As you progress and learn more kicks, hand techniques, chin na, and forms (even weapons), you will find there are a number of movements that require you to “spin”. The key element (and the reason why these movements are done somewhat sparingly) is that at some point you expose your back. Exposing your back has potential for disaster as you are unable to see what’s going on and a number of vital areas could be attacked and quickly end the fight to your opponent’s favor. However, after developing the ability to execute spinning movements with proper timing and distance, these techniques can provide advantages in combat, such as the element of surprise, the combining of a defensive and offensive move at once, and the development of a powerful strike/movement through the torque of the spin.
An example of all three is the spinning side kick. If an opponent launches a punch or a snap kick, quickly blocking and stepping away from the punch or kick while spinning will likely surprise the opponent as well as provide defense from the attack. Follow it up with a powerful side kick to the midsection and you have one very effective movement.
Even a number of chin na movements utilize a spin. Fortunately, for those techniques the back is mostly protected as you are leading your opponent to the eventual lock and he’s likely both wondering and worried about what was happening to him. However, if you’re opponent understands what you’re doing, then he will likely react by spinning along with you to avoid being locked. You’ve likely uncovered a skilled fighter if that’s the case.
So, as you learn spinning movements, make an effort to consistently practice them in san shou and sparring to develop proper distance and timing. In sparring, using spinning movements as you’re learning them is a calculated risk, which may result in your opponent’s advantage more often than not. That’s ok, however, as if you keep trying and persist in making the technique work, then it will be yours to draw on when needed. If executed properly (at the right time and distance from your target), spinning movements are just one of the many different fighting skills available to students.