My first steps into the world of Pahuyuth
Author: Hypoventilator | Date: March 15, 2021
I decided to write a little about my experiences in Pahuyuth. It may or may not serve as inspiration for others. For me is a very beautiful memory, which I like to look back on.
It all started on Sunday, October 20, 2019. I originally searched the internet for Lethwei (Burmese boxing) and then found the Pahuyuth School in Berlin via Google. The website was appealing, although the content was somehow quite “weird” and slightly strange to me. It wasn’t Muay Thai and somehow nothing else I knew, but ok. So I sent out an email and signed up for a trial training the following day. Training clothes, boxing bandages packed and in the evening made on the way to the martial arts school. I was expecting some warm-up exercises, bag training and maybe a bit of sparring.
On the way there, all sorts of thoughts went through my head. I was motivated and relatively sure: this will be an easy training. Learn a little “Boxi, boxi” to expand my martial arts repertoire and have fun. After a year of intensive Systema and Aikido training, I felt super-fit and perfectly in shape! Well, firstly it always comes different and secondly … well, you know.
Arriving at the top of the 5th floor, I went straight to the locker room. The atmosphere was relaxed and everyone was looking forward to the training. I wrapped my 2.5 meters x 5 cm long boxing bandages around my knuckles, “well, it’s about learning Thaiboxing,” I thought. The other students put on white pyjamas and wrapped yellow, green or white belts* around their hips.
The protection gear, shin guards and so on, will surely be stored somewhere in the training room, I thought. Confidently with my cotton wraps I entered the training room, my gaze wandered around and I desperately searched for pleasant mats on the floor, on which we could then start training. But I saw nothing but hard wooden flooring*.
*Note: There are generally no mats in the Pahuyuth! Soft mats give a false sense of security. You get used to wrong rolling movements very quickly, which work wonderfully on soft mats, but may fail completely on hard concrete. By training on hard ground you get direct, very clean, hard feedback whether you perform the technique (each adapted to your own individual physical circumstances) correctly or not. If a rolling or falling technique hurts, then it was technically simply executed incorrectly. The ground is the best friend of the Ling-Lom people. See video …
A pyjama guy* with a blue belt roamed through the room. He looked Asian, and since I had spent a few years in Southeast Asia, I first addressed him in Thai. He looked at me in disbelief and only replied that I could also talk to him in german. He asked me when I had eaten something the last time and advised me not to eat anything for two hours before training in the future. (On the way to training I had eaten a banana, but more on that later.) He said it would make sense to discard the bandages, because I wouldn’t need them here in general. I told him that these were necessary and that they would stabilize my cracked finger, an injury I had contracted at Aikido. For whatever reason I wanted to impose my pighead in that moment. I did not know, that I would bump it a few more times during the next few months. In this case, however, I would have almost fallen off the wall/slipped during one of the upcoming exercises.
I briefly introduced myself to the other yellow belts, some of which had already rocked in the squat, grouped together. The blue belt came with a pile of papers and gave them to us. It said “Class 1 Performance Qualification Standard”*. Hmm, it can’t be that hard, I thought. It was explained in detail how to do the exercises and what to achieve. Everyone was looking at the test sheets and got their pens ready, while I tried to understand what was coming. I was slightly immersed into myself when a voice suddenly struck me from the right: “READY! GO!”. Do you know those meerkats which stretch their heads up high when in danger? That’s what I must have looked like when the sound waves** arrived in my ears.
The first exercise of PQS 1
Exercise 1: Lie on your back, hold legs 45°. Throw elbows alternately over the middle of your body. 75-100. Duration: 5 minutes
I tried to do the exercise over-accurately. Tension in the body and off I went. 75-100 repetitions are required within 5 minutes. “Ahh, I can do more!” I thought to myself. So I smoked myself up in the first exercise. And again the strangely loud sound waves appeared, this time from the left with “AAAND STOP!”.
One minute break. I was very proud, because I managed to do 140 repetitions and happily showed the test sheet around. Somehow you want to show that you can do something. My black handwraps were slowly getting wetter. The blue belt just nodded and I tried to direct my focus to the upcoming exercise.
The second exercise
Exercise 2: One-legged squats. 60-75 repetitions. Duration: 5 minutes
Ok, 60-75 repetitions in 5 minutes are required here. Squats – well, I can do that. One-legged squats, hmm no idea, I have to try. Somehow I made it through the squats with a little help from the wall where I was allowed to put my fingers on to prevent falling over. In terms of power, things were already going down the drain. My body was pumping. My thighs burned like fire.
After the 62nd repetition, an “AAAND STOP!” sounded quite loud in my ears. Quickly I noted* the hopefully correct number of repetitions on the sheet. I had the urge to lay down flat for a little rest. After all, you have a 2 minute break here. Then came the advice to better get up and move a little bit. I already felt a little woozy when I tried to get up. My bandages now felt like wet sponges.
Note: One of the hidden exercises in the PQSs is to keep your head clear even under extreme physical pressure.
The third exercise
Exercise 3: Push-ups with your back against the wall. 60-75 repetitions. Duration: 5 minutes
60-75 repetitions within 5 minutes. Headstand ok. Somehow I made it to the wall and started. 6-7-8-9-10, then briefly down on the legs and again. My circulatory system became more noticeable. At rep 20 or so I almost slipped off the wall and I finally realized that the hand wraps were rather obstructive. So I quickly took them off – I never needed them again. At the same time I noticed stars in front of my eyes and it got darker and darker. Briefly into the squat and onwards. After the “AAAAAND SWITCH” we moved directly into the next exercise …
The fourth exercise
Exercise 4: Hold the deep push-up position. Press elbows sideways into the chest. Only hands and feet touch the floor. Duration: 5 minutes
Ok, at the latest here I thought, I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. Hovering in deep push-up position above the ground. Yes, of course. But for for five minutes?!? After 30 seconds, my body slumped through and I took a little rest for a few seconds. Then I forced myself back up again. My head bright red, uncontrolled press breath. I turned my head to the right and saw that the other yellow belts weren’t doing much better either. I don’t know what they thought, but they didn’t look happy .. so not happy at all.
After another thirty seconds or so I slapped like a seal on the floor again. I turned my head, already searching for the exit. But giving up now? No! Not by any means! I was able to pull off another 25 seconds. I had hardly noticed the “AND STOP!” from the blue belt. I quickly noted the imaginary 55 reps from the third exercise and a rough estimation for the fourth exercise. Three minutes break.
The fifth exercise
Exercise 5: “Thai push-ups”. Pull your legs backwards, make a push-up and return. 60-75 repetitions. Duration: 5 minutes
I tried to do this body acrobatics for five minutes and if I hadn’t seen the others doing it, I would have considered it impossible to do. On the fingertips, the legs are pulled crossed under the torso, then push-ups on the fingertips (!) and back again. Slightly frustrated I heard a “AAAAND SWITCH!” and went straight into the next exercise …
The sixth exercise
Exercise 6: Rest hands on the floor and hold yourself in a 45° angle on the wall. Body remains straight stretched. Duration: 5 minutes
My arms vibrated and trembled, my hands were sweating and slipping away all the time. After a minute or so, I ran out of power and dropped like a wet sack. Getting up again, I slowly noticed a slightly bitter banana taste in my mouth. I made some more attempts until the “AAAAND STOP!”. There they were again, the white stars in front of my eyes. But this time it got darker around me, much darker.
Zero repetitions at the Thai push-ups and no estimated time on the wall, I scribbled it on paper in deep frustration. By now almost 40 minutes had passed and I felt like I had run 3 marathons in a row. Four minutes break. I looked around and the other participants looked similar. I wondered how many yellow belts must have vomited on the floor while exercising over the years, but quickly rejected the idea. At that time I didn’t know if I should cry, laugh or just give up. Emotionally, I was probably a little confused by now.
The seventh exercise
Exercise 7: Push-ups with the belly on the wall. 60-75 repetitions. Duration: 5 minutes
Crawl up and get into handstand against the wall. Stay there for 5 minutes and do 60-75 push-ups while being upside down. I couldn’t even think of doing this. My arms were shaking and wobbling, my blood circulation was going crazy and the 3rd Black Out was at the doorstep.
The Eighth Exercise
Exercise 8: Lie flat your back, hold your hands behind your head and your legs at a 45° angle. Duration: 5 minutes
Here I burned through my last reserves. I tried to use Systema Breathing Technique – but it sounded more like I was trying to give birth to a child. Didn’t matter, I completed the 3 minute mark*. My whole body was shaking like crazy and my training clothes were wet from top to bottom, as if I had stood in the monsoon rain for an hour. “AAAAAND SWITCH!”
Note: In general, for static exercises with a time limit, at least three of the five minutes must be reached in order for the exercise to be rated as passed.
The Ninth Exercise
Exercise 9: Take hands on your back and run in the squat. Keep a steady pace. Duration: 5 minutes.
Directly into the squat, hands behind the back, torso upright and duck-walk hopping. Now I tapped into my last energy reserves. In this case, it was really shared suffering, with perseverance croaking from every direction. After another five minutes I heard “AAAAND STOP!”. This time it sounded to me like an angel singing. The torture was over.
After the PQS
I was all at sea when I noted my achievements. I couldn’t remember the number of repetitions of the three exercises, so I just left them blank. Signature after completion and baaaam, I dropped on the floor right next to the sheet. My mouth dry like the desert, my tongue felt like rubber, my stomach turned. After a while I decided to get up and go to the locker room to have a drink.
Totally dazed I arrived. The 1-litre mineral water bottle weighed like 50 kg. Finally I brought it to my lips, drank a sip, dropped the bottle and just lay down in the 6 sqm changing room. I lay on my back like a beetle, everything was simmering, blurry and it seemed quite unrealistic to me.
The curtain was opened, I was still lying on my back, a red belt stood in front of me and just asked, “Everything ok, my boy?”. I couldn’t get more than a croaking “bwwppprrgsssss, äääh, bbbbmmmsssllllllll” out. A few moments later, a green belt came to me and took me to a window to get some fresh air. My whole body shut down, my blood pressure dropped and I seriously thought I was dying.
The fact, that all of you can all read this, means I survived. Nevertheless, I wonder until today how I managed to get up again, drag myself to the smokers lounge and take part in the following hour of tech-training.
But more on that next time …