Current Posts => Latest Spin => Topic started by: Watts' Tops on March 08, 2010, 05:36:28 PM

Title: Spintop lineages
Post by: Watts' Tops on March 08, 2010, 05:36:28 PM
Another bit of observation. 
Of all the top spinners I know, have met, personally, etc., all but one has roots leading back to Jim Schreiber.  Many through those who have personally learned from and they from others down the line.  I met one (by internet) that learned on his own with no teacher.
Now that I am on this blog, I am finding others that have no roots to Jim.  It would be fun to find out the the roots of some of the "top"  :) :)top spinners in the world.  Who do you trace your top spinning skills back too?  Would make an interesting new subject.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: MatiasStuntMan on March 08, 2010, 06:04:31 PM
I have to say that different than seeing Don Antonio test his trompos after he makes them I have never seen in person any real pro top spinner, not even in Colombia,  but now with the internet (youtube) and with the very detailed Ta0's videos and descriptions I have learned a lot!!! So I think that Jorge Alcoz is now the new Top Evangelizator!!!!
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: ta0 on March 08, 2010, 07:00:08 PM
I started learning around 1998-99. I learned the spinner from the instructions that came with the Monarch. Then I really started learning from the internet and the instructional videos from Spintastics and Duncan. Several years passed before I met the first player that could do a boomerang in person, and by that time I was already preparing to compete at worlds: Dale Oliver a few months before W04, which I attended. If the players on those videos (e.g., Dale & Val, Steve, Herman) trace their roots to the Duncan demonstrators then, indirectly, I should also trace mine to Schreiber, I guess.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Dick Stohr on March 08, 2010, 10:12:00 PM
14 years ago next month (1996) I quit my day job to do Spintastics, Yo-Yo Fun & Science of Spin Program.  Dale Oliver had to teach me a few top tricks to do that part of the program.  I had never played with a top that needed a string.  After I started going to Nationals and Worlds I got help from others as well, but Dale started it for me.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Neff on March 08, 2010, 11:12:53 PM
My original spin top interest is because of a certain Mr. Jon Gates.  He taught me to wind, boomerang and balance, somewhere between the years of 1997 and 1999.

My recent spin top interest is because of a certain Mr. ta0, and subsequently, the players on this board.  My trick hero is Gerardo Montero.

Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Darren Kim on March 09, 2010, 12:02:56 AM
Jon Gates also got me addicted to spin tops.
I have been yo-yoing since 6th grade, which was 2005. I had been yo-yoing for a year, and attending clubs on weekends. One day, I decided to try spinning tops, because it looked so freakin cool when Jon did it. I threw a top a few times, and messed up badly, but I wanted one, so I called my mom to ask if I could get one, and she said no, because I would just end up spending tons of money on those as well as yo-yos (she was right).

I was bummed, but as fate would have it, next week at club, Jon had a fun "sleeper" contest with yo-yos. I wasn't great at yo-yoing at that time, but I managed to get 3rd place, and the prizes were bearing king tops. I got the red, radish like one. Must have been fate! As everyone who first got a duncan top, I broke it on the first throw at my house. (No worries, scotch tape)

My mom worked at an elementary school at the time, in a computer lab with high speed internet. It took me two weeks from the time that I first got my top, and was able to catch it on my hand. I learned how to balance a top at that school, by videos at and at (Thanks Jorge!) The feeling when you are first able to catch a top on your hand and control it has to be one of the coolest feelings ever! I also learned how to merry go round, as my first trick that day.

So that's how I started spinning tops. It's so cool how I would not be here typing these words, had one of these factors been different.

Really, I should say thank you to everyone who had a hand in me starting tops so here it goes!

Thank you:
Jon Gates
Jorge Alcoz
Herman Lau (13th floor video was my favorite trick)

Alex Bortz (friend who asked Jon if we could try his top)
Mom (for being right, and supporting me once I started competing)

Thank you all. That's my roots.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Trevor on March 09, 2010, 01:33:28 AM
I started out throwing yoyos then moving on to poi & contact juggling. Was aware of spintops but somehow never got interested until I saw some videos of Takeshi doing tangler & cockscrews. Man, was so inspired but had no one to teach me and had no tops (almost no one sold spintops in Singapore for a long long time) to start out. Was thankful to Takeshi who sent me some BKs to start me off.  I screwed at throwing tops initially and almost gave up until ta0 who saw my painted BK on YYN's forum redirected me to this forum . . .  ;D .  was from here that i was able to access much more resources and learn to throw properly. Also got myself the "how to be a player" dvd where i saw our Mr Neff in action (you all should watch it, Chris is hilariously awesome/awesomely hilarious in the dvd!). 

I guess my roots really started with the Duncan folks of Takeshi, Chris Neff & Steve Brown.

But thanks to Takeshi, ta0 & Chris Neff and the many forum folks who have been so encouraging!   
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: robtsou on March 09, 2010, 08:30:30 AM
I don't remember exactly how I started but I'm pretty sure watching Steve Brown throw his big pink Watt's had something to do with getting me interested.  That would have had to have been back around 2000.  I even competed in the top competition at World's that year (or maybe it was the next year).  I remember it being the year that Dale started making the steel tips.

Good times...and more to come :)

Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: SpinQueen on March 09, 2010, 12:50:18 PM
I got my start just after Halloween of 05 or 06, I can't remember which. My costume that year was a 1950's paperboy, and I had shoved an old flyback yo-yo in my pocket as part of the costume.  The kids loved the yo-yo and that reminded me that I had some old wooden top "thing" as well, that had been given to me from one of my kids years earlier.  As I described the top (a wooden Mexican top complete with nail tip) to my coworker, he told me that he knew how to work it.  The following day I dug out that old top (not really old..more like early 90's) and brought it to work.  Both our headmaster (who was from Algeria) and my coworker (who was from Morocco) both played with tops as children.  The didn't have all of the fancy plastic toys that I grew up with.  They were both very excited to try their hand at my top and show me their stuff. Bouchaib, my coworker had the best overhand killer throw that I've seen to date...and he was often able to "kick-start the top on the ground.  Too bad I didn't learn that from him before he left.   So after my first throw or two, I was hooked.  The kids and I loved this spinning top thing, so I looked online and found The Toycrafter, and we all became hooked at battling tops in snow discs.  In fact we couldn't get enough, so after around a year of continuous battle play, I did some further research and found Spintastics.  I ordered a bunch of tops from Dale and some tops from Duncan as well, and began learning and teaching tricks from the videos on the Spintastics website, and the Duncan 'How to be a Player video".   After getting so many orders from California's Bay Area...(mainly our little school)..Dale decided to pay us a visit, along with his good friend Cliff Coleman, and do a demo for our school.   I'll never forget watching Dale and Cliff play RCS catch.  I thought I'd never learn that trick...and now my kids are doing it :)   I found trying to learn RCS and other regen tricks by watching videos very difficult. Thankfully Nationals is in CA, so eventually, after some pointers from Cliff and Alan G, I was able to get the hang of RCS and progress to other regens as well. 
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: the Earl of Whirl on March 09, 2010, 01:33:55 PM
I am one of the fortunate ones to be in the Schreiber lineage through Don Olney.  I have my youngest son to thank for dragging me to top workshops at IJA juggling fests in Burlington, Vermont (1994) and Las Vegas (1995).    When I accepted a call to a congregation in Miamisburg and they were trying to liven up their historic downtown I suggested an event centered around the historic top.    Each year when we brought in special guests I tried to learn something new from them.   I never dreamed I would ever get to the world championships.....much less ever compete.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Neff on March 09, 2010, 02:10:40 PM
This is a great thread Walter!

Darrin, did you mean Lao Alovus?

Herman Lau (13th floor video was my favorite trick)
RE: (
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Watts' Tops on March 09, 2010, 04:28:47 PM
Several have mentioned Dale Oliver.  Dale, who is responsible for your learning tops?
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Neff on March 09, 2010, 05:22:42 PM
Dale does not read this board.  :'(
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: poptop on March 09, 2010, 06:01:02 PM
I asked Dale and others this same question a while back.  Dale told me that he learned in hotel room (from Fred Mills and Don winters?) along with several duncan demonstrators.  When I get back home, I'll find the details (right now I'm waiting for a delayed flight in Wilmington NC...). 

@ Ta0, I also asked Dale where Herman Lau learned--Dale said he thought Herman learned from watching film of Forest Larson and Bob Rule.  I wish I had a copy of that film!

Here's a link to the post on the old board where we discussed this topic a bit--I love hearing/learning our spin top history! ( (
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: ta0 on March 09, 2010, 09:58:48 PM
In the letters from Schreiber's file, there is one from somebody who visited Joe Mauk in Philippines, not that long ago. About Mauk it says: "He learned from a man named Jim Steed who learned it from Jim Schreiber. He told me that Jim called him his top spinning grandson."

Dale does not read this board.  :'(
Probably not often  But he did a couple of days ago . . . ;)
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Eric on March 10, 2010, 10:32:21 AM
As for me, I started throwing tops in the '60 - Duncan wood and plastic tops.  I learned the basics from a Duncan booklet.  Does that put me in the Schreiber camp too?
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Dizzy on March 10, 2010, 04:16:05 PM
Here's my story:

Chapter 1

Back in 2001 I was shopping for some craft supplies at a Ben Franklin store in Des Moines, Iowa.  These stores have a small toy aisle similar to what you might find at a pharmacy or a small grocery, and it was there that I found my first top.  They had a few wooden BC tops that for some reason caught my interest and I bought all 3 that they had (one of which I still have).  In subsequent visits to the store, they never had the tops again.

I had a vague idea of how they worked, but I had never seen anyone throw a top and the instructions weren't helping me get started.  After two solid hours of frustration, I gave up on the directions and called my then 60 year-old father for help.  As I had guessed, my dad said he played with tops regularly as a kid and he was able to walk me through my first successful throw. 

I really enjoyed these tops at the time even though all I could do with them was spin, scoop and sky-rocket.  I was not even aware of the boomerang or trapeze throws, let alone all the tricks that progress from these two fundamentals.  Eventually I grew bored with the tops and put them away, but I still got them out every once in awhile to mess around with them a little or show them to friends.

Chapter 2

Back in August my wife Connie and I had our first baby.  Recent and frustrating Christmas shopping had shown me how short Pensacola is on specialty toy stores, so in January I was web searching for some interesting toys for Wyatt when I came across the site for Active People.  They make really cool toys for all ages, including astrojax, which I always kind of liked.  They had some embedded videos of some people doing really cool things with astrojax so I went to youtube to see more.  There I came across videos with all kinds of different skill toys.  One of these was a video with spintops posted by one cowgirlsam, who I understand is none other than our very own SpinQueen!

I was totally blown away by what she (and her kids) could do with tops.  I had never seen anything like it.  After another half-hour of videos (some by ta0 I think) I was badly hooked.  So much for toys for little Wyatt!  I have always had a small fascination with skill toys, but I never had the desire to master any of them until I saw those spintop videos.  Within another 15 minutes I had ordered a Blizzard and a Sidewinder, and I have not been able to put them down since (except for when Wyatt won't stop crying ).

I am very glad to have stumbled onto this fun and challenging hobby, and I'm pleased to be a part of the community here as well.

I hope to be able to contribute something here soon.   Until then, I think I will mostly be asking lots of questions of all you experts out there.

SpinQueen, thanks for that first video.

Ta0, thanks for the great site.

And to all the rest, all the best!

And who is Jim Schreiber?

Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: SpinQueen on March 10, 2010, 10:29:34 PM
Awesome! That made me smile  ;D  ;D
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Darren Kim on March 10, 2010, 10:41:04 PM
Yup that was him actually. And that's the website I learned my tricks from.

This is a great thread Walter!

Darrin, did you mean Lao Alovus?

Herman Lau (13th floor video was my favorite trick)
RE: (
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Watts' Tops on March 12, 2010, 04:59:20 PM
Welcome to the fascinating world of tops.  Good to have you on board.
You asked who Jim Schreiber is.  Check out his name on the search engine on this site and your question will be answered.  He is the Granddaddy top spinner.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Neff on March 12, 2010, 06:36:31 PM
And who is Jim Schreiber?
You'll find most of your answers in this post: (
It starts off about his video, but scroll around a bit.

Also, a tip for searching, be sure you are on the forum's Index page before your search.  If you are on a topic page, it will only search from there "down" so to speak.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Jon Gates on March 14, 2010, 01:15:33 PM
I learned to wind and spin from Bob Rule in 1990, later that year Dale Oliver taught me the snap start and told me about regenerating spin. 1993 I got my first watts top (a replica of Jim Schreiber's top) and I met Walter Watts and Don Winters this is when I started to learn regenerate the spin. everything else I was self taught.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: jim in paris on March 14, 2010, 03:54:49 PM
salut Jon !

you learned from bob rule ?? great to hear that!!
so ,all in all ,you've done 20 years of spintop practice !and got the snap start for over 15 years:!



Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Watts' Tops on March 15, 2010, 05:03:42 PM
Good to see your post, Jon Gates.  Have thought of you many times.  Your self teaching has passed my old school top spinning by miles.  Good for you. :)
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: poptop on March 15, 2010, 05:30:29 PM
So what does a replica of Jim Schreiber's top look like?  Or perhaps better yet, the original???
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Watts' Tops on March 16, 2010, 12:53:35 PM
The replica  of Jim Schreiber's tops can be found on Watts'  I do not know how to transfer pictures to this site although I have tried follow directions or I would post a few pictures.  Sorry. :(
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Neff on March 16, 2010, 04:58:39 PM
It can be confusing.  I'll try to show you how I do it:
1) If the image is already on the web, right-click on it and "copy image URL"
2) Go to the post reply screen and click the button just above the first smiley, it will place the following code (without apostrophe):
3) Paste (ctrl+V) the URL between the ][ brackets

If the image is not already on the web, you have to upload it to something like Flickr or Photobucket

These are the only pics I can find on

Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Watts' Tops on March 16, 2010, 09:27:03 PM
Thanks Chris.  You did it.  I will try follow your directions tomorrow. ;D
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Spamgray on March 17, 2010, 04:34:41 AM
Mine was through my Father, Alan.

I think he learned from Jon Gates.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Jon Gates on March 17, 2010, 09:04:59 PM (
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Jon Gates on March 17, 2010, 09:20:53 PM
walt told me that this was "just like the top Jim Schreiber used" same size and color.
the gates top was strongly influenced by this shape.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: poptop on March 17, 2010, 09:50:52 PM
Thanks Jon!  Nice to see it is well used :D
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Spinningray on March 17, 2010, 10:39:21 PM
Jon was definitely a big influence for me learning to regenerate. However, it was Rick Prevett that really got me hooked on spin tops. I assume that Walter Watts had a big influence on Rick. So it was probably Jim Schreiber who ultimately got us into tops.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Jon Gates on March 18, 2010, 12:31:39 PM
so this makes me wonder..... Who taught Jim Schreiber?
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Watts' Tops on March 18, 2010, 07:35:47 PM
Jon,  Your beat up  top looks wonderful.  That must be one of the original ones with an aluminum points.  It seems to me that we added some weight to it in Vermont.  Am I talking about the same top?

I never heard where or how Jim Schreiber learned to spin tops.  He just did and I never thought to ask him while he worked with me and others.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: mtntop on March 18, 2010, 08:13:48 PM
  Frank Taggart who I work with  brought me a video from Duncan he had just got it with a yoyo he bought from a discount store. I saw Steve Brown doing counter weight tricks!! Wow I had no Idea so off to buy a yoyo at the chest  purchase compleated I walked out the front door and strings be flying om-gosh wow what a show yo-yo club was on. I had done diablo pins rings ect. Tops are hard you have to love them and want to learn wow what a journey every second spent is worth a million I love it!! So who Taught me tops !!!
  Jon Gates for sure and I got some really good one on One training from Matt an employee at the Wizards Chest, Darren and I started at the same time I guess it was a perfect storm I got into juggling in Colorado but the Wizards Chest, Jon, Matt,  And Darren got me spinning. 
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Jon Gates on March 18, 2010, 09:17:39 PM
That top was made before you started to put a # on them. this is the one with a aluminum tip. it has been balanced with nails pounded into the light side of the top. I bought it from you at the IJA meet in Fargo. I remember that you had about 15 to 20 tops laying out to sell. I picked this one up and you seemed very excited that I wanted that top. you told me that this was a top just like jim used. I have not played with it for about 10 years because it has a big chunk wood missing on the side. some day I will repair it and it will spin again.... Oh yes, it will spin again!
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: the Earl of Whirl on March 18, 2010, 10:21:15 PM
I was there in Fargo and I remember seeing those tops laying out on the ground.  It was all too much for me at the time (1993 I believe) as I was heavily into joggling.  But I noticed them and was amazed at their size.  I had my hands too full with all the possibilities in juggling while running, though.  I remember seeing a very thin Jon Gates running around with all the yo-yo guys (to be fair, I was a lot thinner then too).  I wish I would have paid more attention and gotten into top spinning a little earlier.

Good luck with the repair of that top, Jon.  I'm anxious to hear about it spinning again.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Pulpowsky on March 19, 2010, 02:50:37 AM
John. Your answer about aluminium tips change definitively my idea about only-steel tips.

Good players can use that tips without problems. And are easy to mechanize. Maurizio tops come with such material tip, and after a initial refusing the idea was becoming greater in my mind.
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Watts' Tops on March 19, 2010, 10:07:26 PM
  Thanks Jon for the response.  I quit making aluminum tips.  They are not as durable as steel and they mark floors.  The entire top has evolved some since 93.
  Where did the rest get your start in tops?  I am reading a lot of fascinating stories. Keep them coming. :D
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: agentsac on March 20, 2010, 09:52:49 AM
i've enjoyed the stories as well.

since i am relatively new to spintops, my story isn't quite as long (or interesting). how i got started: well, i started with yo-yos and never really heard too much about tops until YYF put out their promo video for their spintops. at that point i realized how amazing tops are and what you can do with them (ironically, i still don't own a YYF top). after that, everything was just a google search away. technically, i learned from ta0, Steve Brown, Lao Alolus, Herman Lau, Dale and Val, Jon Gates, Miggy, Dave Bazan, csam, Felix Avellana, Matt Ritter, countless others...just about anyone that has put a video on the internet. of course, i've met some of these people in person, but mostly i learn by watching freestyle videos and tutorials. i think the internet has really opened up the sport and how it develops.

Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Watts' Tops on March 20, 2010, 10:00:11 AM
Agentsac,  Thanks for posting--great top linage.  I am looking forward to hundreds that learn top spinning just like you have. 8)
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: mtntop on March 20, 2010, 11:01:48 AM
Yes Agentsac I too believe the internet deserves a big hand for helping us meet, learn, communicate, and share. Without this amazing link we would all be quite isolated but now we talk all around the world, so instead of spinning with one or two or none others we all spin together every day and invite others to join in.

Spin On, Log ON, Rock ON
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Darren Kim on March 23, 2010, 12:14:46 AM
It's so cool how almost every one here was influenced by someone else here, through either personal contact or video, who was influenced by Jim
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Watts' Tops on March 23, 2010, 08:30:31 PM
This has been my observation as well.  We go back to Jim Schreiber over and over.   I love the stories I'm reading.  Keep them coming.  Where, from whom, how, did you learn to spin a top and why are you doing it? :)
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Ketzaltlipoka on April 03, 2010, 10:45:04 PM
Well, the main person who influenced over me to become a spin top player, was, no doubt, Guillermo Durán.
he was the first big spectacular spin top player I have ever seen.
Unfortunately, He was unable to teach me, mainly, ´cos the way he spin the top (unique in the world I know, by the way)
You can see him in this video Magic Top!!!
Hsi brother Dalí, was my first teacher, who taught me to do lazadas.
Memo told me about Gustavo Castro,
and, one day, I was training juggling in one park of the city...and a man closed to me, and we start to talk, and this man is brother of Gustavo.
They both have been my two teachers of top..
Dalí and Gustavo.

Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: Mark Magyar on August 03, 2010, 11:41:51 AM
In the letters from Schreiber's file, there is one from somebody who visited Joe Mauk in Philippines, not that long ago. About Mauk it says: "He learned from a man named Jim Steed who learned it from Jim Schreiber. He told me that Jim called him his top spinning grandson."

Received the following FB message from Joe Mauk not that long ago:

Top Spinning Background

 Thought I would post this answer to a friend's question since others often ask how I got into tops.

I learned to spin tops from Jim Steed, of Grand Rapids, MI, (a student of Jim Schreiber) when he was doing shows at Word of Life camps in Schroon Lake NY in 1973 where I was on staff. I met with Jim Schreiber 3 times before he went to glory, the first two while his Jemima was still alive. The last I think was 1990, he was 85 then. My diabolo from China that makes sound was a gift from him at that time. He said it was broken but maybe I could fix it. Actually it was pretty much fine but needed steady hands to get started, which he didn't have at that age. But I wrote and told him I fixed it and it has been part of my show ever since.

I began collecting tops in 1973 and arrived in Australia to start a short-term Bible school for WOL in 1975. A few months into that year I was asked to fill in for a youth camp speaker on short notice and tried putting a few tops together for a show. Was very well received, started getting invitations to do the show and people started giving me tops and making them for me. Had two speaking tours of New Zealand in 1977 and 1978 and a retired farmer named Frank Coe made me my larger tops at those times. By Dec. 1978 when I left Australia the show had developed into basically what it still is now. Some tops have gone and others been added but the flow of the show has not changed much.

The DVD was filmed in 2001 at our previous center on Lake Caliraya, Laguna, Philippines. We left that place for our present center in 2003. The DVD updates the contact information although the location is not our present place, which can be found at (

We came to the Philippines in 1980 to start another short-term Bible school for WOL, I became WOL Philippines field director in 1986. I left WOL to join the company that developed the Caliraya center in 1993. Our present site is actually the former WOL camp and Bible school which we took over in 2003 after their lease expired (they bought their own property elsewhere) so we are back where we began in the Philippines.

While a Bible teacher and administrator for WOL I would do tops as a "sideline" ministry maybe 40 or more times a year. When I got into managing the Caliraya center they shot up to 250-300 shows a year, with most being 308 shows in 1998. (My goal for 1999 was to NOT do 300 shows, we got it back down to 250-280) Here at the Rizal center we are still topping 200 shows every year. Sometime this month I am on target to do my 4,000th top show since arriving in the Philippines January 1980. So for the last 17 of my 30 years in the Philippines, my main ministry has been tops evangelism (as far as speaking opportunities go, there are a lot of other things I am doing!).
Title: Re: Spintop lineages
Post by: the Earl of Whirl on August 03, 2010, 06:28:19 PM
Interesting.  Yes, 300 shows a year is a pretty full schedule.  That's a lot of top spinning in front of people!!!