Cockfighting has long become an elegant hobby of Vietnamese people with the meaning of promoting chivalry and encouraging livestock development.
The folk game of cockfighting is kept at many traditional festivals, contributing to creating a joyful atmosphere and connecting the community.
Cockfighting enthusiasts often gather in groups, groups of 10-20 members to exchange chicken breeds, experience in care, and practice to produce good chicken breeds. In addition, to meet the needs of cockfighting exchanges, many forums were established attracting tens of thousands of cockfighting enthusiasts to register for membership.
Skills to select chicken for fighting
Cockfighting is an elaborate interest because it requires players, in addition to passion, to have the time and knowledge to take care of the chicken from childhood to battle.
If you want to have a satisfactory fighting cock, you must choose from the parent chickens. The mother hen must be a chicken with a good tone, the father must be a champion and win many battles.
In a flock of newly hatched chickens, the owner will choose the chicks to separate from the flock to find food alone; or at night, not cuddling under the mother’s wings to sleep but sleeping facing the mother.
If there are no conditions to choose chickens from the moment they hatch, they should be based on basic criteria such as:
- yin-yang spurs (black-white spurs),
- two eyes of different colors,
- chickens have birthmarks on their tongues, or
- chickens at night lie down and stretch their legs, spread their wings, stretch their necks like death…
- or as the folk has summed up how to choose a fighting cock: “The head of the peacock, the body of the cup, the wings like a mussel shell, short neck, long thighs, dry legs, strong facial veins”. All create talented fighting chickens.
However, the most important thing is the chicken has to fight to know it’s good or bad. Many chickens have good champions but play badly; on the contrary, many chickens have hidden champions but fight well. So it is only partially correct to see chickens champions choose them for fights.
How to train fighting chickens
Choosing chickens is important, but training chickens requires a lot of work from the owners. The chicken’s diet must be adhered to: a day only a little rice is given, lunch alternates with green vegetables, a little fresh bait comes in a few days. The ration is just enough; if too much, chickens will be fat and slow.
Each chicken flock, when successfully raised, only selects about 2-3 chickens that can train to become perfect fighting cocks. Chickens when they are 8 months old have enough feathers and enough wings, start going the steps of fighting practice.
Training from low to high skills. The first step is that the owners cover the beak and the spur, then let two cocks fight from 10 – 20 – then 30 minutes. This level helps the cocks have good stamina.
After a few times training fights, the owners massage chickens to be firm according to the folk formula with “ginger, turmeric, wormwood…”.
Usually, chickens that undergo 4 training fights and 4 times of massages can be put into competition.
In addition, cockfighting owners must always keep an eye on chickens so that they don’t get sick, avoid cold in winter and avoid heat in summer. With the cold weather, carefully keep warm, and increase nutrition for the fighting cocks to ensure the health of the fighting chickens at the festival of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.
Cockfighting festivals in Vietnam
All around Vietnam has many different festivals, and cockfighting festivals have been popular in many regions. This cockfighting hobby is quite popular in Hoc Mon (Ho Chi Minh City), Duc Hoa (Long An), Go Cong (Tien Giang), O Mon (Can Tho), Cho Lach (Ben Tre), Chau Doc (An Giang). Giang), Cao Lanh (Dong Thap)… Actually, these are all places where traditional fighting chickens have been raised since ancient times.
In North Vietnam, Nam Dinh Province is one of the well-known places for cockfighting activities. Typically, Xuan Ninh commune (Xuan Truong District, Nam Dinh province, Vietnam), every year on the occasion of the Nghia Xa pagoda festival, a large-scale cockfighting game is held from the 29th of the second lunar month to the third of the third lunar month.
According to the local elders of Xuan Ninh, the cock fighting game at the Nghia Xa pagoda festival has existed for a long time and is associated with the cultural life of the people in the village. In the opinion of the people here, the owner of the fighting cock who wins the flag when participating in the fighting game in the festival will have good luck and prosperity for the whole year.
If you have the opportunity to visit the owners of fighting cocks, you will be impressed by the strong crowing of the mighty cocks.
To prepare for the cockfighting festival, the moderators often take the time to notify each person who has a cock in the village (and other places if a big festival is held) and write an invitation to post on the game cock forums, in which it is necessary to clearly tell the rules and regulations of the competition. No bets are allowed in the match, which is compulsory.
Before the cockfight takes place in the festival, the people assign the task of preparing the circle stage of 3 – 4 square meters. Check the sand surface.
The owners of fighting cocks in the locality and other places gather to do the necessary procedures such as dividing chicken weights, matching opponents…
Depending on the number of chickens participating in the fight, the organizers will have fewer or more circle stages for cockfighting. On average, a festival season of Nghia Xa Pagoda has between 160-200 fighting cocks participating in the competition.
In the fight, people from all over the country flock to stand around the circle stages of cockfighting. The audiences passionately cheer and comment on every good kick, every movement of the chicken.
At the end of the competition, the winning cockerel owner is honored and awarded a souvenir flag. The winning chickens are brought back to be nurtured, cared for, and trained to continue fighting in other festivals.
The beautiful cockfighting festivals are transformed into a gambling
Previously, cockfighting was simple. Those who have chickens who wanted to start cockfighting, just needed to dig a circular hole with a radius of 2m, a depth of 30-40cm, and then pour sand into it. Viewers from young to old, men and women sat around, both enjoying and cheering the match. These days, at festivals, the circular stages are covered by rubber on a 3-4 square meter surface.
In particular, cockfighting in festivals is an honor as well as a responsibility and pride of the person whose cock fights or is chosen to compete.
However, under the impact of the market economy, the cockfighting game is currently facing many challenges because some people take advantage of cockfighting to gamble with many sophisticated tricks.
According to seniors who play fighting chickens, in the past, cockfighting was fun, so chickens got more time to rest. Today, that tradition is abandoned when chicken owners defy morality because of betting, so they force their chickens to fight until they are exhausted to determine victory or defeat. They even use cruel tricks such as sharp metal spurs to increase damage.
It is a fact that the law forbids fighting cocks for money, but not forbid owning fighting chickens. And also from here, from a beautiful entertainment with folklore colors, cockfighting in many localities has now become a gambling evil that causes disorder in life, leading to many other bad consequences. Many gamblers love cockfights, lose bets, fall into debt, mess with their families, steal, rob to have money to bet, and then get bad troubles.
For Vietnamese folk games in general and the cockfighting game in particular to fully preserve traditional cultural and spiritual values in festivals, all forms of betting are not allowed. Since then, the game of cockfighting in festivals has been organized properly, really a healthy playground connecting the community of Vietnamese people.
Cockfighting is a fun game. Raising and training fighting chickens is a feat of art. Many people have to study hard to get experiences about the rooster nutrition and training. It is an intangible culture that needs to be preserved.
Borrowing a cockfight activity to gamble is due to the players’ greed and bad character, not because of the cocks.