Fair to say, 2002 was the toughest year since the bubble peaked for those market participants once euphemistically dubbed "gurus," particularly those with a fundamental bent. For that, and a variety of other reasons, this column's "Guru of the Year" for 2002 is: technical analysis. This is the third year the column has sought to honor those who've distinguished themselves in a given year. Banc of America's Thomas McManus won the inaugural Guru of the Year award in 2000, while the late Bill Meehan was posthumously named GOTY in 2001. The selection of a market discipline rather than a specific individual -- as in the past two years -- speaks to the rising ascendancy of technical analysis in both Wall Street and academic circles, the latter coinciding with a questioning of so-called efficient market theories. To our knowledge, no single technician forecast all stock market gyrations in 2002 as well as its ultimate losses. But a variety of individual technicians did make some well-timed market calls . "Technical analysis did a terrific job of identifying the primary lows this year in July and October, and the risks evident in the wake of those March and August highs," recalled John Bollinger, founder of BollingerBands.com. "It gets back to the idea of swing trading; there were four big swings this year and it was really important to be on the right side of them." Certainly, some fundamental analysts had a good handle on the market in 2002. But despite the broader carnage in stocks, following the advice of stalwart bears meant missing out on some serious moneymaking opportunities from the long side. Most notably, the S&P 500 registered more than 20% gains from its July lows to August highs, and from its October lows to late-November/early December highs. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite rose more than 30% from its October lows, and many low-priced tech shares produced far larger percentage gains. Still, on the most basic level, the growing appeal of technical analysis stems from the realities of the bear market, now 3 years old. "Put simply: Technical analysis gives you places to get out, whereas if you wait for fundamentals to turn in a primary bear market, you're screwed," said Jeffrey Saut, chief market strategist at Raymond James. "In a bear market, your mistakes hurt because the wind is in your face."