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The tonfa is basically a heavy stick with a handle attached near one of the ends, typically a little longer than the user's forearm. 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 envisioned by writers in order to spice up this 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 charactersnote
, 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 differences between them is that police use just one nightstick whereas with tonfas Dual Wielding
is the norm, and that police forces usually don't train in the full use of the tonfa like martial artists do.
Might overlap with examples of bladed weapons that otherwise are tonfa shaped (along the arm). Such examples can potentially be found as type 3 of the trope Blade below the Shoulder
Examples are users unless stated otherwise.
Anime & Manga
- Hibari of Katekyo Hitman Reborn!.
- Okina of Rurouni Kenshin.
- Naizer, a Chrono Number of Black Cat.
- Marie Mjollnir of Soul Eater is normally a hammer, based on her inspiration. However, as a Death Scythe, she can modify her weapon form, in this case, she extends one end of the hammer and thus becoming an impromptu tonfa.
- Kid wields Liz and Patty upside-down so they can double as these in close-range combat.
- The Glasgow, Sutherland, and Vincent Ward in Code Geass.
- Gin, Don Krieg's first mate in One Piece uses modified tonfas; his have weights on the striking ends.
- J.D. from Neo Angelique.
- Elie of Rave Master uses tonfas, using them to shoot bullets and, later, Etherion.
- Kuu Fei's pactio in the first Mahou Sensei Negima! anime was a pair of these. In the manga, she got a Simple Staff (that can grow and extend ala Journey to the West).
- Lyrical Nanoha
- Akane from Mai-HiME. Her manga incarnation uses a standard set, while in the anime, her tonfas form a cross-shape pattern. Her Mai-Otome incarnation also uses them with her Meister robe.
- The Gottorlatan, Kathejina's final mobile suit in Victory Gundam, wields beam tonfas.
- Shadow Gundam of G Gundam uses bladed tonfas.
- The title character of Otogi Juushi Akazukin wields a pair of bladed tonfas with small shields over the hand areas. Her fighting style is very swift as a result, often running up beside her opponents to slash at them from the sides.
- Resident Ninja Damemon from Digimon Xros Wars uses these.
- Rock Lee briefly uses them in the Naruto anime, but Kisame breaks them with one swing of his BFS.
- Rosario + Vampire has the Shadowless Sword, a tonfa forged from light that nestles in the palm of a knifehand strike. Its real purpose is to cancel out the Vibroweapon/Telefrag effect of the Dimension Sword, though Tsukune also seems to use them as proper tonfa while fighting Aqua.
- In Winter War, Takano Dan has dual tonfa as the shikai form of his zanpakutou.
- Tonfas had to be banned in Swordcraft, because several members of the group were police in their day jobs, and were too good with them.
- 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.
- Used by Riou, the main character of Suikoden II. And his imposter, Hoi.
- 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 2.
- 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.
- 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.
- Makoto Nanaya from BlazBlue: 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.
- Sun Ce from the Dynasty Warriors series provides the page image. He wields a pair of tonfas as his Weapon of Choice in every entry but 6, as well as the crossovers.
- Guo Huai receives a Mix-and-Match Weapon which can only be described as a large, studded tonfa with an autocannon in it, with the muzzle opening towards the grip-end and a blade below the barrel. He bashes, stabs, and shoots in about equal measure.
- Gallade from Pokémon has natural tonfas that extend from the elbows when it is ready to fight.
- Xavi of Sengoku Basara wields handheld cannons that he uses like tonfas when he's not firing them. He can also use them as a Rocket-Powered Weapon of sorts.
- Warframe introduced the Kronen, a massive bladed pair of tonfas, as the first example of these weapons available to the Tenno in Update 14.5.