The Art of Cockfighting – Bali, Indonesia

The Art of Cockfighting
Bali, Indonesia

Walk down Poppies Lane I in Bali, on a weekday afternoon and you’ll notice the local ballgame going on. I mean really, from the sheer size of the crowd, stadium and the field, you can’t help but think this is Indonesia’s form of baseball. How sad to be a rooster, feathers pricked, tormented and taught to be pissed off all the time, just so they can have their day in the ring. Once you’re sized up beside your opponent, it’s kill time, unless you want to be in the dinner pot tonight. Men from all over bring in their prized fighters set in bamboo holsters placed around a square stadium. When it’s busy, you can count over 30 roosters that will be fighting that day. They’ll start the event around 1pm and end around 5pm. Plenty of blood, sweat and tears from roosters being taken down to money being lost.

Cockfighting is a developed, well thought out sport. Patrons bring their local food dishes to sell outside the arena. The old Indonesian men cook up chicken satay on a 6 inch wide, 1 foot long grill, the old women have whole roasted pigs, and let’s not forget about the different fruit delicacies. It’s all here at the cockfighting stadium. How do people eat with so much killing going on? The blood itself is enough to make you vomit. Obviously, it’s a male spectator sport.

The fighting goes down with an assortment of birds measured by height, weight, and wing span to make for an even battle. When two birds match, they’re fitted for a razor sharp blade that is tightly tied around one foot, with the blade sticking out the back. The birds are held face to face as their feathers are pricked to stimulate aggression. A fury of money changes hands as bets are accepted. The roosters are taken to their respective corners and released.

For one, maybe two minutes, roosters fly in the air and that’s it. The loser backs off, slowly collapsing to the ground. Their legs are then sliced off or the throat is cut. The losing bird is scooped up and skinned right outside the stadium to get ready for the dinner pot. The winning rooster will be heading there as well, as most times their injuries are just as bad. The money is paid and the next fight begins. A good rooster will make a poor Indonesian farmer wealthy. Roosters, I do feel sorry for you, so here’s to you!

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