Making the transition from recreational to technical is easier for some divers than others, but it is by no means ever simply easy.
There's more gear. There's more precision required. Procedures become more important. Attention to details and scope of awareness are more mentally demanding. And then there's the ability to simply hold still...
After a couple hundred open water dives most divers tend to think, "I can hold perfectly still in the water." Which, for the most part, they can. Insofar as they can not move their bodies, being more-or-less neutrally buoyant and familiar with their own gear enough to maintain whatever trim is comfy for them.
But to hold still in one place... Moving neither up, nor down, not forward nor back, nor to either side. To hold perfectly still AND hold position in the water, maintaining a physiologically questionable position, while accomplishing some task... it is, quite possibly, the most difficult thing to master in an alien environment.
Once that achievement is unlocked most everything else starts to turn pretty easy pretty fast.
For the last several days I've been working with a fella who has made this leap, trading in his BCD for a backplate and wing. He came down with an eye on earning Cavern or even Intro to Cave certification but (rightly) built in a few days to his vacation here to make sure he could manage all the new equipment first. And for days we've practiced holding still and managing all the new stuff.
Yesterday things clicked into place.
We made our way through air sharing drills and some reel-work without any undesired movement.
That now accomplished, for the next few days we'll be venturing into overhead.
Where I can concoct creative and entertaining (to me, anyway) ways of trying to get him to forget how to hold still and perhaps even start flailing around like an angry, wet rooster. All so we can limp back to the surface and talk about how all that would have been easier if he just held still.
Something I repeat to all students is that the only actual emergency in diving is that someone is currently not breathing; anything and everything else is simply an inconvenience.
All the practice, all the bubble-guns, all the blindfolds, and the 10 minute-long blind swims, and the light failures, and the lost buddies, and the bullshit that I pull on you... it's to drive home the message:
As long as everyone is breathing, everything is fine; just hold still and deal with it calmly as a team.
Thus is the definition of technical diving (the same as the definition of recreational diving). "Float like a potato and look at cool shit."
Today the transition from recreational potato to technical potato continues. And maybe, just maybe, we'll make it all the way to cave potato.