The director of the internationally famous Muay Thai Academy International (MTAI), Nirmalya Bhowmick, has worked as a remarkably successful pit fighter, trainer of the Indian Black Cat commandos, bodyguard to the king of Siam, and more. His school trains in a mixture of Thai Boxing, Burmese Boar Bando, and Western boxing techniques. Training emphasizes either streetfighting or the ring, and results in extremely fast skills development. Most dedicated practitioners gain solid street proficiency within a year of training.

Thai Boxing, or Muay Thai, is the national sport of Thailand. This is a particularly brutal martial art form, using the shins, knees and elbows as primary weapons. The techniques are fast and powerful, useful at various ranges and require no chambering. Muay Thai practitioners condition their shins by slamming them repeatedly into hard 150-300 lb bags to deaden the nerves and thicken the shin bones with calcium deposits.

Between 1993 and 2003 I trained at the MTAI, starting as a beginning student and eventually assisting in the instruction of others. After gradually dropping from three multi-hour sessions per week to sometimes fewer than one 1-hour session per two weeks, I stopped going to MTAI altogether. I still maintain interest in the art and practice it now more than I have in recent years, but I no longer work on the heavy bags. My 30-minute workouts used to include 400 full-power shin kicks alone, and after ten years the frequent injuries (jammed and broken digits, bruised and battered shins, wrenched wrists, shoulders and hips, etc.), were beginning to take their toll. Rather than risk permanent effects on joints, I decided to cut out the bag work and concentrate on form.

This was not an easy decision to make. I kind of miss the callused feet and impact-shaved shins, but we all eventually must make concessions to age....

UPDATE: In early 2013, at age 50, I decided to film myself trying out my Muay Thai routine on a heavy bag after a 10-year hiatus. Here is the result: