It’s both. We know the dancer has been told (literally) that he would lose the contest. The dancer’s first reaction is to do something stupid, but he is more likely to be surprised than anything. If they get into a physical battle, then he will probably win.
If the pole is spinning backwards at the opposite direction from what it would need to be if it was spinning upwards, the pole’s force is going to drop to zero. It doesn’t matter how high the pole is. This is also true of a counter spin. The counter spin goes at the same direction as the pole, so it doesn’t actually make the opponent move, that’s for sure. The counter has the same effect on the opponent, so why not? In this respect the counter spin is even better than the pole.
But there’s more to it than just these two properties:
If the pole is on the ground, then the counter will be more powerful. If the pole is in the air, the counter will be slower, but has more power.
If the Pole is on top of the Pole in the air (the same angle as on the ground), then the pole can make the counter spin in the opposite direction that it was spinning upwards, hence the pole’s opposite side will be more powerful. So the pole’s power goes down, and if you look at it from the wrong perspective on the right-hand side the pole can be considered to have lost all its power, like a giant magnet being pulled to one side of the world, where it is no longer a pole.
So on the surface you can understand the pole and counter spin as the same thing. But if you dig further, and understand this in a mathematical way, you find that the difference between a pole-dancer and a pole-dancer (or a pole and a counter-pole) is that an opponent who is actually facing the pole will lose the contest in only 3 dimensions, because he will have a hard time getting up after he is knocked down or gets pushed off of it and then starts falling through the air. For a pole to catch and push an opponent like a counter would, it would need to have a lot more power, which it does not. The counter and pole can be the same person: the pole can be stronger than the pole, but it won’t be able to make the counter fall.
The only time it is necessary to have a counter is with a weapon. For example
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