This is an exception as I decided to put this on four categories.
- Breeding and Selection
- Caring and Feeding
- Liberty and Freedom
- Rules and Weapons
Of course, not a comprehensive account on all four categories but it touches all four.
– Gameness til the End
AN ANCIENT-STYLED GAME
Cockfighting is indeed a unique game of China, which has a history longer than any other animal fight in the world. From Song Dynasty up to the present day, cockfighting has been popular in Kaifeng.
In Kaifeng, the cockfighting enthusiasts are called “cockfighting players”. They take cockfighting as a pleasure. Most of the enthusiasts love wushu and drinking. They are loyal to their friends and strict to discipline. They have their own tradition, i.e. they consider principles more important than favoritism . If you really love his gamecock, through a friend’s introduction, he can present it to you freely, but you must strictly observe the rules: you may raise it, but you cannot transfer it to others, nor can you breed it with hens. If you are unable to continue to raise it for one reason or another, you might as well kill it and have its meat, but you must give its head and paws back to its original owner to show your good faith. If you are not a cockfighting enthusiast, the owner will not give his gamecock to you even if you are his close relative or friend. It is said that the enthusiast would rather offer you one thousand dollars than give you a gamecock.
It is no exaggeration to say that the enthusiasts love their cocks more than their children. They always show their deep concern for the cocks. The feed is repeatedly washed before the cock eats it. They spread some fine coal cinder in the cage every day, for fear the cock’s feet might be frozen. In winter, which is the cockfighting season, they will cover the cock cage with a cloth hood or with their clothes, or even put the cock into their bosom so as to keep the cock in good health and vigorous fighting will. The gamecocks of Kaifeng are characterized by their pure breeding. The breeding selection is very strict. The enthusiast must know his cock’s five older generations. No close breeding is allowed. The purpose in raising the cock is for fighting. The enthusiast has systematic methods in raising and training it.
The training of a gamecock is very interesting. At dawn every morning, the trainer will “drive” the cock. The cock runs in the front and the trainer runs after it. They run faster and faster and the training time is longer and longer. twenty days later, this training will last one hour or so. After the training, he will let the cock have a rest and drink some water. At about 10 o’clock in the morning, the cock will be let free from the cage “for a walk” on an open ground so as to relax its tension of spirit. The cock will be fed at about 12 and then it will have a rest in the cage. At 3 or 4 o’clock the cock will have another walk and then it will be trained for another hour. Before the evening, the cock will be given an additional meal. This method of training can make the cock strong and quick for fighting.
The 2nd day of the 1st lunar month is the day for cockfighting competition. Besides, the competition can also be held on the 2nd day of the 2nd lunar month, the 3rd day of the 3rd lunar month or the 4th day of the 4th lunar month. When the date is fixed, the cockfighting hollow will be chosen, which is a place lower than the surrounding ground. From the fall of Qing Dynasty to the period of the Republic of China, the square outside the east gate of the inner city of Kaifeng had been used as the cockfighting hollow. But now, the competition is often held in the Longting Park, or the Iron Pagoda Park or the Grand Xiangguo Temple. The cockfighting competition is very bustling, with a large number of people around the fighting hollow, watching. The man in charge of the cockfighting hollow is called “cock head” who is both the judge and the go-between of the two parties of the competition. Before the fighting begins, the both owners of the cocks will examine each other’s cock. Only when the two cocks are similar with each other in size, weight and age, can they be made to fight. With the order of the “cock head”, the two owners carry their cocks into the competition ground. When the head shouts “Ready!”, the two owners squat inside the circle, letting their cocks facing each other. After the head gives order “Let the cocks free!” , the two owners will withdraw from the circle and the two cocks begin to fight. One game will last 15 minutes. At the both ends of the hollow there is a pail of water which is used to cool down the temperature of the cocks after one or two games. At the request of either or both parties, the head will give the order “Hold the cock!”. At the order each owner will carry up his cock, weep the blood off the cock’s head, and then soak the breast and the parts under the wings with water so as to refresh it for further fighting.
There are some established rules for the watchers to observe in watching cockfighting, i.e. no matter how fierce the fight may be and how brave the cocks are, they cannot cheer or applaud, for fear they might shock the cocks. Another rule is that the watchers can only praise the cocks. If one says a cock is weak, he will be driven away from the competition hollow.
Now cockfighting has become an interesting activity which is useful to the society.