How to Make a Tonfa

Updated April 17, 2017

The use of the tonfa began in Okinawa centuries ago when millstone handles were turned into weapons. Tonfa are still associated with some styles of Okinawan karate and continue to be used by practitioners of those martial arts. The most common use of tonfa today, though, is in a slightly modified form which has been adopted by many police departments as a replacement for the standard baton. You can make your own lightweight, inexpensive pair of tonfa, ideal for practice purposes, from PVC pipe.

Cut a section of pipe the same length as the distance from the middle of your fist to your elbow.

Cut two additional sections of pipe. These should be about 6 inches and about 5 inches long.

Using the PVC glue, attach one end of the long pipe section to one inlet of the PVC tee. Attach the 5 inch pipe segment to the inlet of the tee that is directly opposite. Finally, attach the 6 inch pipe section to the remaining inlet of the tee.

Glue a cap onto the open end of each of the three pipe sections.

Repeat this process to make the second tonfa.


The tonfa can be painted or wrapped in tape if you wish. You can also pad them by wrapping foam around the pipe to make them less dangerous in the case of accidental contact.


The tonfa can be a dangerous weapon and should only be used in the pursuit of traditional karate training under a qualified teacher.

Things You'll Need

  • 6 feet 1.5 inch diameter PVC pipe
  • 2 PVC tees 1.5 inch diameter
  • 6 PVC end caps
  • PVC glue
  • Saw
  • Tape measure
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About the Author

Michael Judge has been writing for over a decade and has been published in "The Globe and Mail" (Canada's national newspaper) and the U.K. magazine "New Scientist." He holds a Master of Science from the University of Waterloo. Michael has worked for an aerospace firm where he was in charge of rocket propellant formulation and is now a college instructor.