In today’s video I’d like to explore the tonfa. Although the tonfa never made it into the pantheon of Ninja Turtle weapons (weak), it still enjoys a healthy amount of popularity. In fact, tonfa are one of the few classical weapons that are actively used in our current police task force.
Although you’ll rarely find tonfa-like items in your day-to-day life, the core ideas that make them effective are a valuable asset to any martial artist’s ‘playbook’.
Check it out as I explore the different ways of holding and striking with the tonfa (and engage in a little freestyle randori at the end).
Don’t try that last drill we did without expert supervision. It’s a valuable part of kobudo training, but people can get really hurt if they don’t have years of experience learning how to control the weapon with exacting precision. This is especially true for the spinning aspects of the tonfa.
The Eku Bo (aka Eiku Bo, Ekku Bo, Kai Bo) is a very interesting weapon. It is a traditional implement of Okinawan Kobudo, but not many systems have passed down its proper use and technique.
I’d like to share with you a video I created describing Eku Bo combat theory and application. In the video I talk about handling the weapon, how it differs in usage from other weapons, controlling it properly, and more. I also demonstrate at the end a bit of randori (freestyle kumite) to show how the blocking and attacking movements can be utilized.
Throughout the video you’ll hear the lovely pitter patter of Danzan Ryu Jujutsu in the background. This is a live working dojo alright!
The Eku is a devastating weapon and can generate astounding amounts of power!
More or Less?
I hope you enjoyed the video, and please help me decide if I should continue integrating these into my normal writing routine. Vote in the poll below as to whether or not this was interesting and helpful, and please include any thoughts and questions in the comments section.
A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that I don’t get off on hurting others.
They’re also skeptical when I say they don’t need to love violence to join a martial art.
In conversation I never debate if martial arts are violent (they are) or if there are violent martial artists (there are). Instead I suggest that you needn’t be driven by bloodlust to get extraordinary value out of training.
Unfortunately, in the world we live in, violence can be thrust on us at any given moment. Whether we like it or not, we can find ourselves in altercations, scrapes, and even life-threatening situations. The two options we have are to depend on the ability of others to help us (like police, security, etc) and to prepare ourselves as best as possible.
In feudal era Japan, a lot of martial art activity involved the desire to kill. A Samurai often increased his status and the prestige of his sword style by dispatching other worthy opponents. This became even more prevalent after the Warring States Period (when most soldiers and Samurai had constant conflict to worry about as opposed to focusing on duels).
Nowadays the closest thing we have (thankfully) is Ultimate Fighting. Martial arts are still a tool of war, just ask the marine corp, but they are also a method of civilian self defense. The shift has been made from glory-through-killing to life preservation.
I’m tempted to liken our situation as civilian martial artists to that of the old Okinawans. The Okinawans were simple farmers, fisherman, etc who developed karate and kobudo as a means to defend themselves with what they had: farming tools and their wits. If a ronin or pirate were to start trouble in their village, the Karateka did what he had to do to eliminate that threat.
I’m tempted to compare us to them – but it’s not the same. The Okinawan Karateka were civilians, policemen, judges, doctors, and spiritual guides all rolled up into one. We are civilians through-and-through and have a deluge of laws to live by. Although I feel as strongly as anyone that we must do all we can to protect ourselves and the ones we love, there are gradations to violence and repercussions that we have to face.
So What Are We?
We are law abiding individuals who realize that the severity of life and death still plays a roll in our lives. Guns make the line of survival only a hairsbreadth wide. That’s not a comforting thought, but what can we do? We can’t pack heat all the time – even gun enthusiasts with licenses to conceal can be caught unawares or unprepared. What we do have is martial arts and they are just as crucial for people who abhor violence as those that love it.
One thing that does concern me is the amount of individuals I hear talking about how much they love to fight/spar, and what a thrill it is to knock someone out. Of course I understand the feeling of empowerment a good technique or strike can give, but I don’t believe causing aggressive dysfunction in another person’s body should be thrilling, nor should it inspire unwarranted confidence in ability. The most effectively violent practitioners I have met are also the most reserved. Their abilities have to be used with care and control in a realistic environment. If that sounds like a tough mixture to obtain – care and control plus realistic aggression – it is. Damn tough, but worth it.
I think a lot of people (including myself) ask themselves from time to time – am I the right kind of person to be studying a combat art? Shouldn’t it be left to someone bigger, tougher, stronger, better?
The answer is no – you need to train and the rest of us need you to train. The people in command of any given situation need to be those that understand and respect violence; those that can use it, but don’t want to. In a world that can snatch everything away quicker than a heartbeat, it is up to each of us to do our best to persevere.
Train if the thought of violence unsettles you – train harder if it makes you shudder.