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THE ART OF COCKFIGHTING
A Game of a Million Thrills
by Arturo M. de Castro

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Atty. De Castro is a lawyer by profession, and a cocker for recreation. He is an Honor Graduate from the UP College of Law (cum laude and 1970 Class Salutatorian) and a Bar Top Notcher (3rd Place, 1970 Bar Examinations) and presently a Professor of Law at the Ateneo de Manila School of Law. He has Masteral (LIM) and Doctoral (SJD ) degrees in law from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. As a cocker, he has garnered numerous championships in big time and international derbies. In this article, he offers gems of tips and lessons he acquired from his lifelong experiences in the sport.

COCKFIGHTING BUILDS CHARACTER

Cockfighting is a pastime to a great majority of Filipinos who find infinite fascination in the sport, which has been aptly described as a game of a million thrills. The deadly game brings out good qualities that mold the character of men. The raw courage of the roosters has inspired bravery and perseverance. It could be recalled that the great Napoleon Bonaparte stage cockfights before major battles to inspire his soldiers to emulate the courage, bravery and perseverance of the feathered warriors which taught them to fight to the bitter end at all costs, mindless of victory or defeat.
 

The law of life governs cockfighting which is but an aspect of life itself.

Good faith is rewarded with good luck, while bad faith is punished. This is the immutable law of nature enshrined in the laws of men.


Cockfighting has also been described as “hazardous to ones wealth”. One valuable lesson that a cockfight aficionado must learn is the virtue of self-control and self-restraint.


This author, a cockfight aficionado all his life, has written this article to share with others the valuable lessons he learned through the years, by way of paying his debt of gratitude to the sport which has brought honor, thrills, joy and benefits, both the tangibles and the intangibles.


THE ART OF SELECTION

What is the best cock?

A good cock has speed, power and accurate cutting ability.


1) A speedy cock is one that has balance and stability in its stance, with legs far apart, which would enable the cock to pivot or turn around faster in a close fight. It is more ideal for the cocks to have longer drumsticks (hita) than shanks (part of the leg with scales). Roosters with long shanks and short drumsticks are slow.

2) A powerful cock should have a neck that is not stiff because if it does, it could not pivot well and would usually have breasts hat are exposed and that would be easy target for opponents.
A strong rooster has developed bones with longer and thicker breastbone. The bones at the end near the scrotum and the bones at the base of the legs and at the end of the breastbone at the back must be hard, that it cannot be moved by the mere pressure of the hand. To find out if the front breastbone is long enough, hold the rooster with your two hands, with the head facing your body. If the front breastbone does not reach your small fingers, the cock is not powerful, although it may be a good flyer.
The front breastbone of a powerful cock rests on the small fingers in the above-described position.
The more important criterion is the hardness of the end of the bones at the back immediately below the scrotum, at the inside base of the legs and side lower ends of the bones at the back. If the side lower ends are thick and hard and stationed close to each other with the ends pointing inward to each other or positioned closely together, you have a hard-hitting rooster on the ground with deadly accuracy.
If the ends are protruding outwards, you have a strong flying cock, packed with a lot of power.

3) Accurate cutting abilities in roosters could be seen in the sharpness of their eyes and with the way they stretch their legs.

a) THE EYES – The eyes should he healthy, with wide and dilated pupils. Generally, red eyes are sharper. Black eyes are like wearing eyeglasses, which are not good at night when derbies are generally held. White eyes are like the eyes of people afflicted with albino, which are too sensitive to glares and are usually dull and dim. A rooster with sharp eyes always watches his opponent and its movements. It can evade fatal thrusts and it could hit his opponent accurately, without wasting blows which do not usually connect. Clever roosters have shard eyes.

b) GOOD LEG STRETCH – This quality is the most guarded secret for success of famous cockers and is well-known among the reputable breeders and cockers from Bacolod and elsewhere.

The rooster should have long, loose stretch of legs in front. You can this during sparring. The delivery of the blow reaches the opponent. The body of the rooster hardly moves and several blows may be delivered even when the body does not move.
A rooster with poor leg stretch is a short cutter and incapable of delivering a fatal blow with a single stroke.
Hold the rooster facing your body. Stretch the leg slowly downward and forward and you will know whether the rooster has loose and long leg stretch or not. Just be careful that when you stretch legs forward, the rooster is relaxed and doesn’t give resistance. To do this, bring down the leg being stretched slowly and then forward, the rooster is relaxed and doesn’t give resistance. To do this, bring down the leg being stretched slowly and then forward very gradually while the rooster is not resisting or holding back the leg until you get the full front stretch.
A perfect stretch is a semi-circular outside stretch of the leg from the body towards the front. A rooster with this kind of loose stretch hits the opponent even on a striking position.
A good test to find out if a rooster has a good frontal leg stretch is to insert the palm of your hand sideways at the base of each leg of the rooster. If the side of your palm can easily enter the gap between the inner leg and the breastbone, you have a good cutting rooster. If the rooster has tight and short cutting legs, it has no deep and wide gap in this area.
Front leg stretching, one in the morning and one in the evening, is a good exercise and should be made a part of training fighting cocks for battle.


GAMENESS

Gameness, courage, bravery, strong fighting spirit and durability are desirable qualities that depend on a number of factors, such as bloodline, upbringing and good conditioning. These are outside the scope of this article and should be read in other literature on cockfighting.


CHAPTER TWO
ART OF BETTING


A. Big Capital Is Not Necessary

One does not need much capital to be a millionaire in cockfighting. all you need are good roosters.
With a capital of only P1,000.00, If you roll your bet on
up with P1,024.000.00 if all the ten roosters win.
Now that big time derbies are in vouge with pot money Prize as high as P5 Million Pesos, if your roosters are financed and your entry emerges solo champion, you shall earn P2 Million for being the owner of the roosters and P1 Million for the Gaffer (P250,000.00 or 5%) and P750,000.00 for the Handler.

As owner of financed roosters, you do not even have to bet, or betting is optional on your part.


B. Progressive Betting

In cockfighting, there is such a phenomenon as a Good Day or a Bad Day. On a bad day, you should know how to quit, cut down or control the losses. On a good day, you should know how to maximize your winnings.

When you join a derby, you have to put up the entry fee or pot money, and the individual bet on each rooster.
In a 5- cock Derby, you can maximize your winnings through the scheme of progressive betting.
If the minimum bet is P11,000.00, you set aside P11,000.00 for each rooster.
For the first fight, you bet P11,000.00. If you win, you have P20,000.00 (P11,000.00 plus P10,000.00 ) winning on the first fight plus P11,000.00 set aside a minimum bet for the second fight. You may add P1,000.00 to make the bet P33,000.00 for the second fight.
If the third fight wins, you have P158,000.00, to which you add P7,000.00 minimum ` bet for the fourth fight and you can bet P165,000.00 on the fourth fight.

Now comes the championship. So far you have won P261.000.00 on four fights on a minimum bet of P11,000.00 per rooster. You may bet only P11,000.00 minimum bet on the 5th cock since if it wins you get the pot money or championship prize, with honors attached to it. Or you may bet 1/5 of the expected championship prize on the opponent by way of insurance, if such prize is big enough, so you can add more to your winnings if the last cock loses. If it wins, you emerge a champion and you only throw away a small portion (1/5) for the insurance.

On a bad day that you lose all the five fights, you lose only P55,000.00 and the pot money. Even if you lose the first 2 fights, and win the last 3 fights, you shall still be ahead in the money under the Progressive Betting Scheme.

The art of progressive betting may be put to good use while betting in the trabesya, or while playing the game without an entry.

The trick is to bet progressively four times in a row while winning.

Start with a base of P5,000.00. If you win on the first bet, double the bet on the second bet which is P10,000.00, assuming that your first is on even odd, without a logro. If you win the second bet, bet P20,000.00 on the third and if the third wins, bet P40,000.00 on the fourth. If the fourth wins, you have so far won P75,000.00 on a starting capital of P5,000,00.

Should you now quit? It is up to you. If you are content with P75,000.00, less 10% or P7,500.00 for the kristo, then quit. If you want to win more, don't quit.

Since you have now a bigger capital, you may raise your base to P10,000.00 and roll the bets 4 times while winning. Why roll the bets for four times only? Because the statistical probability of the fifth time is difficult to hurdle, old timers in cockfighting call this El Quinto.

When you start, say P5,000.00 and you lose on the first bet or even the second bet, you go back to the base bet, or P5,000.00 and roll it again four times. Everytime you lose, you go back to the base, and then roll your bet. If you win four times, choose a higher base than before and roll the bets again four times.

One fallacy in cockfighting is to bet progressively when losing to recoup the losses, and to bet regressively when winning in the fear of losing. In cockfighting, there are good days and bad days. Without self - control and self- restraint, one can lose all his possessions on a bad day.

Be a heavy bettor only from your winnings.

C. Even Betting Based On Trends

A bettor that adopts this technique of even betting has a high probability of going home ahead in the money from any cockfighting day.
There are only 2 choices in every cockfight- the llamado, which is the estimate of the crowd is likely to win, hence the favorite of the betting public and the dehado.
When you enter the pit, see if the winner in the preceding fight is a llamado cock.
If llamado, then bet on the llamado cock on the next fight, say with P1,000.00 and as long as the llamado is winning, bet P1,000.00 on the llamado cock.
When a dehado cock wins, then you shift your bet of P1,000.00 on the dehado, and so on while the dehado is winning.
You shift to llamado only when a llamado cock wins, and you stay betting on the llamado cocks as long as the llamado is winning.
It seldom happens that the winnings go from llamado to dehado then to llamado then to dehado alternately. But when this happens, you will know the trend and you can bet accordingly.
In this technique, you are likely to end with some winnings, although not much. The usual trend is that several llamados win successively before shifting to dehado, and vice versa, several dehados win successively before shifting to llamado. You have more wins than losses, and if you bet the same amount on each fight, then you shall be ahead in the money when you go home.


CHAPTER THREE

LUNAR HOROSCOPE

There is a degree of plausibility to the view that the behavior, and even the fate, of people on earth on in a great measure are affected by the position of the moon in its four quarters. From this belief, and from experience and lessons handed down from generation to generation, the following Lunar Horoscope, based on the colors of the feathers and legs of the roosters, and the position of the moon in its respective quarter is evolved.

COCKFIGTHING HOROSCOPE BY SCALES OF
PROBABILITY BASED ON THE POSITION OF THE MOON, COLORS OF FEATHERS AND LEGS OF ROOSTERS.

 

 

 

Rooster's Color

Jan-Mar

Apr-Jun

Jul-Sep

Oct-Dec

Pula

11

2

8

15

Tubaon (malatuba/light red)

11

2

8

15

Inislagon (White Talisay)

10

14

3

7

Talisain

10

14

5

7

Boyogon

10

14

5

7

Abohon

2

12

4

5

Ugis (White)

5

7

10

17

Tabas (Lemon with White Spots)

6

11

18

2

Bakiki (Black Bulik)

4

8

5

9

Kabilyada (Gold Abuhin)

12

11

3

10

Banogon (Red Abuhin)

14

5

5

17

Binabaye (Hennie)

14

5

5

17

Bulanting (Lasak)

6

10

10

12

Kanowayon (Hiraw)

2

11

3

10

Lambohon (Itim)

4

8

11

9

Bangkas (Sinibalang)

5

7

10

7

Black Legs

4

5

5

12

White Legs

2

6

13

15

The probability of winning ranges from a scale of 0 to 18

As a general rule, during new moon and first quarter when the night is generally dark, dark legged and dark feathered roosters are top winners. During full moon and last quarter of the month when the moon is bright at night, the yellow legged or white legged and light colored roosters are top winners.

From the experience, the Horoscope is 80% accurate. A rooster with the right color under the Horoscope may lose, if the other rooster, with wrong color, has superior kaliskis or other pre-ordained sure winning qualities.


CHAPTER FOUR

THE WINNING SCALES (KALISKIS) AND OTHER PRE-ORDAINED WINNING QUALITIES

There is also in some measure a degree of plausibility to the view that the fate and fortune of the roosters, as with men, are pre-determined and written in their scales, as in the palms of the hands of men, and in other signs of other pre-ordained winning qualities.

A. Winning Scales

1. The whole unbroken scales at the knuckles, (buo sa kamao), found after the fifth scales downward from spur level. These should be balanced in the two feet, and the more whole scales downward the better. Roosters with this scales become multiple winners.
2. Whole-unbroken scales at the level of the spur or at the last upper scale covered by feathers.
3. Tres Siete - With three scales at the outer fingers, with the third scale upward in level with the seventh scales at the middle finger counted downwards. By far, this is the most superior scale that has never lost in battle.
4. Diamond inset scale (sudya) embedded anywhere in front or back of the legs in the front knuckle or upper part of middle fingers and inside fingers, or after the first of the middle finger. This is bad if embedded after the fifth scale (el quinto) of the middle finger unless both fingers have it. This is also bad if located at the outer finger, particularly after the 3rd of the 5th scale, unless balanced in both outside fingers.
5. Double inside scale in front of the leg touching the spur as if supporting the spur.
6. Tres Andanas - Front leg scales with 2 unbroken lines from top to bottom
7. Three (3) scales only on the small back fingers.
8. Broken scales on the last scales of all fingers.
9. Uno y media - Broken scale or diamond inset (media) after the first scale of the middle or inner fingers.
10. Baretahan - A post-like composite of downward unbroken scales in the middle of the leg separated by two downward lines from the side scales. It looks like an unbroken post in the middle of the front leg.
11. With no longer inner fingers than the outer fingers.
12. A rooster with black balls. This character is carried in the bloodline.
13. A rooster with a small feather in the middle of the hole at the end of the inner wing.
14. Dagit Lawin - A rooster dropped by the hawk while still a chick.
15. A rooster with a large feather in the middle at the back of the ass (the heart shaped structure where the tail feathers are attached).


CHAPTER V
The Art Of Heeling

Heeling is the important aspect of cockfighting. It is the knife (tari) tied to the gamecock that kills the opponent. It spells the difference between victory and defeat.
The most important lesson, which practically all big time heelers know, is to use short and long blade. The measurement of the length of the blade should be limited only to the shank of the leg and should not include the ball joint of the leg.

A shorter blade kills faster than a longer blade, especially in drag fights and close fighting. A short blade has no disadvantage in air combat because the vital organs of a rooster is not far from the outer part of its body.

The position of the knife depends on the character of the legs, whether it is tihaya, regular, or kubkob or piki. But in any kind of legs, one rule of thumb based on geometrical precision should be followed. The direction of the blade should be aligned with the direction of the inner left leg to which the blade is being attached. When brought downwards with the nails of two inner finger touching, the end of the blade should be pointing to the base of the right leg. Pushing the leg a little forward to bend the knee, the end the knife should be aligned to the middle of the body starting from the scrotum. Pulling the leg backward and elevating it higher, the direction of the blade should be aligned with the direction of the left leg. If the points to an upward direction to the left when raised upward, it should be aligned to the direction of the inner leg by lowering pillow (paunan ).

When standing with the knife already attached, the direction of the blade should be in-between the direction of the outer and middle left leg finger opposite the blade. If it is aligned to the middle finger, then it is placed too-inclined inside (masyadong pasok ). If it is aligned to the middle finger, then it is diretsa. If the tip of the blade is pointed to the left, then the sight is out (labas). All these types should be avoided. If the blade is too inclined inside, it is poor in killing in the exchange of blows on the ground. If it is diretsa or labas, it does not produce deep wounds.
To check if the inclination in the correct position, put a string from the front leg across the left and the middle finger to the back and on the top of the knife (tari). The string will show the proper alignment of the direction of the blade.

The tip of the knife (tari ) should be horizontally on the same level of the spur.


CONCLUSION

Cockfighting, being a favorite national past time in the Philippines is here to stay, with it's intense thrills , joys, and pitfalls. It is hoped that above lessons could be of help to other cockers, big or small, now and in the generations to come.