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Coach James Poidog

To spin or not to spin | Training Spinning Techniques

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So a good friend made this meme a while back and its always resonated with me. The idea being dont pass over the basics and fundamentals for fancy technique. This meme always becomes so relevant when someone in combat sports wins by spinning anything. Not because Im against spinning techniques, but because of how they always seem to jump the line so to speak past tried and true (possibly boring to students?) fundamental techniques with high percentages of landing. For context: (its not muay Thai I know, but it does effect me teaching muay Thai, so...) Raymond Daniels winning his fight in mma this last weekend. If you havent seen it, look up Bellator's social media. Curious to hear people's opinions, reactions, etc.  

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There is a really interesting specific history of this in the Spinning Elbow. I remember Arjan Surat teaching Sylvie several years ago and him laughing at the spinning elbow, "just for farang" he was laughing. Westerners love this move. What most don't realize is that this is a counter technique traditionally, used to catch an overly pursuing opponent. That's the usual use. Westerners use it completely "wrong". Now, here is where it gets interesting. Kronphet, who was once an Arjan Surat fighter, had fairly recently lost to the western fighter Gaston in a controversial decision [note: I'mgoing off my memory here and on mobile, I could be wrong]. We'll leave aside that Kronphet was already far removed from his prime, but Gaston is a fighter who completely uses the spinning elbow "wrong" (non traditionally) all fight long. He won that fight using it "wrong" (again, if I recall). Arjan Surat seemed to be laughing at the whole thing. I'm sure it looked ridiculous to him. But, it was somewhat effective against an aged, somewhat out of the circuit Thai. The big reason you can't use it like that is that you can be seriously countered vs elite competition, and in Thai style scoring you can't be off balance after scoring. Under western opponents, and now vs MMA opponents who just don't have the spatial awareness, the aggressive spinning elbow might very well work. Now, fast forward a few years. We filmed with Arjan Surat again and there he is teaching spinning shit to Sylvie. He teaches the spinning back fist that he says Wanchalerm (a fairly contemporary fighter) uses, and he teaches a whirling kick used by the old school legend Rotnarong (once Arjan's fighter) used. But, these are "moment" techniques, that fit within a context. They are used as counters or off of missed. I think that what happens is that they get taken out of their richer context, are used "wrong" against lesser opponent skill pools, or under different rule sets, and become popularized. And add Internet. It's cool in a way because it can create international enthusiasm for Thai techniques. And Thais themselves have moved away from many "fancy" techniques because of trying to be sure-footed with the gamblers, making stadium Muay Thai more and more vanilla. The misunderstanding and perhaps misuse of these techniques leads in a way toward their preservation, but we have to fight to retain some of the original fabric that created them, the deeper context of their success when used against elite competition. 

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I'm not a fan of spinning shit, but mainly because of how you're describing it as more or less the "hail Mary" of combat. It's rarely executed with balance or timing, although the times when it is... beautiful elbows can come out of it.

What I like about the missed-hook-to-back-elbow that both Namkabuan and Arjan Surat have shown me is that it's resonding - quickly - to a miss. It's not spinning for the sake of spinning, it's continuing the movement when you're too deep in to reverse it. The 5 spinning backfists in a single round as an endlessly missed strike in and of itself looks about as badass to me as giving someone your back does. 

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On 5/8/2019 at 1:34 PM, Coach James Poidog said:

So a good friend made this meme a while back and its always resonated with me. The idea being dont pass over the basics and fundamentals for fancy technique. This meme always becomes so relevant when someone in combat sports wins by spinning anything. Not because Im against spinning techniques, but because of how they always seem to jump the line so to speak past tried and true (possibly boring to students?) fundamental techniques with high percentages of landing. For context: (its not muay Thai I know, but it does effect me teaching muay Thai, so...) Raymond Daniels winning his fight in mma this last weekend. If you havent seen it, look up Bellator's social media. Curious to hear people's opinions, reactions, etc.  

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I saw the Raymond Daniels KO.  I’m not a fan of how people mock spinning things (Kevin your more nuanced take of when to use them, offensive v defensive or at least singularly makes sense).  But within other traditional martial arts it’s a well developed art form.  The Daniels KO was hilarious cause he did two full rotations (and he’s a huge dude), landed, saw the opening & just punched his opponent’s lights out.  Evidently he stuffed himself and had no room to throw the leg.  Apart from the easy mockery of all the flowery effort, you have to accept that his opponent was dumb-founded & took a hard one to the jaw as a result lol.  Diversion is not meaningless.  As for Gaston Bolanos, I’ve seen him fight several times and his elbows can seem calculated for the television audience (his movie star looks don’t hurt), but I believe he is an earnest & serious fighter, perhaps not from the Thai perspective but he’s a lifelong martial artist, starting with his boyhood in Peru.

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1 hour ago, threeoaks said:

I saw the Raymond Daniels KO.  I’m not a fan of how people mock spinning things (Kevin your more nuanced take of when to use them, offensive v defensive or at least singularly makes sense).  But within other traditional martial arts it’s a well developed art form.  The Daniels KO was hilarious cause he did two full rotations (and he’s a huge dude), landed, saw the opening & just punched his opponent’s lights out.  Evidently he stuffed himself and had no room to throw the leg.  Apart from the easy mockery of all the flowery effort, you have to accept that his opponent was dumb-founded & took a hard one to the jaw as a result lol.  Diversion is not meaningless.  As for Gaston Bolanos, I’ve seen him fight several times and his elbows can seem calculated for the television audience (his movie star looks don’t hurt), but I believe he is an earnest & serious fighter, perhaps not from the Thai perspective but he’s a lifelong martial artist, starting with his boyhood in Peru.

I think both Daniels and Gaston (love him) are perfect examples of people that train it to make it integral to their arsenal who also have their fundamentals down solidly. In those cases Im a fan. I have a guy who has a nasty spinning hook kick hes used successfully in competition. He trains it diligently. Raymond is another guy that has made it part of his tried and true from years of training. I cant find any fault with that. What Im not a fan of, and the coach who made this meme is also trying to say, is focusing on techniques that for most are low percentage working techniques over the tried and true fundamentals of fighting. Ive encountered some people that couldnt throw a round kick with out losing balance want to just learn a spinning elbow. If theyre a hobbyist and we're doing a private, Ill just sigh and take em through it, but for my students that compete its a bugger frustration. Nothing wrong with spinning stuff as long as you have everything else coming along nicely. 

Edited by Coach James Poidog
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5 minutes ago, Coach James Poidog said:

I think both Daniels and Gaston (love him) are perfect examples of people that train it to make it integral to their arsenal who also have their fundamentals down solidly. In those cases Im a fan. I have a guy who has a nasty spinning hook kick hes used successfully in competition. He trains it diligently. Raymond is another guy that has made it part of his tried and true from years of training. I cant find any fault with that. What Im not a fan of, and the coach who made this meme is also trying to say, is focusing on techniques that for most are low percentage working techniques over the tried and true fundamentals of fighting. Ive encountered some people that couldnt throw a round kick with out losing balance want to just learn a spinning elbow. If theyre a hobbyist and we're doing a private, Ill just sigh and take em through it, but for my students that compete its a bugger frustration. Nothing wrong with spinning stuff as long as you have everything else coming along nicely. 

That makes sense.  Must be annoying!

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1 minute ago, threeoaks said:

That makes sense.  Must be annoying!

Lol more humorous, but frustrating if they cant buckle down on the fundamentals. Basics win fights as a great coach once told me. Id want a lot of time put into those before Id explore the more fancy tricks that make highlight videos. 

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9 hours ago, Coach James Poidog said:

Lol more humorous, but frustrating if they cant buckle down on the fundamentals. Basics win fights as a great coach once told me. Id want a lot of time put into those before Id explore the more fancy tricks that make highlight videos. 

From a coach perspective, makes all the sense.  From a student & fan perspective I wish just once in a while people (ok online people) could just stop & appreciate the athleticism it takes to do what Daniels does (mind you, I did enjoy watching his damn long karate leg get chopped before he learned to defend the low kick mua haha Muay Thai)..  I don’t know why it gets to me but it’s like an mma attitude of (bear voice) “it’s not REAL fighting”.  In a sense that’s true since many spinning techniques, tornado kicks & what have you come from point sparring, but when it works (atop rock solid fundamentals as you say), can’t we bow down for once?  It’s a futile, silly effort of mine I know (change online culture Bwa haha).  And of course, as you are a coach, I understand the meme. Then there is this, at 59 seconds.  Cause like ya say, when you have the basics & way more, why the f*ck not?!

 

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7 hours ago, threeoaks said:

But within other traditional martial arts it’s a well developed art form.

I'm really unsure of this. I just read a complete history of Taekwando, which I thought had a long foundation in this, but it was pretty clear that so much of the "spinning" stuff is really a modern invention (far from its Karate origin), maybe since the 80s and 90s, and grew out of very non-fight oriented practices, and some of it from demo performance. In fact almost all of what we now think of as Taekwando arose out of pretty suspect rule-scoring shiftings (very, very light blows "scoring", no punches to the head, etc). None of this is really traditional martial art stuff. It's all very modern. It really surprised me.

5 hours ago, threeoaks said:

tornado kicks & what have you come from point sparring, but when it works

I think this is a significant thing. And I completely agree. But, at least for me, things are "working" against fighters who just are not very high level, fighters that lack deep-seeded spatial awareness. There are lots of things that work against more limited fighters. But the reason people get super excited about it isn't because "hey, this works!", it's because someone made a highlight clip and then that clip "works" in the social media stream.

 

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12 hours ago, threeoaks said:

many spinning techniques, tornado kicks & what have you come from point sparring

I think it valid to critique techniques and fight values that flow out of unreal fighting styles, that is styles that develop along increasingly artificial lines usually involving scoring or packaged promotion styles, in so far as these fighting styles ALSO try to portray themselves as "real fighting". For instance, to take a non-Taekwando example, for a long while historical Karate apparently developed a real lack of combination fighting because it had adopted a philosophy (fantasy) of the death blow. Karate strikes were imagined to be dealing death blows (something inherited from older weapons martial art forms, where sword strikes really would be death blows). This lead to a very abstract and unreal development of fighting techniques, one which shunned full-contact sparring (how can you spar with "death blows"?), that took some serious and devoted branches of Karate quite far from real combat or even fighting prowess. BUT, I also think that these kinds of fantasy detours of fighting styles can be super important too, because they allow imaginative, and even artistic developments that otherwise might not be given the space and time to be explored. I liken it to Science Fiction writing. Science Fiction is NOT Science. But it has had lots of impact on Science. Hey Sci-Fi writer Arthur C. Clarke imagined that one day satellites would circle the planet in a vast communication network, and look what happened. But, just as it's important to distinguish between Science and Science Fiction, you would want to distinguish between fantasy fighting and efficacy fighting (which sometimes is harder to do, because all sport fighting is shaped by rule-sets and aesthetics). Even if it is difficult sometimes, it's healthy to make the distinction. If Karate is claiming death-blows all over the place, and refusing to spar, it just can't sit there as the most deadly martial art because other fighting styles/systems are sparring and fighting frequently (with non-death blows).    

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Meat and three veg first. If you eat that, then we'll add some gravy. But seriously, every lesson contains, left, right, left hook, low kick. Without fail. This is because, you must have something so ingrained in you, that when the shit hits the fan, it comes automatically.

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10 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I think this is a significant thing. And I completely agree. But, at least for me, things are "working" against fighters who just are not very high level, fighters that lack deep-seeded spatial awareness. There are lots of things that work against more limited fighters. But the reason people get super excited about it isn't because "hey, this works!", it's because someone made a highlight clip and then that clip "works" in the social media stream.

 

Exactly this. 

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Love watching it, but hate doing it. Feels like you're giving up too much for the attempt. But ahh, dunno really.

Popularity of it in the West might come a bit from MMA and the level of informed fight culture it produces. Even from the commentators, or the journalists if we're gonna call them that. A guy can throw spinning shit all day that never lands, switch stance 5 times every 10 seconds from a mile a way when there's no purpose in doing it, or even just make up random shit. Then it's immediately called "Elusive...high level striking...unorthodox...creative etc etc..." in hush tones, and actually encouraged to guys just starting out.

Now what I don't get......how come the people who encourage that kind of thing don't apply the same thinking when it comes to BJJ or Greco? Imagine a Jiu Jitsu teacher with 30 years under his belt training one of his white belts or blue belts for competition. He says, OK dude, so this is what you do...as soon as the ref says go, you run at the guy and throw a jumping flying omoplata, or look for a berimbolo whenever you can. 

Hell no. No way he would. Like... in no other sport would that thinking be acceptable. If that teacher wants to create the white belt world champion, he'll drill him with 2 simple sweeps, 2 simple guard passes, 2 simple submissions, tonnes of hip work, and tell him to go out there and play the percentages.

O

 

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59 minutes ago, Oliver said:

A guy can throw spinning shit all day that never lands, switch stance 5 times every 10 seconds from a mile a way when there's no purpose in doing it, or even just make up random shit. Then it's immediately called "Elusive...high level striking...unorthodox...creative etc etc..."

hahaha. So true. I just heard Joe Rogan say that if you are a kid learning to fight you really need to start with Taekwando because you can learn all kinds of amazing spinning kicks that you would not otherwise be able to learn (if you were exposed to real, fight limitations, someone disturbing you, interrupting you, etc). And then once you've learned all the spinning kicks (I can't even write this, I'm rolling my eyes so hard), then you can move onto more realistic fighting arts, like Muay Thai and whatnot. Shaking my head. And THIS guy (and I do like him for other things) is the prime educator of what fighting is to America, and really the world.

Edit: here it is. Listen for 2 minutes, mind blow:

 

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Weird, because starting out back home, loads of those guys came through the 1st gym I was at. Karate guys, TKD guys, dudes who wanted to be ninjas etc. They tended to have the most awkwardness adapting to the new thing and didn't like it, so didn't stick to it. Guys coming from other sports like football, triathlons and stuff did way better.

Actually, even the guys who came from video games did better. 

Edited by Oliver
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4 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

hahaha. So true. I just heard Joe Rogan say that if you are a kid learning to fight you really need to start with Taekwando because you can learn all kinds of amazing spinning kicks that you would not otherwise be able to learn (if you were exposed to real, fight limitations, someone disturbing you, interrupting you, etc). And then once you've learned all the spinning kicks (I can't even write this, I'm rolling my eyes so hard), then you can move onto more realistic fighting arts, like Muay Thai and whatnot. Shaking my head. And THIS guy (and I do like him for other things) is the prime educator of what fighting is to America, and really the world.

Edit: here it is. Listen for 2 minutes, mind blow:

 

Lol we need a laughter emoji added to the like selections. Rogan said that cause thats his fn background lol. Like muay Thai fighters cant spin 🙄

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5 hours ago, Oliver said:

Popularity of it in the West might come a bit from MMA and the level of informed fight culture it produces. Even from the commentators, or the journalists if we're gonna call them that. A guy can throw spinning shit all day that never lands, switch stance 5 times every 10 seconds from a mile a way when there's no purpose in doing it, or even just make up random shit. Then it's immediately called "Elusive...high level striking...unorthodox...creative etc etc..." in hush tones, and actually encouraged to guys just starting out.


 

Truth. And hilarious. Similar to commentators saying things like black belt in muay Thai to me. 

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5 hours ago, Oliver said:

Now what I don't get......how come the people who encourage that kind of thing don't apply the same thinking when it comes to BJJ or Greco? Imagine a Jiu Jitsu teacher with 30 years under his belt training one of his white belts or blue belts for competition. He says, OK dude, so this is what you do...as soon as the ref says go, you run at the guy and throw a jumping flying omoplata, or look for a berimbolo whenever you can. 

Hell no. No way he would. Like... in no other sport would that thinking be acceptable. If that teacher wants to create the white belt world champion, he'll drill him with 2 simple sweeps, 2 simple guard passes, 2 simple submissions, tonnes of hip work, and tell him to go out there and play the percentages.

O

 

Pretty sure many striking coaches dont necessarily tell their fighter to run out and do a spinning attack either lol (well maybe Raymond Daniels' coach does 🤣). I do know they get super frustrated like i do by similar requests to learn low percentage but spectacular moves. I used to teach at 10pl hq and know a bunch of the instructors under Eddie. Drives them nuts if a guy that cant avoid mount wants to learn a flying armbar lol. 

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Haha! Ok maybe not that ridiculous, like go out there and crocodile kick him in the first 5 seconds. But, not super far off that. Actually wait, Fabricio Werdum once opened up with a flying karate thing to someone's face in round 1.

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6 hours ago, Coach James Poidog said:

Rogan said that cause thats his fn background lol.

Well, he also said that because in his case it's pretty clear that a TKD background led to becoming a high level fighter 🙂 You know, if your kid wants to become a fighter he should do what I did...to not become a fighter. It blows my mind that he is so far out in space on this. None of this stuff works in fighting, but it's really good to make all this shit that doesn't work your FOUNDATION.

 

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On 6/3/2019 at 6:17 AM, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I made this for you 3 Oaks. I saw it randomly in the fight and thought "Hey, 3 Oaks would like this!":

 

What a stud.  But haha I’m not the spinning aficionado.  I just don’t like all the karate shit talk but of course I understand spectacular showy stuff breeds greedy awkward noobs.  I also would like to slap Joe Rogan (cause that’s more humiliating than a spinning kick).  Thank you I’m touched!!

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