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The Immortal Weapon

By Jikishin Kobudo, Mar 30 2015 11:14AM

There are numerous explanations for how the Tunkuwa, Tonfa or Guai first appeared into the world of martial arts. Whatever its origins, it has undoubtedly been developed as a weapon and for martial arts use and has gone on to reach worldwide popularity as the police PR24 sidearm.


The prevailing Okinawan history is that the Tunkuwa (Ryukyu pronunciation) was used within households to turn a grindstone and that for this reason it is a weapon associated with kitchens and with women. However, the Chinese explanations are quite different. One of the most romantic histories is associated with the Daoist immortal Li Tieguai which can be translated to mean "Iron Crutch Li".


Li Tieguai was by some accounts a contemporary of Lau Tzu the father of Daoism. Li famously walks with a crutch and is one of the eight great immortals. He defends the weak and the infirm and protects all who face disability. His iron crutch is unable to be destroyed and is his primary weapon for fighting, if he is ever to do so.


The manner and the shape of a crutch is very similar to the modern weapon except that it is much shorter. A different legend tells of how an unarmed martial artist who was fighing with a crutch against a sword suffered from his crutch being cut in two. The martial artist then held the two pieces of the crutch in either hand and so the "Seung Guai" or "double crutch" weapon was born.

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