Personally, I wouldn't use any instructor who smoked and mixed alcohol and diving. As for your praise for JO, I have seen and dove with some of his graduates, who, BTW, all think he was the greatest. I wouldn't have passed some of them just on mental attitude towards tech and cave diving. JO's biggest problem, and he is by far not alone, is that when one's main source of income comes from training there seems to be momentary lapses in what one allows. Just meet the absolute minimums and all will be fine.The guy I was referring to in my previous post was John Orlowski. John lives off a diet of coffee, beer and cigarettes, interspersed with the occasional hot dog just for the vitamins. On the other hand, he is one of the most experienced cave divers on the planet and one of the best instructors I've ever trained with (as well as being a very nice guy). He discovered Zacaton, he was a dive partner of Sheck Exley, he travels all over the US and the rest of the world doing body recoveries that no-one else will touch... Do you want to tell him he can't teach any more because of some arbitrary pool exercise?
To put it bluntly, I don't want a friend or buddy type training me, I want someone who will demand 110% from me. When I train divers for tech grades, they are not only knowledge trained but performance driven, beyond minimums to be sure.
Though I can still do the physical requirements at age 66, they are no longer as easy as they once were. Unfortunately, I can still out-perform most of the younger set who appear before me half my age. The TDI requirements state that I must be able to do all the required skills at any a time. I may not always agree with some of the skills, but if I want to continue to teach I have to maintain standards. They are not all that difficult if practiced from time to time.
Agreed, a very experienced and knowledgeable instructor is of paramount importance over an athlete low knowledge instructor, but standards do exist for many reasons.