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What's with the UTD haters?

Discussion in 'Sidemount Diving' started by SanDiegoSidemount, Feb 1, 2014.

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  1. victorzamora

    victorzamora Solo Diver

    Hey Mike, I'm glad my post helped clarify where I was coming from. I was going to go through your post point-by-point until I saw Andy's post handling that pretty clearly already. I don't want to reiterate what he's posted, so let me just add a "+1" to everything he's said.

    Andy and I have very different styles of sidemount diving, and we each have our reasons. I understand his reasons, and am in full support of the compromises he made for his style. I believe the reverse can be true, as well, in that Andy understands why I do things the way I do it. If I were diving in Andy's conditions frequently, I would probably change to his style of sidemount diving. In my training and my experience, I have learned how to be a compatible team mate with any other diving configuration I can imagine. I've done every drill imaginable with people wearing no tanks, one BM, one SM, two BM, two BM and a stage and a deco bottle, CCR, SCR, two SM, and many different variations of each system. I am fully confident that I can dive in any mixed team configuration you could dream up.

    I do see things as black and white....either there's a good logical progression, or there isn't. I didn't choose the same setup Andy did, but as has been said, he had a different set of parameters leading to his style. I get it. I don't get the UTD SM system.

    What I said was he is one of the best cave divers. That's not really all that personal. It was Edd Sorenson, and even his biggest haters will admit his incredibly high level of proficiency and his huge contributions to Cave Diving and Sidemount diving. His fans could argue that he's the best, but that's not the argument I'm here to make. My point was that a well respected, highly capable cave instructor (known for being a bit of a buttEdd) put me through a nonstop barrage of drills putting my SM system to the test, and I passed. My SM system is very similar to his, and lots of his students, and that system/style has REALLY been pushed to the limits, and gets pushed to the limits frequently. He and his dive 4+ hour dives frequently, in a cave, with setups and the whole works. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for anyone doing anything less than a multiple-stage, multiple-scooter, deep, deco, cave dive.

    I'd love to know who. Not all "famous" instructors are good.

    Good. That would be a VERY foolish thing to say :D

    What fashion would that be?

    I love the DIR way of teaching. If I weren't such a fan of SM, I'd be a GUE diver. My last 2 backmount rigs have been Hogarthian. My wife (recreational-only AOW diver) dives a Hogarthian BPW with a Can light, frog-kicking, with everything routed the DIR-way (except the boltsnaps on my regs are zipties instead of cave line, and she uses swivel joints on her regs). My biggest issue with the Z-SM thing is because of how far it goes AWAY from the DIR principles. I truly believe my system is much more in line with the true intentions of DIR than the Z could ever be.

    On the topic of scalability and consistency....this is one of the biggest lies perpetrated by UTD, and one of my biggest issues with the Z-SM system. Let me ask you, do BM doubles share LP or HP gas? There's a difference. With BM, do you have to turn your tanks on and off every 300psi? How about single-tank SM? There's another difference. Kevrumbo, either in this thread or another, admitted directly that there are more possible failure modes in SM than BM, and the two are different, and have different methods of responding to them. This means, to me, that the two are very different. Also, if UTD is offering a SM class, then clearly their system is not SO compatible with BM that a SM-specific class is no longer required. Once you start talking about the Mx Rebreather, you add a HUGE list of differences between the other two systems. If you want true consistency, ban SM and CC completely. Heck, ban single tanks while you're at it. And any additional tanks beyond a single deco bottle. But make that a requirement so nobody has to change anything, at all, ever.

    With the SM that I believe in, I know PLENTY of people that go from OW training through Full Cave/Trimix/DPV/Deep Cave using the same principles and fundamentals taught in their OW training course. It does not require the additional expense, complexity, and failure points of the UTD system to accomplish that. It simply requires a good instructor from Day 1. Look at the logo for Cave Adventurers. The guy in the logo (I know him personally) was on his 25th dive ever in that capture. His tanks were perfectly aligned, his trim was perfect, his posture was perfect, and he was in a cave. He's never had a tank on his back, and he's never changed any of the principles he was taught on Day 1.

    So is IndySM. So is backmount. It's not really unique.

    Any good SM diver should be able to spool up to diving doubles easily/quickly with a good instructor. The same can be said the other way around....even without the extra hoses and failure points of the Z.

    Maybe, but nobody has been able to provide me with one. Also, humans aren't always logical creatures. There are plenty of people that would dive the UTD thing without a good reason.
  2. bada3003

    bada3003 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Indiana
    Not minor at all. :) Especially when diving in 40s temp in the midwest.

    ---------- Post added June 20th, 2014 at 11:46 PM ----------

    Will give the tiny ones a try.
    SanDiegoSidemount likes this.
  3. bluemed

    bluemed Master Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: world
    You seem to be angry.
    I had a look at your videos and to me it looks you don't know much about DIR, however you claim to be an expert and have a huge opinion, "marinated"
    with sarcasm.
    It shows in your equipment choice and the way you dive.
    Sarcasm is a sign of insecurity.
    I always try to treat all instructors as colleagues, I might pickup something new, occasionally I screw up.

    Like I said before ; UTD delivers highly skilled Instructors and students, so there must be something.
    I dive independent sidemount, and the Z system.....it gives me a better understanding of the weaknesses of each system, I am only trying to explain why I do that.
  4. DevonDiver

    DevonDiver N/A

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Subic Bay, Philippines
    And yet you wish to directly & personally attack me, and try to belittle my diving..... what does that show?

    Again... not another great example of UTD representation.

    I had the courtesy of only countering your statements, not attacking you directly. Debate is about the exchange and critique of viewpoints. When one party switches to directly attacking the other debater, then it normally signifies an inability to continue intelligently in debate.

    Attack the view or opinions. Questions the facts. Fair enough. But try not to sink low enough to actually resort to personal insults. If your argument doesn't hold water...and you have nothing further to counter with... just admit it. Nobody appreciates a mud-slinger.

    Your retort certainly shows an inability to refute any of the points I raised, albeit my points were expressed with some levity and sarcasm. I'm British, and ex-military... so sarcasm is something to be expected. I use sarcasm to give you the option to laugh off the otherwise quite direct criticism that it implies. But if you'd prefer a more direct, un-diplomatic approach, I can certainly provide that...

    How exactly does my diving style and equipment choice epitomize 'sarcasm'? LOL It makes me feel quite 'artistic' to be told that.

    Let's face it. You know nothing of the way I dive... and vice-versa. That's why I, at least, would refrain from making moronic comments about your diving. Moronic because...of course...I've never actually seen you diving with my own eyes. But, I guess, you're entitled to spout your verbal diarrhea, if that's what floats your boat and makes you feel better (or gives you something personally affirming to say pending any rational retort to the points raised in debate).

    When exactly did I ever "claim to be an expert?" Please reference that...

    But my knowledge of 'DIR' stretches back a mere 12 years... and has heavily influenced my diving in that time. Of course, UTD likes to 're-define' their own definition of 'DIR'... something scorned by GUE, who probably deserve credit for the term... and how they developed it from it's Hogarthian roots.

    But just for the sake of compromise... I'll say I am a Hogarthian diver, not a DIR diver. :coffee:

    However, like UTD does, I reserve the right to call myself whatever I want, according to my own definitions... :wink:

    The equipment I use, and that is featured in some of my videos, is quite often prototype stuff sent to me be several sidemount manufacturers... whom I consult for on product development. My personal choice... and what I use when not trialing/configuring prototype stuff.... is actually a.... Z-Trim.....! Go figure... you went and shot yourself in the ass didn't you? LOL

    As for my videos... they are 'warts and all'... actual training videos of actual students, on actual training dives, making actual mistakes etc.. They aren't the carefully choreographed 'idealistic' staged nonsense pumped out by some individuals/agencies to make themselves look good.

    I, like UTD and GUE...and a plethora of other instructors, use video for recording and de-briefing student performance. That's what I turn into 'keepsake' videos for the students, when I have time. UTD don't use their student video footage for marketing... so stop thinking that my student footage is meant as an idealized advertisement... it isn't...

    I have some strong opinions, but not many. And none that are 'huge'. That word is normally used in connection with the word 'ego'. I don't have a huge ego - as anyone who knows me, or has dived with me, would testify to. I am a knowledge-sponge from whoever I dive with.

    That said, I've dived with UTD divers and instructors. I dived with Z-system users. I'm still not convinced of the Z-System - I simply find no justification for it, other than being a huge cash-cow to UTD. I approached it with an open-mind... I asked the same questions of it that others have asked on this thread. It failed to answer those questions.... just as it's supporters fail to answer them here...

    The lack of any acceptable (by the majority) justification is laughable. So I'm laughing (not angry)... and sarcasm is funny. I'm sorry you don't like being laughed at. Perhaps you can improve your responses to illicit a more serious response from those who are looking for a legitimate explanation of the merits of the Z-System... ?

    Saying it doesn't make it a fact.

    I know a former-PADI into UTD cross-over, fast-track instructor. I was told he was one of very few instructors actually banned from dive centers in my area.... he, I was informed, was deemed a dangerous liability, losing students etc on dives,... even on 1-2-1 classes...unable to navigate on wreck dives. When he went easily into UTD (Visa card...that'll do nicely...kerrr-ching!) it lowered my opinions on UTD substantially. The Z-System further lowered them.. The increasing commercialization of UTD causes a further decline in my opinion.. (What's next? UTD branded underwear? Will it be mandatory to wear by standards?)

    I also know a former UTD instructor that quit the agency (declining standards/commercialization are the reasons he cited) and now just teaches for PADI. What does that say? *

    *"So there must be something".

    There seems to be only two answers, from the UTD fold, in response to critique levelled at the Z-System:

    1) "Because I like it" - which is a fair validation of a person's reason for selecting it, but in no way a justification of the system itself. Unless of course, it is combined with....

    2) "Because UTD is superior" - or words to that effect (i.e. "UTD delivers highly skilled..."). Which seems to reduce legitimacy of the Z-System to the most simple 'because we are better...and it's what we choose' response.

    So... in a nutshell... "I am a UTD diver/instructor, I am superior... de facto... what UTD chooses... and therefore, what I choose... is the best. Thus, that is all that needs to be said on the matter".

    Which takes us away from the Z-System... and back to the original premise of this thread.. why people dislike UTD.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014
    Pullmyfinger and mathauck0814 like this.
  5. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    I looked at this thread in the beginning and elected to stay out of it. I just glanced in and saw that it has become pretty much a debate on the Z-system, and I don't have a lot to say about that.

    I spent several years in the UTD system before leaving it. I left it for several reasons, none of which had anything remotely to do with the Z-system, and in a quick skimming of these pages, the reasons I left don't seem to be big issues for others. I thought I would talk about one of those reasons here, though.
    One day I listened to the debriefing of a training dive in which I had not participated. At one point the divers had done something related to the sequence of their actions that the instructor did not like. The instructor hammered them on it, telling them they must "always, always, always" do it the way he described. On the very next dive, my training partner and I were put into a similar (but not identical) situation. I immediately thought that it would be better to do it the other way, but that "always, always, always" warning and the public reaming of that student were fresh in my mind. We did it his way instead of the way that made sense to me. In the debriefing, my buddy said he had thought the same thing. We were told we should have done it the way that made sense to us because, well, it made sense. UTD, we were told, emphasizes creating the thinking diver, and we should have used our heads. But what about his "always, always, always" command? Well, it turns out that this case was an exception.

    On our next dive trip, I was again listening to the debriefing of a dive in which I had not participated. In explaining why he had done something, a student said, "I was thinking that..." The instructor interrupted him by saying, "What I need you to do is stop thinking and do everything the way I tell you to do it." I then chimed in with "And that's how UTD creates the thinking diver." There was an uncomfortable pause that presaged my later departure from the cult.

    But I had already been kicked out briefly. I sent my instructor a detailed list of questions about some of the training materials. A number of the things seemed dead wrong to me, and I needed an explanation. I had asked similar questions before, much to the instructor's irritation, and he relied that it was clear that UTD and I were not a good fit, and it would probably be best if I were to leave. I sent the same list of questions to AG, and he replied with detailed responses to each. I challenged them in reply, and we went back and forth for a while. After a few days my instructor told our group that UTD had announced that they had learned there were some errors in their materials, and they would be changing them. We should wait for those changes. I was back in the fold again.

    I eventually left UTD (for other reasons) and completed my trimix training with another agency. I then went on to get technical instructor certification with that agency. In that training I had to lead dives as an instructor with my two instructor trainers acting as students, making typical student mistakes. In one case I directed one to do a required skill, and I saw that he was doing the steps out of proper sequence--not the way I had been taught that it should "always, always, always" be done in my UTD days. It took me a while to get him to understand the problem and correct it--I wondered why he was playing so dumb. Back on the boat, he asked me what was up with that, and I told him what the sequence was "always, always, always" supposed to be. He looked at me like I was nuts. "Why?" he asked. He said he always did it the other way. I didn't have an answer. I had never been told why. The next time I did the skill myself, I did it his way. What a revelation! It was so very much easier to do that I was shocked. I now do it that way all the time myself, and I have no idea why anyone would do it the way I had been told it should "always, always, always" be done.

    In fact, I do a number of things differently from my UTD days, and I make no apologies for them. Some of my old companions know I have gone into heresy, but I don't care. I do what I think is best after having considered things long and hard. I know why I do what I do, but if someone shows me a better way to do something, I will change.

    Yes, UTD does say it is creating thinking divers, but I believe with Bob that it has a contradiction to that built into its system that makes that goal elusive.
  6. victorzamora

    victorzamora Solo Diver

    Mike, there's a BIG failure of communication here. Andy used sarcasm, sure.....but the substance of his posts, the questions he's asked, and the failures he's pointing out are the same as mine. Also, you list of list of reasons as to why you defend the UTD system....Andy and I refuted it, point-by-point with counterarguments (in most cases). Then you jumped on and/or attacked Andy? I'm sorry, it's clear that you're wrong and that you've realized it....even if only subconsciously. Now, you're grasping at straws in an effort to defend your highly flawed viewpoints and attacking Andy in the process. That's crazy.

    This is my biggest issue with UTD. I've asked nearly a dozen people the SAME questions, gotten the same replies, and then challenged them with the SAME responses. Instead of hearing a word of logic in return, it's either been anger or one of the two options you listed above....or "let's just agree to disagree." If UTD supporters want to have a reasonable discussion regarding the Z-SM system, I'm 100% for it. HOWEVER, it's going to follow that script exactly. "This is why UTD Z-SM is better." "Here's where you're wrong." "Well, UTD is better and you're stupid!!"

    Actually, THIS is my issue with UTD. It just manifests itself in the Z-SM thing. Their divers, their supporters, their "people" seem to be trained in such a way that they believe it to be the best system, but can't even handle ONE round of questioning. I can't imagine not defending ANY of my methods to one level of questioning. The vast majority of my decisions have very good explanations, and can handle multiple levels of questioning. All of them last at least one round of questioning. The most embarassed I've ever been was when a GUE diver asked me why Edd doesn't teach everything in your pockets like GUE does and it took me a minute to think about why I clipped reels/spools to my butt.

    The Z-SM thing is the epitome, in my view, of un-thinking divers. The questions we ask concerning it always get met with blank stares or anger by round one. So while I've been talking about specifics, you've gotten to the bigger picture. That was a great post, I had no idea you had any experience with UTD....especially not THAT experience with them.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  7. bluemed

    bluemed Master Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: world
    I am in the thread because I want to see and know what is going on, and see why people think the way they do, obviously I am always in the disadvantage in a thread like this one, but still...I am here.
    So, I am interested in what you say and think.

    I really don't see who I am attacking and where ?
    I dont feel I have to defend anything really, again, the Z system is a tool that is consistent with what is being taught before and also after.
    that should be enough for someone that likes to dive in a certain way.
    I can teach it, with or without your approval, and I can aslo teach a Indep Sidemount course..so what do I need to defend?

    the whole failure point story etc.., we have been through that many times, I haven't heared anything new, so excuse me if I don't take the time to go through the whole thing again.

    I can see your point of the thinking and the NOT thinking diver, that can come dangerously close...something that we need to take care of and is a big thing.

    Ok, the we are better and the rest is stupid..that's a difficult one..

    I can only talk for myself, before my UTD Instructor IDC's I was a PADI MI, Tecdeep Instr, IANTD technical Instr etc,,,diver, I was attracted by UTD due to the playbook, the clear protocols, detailed information and expected level of the students and the open-minded view towards other divers from other agencies ((we call that inclusive), and this why I didn't choose for the other DIR minded agency)

    The best example for my thinking and acting during this transition period was me asking on my "Xagency's" Normoxic trimix course about the checks...I remember being told.."well...we will just do the BWRAF" but with some more details...

    I am sorry to say but the pre-reqs, the expected level of students, the quality control, the IDC's are on a different level than what the bigger agencies offer, I know so, because I have gone through all these agencies.

    It is not my intention to sound arrogant and make a fool of myself, but I did go through the whole story of Tecdeep instructor, IANTD technical Instructor and UTD Instructor etc.
    I understand that there are great Instructors out there that don't teach UTD, but let us be honest...I did go and did what I think I had to do..
    I practiced and got my skills to another level, as expected by the agency due to the standards or level expected for inwater skills for the instructors.
    Which agency offer this..or expects this from their Instructor candidates ?

    Many times it is also a pain in the rear end to teach for UTD ; I can't do courses with students in shorties, I don't do overhead or helitrox on a single tank with 2 regs, I need to video everything, they cant dive deeper than 30 meters without any HE in their tanks, I need to fail people if they aren't good enough, I need to re-qualify every 3 years and fly 2000 miles for some guy to have a look at my skills, I need people to dive the configuration, and in this case the z system...I need to practice and study a lot to keep updated and I need to go through what I go through now..in this thread..NOT easy..

    My students, starting at recreational level, need to be ale to backkick, know how to use lights, touch signals, know about awareness and teamdiving etc.....in which other manual can you find ANYTHING of what my rec 2 students need to know??..not in the normoxic manual, nor in the tecdeep manual, I haven't found or seen any manual containing this.....except some cave manuals..
    The result of all this is a different diver..I never said better...I said skilled diver....
    well, you can see this as you say as being superior or arrogant...I see it as more skilled...(generalizing)
  8. shoredivr

    shoredivr Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ontario
    Boulderjohn, could you describe the sequence of events that you were told to "always, always, always" do and contrast it to what the "student" diver did in your instructor training with the other organization? I'm interested in what these are to be better able to grasp the differences. Thanks. If you prefer you can pm me.

  9. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    To be honest, I cannot remember exactly. These were typical training dives in which we were simply supposed to "go for a swim," ending with a simulated decompression ascent up a line. While doing that, we would be given a number of failures with which to contend--mask removals, out of gas emergencies, lost deco, etc. You never knew what was gong to happen in what sequence. On one dive I was put out of air on my back gas (doubles) and then given a left post failure to contend with, which I thought would have to be a pretty unusual situation, but I had to react to it.

    ---------- Post added June 25th, 2014 at 07:02 AM ----------

    I just realized you asked about the second incident. It had to do with hooking and unhooking a deco bottle or stage bottle. I was told that you must always put on the top clip first, even when just gearing up at the beginning of the dive. My "student" clipped the bottom one first and was puzzled when I corrected him.
    shoredivr likes this.
  10. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    Do you use the GUE version of Ratio Deco or the UTD version?
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