:
In summation, the tonfa is a straight wooden rod with a perpendicular handle attached. It was used (probably) as the handle to a grain grinding stone. If needed, the handle could be easily removed and used as a destructive weapon.
History aside, let’s look at what makes the tonfa so dynamic.
Ways of Holding the Tonfa (Tunfa)
The interesting thing about tonfa is the different ways it can be held.
On the left you’ll notice the “classic” way of holding a tonfa, which is long-edge-in. In this position you have the length of the shaft to guard your arm as you attempt to block, parry, and close distance. You also have the butt end of the shaft to punch with. In this position you can use the centrifugal force of swinging the back end around to strike.
In the middle the tonfa is being held long-edge-out. Although practitioners often end up in this position after a strike, it can also be used as a starting position. When facing a long edged weapon like a sword, it is often desirable to have some sort of method of deflection. With the tonfa, the long edge is the best possible way of decreasing the distance disadvantage while keeping all your body parts intact.
On the right is a lesser known but still very useful method of holding. This is a form of reverse grip where the practitioner holds the actual long edge, using the handle as a tool for hitting and hooking. Much like the kama, the handle can be used to ensnare limbs, weapons, and the throat, as well as create a harsh point of impact for striking.
Ways of Striking with the Tonfa (Tunfa)
Along with the different grips for tonfa is the different means of striking. Each grip offers different possibilities, and knowing these possibilities helps when deciding which style to utilize.
As you can see, the left picture shows the fairly limited method of striking when the tonfa is folded in. Despite that, the blocking possibilities are enhanced.
In the middle the practitioner has a wide array of swinging, poking, and striking techniques.
On the right the practitioner has hooking, poking, and bludgeoning strikes. All in all, when fighting an adept tonfa user, one can never really be sure where a strike is coming from, which creates an amazing versatility.
So Good It’s Still Around
One of the best arguments for the usefulness of the tonfa is the fact that it’s still around. Police all over the U.S. (especially in Los Angeles) utilize a single “night stick” called the PR 24. While okinawans tended to use tonfa in pairs, the single baton has proved very effective for dealing with the unpredictable criminal element.
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We’ve experienced some crazy matchups before on Deadliest Warrior, but this one offers a very unique spin. Pirate vs Knight – who will it be?
So far your brave host (me!) is 2/2 – two correct picks after two rounds. I selected the Samurai to victory two weeks ago, and the Spartan to come out on top last week. Can I do it again? Can YOU do it again?
Let’s have a look at the contestants.
In this episode, a medieval knight is pitted against a classical pirate. What that means is each fighter will get their most well known weapons put to the test, run through 1,000 simulation battles, and ranked one superior to the other.
You can never be sure which weapons the hosts will choose, but most of the time they cover what is generally considered most popular and most effective. That brings us to the one, big, giant issue that is going to be raised in this episode -
WHAT ABOUT THE PIRATE’S GUN?
In a lot of people’s minds, including mine, the one pivotal factor is going to be the effectiveness of the pirate’s gun. At long range, the knight utilized a crossbow; deadly in it’s own right, but nothing compared to the range and impact of a gunpower fueled firearm.
In order to properly consider the impact of the pirate’s gun, we have to look at both the kind of gun used and the kind of armor the knight will be wearing.
In the picture above, we can see that the knight is given a fairly healthy array of armor. Full helmet, shield, chainmail, and plate seem to be in play. While cumbersome, this will be the only real saving grace the knight has against oncoming bullets.
WILL THE KNIGHT’S ARMOR HOLD UP?
To try and figure out if the armor will hold up, let’s consult some info from wikipedia:
“By the 16th century the handheld firearm became commonplace, replacing the crossbow and longbow in all advanced armies, and known as the arquebus. Most infantry were pikemen Armour 2 mm thick required 2.9 times as much energy to defeat it as armour 1 mm thick. The need to defeat armour gave rise to the musket proper referring to a heavier weapon, firing a heavier shot, which had to balance on a rest. The initial role of the musket was as a specialist armour piercing weapon; it therefore coexisted with the arquebus over the period c. 1550 – c. 1650. who normally wore some armour, especially the front ranks, and gave protection against cavalry to the arquebusiers. The rise of firearms led to thicker and heavier armour, from 15kgs in the 15th century to 25kgs in the late 16th century.”
Very clearly a musket would be able to penetrate armor; however, it is almost certain that the Deadliest Warrior pirate will not be using a musket. The musket needed to be balanced on a rest and used in a stationary fashion – the one-on-one duels inacted in the show are all done ‘on-the-fly’, without either warrior getting a chance to set up before the encounter.
If given an arquebus, the pirate could potentially run into trouble. If the knight is given heavier armor (like in the 16th century), he should be capable of withstanding arquebus gunfire.
That leaves the most likely and most controversial gun – the flintlock pistol.
Easily carried (and concealed), the flintlock pistol was a mainstay for pirates.The good thing about the flintlock is that it has good stopping power. Even as a pistol it has a fair chance at penetrating knight armor.
The bad news is that it’s not terribly accurate and you only get one shot before you have to go through the reloading process. The knight may not be the most agile creature in the world, but if the pirate happens to miss…
IS IT HIT OR MISS?
If the pirate is given a flintlock pistol and it hits most of the time in the simulation, the pirate has a great chance of winning. However, if the inaccuracy becomes a big factor and the pistol misses a lot, the knight has a real advantage.
After the pistol issue is bypassed for whatever reason, the knight is substantially better equipped and trained to fight hand to hand. The knight’s weapons are strong, durable, and effective. The pirate’s cutlass offers little against a shielded and armored knight.
What a difficult choice! So much is hinging on one factor; this decision is much different than in previous episodes. After all is said and done, I think the knight is going to pull it off. There is just too much emphasis on the pirate’s one shot for him to win the bulk of the 1,000 matchups.
What do you think?
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Last week I mentioned to the community here and on Facebook that I might run a giveaway soon. Well soon is now! I was able to secure some pretty cool prizes and we are on our way.
Here’s the scoop -
I have two prizes. One will be given to a randomly selected commenter on the blog. The other is going to a person who is a facebook fan of the website.
The contest has a 2 week run period, starting (today) Sunday April 26th and ending Friday May 8th (when the winners will be chosen).
The winners will be selected via a randomization program that looks like this:
For the Commenter Prize, all you have to do is leave a comment on any post between now and May 8th. For every comment you leave, your name will be entered one time into the program. The more comments you leave, the better your odds of winning.
For the Facebook Prize, all you have to do is be a member of the Facebook Fan page. Pretty simple right? The odds are going to be a bit more challenging to win for this one, so get your friends, family, coworkers, and long lost relatives involved so that one of you can win!
Here are the Prizes:
The prizes for this contest come courtesy of Karate Depot. Karate Depot is easily the most web friendly martial arts retailer out there and they do a great job supporting us, the online community. Check them out whenever you need new equipment!
The Commenter Prize is a brand new pair of Discipline Martial Arts Shoes ($50 retail value!)
These shoes come in all sizes, both men and women, and are perfect for training. Dojo safe and great for tournaments, these are a very valuable accessory for any competitor.
The Facebook Prize is a KD Elite Double Sided Focus Target ($30 retail value!)
This focus target is high quality and useful for practitioners of any style.
Alright! That’s it! I’ll see you out there and thanks again for hanging out with me.
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Comment on any post (including this one), and be sure to fill out the email address field. Be a bud and don’t spam the comment field with a thousand comments – i’ll be able to notice rigging of the contest.
Join the Facebook Group here.
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