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The tonfa is basically a stick with a handle sticking out near one of the ends. This weapon is Boring but Practical made manifest. However, boring isn't good enough for fiction, and naturally all sorts of variations (including the the bladed tonfa, the energybeam tonfa, and the tonfa that doubles as a gun among others) have been dreamed up by writers in order to spruce up the humble handled club.

Wielded in pairs with one in each hand, a martial art based on the use of dual tonfas (Kobudo) exists in the Japanese islands of Okinawa. Archaeological evidence suggests the first tonfa were of Chinese or Indonesian origin, but they enjoyed much more widespread use in Okinawa and other Japanese islands. There it was claimed to have been developed from a a modified millstone handle as a result of the restriction of conventional weapons by the rulers of the land back in the day, forcing people to make their own weapons, often out of farm tools.

They are a staple in weapon based fighters, where they are most commonly the main weapon for one of the female characters[1], and in any anime or manga where all kinds of weapons are already around they will often turn up somewhere down the line in the hands of a character, usually either a competent part of the hero's team or a major threat to the protagonists.

In real life, the common policeman's Nightstick is based upon this weapon, and in the end is just a modified version. It is preferred over regular batons because it is better for defense and looks less threatening. The main difference between them is that police use just one nightstick whereas with tonfas Dual-Wielding is the norm.

Examples are users unless stated otherwise.

Examples:


Anime & Manga

Fanfic

  • In Winter War, Takano Dan has dual tonfa as the shikai form of his zanpakutou.

Film

Live Action TV

Toys

Video Games

  • Talim of the Soul Series uses bladed tonfas, however you can equip her with the regular wooden sort as well.
  • Orchid of Killer Instinct traded her Laser Blades in the first game for a pair of these in the second.
  • Rachel and Tracy of Battle Arena Toshinden.
  • Levin of Wild Arms XF.
  • Melee Wanzers in Front Mission can rushdown other wanzers with tonfas, they can also stun, depending on the pilot's abilities.
  • Sun Ce of the Dynasty Warriors series has used them in some games of the series.
  • Used by Riou in Suikoden II.
  • Shows up as a findable weapon in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, although it's misnamed as "nunchaku". It hits twice.
  • Selectable weapon in Ninja Gaiden II.
  • Selectable weapon in Parasite Eve II.
  • Can be found and used in Left For Dead II.
  • Strider Hiryu uses a bladed tonfa.
  • Yoko Kono and Red-Eye of Last Bronx.
  • The signature weapon of the Apharmd class of Mecha in the Virtual On series.
  • Maris Brood of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed uses tonfa-lightsabers (which would, in reality, be about as sensible as fighting with swordchucks).
    • Though it makes a bit more sense if you know that the handles of lightsaber-tonfas are made out of lightsaber-resistant metal.
      • But that raises rather more questions than it answers. For example, why don't they make everything out of that material ? Some body armour maybe ? A shield perhaps ? Pfft, no, what are the chances of a jedi showing up and killing everyone...
      • This is explained by saying that cortosis - the saber-resistant material - is both rare and dangerous to handle and harvest, as direct contact (via skin, inhalation, etc) causes irreversible tissue damage, and will kill a human in a couple of minutes.
  • Bayonetta's Lt. Col. Kilgore is a pair of RPGs wielded like tonfas, because why not?
  • The R-Blade in the Super Robot Wars series uses bladed tonfas.
  • The Fighter class in Dungeon Fighter Online has dual tonfas as one of her weapon sets. They're quite fast, second only to gloves in combo speed.
  • Maki from Final Fight 2 and Street Fighter Alpha 3 uses one.
  • Eagle, the refined British gentleman first featured in the original Street Fighter, fights with a pair of tonfas.
  • Makoto Nanaya from Blaz Blue Continuum Shift.
  • Raven uses them in Eve of Extinction, where they are the most advanced Legacy prototype and give him access to energy blasts. Josh gets his hands on them for the last level, where they lose that power but can make him Immune to Bullets for their Legacy Drive.
  • Stryker from Mortal Kombat fights with nightsticks in Armageddon, being a policeman.
  • Vyse's cutlasses in Skies of Arcadia have extra grips on the hilts to allow one to be wielded as a tonfa in his off-hand.
  • The Recoil Rod of Mega Man Zero 3. In concept art, it's wielded in two, but in-game Zero can only be seen using one at a time.
  • Mao from Tales of Rebirth wields these, though being a mage, he doesn't actually hit anything with them much.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In the South Park Episode "Good Times With Weapons", Stan buys a pair of Tonfas.
  1. why male tonfa-users are the minority in fiction is unknown, since nothing about this weapon is particularly feminine, and it's popular among male martial artists in Real Life
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