Starting a cockfight

One of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve come across is watching a live cockfight.

Cockfighting is banned in most part of the world due to it’s vicious nature and gambling. While the sport goes as far back as 6,000 years ago, it may not be everyday that you get to see one. It is illegal to have cockfighting in Indonesia but an exception has been placed for the Balinese due to their cultures and traditions. ( But I’m pretty sure they abuse their right and place side bets anyway.)

“Cockfighting is a very old tradition in Balinese Hinduism, the Batur Bang Inscriptions I (from the year 933) and the Batuan Inscription (dated 944 on the Balinese Caka calendar) disclose that the tabuh rah ritual has existed for centuries. In Bali, cockfights, known as tajen, are practiced in an ancient religious purification ritual to expel evil spirits.This ritual, a form of animal sacrifice, is called tabuh rah (“pouring blood”).The purpose of tabuh rah is to provide an offering (the blood of the losing chicken) to the evil spirits. Cockfighting is a religious obligation at every Balinese temple festival or religious ceremony. “-Wikipedia

Since the Balinese ritual of tabuh rah can only be witness by males, the cockfight I witness is not an actual cockfighting match but merely a glimpse at what two roosters would do in their natural environment when their territory has been infringed . I really don’t I could stomach seating through a bloody cockfighting match where bades are used and they fight till one of the cocks dies.

Cocks possess congenital aggression toward all males of the same species and it’s strange how incredibly territorial they become once they spie another cock.

Left to themselves, roosters almost never hurt each other badly. In cockfight matches, on the other hand, the birds often wear razor-sharp blades on their legs and get injuries like punctured lungs, broken bones and pierced eyes—when they even survive. In this cockfight that I photographed, no blades were used to prevent it from being a bloody duel.

A small dance to size the opponent and then the fight begins. A typical cockfight can last anywhere from several minutes to more than half an hour.

Usually, cockfights happen in a cock pit so the roosters can’t escape from the battle even if they wanted to. But since what I’m viewing is a non-sporting cockfight in their natural surroundings, once the cocks have established the winner of their fight, the loser will back out of the territory, thus signaling the end of the fight.

What I find most interesting about this little cockfight is that while the roosters are fearsome beyond words when they spy another rooster in their midst, the moment you pick them up, they are docile and tame in your hands.

I picked one up immediately after the fight and it was extremely tame even though I was a little hesitant and afraid after seeing it’s fighting spirit just moments ago.

I say no to cockfights for sacrificial reasons (though I doubt I can disuade these Balinese), definitely a big no-no to using them for gambling but if you ever have a chance to view cocks protecting their territory in their natural habitat, it’s quite a spectacle and they end it relatively unharmed (with the exception of a couple of lost feathers and a brusied ego).


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