The tonfa was originally developed in the 15th Century by the Okinawans. The Tonfa was used as a handle in a millstone to grind soybeans and grains. In the 1600's the Japanese feared an over throw of government and forced all the people in Okinawa to give up all WEAPONS. The Okinawans with the help of the Shaolin monks and nuns developed means of self protection by using common farm equipment as weapons. Most of what are used for martial arts weapons are still used for farming until this day.
The Tonfa was made out of hardwood such as oak and vary in length and width. The original Tonfa was approximately 17 inches long and had a 4 1/2 to 5 inch long handle near one end. Tonfas are usually 2 inches thick and has gained great popularity among the law enforcement agencies as night sticks. Tonfas were used by the Okinawans by laying it across the forearm to protect themselves from an attack by a sword or staff.
As a result of the weapons ban, an exploration of self-defence techniques and new weapons for self defense began. Spinning the tonfa around the short handle, generates a tremendous striking force. Using the long portion in conjuction with the short handle the tonfa can be used for blocking attacks or as a method of affecting your opponent's balance. When using two tonfas together the efficiency was greater against armed assailants. Martial artists have found that continued practice with the tonfas can help improve balance, coordination, and physical strength.