11 June, 2008

To DIR or not to DIR?....

Some consider them radical, some consider them a “bunch of clowns” and some consider them innovators. Whatever the case may be the DIR movement (DIR = Doing it Right) as attracted some attention as of lately among members of the more standard diving school and if you were to take a look across the diving on-line forums you are very likely to pick up quite a few threads on the subject; some of which can get pretty heated with exchanges between DIR disciples and followers of more traditional diving techniques.

To be fair to DIR, when reading these threads I always see a great amount of ignorance and / or misunderstanding on the subject matter.

I hold some 15 certification cards with PADI, Dive Master being the most recent, so you could say that I have been ‘brought up” as a fairly standard diver i.e. following very standard rules and procedures as per PADI manuals. This may be correct to a certain extent.

I started conducting some research into DIR diving a couple of years back. I visited the Global Underwater Explorers site a few times and bought a couple of books on DIR through the same (DOING IT RIGHT: The Fundamentals of Better Diving by Jarrod Jablonski and DRESS FOR SUCCESS by Dan MacKay). Since then I have also spent a few hundred dollars on reconfiguring my gear a few times. Trying and testing seeing for myself what all the fuss was about.

Personally I don’t think I can classify myself as a 100% DIR diver although most of my gear has been configured around it. DIR, as such, concedes very little or no room for deviation from its teachings but that is not something that puts me off as I believe in taking the best from what I learn and apply it to what I really need. May be it is that level of stringent doctrine that has earn them a reputation among traditional divers but if you look carefully and understand how DIR came to be it will be easy to understand their side of the story.

DIR was developed by some of the most experienced and daring cave and wreck divers. It was born out of necessity to provide the daring ones, the ones interested in pushing the limits beyond the traditional recreational diving, with clear set of procedures to minimize risk. DIR was conceived in some of the most extreme diving environments and situations and I can safely say that it was born out of the mistakes, at time fatal, of many over the years. A lot a thinking and practical experience has gone into DIR and the fact that its founders were able to conduct some of the longest and deepest cave diving explorations ever should be good enough proof that there is some truth to what they say. Sure!! If you want to apply DIR to the letter and in full to your 18m dive in crystal clear, warm waters without current a plenty of pretty fish you may think of it as over the top but if you transport that into a much more severe underwater environment you may start to see some value in it.

There are three fundamentals to good and safe diving, no matter the level nor the environment at / in which it is done: Diving Experience, Diving Ability and a Robust Equipment Configuration. In my view DIR takes these fundamentals to a higher level for the ones interested to make that jump and also fills in some of the gaps left by some of the more commercially minded dive training organizations.


Alexander Markowetz said...

Excellent, I got quoted on the bunch of clowns. ;-)

Sure, the guys behind DIR came up with some nifty kit (octopus around the neck), and did away with divers being decorated like Christmas-trees. But many other people have made similar contributions. My German dive crew for example uses 1.2 meter fixed buddy-leashes, for dives in super-low viz (< 1m). Not DIR, but the only solution that proved viable.

So, if DIR divers made such great contributions, how come many people (including myself) cannot stand them?

1. The arrogance. "Doing It Right", meaning that everybody else does it wrong. However, not unlike sex, there are many ways of doing "it". Some work better than others, but at the end of the day, the particular circumstances decide the most suitable practice/position. Something, DIR failed to recognize.

2. George Irvine.

3. The Fetish. If you have ever dove in murky waters, you learned to appreciate your buddy's gear being yellow. For the same reason, professional equipment like Kirby Morgan comes in yellow/orange only. So DIR divers dress entirely in black, because:
a. They feel so special, and need to set themselves apart from ordinary divers.
b. They don't feel a need to have their bodies recovered from a 300m dive.
c. Really, they want to be SEAL underwater demolition teams, but failed to qualify. (Military divers being the only people with any need to dress black.)
d. They are not out of the closet (yet), and would rather sport the black rubber-suit at a gay bar.

Take your pick. But even taking taking their long list of contributions into account, DIR divers remain a bunch of clowns.

Frog Man said...

I knew the quote would get you going Alex!! ah ah ah!. It would be nice if others also took part in the exchange with comments. Thanks for being always so participative. It's good. Personally, as I mentioned in my post, I have only taken from DIR what I find useful in my diving activities. I have a spare reg around my neck but it is bright yellow. My wet suit is also black and bright yellow. Did a couple of disappearig acts in HKG waters and learnt the lesson about being the Man in Black. By the way, theer is much more to DIR than what you have seen on the site. If you take the time to read their wreck and cave diving manuals who has invented / introduced what may be debatable and also some of your views may be questionable. In any case.. diving is all about the right horses for the right courses. It is very personal and what works well for one may not work so well for another.

Keep diving



Alexander Markowetz said...

But if you deviate from the holy truth, you are not DIR. You even have to watch out that the DIR's don't start throwing stones at you.

Funnily enough, as innovative as DIR might have been, most of their disciples hardly have the brains to come up with any idea of their own. Instead, they like to mimic their leaders, and teach people about the "true" and "right" way of diving.

These guys just need to get over themselves.

Sandy said...

As usual, apply your own judgement.
DIR got some stuff to do but also to avoid, same goes for all others like BSAC, CMAS, NAUI,PADI etc.
Take the best of each and...........enjoy your dive that's what it's all about

Frog Man said...

By the way, the spare reg on mounted on a "neck lace" complements the primary reg mounted on a longer hose. DIR prescribes that the primary reg is given to the diver in need - the long hose giving more space between the two and allowing a single line swim in a restricted area like a wreck or a cave. The secondary reg is mounted on a much shorter hose than normal and positioned under your chin mounted, normally, on a bungee. The idea is that the diver in need if not offered air from the primary reg may be snatching the same in panic. The secondary reg mounted as DIR prescribes provides a very quick replacement of the primary reg without much fumbling about looking for it. Personally I don't like the idea of a fixed bungee as the panicked diver may be going for it and pulling on it without success which may turn in an even worse situation. I mount mine along similar DIR guidelines but I use a manta rubber necklace to which the secondary reg mouthpiece is actually "clipping into" rather than being tied to and which allow a quick disconnection of the secondary reg in case it is snatched by a panicked out-of-air diver instead of the primary reg. I recognise this probably makes me a non-DIR diver but, talking about personal innovation, I reckon that worked well for me.