History--Posted by JJ on another board

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Posted by DougD on October 28, 2003 at 11:03:02:

Hello Everyone,

I know that many of you decided long ago how you felt about DIR, Halcyon, and GUE. However, some of you are still trying to evaluate these groups and how they fit into your future diving plans.

Over the years I have watched individuals intentionally misrepresent DIR, Halcyon and GUE and as a result became immune to what was being traded on the various lists. However, recently I had occasion to discuss issues of this kind with a number of individuals, some of who were honestly unaware of the proper history, others who could care less, and some others who were unknowing pawns in the misrepresentation of these entities. Therefore, I have decided, as briefly as I can, to give an account of these organizations and of their philosophical underpinnings.

In the earliest days of cave diving there were various groups of divers, each with individual commitment to things like streamlining, fitness, teamwork, exploration, and technological advancement. Much like today, cave diving meant different things to different people. There were those with a decidedly recreational focus and those with predominantly focused on exploration. There have been many cave explorers over the history of cave diving. Two of the most known and prolific divers to to date have been Sheck Exley and the divers of the WKPP. Sheck dove with many divers over the years but generally did his explorations alone. Few people know that near the end of his lifetime Sheck had started diving regularly with the WKPP and had almost instantly appreciated the value of DIR. However, unfortunately, outside of diving with the WKPP Sheck had not yet fully adopted DIR. I find this regrettable in that from my perspective it was this lack of discipline with respect to gas selection and team diving that were largely responsible for his death. I mean no disrespect to Sheck, his memory or accomplishments. I cared deeply for him and respected both his abilities and personality tremendously; it saddens me all the more that he was the victim of such a needless tragedy.

Initially, none of the prominent explorers, including those belonging to the WKPP, promoted a consistent approach to diving; something akin to what is now known as “DIR.” Various practices, such as donating the long hose, were utilized by various individuals, but there was no uniform practice running across an entire team. The WKPP of that day was the closest entity that as a group promoted the use of a specific system, though there was really no clear sense of what this meant. Most of the initial focus remained on “streamlining” equipment withWKPP lead divers Bill Gavin, Bill Main, and Lamar English spending countless hours on various pieces of equipment; Bill Gavin being the most meticulous of the group. I loved talking to him about his theory that the “fates” knew when you had properly maintained your equipment and when you had not; if you had not then the fates would seize upon you. It was, at least in part, a joke among as all. Yet, this sort of ethos became woven into the fabric of the WKPP.

It was Bill Gavin that first promoted the term Hogarthian (a term people seize upon in a naïve attempt to brow beat DIR). In some ways, the whole thing was a bit of a joke in so far as Bill Main (while certainly a significant part of the history) could lay no more claim to the group’s meticulous focus on equipment than any of its other members. For instance, there was the order of Hogarth (started by my then boss at the University of Florida Academic Diving Program) and other efforts at taxonomy. These, in an unofficial way, were the beginning of a formalized paradigm. However, in the interest of clarity let me emphasize that though many wrote about and promoted “streamlining”;, many of these same individuals let lights dangle freely, used huge double BC’s, wore two primary lights, and generally confused the entire premise of a cleanly configured diver. I do not say this to offend anyone. There were certainly INDIVIDUALS that sought to be minimally configured. There were others that experimented with significant redundancy. The sport was evolving so this was, in a sense, to be expected. Yet, there was no ordered system or group appreciation of what was desirable, save the initial discussions within the WKPP. Moreover, there were no discussions of any merit that sought to formalize a standard system with a broad approach to encompass team diving, standardized gasses, defined procedures, organized decompression, stipulated emergency procedures, and physical fitness.

It was in this climate that George Irvine and I introduced the hotly debated DIR system. I began writing about the elements of DIR in the early 1990’s and as Internet discussion groups began to blossom in the early 90’s these elements became more widely debated. George and I carefully outlined an ever more rigorous standard of care with respect to diving. It was designed from the outset to address every component of safe and efficient diving. We set about to formalize an equipment configuration that previously had been ill defined and, for the first time, insisted upon its use within our group and amongst our dive buddies. At the time I was teaching for nearly every major organization (PADI, NAUI, PDIC, YMCA, CMAS, NSS-CDS, NACD, IAND (now IANTD), and TDI (after they split from IAND). I was on the BOD of the NACD and NSS-CDS and was, for a time, the Training Director for the NACD. I mention these affiliations so that the interested could appreciate that my efforts were initially very much more about inclusion. I worked very hard toward promoting safety and uniformity WITHIN these organizations and WITHIN the industry at large. In fact, most of our initial group spoke regularly at conventions and wrote articles in their various organizations’ magazines.

After a time I came to realize that my efforts to change the status quo were perhaps unfair to the organizations themselves. This is because I saw first-hand how resistant people were any sort of change; in fact, many of these individuals had no interest in the commitment that DIR represented. Therefore, I amicably resigned my formal positions and sought out a means of providing a global instrument that would allow interested parties a means by which to learn about DIR; this, in turn, gave rise to GUE.

Concurrently, after many frustrated attempts to convince the major manufacturers of technical diver gear to make DIR equipment we also set out to provide, at least for ourselves, a conduit for this equipment. Initially I had no desire to manufacture equipment. Training and exploration were my focus. However, we continued to try and encourage individuals to recognize the value of these ideas. Now, of course, after tremendous effort and expense others seek to capitalize on what they resisted. Considering these events, I find it hard to imagine that anyone could begrudge our irritation at those that would intentionally confuse the meaning of DIR.

I imagine that many of you have reasons to dislike the implied exclusion within DIR (in fact, it is a self-selected exclusion because if you want to embrace all its tenets it is open to you). I also appreciate that some of you have a host of other reasons for not liking the aforementioned organizations. Honestly, I am perfectly comfortable with that fact. I am more committed to the freedom this choice represents than to any other paradigm. Yet, I seek to facilitate a choice based upon facts and not mangled representations.

Several individuals have complained about Halcyon’s association with DIR and about GUE’s close relation to Halcyon. Perhaps this history will assist those that misunderstand these relations. Because the interaction of these groups has been promoted as a reason to disparage their purpose I will, in another post, speak directly to the associations within GUE and Halcyon as well as the advancement of Halcyon-like products.

Best wishes to you all,

Jarrod Jablonski
CEO Halcyon Manufacturing
President GUE
CEO Extreme Exposure

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