Do You DIR?
What is DIR?
DIR, unlike PADI, NAUI and the other diving organizations, is not a distinct training organization, but rather a diving philosophy or methodology that encompasses skills, planning, equipment, and much more. It is quite possibly both the most celebrated and most criticized diving methodology currently.
DIR in scuba diving stands for “Doing It Right” and they are best known for their philosophy of dive kit setup, but actually, DIR encompasses a series of principles of diving that spans the entire palette; from skills to gear to planning to logging, and more.
It is taught primarily by two organizations, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) and Unified Team Diving (UTD). A number of organizations, especially those teaching technical diving, also teach principles quite similar to DIR.
The origin of DIR in scuba diving can be traced back to cave diving in the 1990s, especially in the Woodville-Karst Plains Project in Florida, one of the most ambitious cave diving projects in the world.
Given the extreme, and dangerous, nature of the dives done there, a need arose to minimize risk, and this was done through a strong focus on basic skills, on planning, and on a uniform approach to equipment. This would allow everyone to know how each other's gear worked and how it was set up.
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Two of the divers in the WKPP are in particular associated with DIR, Jarod Jablonski and George Irvine III, who formalized the system. The term “Doing It Right” is accredited to Irvine. From extreme cave diving, the DIR principled spread into other kinds of technical diving, and from there, to recreational diving.
Philosophy and skills
The main philosophy is that risk of diving can be reduced by focusing on key skills, including finning techniques, navigation, trim and buoyancy, and equipment setup. Diving is always done in teams, which may consist of two or more divers. Everyone in a team should be aware of each other’s roles, and be familiar with each other’s equipment setup, in case of an emergency. Approaches and equipment is deliberately kept simplistic (more on gear in part two of this article), and all divers are considered to be responsible for the safety of each other.
In this sense, the philosophy isn’t that different from other organizations, but the degree of focus is. For instance, all exercises during training dives are taught mid-water, hovering in perfect trim (meaning the diver is perfectly level), right from the first dive on the intro course.
Other skills that are emphasized are finning techniques, and learning different finning styles (typically flutter kick, frog kick, and bent-knee cave diver’s kick, as well as reverse kicking, for backing up) are taught.
Standards are set as to the students’ and divers’ fitness levels, too. DIR is the only system that has swimming tests on all levels of training, and divers are required to maintain high level of fitness, not be overweight or smoke (smokers are not permitted to enter DIR courses).
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Check out part II featured on Wednesday, for more on DIR, including the gear setup, and some of the criticism the system has seen.