A tonfa is a forearm length club with a handle protruding sideways. A common claim is that the weapon was originally a handle used to turn millstones. German Wikipedia claims that there are pictures and texts that prove the millstone story - without providing internet accessible sources

There's lot's of uncertainty regarding the origin of the Tonfa.

So to answer the question of whether tonfa could be reasonably developed from millstone handles, I want pictures and text of likely candidates for these mills and how a tonfa shaped object might fit in.

  • 8
    OP is trying to determine the plausibility of a historical assertion, and specifically asking for material to support the assertions on German Wikipedia. That seems to be within the scope we've been discussing on Meta. - specifically the verification of Wikipedia details.
    – MCW
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 11:03
  • 3
    Just as a bit of background, part of the foundational myth of Okinawan martial arts is that weapons were not allowed to the common people, so they had to secretly study using farm implements which could not be forbidden. There's a similar story behind the origins of the Brazilian "dancing" martial art Capoeira. History may not back it up, but its a good story.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 16:24

1 Answer 1


An article which studies the The History of Grinding Implements for the Domestic Use in Japan has several images which show tonfa style parts. One style in particular can be traced to both Rome and China:

enter image description here

Fig. 5 (b) Rotary quern of Rome and China of Han Dynasty.

A hammer-shaped pestle from the same article: enter image description here

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