Tonfa Combinations Step-by-Step Breakdown

How to Learn Tonfa Kihon (Basics) Drill, Tonfa Combinations (Blocks & Strikes), with Step by Step Breakdown

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In this post we’ll go through the step-by-step breakdown of the previous Tonfa/Tuifa Kihon (Basics) drill video, Tonfa Combinations (Blocks & Strikes). This breakdown uses a series of freeze-frames from the practice video to show each of the specific moves in the Tonfa drill along with descriptions and tips. It also includes a step-by-step PDF reference sheet that you may download and print. Along with the previous practice video, this step-by-step breakdown should greatly help you learn and practice this Tonfa Kihon (Basics) drill as a supplement to your local instruction.

Tonfa Combinations Freeze-Frame Step-by-Step Breakdown

Tonfa Combinations drill is a kobudo Tonfa Kihon drill which is composed of three sets of blocks & strikes combinations; low, middle and high. The stances used are Zenkutsu-dachi (front leaning stance), Shiko-dachi (or Jigotai-dachi, wide open-leg stance) and Neko-ashi-dachi (cat stance).

The Tonfa Combinations are performed in sets of four, alternating between left first, then right. Only the left side is shown in the below freeze frames, but both left and right are shown in the practice video. Return to the yoi position between each set of four combinations.

[Note: The photos below are freeze frames from the live action practice video, so they are not as perfect as if they were specifically posed photos for each move.] 

Opening Sequence

A) Kiotsuke (attention): Stand at attention in Musubi-dachi with both Tonfa in L hand.
B) Rei (bow).
C) Yoi (ready position): Bring Tonfa in front of you. Take one closed in each hand. Bring hands down to the sides and step out L to soto-hachiji-dachi (like Pinan kata).

2 Tonfa Low Combinations

1A) Double closed Tonfa smashing horizontal down blocks in angled shiko-dachi.
1B) Shift into zenkutsu-dachi. Double closed Tonfa zuki, one to solar plexus (tonfa to the side of forearm), one to ribs (tonfa under forearm). (like FKII).
2A) Flipping inside to outside unwinding downward block with front hand.
2B) Followed by outside to inside flipping downward strike with back hand. (from Onami)

(Note: When performing the left side in the video, I noticed my back right arm was bent too much and I didn’t extend the strike down as much as it should have been, as seen in 2B. Try to make both sides symmetrical. This is a good example of how you can use video to spot areas where you may continue to refine your performance.)

2C) Then reverse flipping back hand back up to outside.
2D) And flipping front hand back up to the inside.

2 Tonfa Middle Combinations

3A) Inside to outside chudan uke with front hand (tonfa to the outside of forearm).
3B) Closed Gyaku-zuki to solar plexus. (Note: Target should be a little lower than seen above.)
4A) Open front hand Tonfa around head while chambering front knee.
4B) Flip open strike down to collar bone with simultaneous downward side kick to the knee. (from Onami) (Note: Side kick should be more to the center and foot more level than seen above.)
4C) Follow with Gyaku-zuki while landing forward into kumite-dachi. (from Onami) (Note: Target should be a little lower than seen above.)

2 Tonfa High Combinations

5A) Closed Tonfa Jodan-uke with front hand.
5B) Closed Jodan Gyaku-zuki under the chin.
6A) Flip Tonfa up as high block by the side of your head while stepping forward into neko-ashi-dachi.
6B) Flip Tonfa back down as strike to the top of head.

Closing Sequence

A) Kiotsuke (attention): L step in to Musubi-dachi while taking both Tonfa in L hand.
B) Rei (bow).

Tonfa Combinations (Blocks & Strikes) PDF Reference Sheet

The following PDF reference sheet is a distillation of all the moves in the drill to use as reference while learning and practicing the Tonfa drill. It is useful to help you remember what all the moves are until they are committed to muscle memory or for review to remember them after returning to the drill if it hasn’t been practiced in a while. I had created this reference sheet when I was first learning the drill myself. I hope it helps you as much as it helped me.

Download Tonfa Combinations (Blocks & Strikes) Drill PDF Reference Sheet

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Arigato Gozaimasu (Thank You Very Much!)
-Renshi Mike Scaramozzino

Shoshin Nagamine's book The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do Matsubayashi Ryu

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