There is in principal
only one kind of Tuifa although the shaft varies in shape from round to
rectangular. History has also shown the butt ends to be pointed but this
is extremely rare. There are only a few so called traditional kata for
the tuifa, although many more basic, or training, kata have been developed
in more recent times.
The weapon is used in pairs and is of wood, again red oak or white oak
preferably in keeping with the Bo. The length of the weapon is also the
same requirements as the Sai, about three centimeters past the elbow when
gripped. The weight like the Bo is paramount to the efficient usage of
the weapon. Too light and it lacks power in Kumite, too heavy and the
techniques lack speed and become ponderous.
Good body movement like the Sai can make this weapon formidable, combining
the speed it needs and generates along with the skillful footwork for
evasion and attack. Although there are stories of rice millstone grinding
implements and horses bridles etc. as being the origins of this weapon,
these are merely coincidental. The weapons origins can clearly be traced
back to China and be found in Indonesia and surrounding geographical locations.
While the weapon may have been introduced into Okinawa via China (or elsewhere
in southern Asia), it still does not rule out its use as a mill handle.
It may have been "back adapted", by the enterprising Okinawans, in order
to keep its use secret.