Cockfighting is an indispensable Vietnamese culture


– Gameness til the End


++ A good fighting cock must have the small head of a peacock, the body of a cormorant, deep eyes, long black upper legs, short lower legs, wings neatly wrapped like a shell, a long and a strong neck;

A number of traditional and famous places throughout Vietnam produce fighting cocks. They are Van Cu and Nghi Tam in Hanoi in the north, Binh Dinh, Quang Ngai, and Nha Trang on the central coast and Ba Ria, Duc Hoa in the south. Fighting cocks from Cao Lanh (Dong Thap province) in the Mekong River Delta are famous throughout the country, as a popular saying goes:

“No fighting cocks are as good as those from Cao Lanh. No girls are as beautiful as those from Nha Mon in Phu Tho province.”

A good fighting cock is carefully selected through the mother hen’s bloodlines and appearance. Le Tuan Phong, who specialises in raising fighting cocks from Hanoi’s Nghi Tam district, explains,

To select a good fighting cock you must consider its mother hen’s stock and appearance because it is said that, “a dog likes its father and a chick, its mother.” It is very difficult to select from a flock of chickens a chick that can fight well. To choose a fighting cock, one must first look at the colour of its feathers. Purple-feathered cocks are usually strong and brave with good fighting abilities. But one must be careful since some of them may have been crossbred between a pure-breed hen, raised for producing cocks and a normal rooster raised for meat.”

Black coloured cocks possess moderate skills. Grey fighting cocks with black legs or white-feathered and white-legged cocks are quick, but poor at withstanding their opponents’ strikes. The species Mau Mo (apricot coloured) produce beautiful chickens. But they tend to run away when subjected to fierce attack. Owl-feathered fighting cocks are strong and persistent and possess good fighting skills. Phong explains more about some old fighting cock traditions,

Each fighting cock species, bantam, Chinese chicken, half breed chicken, and others are identified by its characteristics. Some old books also classify fighting cocks into different types: literary, military, half-literary and half-military. On this basis, people name the cocks according to their special features: Than Ke (magical chicken), Linh Ke (divine chicken) and Hung Ke (powerful chicken).”

Cock owners carefully train their cocks before the fight. The cock should be able to stand in the right posture and deliver the right kicks and pecks. It is said that a fighting cock, even if large, will fail if it lacks certain necessary strokes. Moreover, a good fighting cock must have the small head of a peacock, the body of a cormorant, deep eyes, long black upper legs, short lower legs, wings neatly wrapped like a shell, a long and a strong neck.

In short, a fighting cock must look brawny and powerful. Fighting cocks are usually divided into two types: feathery and sinewy. The former is small but tireless and nimble, while the latter is strong and sturdy. However, it is not possible to judge a fighting cock just by looking at its appearance. Some cocks may look frail but can prove unbeatable. Cock fighting remains a game, which attracts many people in Vietnam. Le Tuan Anh, a Hanoian, often goes to see the Nghi Tam fights recalls,

I have a passion for cock fighting because it is a traditional and original game. I think that it is an attractive and interesting game of chance through which we can see paradoxes and excitement of the game. For me, cock fighting is an indispensable part in traditional Vietnamese culture.”

poultry gamefowl chicken gamecock


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