The popularity of keeping Siamese fighting fish as a hobby either
short fin and long fin are accepted wide spread all over the world. There are two groups
of hobbyists. One, keeping the fish for fun and appreciate its beauty. Most of them are
interested in keeping fancy long fin crown tail, super delta and half moon etc. Some may
come across to the fancy short fin in some extend. The group is open to the outside
audience. They setup the club and have some activities such as showing the fish and fish
competition. Another group of hobbyist is the group of people keeping the Siamese
fighting fish for fighting as a game and entertainment. This article is focusing on second
group that keeping the fighting fish as a game and limit a scoop on the experience of
fighting fish in Thailand. But I think it may reflect very clear picture to the other
groups of players outside the country also.
The fighting fish society is the
group of people who have the same interest. They are gathering themselves for
the fighting fish game. Understanding people behavior and relationship in the
fighting fish society would help other people outside the society understand its
unique aspect which is one unit of the whole society.
This article concentrating of the human relationship in the
fighting fish society in the present time. I will not discuss on the basic term such as
fighting fish, Siamese fighting fish, fighting fish rule or even
giving some introduction on the history of fighting fish game. The reader who
interested these subject matters please read the related topic in my home page and others
The behavior and interaction of the members in the fighting fish
society do not open to the people in general. One, because it is a specific hobbyist
group therefore the members are so limited among the people who really fascinating the
game. The group gain the new member by persuaded from the old member. Two, the gambling in
the fighting fish is illegal, so they also want to limit themselves among acknowledgeable
members. Three, the characteristic of the members or the players themselves make the group
limited. Most of them are the trick players, so they are individualistic and private. Only
people who understand this behavioral habit would enjoy the group.
The social scientist may consider the group is not fascinating
enough to invest the research. It may either too small or they may not even know that this
group existing in the society. But the most hard part of the research is that the
social scientist may do not use the fighting fish mind to approach the fighting fish
society. Therefore their research if any, can gain only skin but no fresh.
When we talk about the fighting fish game, some of the outsider may
think that the players are unethical mind, doing an animal abuse and do not accept it as a
game but nonsensical hobby. This article does not want to excuse those arguments but
simply want to gives plain explanation inside the fighting fish society. I believe
that, gaining the simple descriptive knowledge would make people more understanding. By
understanding would perish the bias of the people that may have.
What is the
fighting fish ring?
Fighting fish ring is the place for the people gathering themselves
to fighting their fish. The fighting fish ring can located at any place such as in the
fighting fish shop, under the shadow of the big trees, in the house of one of the player.
The facilities in the fighting ring are very simple. A ringmaster does simply provide the
long wooden desk for placing the fighting bottle and enough chairs for the members to sit
and watching the fighters. Some fighting ring placing the fighting bottle on the stand and
let the player sitting around to challenging the bet. Usually there is a small food shop
in the ring to serve the food and soft drink. It seems that the players do not worry much
on the setup environment of the ring as long as they can fight the fish. The ring would
start in the morning at 8 A.M. when the first player come in, following by the other
players, and would end around 3 P.M. after finish the last match. The fighting
fish ring plays an important role in the society more than one can think of.
- Fighting ring as a best bloodlines
selection. The serious breeders often charge the best fighter for his breeding
stock in the toughest fighting ring. The big bets always imply the quality of the fighter.
- Fighting ring as a place for pickup
money. Many people come to fighting fish ring
just for seeking the luck. And it is hard to believe that most of them
are well educated. They are refusing to work in the office just because
of boredom and the income fewer than sitting in front of the fighting
- Fighting ring as fighter selection.
Besides getting money from bet, many players carry his fighter to test
in the fighting ring to test out the quality of his fighter. He may put
more bet if he found that his fighter is really good. After finished the
game he would go to see the breeder to buy more, some player even book
the whole family.
- Fighting ring as a social community.
When people come to gathering to fighting the fish. They do share
information, social attitude, and other business cooperation. Selling food soft drink and
- Fighting ring as a cultural
preservation. In the modern time we are all knowing
that people individually entertain themselves in the large entertainment complex.
They go to see the movie without knowing each other. People simply pay money for fun and
enjoy. So no money no fun. But in the fighting ring, any people just come to have
the fun, children, old man, young man, as long as they do not disturb the game. The fun is
free for all. People may simply come to have a joke and laugh though they do not
have any fighter. Entertainment for all and it is a socially fun. This type of
entertainment is pre-modernization in Thai history.
entities of the fighting fish society
I have divided five entities in fighting fish society. Each entity
comprised of social elements. And all elements are integrating to the whole picture of the
fighting fish society. They are, people, social value, language and information system,
business, an impact to the social life.
- The unique habit of the player
- Who are involved in the fighting fish game
- Family ethic
- Role player
and information system
- Style of Language
- Naming and Metaphor
impact to the social life.
- Old man
- Related small business sector
The participator of the fighting fish
game almost hundred percent are men. Though I have seen a few women
visited the club. They were just temporary participator and not the real
fighting fish fan. She may comes with her husband. She even matches
the fighter but we can only see her one or two times. Why, because in the
fighting ring people shouting, smoking and often throwing the rude words. And as
we all know that most of the rude words are sexual harassment. So we may
conclude for now that the fighting fish game is for the man. The players often
move around from one ring to another ring in the same province or may crossing
to another province. Most of these people are professional hardcore players.
You can see the same person presenting in the many fighting ring from time to
time and they know each other well. The players come from various social status
and profession. They are successful businessman, office employer, labor worker,
high rank of government officer, breeder, fighter seller etc. But when
they come into the fighting fish room. They are all equal and leave the social
status behind. Beside the difference of the people I found some standard
attributes in attitude of the fighting fish player.
The unique habit of the player:
- Challenger: People tend to challenge other people for more bet by taking one
fish to challenging to the other fish holder. He may be the owner of that fish or just
being the visitor in that event. I often found that many of the fighting fish players play
other kind of gambling such as football, boxing and fighting cock also.
- Negotiator: They tend to do negotiate for getting more advantage over
opponent. For example, one player asking to pay ¾ bet if he lost. Since he claim that his
fighter smaller than an opponent fighter ¾. Or one may asking for deduct the bet 10
percent if he surrender before his fighter runaway etc.
- Trick player:
People come into the fighting fish arena are the trick players more
or less. Playing trick makes the game more fun and exciting. For
me playing trick is a good exercise of decision-making. You even can
score yourself whether you are the professional in the fighting fish
game or not. It is also applicable to other field of decision-making
and mind reading. Some player taking the disadvantage bet by saying
that an opponent fighter is fight better, he want to play 5/4.
But of course from his experiences he knows that his side is better.
If you cannot follow up his trick you may throw yourself into his
- Obey the rule: All games have rule, the fighting fish game has very strict rule.
Since it is concerning with money and the pride. Each fighting ring does not set the rule
difference much from other ring. The player has to study the rule carefully.
Difference rule imply difference style of playing. The player even has to know the habit
of referee, since the decision-making is depending very much on the referee. The judgment
of the referee is final. So the player must accept the referees decision-making.
This means that no matter how many tricks you have, you must obey the rule and the
These four attributes together contributing to the members of the
fighting fish society to be so consistence, unique. It is coping fair to an unstructured
role of the people in the group.
Who are involved in fighting fish game?
The question of how people come in the fighting fish game quite
interesting. In the fighting fish game people need time to learn and each learning step is
so exciting and fascinating. A game is a kind of process of learning. The professional in
this game always say that, the fighting fish game is endless learning. He needs to
meet people, traveling to the remote area to find the good fighter, having the new friend,
inquiry and learning how to keeping and training the fighter. That is why most of the
hardcore players know the game since they were young. The young were an age of learning.
They were learning from friend, brother and many of them learned from his father, uncle
and his grandfather. I do always consider the fighting fish game as a traditional
heritage. The game involved with the people who passing an experience from one generation
to another generation. Each player has standing position in the fighting fish
activity. They are breeder, the player, seller and hobbyist. Some may take several
roles in the same person.
An age of the player may start from 15 70 years old. An
average age should place heavily on 30 50 years old. However the picture of
the player would be clear by stressing more on the motive of the players. They are
- The breeder: The breeders play the most importance role in the fighting fish
society. Good breeders produce the good fighters. The attributes set of the good breeder
is: learning, experiment, reliable, sincerity. The first two make him develops and
produces the good fighters. Five or ten years ago many of Thai breeders were too proud and
so conservative. They do not want to import the fighter from outside and simply keep
himself in the old daydream. So there was no development in his fighter bloodlines. Beside
these breeders there were the young breeders that taking the new lines from outside. They
fight the fish and import from difference regions and neighbor countries to crossbred with
theirs' available stock. After 2 or 3 years these young blood breeders produce a lot of
good fighter families. And the reward of theirs work were; they won many matches and
theirs fighters easily sold out in a few days. The breeders who do not join the club of
fighting fish are not the serious breeder. They do come in and out just for the reward of
money. Most successful breeders are come from the hardcore players. They often interplay
two roles the breeder and the player. These two roles are implementing to each
other. The successful breeders always be the winner in the fighting ring. The
breeders are leaning from every matches they fight the fish. Take the lesson from the ring
to breed their fighters. So the breeders are the source of the good fighting fishes,
which spread all over the fighting fish rings. Since the fighting fish game become
more and more popular, the breeding places spreading to every part of Thailand. But
only the reliable and sincerity breeders are the most desirable. For me these two
attributes are the must. Some breeders are the hardcore player and some may not. The
difference between the gambler and breeders in the fighting ring is, most of the breeders
playing only their fighters. Whereas the gambler simply plays the fighter that he is sure
to benefit from. The difference motives direct the variation of the playing style. The
motive of the breeders is to see the quality of their fighters and end with the
commercial. The breeders trust only their fighters and want to test how good the
fighters are. Where the gambler is come to find the money only and can take any side that
- The gambler: They are
simply come for playing a gamble. They may come with empty hand watching each bottle and
challenging for bet. Of course this player have very good relationship with the hardcore
breeders and other hardcore players. They would challenging more to the amateur player and
avoid to meet the professional. The gambler may work in teamwork, they may interplay
the bet among themselves for hooking the foolish. There is no real enemy or the true
friend in the session of the game. People may bet in and out as long as the game is not
over. Some gamblers do not know how to keeping and training the fighter.
- The tester: The testers are
the people who search for the best fighters to supply to their customers. The testers may
carry the fighters to test in the fighting ring or just simply come to approach to the
breeders and other players. The motive of the tester is to find the best fighters, so he
would be good to every one. He will go to every fighting ring visiting the breeding
places. And most of them are welcome by the breeders. The breeders and tester seem to
working together very close.
- The hobbyist:
The motive of the hobbyists is just for fun. They may be the
professionals or amateurs. The only point difference from other groups of player is,
they do not fight the fish for money. The hobbyist may divide into 2 groups; one is the
rich man hobbyist, who plays mostly the big sum. Another group is the general hobbyists
who play the small sum or come to visit the fighting ring to meet some friends to chat
- The seller:
The sellers are the middleman
between the breeders and other players. They play an important role
as the fighter evaluator by fighting the fish in the fighting
ring. The sellers play the very importance role in the fighting fish
circle. Most of them were the hardcore players. They are
transforming from the breeders or the players to the commercial
world. The sellers do not play big bet but some do. They are often
using the new batches from the breeders to try out in the real
fighting ring. The reliable sellers are generally acknowledgeable by
the players. The different acting role between the sellers and the testers
sometime hardly to distinguished. The sellers normally
advertise themselves and try to promote the fighters by showing the
fighting result to their customers. They may have the shop selling
the good fighters to general customers. Whereas the testers are
acting more private. They may have definite customers that order the
fighter from them regularly. The testers often choose the
customers since they afraid that their customers may use the same
batch or different grade of fighter to fight to each other.
The social value is some thing that the members in that society
accepted and give value to it. The people interact to each other through this value.
The concepts related to the social value in the fighting fish society are:
The fighting fish is the
traditional game, which may lead back around 100-200 years ago. The
player has been verbal taught from the older generation to the
younger generation. In the past when the scientific discovery did
not explain all aspects of human life. When the fighting fish
is concern with an uncertainty result. So the player laid himself to
the fortune. Most the fighting fish player believes in fortune. But
since we are the rational being. So they need some evident to
support what they believe in and lead it to a conclusion. The logic
premises become an instrument to support theirs fortune believe.
For example, when they observe the changed direction of the wind
blow. They may change their mind to go to fight the fish.
Some may test the same family again to make sure that his fighter
still fighting the same. The outsider may think that this is so
nerve or silly believe. However there is a scientific
implication behind this action. Most of the player recognized
that the fighter often change the fighting quality either upgrade or
degrade. Though they may not have scientific explanation to support
their conclusion. But at present all we know that animal often
change their behavior when the season is changed. Some even
simultaneously develop their sexual behavior only a few hours after
an environment changed. The changed wind direction is one of
an evident of changing season. So the believe of the fighting fish
player is not entirely unwise. The breeder knows to relating
two events resolving to the new conclusion. That is the changed of
season and the changed of the fish behavior. The system of believes not only
affected to the fighting fish practice of the player but also to the
social action in general of the fighting fish society. The strong
believe often develop itself to be the social constraint.
Fate is something that presenting in an ideal world that one
believes can control what happen to the people. Fate is like the
story of god in Greek mythology, that human is the object of god in
the heaven to playing with. Most of the players of the fighting fish
game believe in fate and also believe in Spirit. When they lost many
matches in a week they may think that they are in the period of bad
luck. Some of them may temporarily stop attending the ring. I
believe that most of us (the player) may have some of this
experience of fate. It is really a strange situation. When one
is in the good fate, one would get lucky in every activity. Fate
plays an important role in the fighting fish circle. It is
diminished the monopoly of the fighting fish game. That is no one
can win the game all the time, even the most professional of this
game. Fate makes the fighting fish game alive. Since no one win all
the time and no one lose all the time, except the one who never
learn from experiences. If one lost all the time he would throw the
bad fate to the fighting ring and swear the fighting fish ring have
too many trick and cheated. Then he would get away from the game.
And if one wining the game all the time he would feel no exciting
anymore then leave out the game. Fate also is an informally control
the playing trick of the professional player. Since no one knows the
result of the game, the player would not put too much bet in the
game. The good fate may put more bet and the bad fate may delay or
rethink to take any side. This make the fighting fish game not too
over heat. Fate also does part the serious player from an amateur.
The serious player try to overcome the fate like the Odysseus
challenging his bad fate. But an amateur would gives up the
game. So in practice the fighting fish ring become the theatre of
the trick players. The trick that the brave human always play with
- Family ethic:
Thai family does respects the man as a leader of the family.
In the past, Thai man worked outside and the wife was the household work. The second
wife was the main problem in Thai family. Since the sanction from the society was not so
strong. But it was also not acceptance in the society in general. In Thai fighting
fish society we strongly believed that the breeder who has the second wife would never
produce the best fighter. We often have the telling story in the fighting ring about the
best breeder who never bred the best fighter after he has second wife. Because he has done
an immoral practice. This was the mystic answer to scare the people to avoid an
unacceptable behavior. An explanation behind this scene is, when man raptures the woman he
would spend all his time with the woman and has no time for the fighter. When he went
home, his wife would shout to him and they may quarrel.
He may not feed and train his fighter well in the proper time. Of course this environment
is not good for the good fighter to living with. Keeping the fighting fish also make the
man home on time. Because he has to feed and train his fighter in the regular time.
The time to caring the fighter is around 16.00 19.00 hours. I have been proof this
hypothesis by persuading my friends to have a good meal in the big restaurant and I pay
for them all. When we were on the way back from the fighting ring. All of them refused to
go and said that they had to go back home to see their fighting fish. It seems to me also
that they pay more attention on the fishes they got the samples from the breeder to test
out more than the delicious food in the restaurant. The household wife likes to see her
husband playing the fighting fish rather than he goes to somewhere else that she does not
know. Of course the fighting fish game is one factor to keep the family healthy.
- Role player:
More experiences breeders and hardcore players are accepted and get
respected by other players. When they talk, other people would pay attention to them.
Role-playing in the fighting fish society is not preset or already available or
pre-structured like teacher, parents or seller. But role-playing in the fighting
fish society is taking by acknowledgment from other members. It is cumulative
activities that make that person is accepted from other members. For example, when
one breeder can produce many batches of fighter won many matches and with the high bet in
many fighting ring for two or three years continuously. He would get more respect from
other breeders or players. The whole batches may easily sell out within a week. In case of
hardcore player, he may find himself difficult to get the match since many people afraid
to fight the fish with him. An attitude towards to the hardcore player taking by, he plays
big bet for a long time and he won the game most of the time. On the other hand if an
amateur player come to play the big bet. Other players may come around and investigate the
possibility to getting money from him. They may praise the fighter and the player but this
is just the trick, they are waiting for an amateur jump into a dig poll. So an amateur
cannot jump to professional position just because he has money to play. An
implication of the role player in the fighting fish society is that the members of the
fighting fish society are not big. The member may come from the relative of an existing
member, such as brother, nephew, or friend. The group slowly grows up and easily accepted
by the other members. Another implication of the role taking is, to taking the respected
role is not easy. One would take and getting the role from his own action.
The information system and language are presenting the social
dynamic of the fighting fish society. The use of language is presenting the
relationship type in the society. Where as the information system is presenting the
complexity of the group.
The main interest in the fighting fish society is how to get benefit
from the game. So there are a lot of tricks playing in the fighting ring. Some people feel
bad and complain when he feel like a foul. Some fighting ring writes the big letter on the
entrance gate No stupid enter. Trick player in the fighting ring use all
available tool to communicate to his partner. They have body language, mobile phone, short
message, or even preset planning for fighting the fish. The trick players develop the
special style of language and information system to use during the session of the game.
Sometime they are even creating their private protocol. Understanding the information
system in the fighting fish circle is to understand how they playing the trick to win the
There are two types of language using in the fighting fish ring. One
is the language using in the everyday life. It may assort with some slang and swears to
communicate with other players. Another language is a body language. During playing
session they often use body language to communicate with his partner. For example, they
may do slit-eye to send signal to his partner, mean that do not say anything, or using
fore-eyes for agree to bet more or slightly shake head to disagree or gently pulling the
partner hand to warn him to reconsideration on the bet. All these signal doing in
the very natural way and it is very difficult for the outsider to get noticed from.
Style of Language:
Using the language is actually the psychologically exercise of the
speaker. The speaker knows whom he is dealing with. The style of language reflects
an attitude of the speaker to the hearer and it is part of playing a game. One can
say that it is a meta-fighting fish. That is to say the fighting fish over the fighting
fish. For me the fighting fish is nothing more than the form of balancing aggressiveness
in the man mind. That is to say man transforming his nature of aggressiveness to
the game of fighting fish. So the fighting fish becomes an agent of man who seeks to
be the superior. Man and the fighter are very close relationship and work together.
They are become ONE. Fighter fight by it own nature and instinct. As a rational being, man
also using brain and psychology to win. Man does selecting, cultivating and training the
fighter so well. When his fish fight in the bottle, man also fight outside the bottle. His
fighter is using instinct and physical to winning, man also using brain and mouth to win
The following are the style of languages the trick player uses to
provoke the other to jump into his trap.
The trick player may use insult word to provoke the other to take
his challenge. For example, he may say that you are coward to match the fighter with him.
And if you do not aware and getting mad you may lose the cautious and jump into his trap.
The trick player may use sweet word to hook other. For example, he
may say that your fighter look very smart and aggressive how hard for him to win this
- Humble: The trick player may say that his fighter not so ready to fight and
he want to fight the small sum. He will show you the weak point of his fighter such
as big stomach, fungus, problem of mouth or even swear that his fighter just net from the
tank 5 days and do not get any training. But when you take his challenge he would
ask to put more bet.
Modern player difference from the traditional player is, they group
themselves as a team whereas the traditional player simply an individual player. When
people grouping to do something they must communicating to each other. To communicating is
to forming the information system.
The information system processing in the group is the close system.
That is to say, only the members of the group know the information. They will not share
the information to another group. All information on the fighter is keep private and
secret. To keep the information private, they would send off the wrong information to the
The players form themselves to be a group and help each other to
play the game. The members of the group would be 3-10 persons depending on how do they
serious on the game. More serious they may form the bigger group or bigger network. The
group may consist of breeders, testers and players. They are working as informal team,
share resource and information. If the group is consist of more than two
person of the real professional. This group may consider being the one of the most
dangerous team. But most of the time they are hardly presenting themselves together in one
particular fighting fish ring. They often participate the difference fighting ring and
using the mobile telephone to play the game. However, the real fact is that the real
professional hardly to group themselves in the long term. The real professional often is
an individualistic, quiet and humble. He is trust only to himself. To form the group
the player is using and sharing information.
- Share and use information upon an opponent such as
who is the supplier of an opponent, what is the day a big player comes and which fighting
- Share and use information on the fighting fish such
as how good and weak of the fighter is, the fighting style and special talent of the
- Share the risk and the fund when to play the big
game. They make use the group to share the bet in case their opponent challenge more bet.
This is often happen when two groups of player encountered.
- Share the happiness and sadness when wining and
losing the game. After the game over they would have a small party and exchange an idea
and strategy of playing the game.
The value of information depends very much on the reliability
source. Some players never give the right information, some so quiet and speak only few
words. But some players would give any information you want. The player knows how to
extract the meaning in the information he get. There are three types of information
exchange in the fighting fish ring.
- The general information:
It is the general information that the player may exchange with his
friend. This type of information usually is the general chat or discussion such as social
opinion, family and some private favorite life and other kind of facts.
- The deceived information: It is the information that the player wants to mislead you.
So that you cannot tracking the source of his fighter. Why people do not want you to know
his source of fighter. Because they afraid that you might have the superior fighter that
- The half-true information:
It is the information that not complete. This would make you more
confused or misleading. He may gives you the right breeder but omit the family name or the
wrong family name etc.
Naming and Metaphor
Naming also reflects the relationship type of the group. The
fighting fish circle is nonofficial and informal group, people often call each other by
nickname and do not bother much on the real name and family name. The very true story is
that very few people know the real name of the members in the group. When one has
first introduces his name to the member of the group. That name becomes acknowledgeable to
the other members of the group. His name may also come across to other fighting ring, if
he is the big player or doing something special. However there are some special names,
which they may name for special person. That name reflects some character of named
player. For example, metaphorical name Tik the Eagle. Tik is the
nickname and the Eagle is the king of bird. The name represents the character
of this player that he has very sharp eyes, fast, quiet and fly high. Noi around the
world mean Mr. Noi who can play any side of the player. Ting yellow
water. Mean Mr. Ting who use chemical in his fighter etc. "The gang of
four" is a name of four professionals who work as a team. The gang of four now
becomes the legend of the fighting fish story. They play the game something like gorilla
warfare, well plan, systematic and silence but no limit of bet. The metaphorical name
usually is giving to the hardcore player by his friend. After they know each other well.
It is giving to an image of the player.
An above discussion is what the people giving the name to other
player by consider the way he plays the role. To playing a role is to possess an image. By
metaphorically, we will discuss on the player as a subject given to his own image and
expressing himself to the public.
This is the young and keen professional player.
Individualistic, quiet, confidence and has very sharp eyes. He can decide whether the
fighter wins or lost by watching a few minutes, no criticism either on his fighter or
opponent fighter. The player of eagle type would starting with small sum and would
increase the bet when he sure that he has very high percentage of winning. Some
eagle type does fighting fish for living.
This is the
fighting fish seller type. He does behave to dear everyone. He does not belonging to
any player group. Play carefully and small sum and does not worry much on the money from
the bet. The players who hold the deer type also are hobbyist, old man who spends his
lifetime by fighting the fish.
This is the real trick player and expresses another form of the most
experiences player. He would
use his eyes to find out the weak point of the opponent fighter.
He knows how to deal with any particular player. Fox like to charge
the younger or weaker prey. He also would be the first person who
approaches the "deer" type and challenge with small bet. He can play
any side as long as he gain an advantage. He also likes to follow an
eagle and lion to share the bet.
- Old lion:
This is the professional player who retirement from the game but
cannot stop to play. He is a old men who has a lot of experiences and the story of
fighting fish in his old day. He simply sits and waiting the younger comes to
- Young lion:
This is an aggressive player. He is a big bet player and often the
rich man. Like a young lion which surrounding with "deer", "fox"
etc. I have seen many matches that he alone taking more than 20 bet.
- Fish facility and Live food seller
impact to the social life.
- Old man
- Related small business sector
Temporally omit Jump
Aggressiveness in the fighting fish ring
9 October 2007
I am neither a social scientist nor social psychologist. What I
am describing below is an attempt to give the picture of group behavior of the
people in the fighting fish ring. My focus is on an expression of aggressiveness
of the player in the fighting fish ring. The fighting fish ring is the meeting
place of those people who are aggressor, trick player, gambler and chance taker
etc. An expression of these people in the fighting fish ring is often
unstructured and unpredictable they are concentrating only to win the game. The
outsider of the group may difficult to distinguish which is the real bad temper
expression or simply throwing meaningless rude word. The only way to understand
behavior of this group is to use long term observation and being a member of the
group. I spend 10 years of unstructured - participant observation, acting,
reacting, gambling, mock, joke and sad as they do. My interested points are how
and in what way they show theirs aggressiveness. What is the control mechanism
to make the group living and is not in the destructive manner? A psychological
balance though the fighting fish activities is a main theme of this study. An
implication of this study is to infer another side of aggressiveness, in which
people often look at it as a negative way. This is to answer the very crucial
question that, why fighting fish society can survive in the midst of structural
society, a scientific and rational stream.
Fighting ring is a good place for those aggressors comes to
exercise theirs anger drive among them rather than express his dark side to his
family or other social sectors. An interaction among the aggressors has its own
self - protection system. I call this self-protection system is “aggressive
agent” or an expression of aggressive through something else.
“Aggressiveness agent” is a process
or a set of actions to accomplish the fish fighting game. A process circle is
start from finding the best fighter, conditioning and training, checking
information, matching and betting, get the fighting result then loop back to
finding the new fighter. So an aggressiveness agent is considered to be the
transformer process from one action to another action. If we consider
aggressiveness is a form of complexity of the mind that work opposed to the
reason or it is something like a twisty messy rope that hard to resolve.
Fighting fish activity as an aggressive agent is the process of resolve the
twisty messy rope. It is a simple form of solving the social problem,
Like other social rule, fighting fish as an “aggressiveness
agent” has its frame of self - protection system. The player is concentrates and
expresses his anger drives through an achievement of training the fighter and
finally presents himself with his fighter in the fighting ring. He and his
fighter work harmony and express aggressiveness together along side by side in
the difference way. The fighter expresses his aggressiveness in its natural
instinct in the fighting bottle, whereas his master expresses his aggressiveness
through “aggressive agent” outside bottle in the supportive manner.
There are two basic human factors influences to an expression of
aggressiveness of the people in the fighting ring. The first factor is on the
concept of human avoid pain, seeking and gain maximum happiness. The basic
interest to fight the fish is to enjoy the fighting fish and get the money as a
bonus back. Though, few of them or 10 percent are considered to be the hunters
(or may be a hunted) in the fighting ring. Since it is temporally group and each
person know other persons only a skin level but they assume also that each
person has giant ice supported under the surface. For, he is one in an iceberg
field. It is very common in the same interest group that people thinking and
bear an attitude in the same way. Based believed on human avoid pain theory. The
lack of information on other people can slow down and limit theirs
aggressiveness expression towards other people. Since he does not sure what
would happen when he show his hyper-aggressiveness. Second factor is: Social
education and family cultivation that the player gains from the society.
Traditional Asian family cultivation is also plays the great part role in
control expression aggressiveness in the fighting ring. The traditional cultural
cultivation in Asia is very strong and influence very much in social expression
of the people that the hierarchical respect of the younger to the older.
What types of aggressive expressions the player show in the
fighting ring? From my observation on the people behavior in the fighting ring
10 years. It is interesting to note that people tend to express their
aggressiveness only one type which is in turn showing his social habit and
social expectation toward other people. No matter what aggressive type each
player showing, they are all try to achieve the social interaction to gain
joyous and avoid physical/mental pain and acceptance from other member. There
are three kinds of expressions.
- Rude expression (offensive
aggressive): he may shout loud,
mock other people; force other people to match and to fight the fish.
This people usually approach the weaker or younger. They often walk
around find the chance to get money from the other, asking an advantage
fish owner to share the bet etc. The age of this group around 30 - 50
years old. This group comes from the variety background. Many of them
can not step to the professional class. So they act something like
semi-professional and rookie.
- Calm expression (defensive
aggressive): he may quietly
isolated from other people even he is surrounding in the mid of hundred
players. He will show his aggressiveness once people come to toward
him. This people will communicate only with the people he chooses. The
age of this group around 60 years old up. The background of this group
is the old men use their retirement life.
- Gamer expression (tactical
aggressive): This group is the
real professional in fighting fish. He challenge and show his
aggressiveness nothing except the bet and play the game in the game.
This people often grouping among themselves because they speak and
interpret what they said the same way. The age of this group around 25 –
50 years old. The distinctive attribute of this group from other group
is that most of them are well educated, good financial support, love and
crazy on other betting games such as boxing, football or other word
betting already reside in theirs blood.
From my rough
estimate there are only 20 percent on gamer expression of aggressiveness, 10
percent on calm expression and 70 percent on rude expression. The variety
activities of the players give the complete picture in the fighting ring that
many people walk around making noise few of them constantly sit and there is one
solid group the players sitting/standing around challenge on offering the bet.
This solid group acts like a core of fighting ring and the rude expression group
acts like a movement and the calm expression act like a co-actor that fill the
gap between gamer expression and rude expression. This rough estimate number
gives the wide picture of people who involve in the fighting fish game. The
picture show mainly is those use aggressive agent as a mean to balance theirs’
temper or rude expression. This also implies the main theme that fighting fish
is a hobby game rather than a real gamble game.
The question may raise that when many aggressors come to meet
each other on the very risky situation why they do not quarrel and fighting
among themselves or Thai boxing. The fighting among player hardly arise in the
fighting ring because,
- The fighting fish is same as other
game can figure out as a proxy fights. A difference is that in fighting
fish game, fish and human become one and involve in every part of the
game. They are not simply an audience sit and cheer beside the
playground chairs. The body of fighting fish society is very distinctive
unique and lively. It can picture as an iceberg moving one place to
another place. An event in the fighting ring like a tip of iceberg that
water surface of the sea hide the giant concrete of the mass object
under the sea. The tip of iceberg (player) is supported by mass under
the sea (breeders and partner). The member of fighting fish group show
itself very small number. The constant participant in Bangkok ring and
neighbor provinces is around 500 people. However each person knows
other person very little, most of them even do not know the real name
and profession. In fact they do not care much on the name and social
status information of the members. They come to play the game shouting,
betting, making joke mock to other people and go home. The lacking
information of other preserve one not to overact upon other. So they
limited themselves only in the fighting fish expression or what I call
- The golden rule of “avoid pain gain
joy” of human is fully applicable to the people in fighting ring. The
basic intension to play the fighting fish is to enjoy seeing his fish
fight, the fighter he train and take care. This is a way of challenge
himself. All his activities on selecting the fighter dealing and
training the fighter are his self identify. If his fish win he also win
and happy. So the fighting fish is a self-challenge for seeking the
happiness. The transformation his mind to his fighter is one form of
balance his aggressiveness expression. He would throw his anger to his
fish and himself but not other, but paradoxically he himself trains the
fighter. So only one choice remains for him to choose is whether keep
playing but more careful or give up the game. Only a few cases that when
one feel cheated they might quarrel and the situation will calm down
after a few negotiation. The physical attack could happen when people
talk bad words to other people rather than the event of fighting fish
- The variety habits of the players
balance the fighting ring not put too heavy in one side. Only a few may
express his hyper-aggressive towards other people. This hyper-aggressor
in fact is sanctioned by other players. They might try to avoid having
argument with; some even avoid communicating with or some senior warn
him to calm down. Some fighting rings even sanction this person to enter
the ring. Finally he fight the fish with none and alone among the crowd
The fighting fish ring and
An implication I am trying to say is: We all know that
aggressiveness is part of our life from childhood. Also we are often considering
aggressive in the very negative way and sanction it at once. So aggressiveness
is repressing itself in the social framework, which is also repressing the very
nature of an aggressiveness of human. Aggressiveness no harm as long as it is
not harm to oneself and other or against the social conduct. In everyday life,
we found that aggressiveness often jump across one social frame and sometime
against the social conduct. This may harm or annoying other people to live in
the peaceful environment. We often automated assumed that well education and
well social cultivation can transform and develop an aggressive of a person to
the positive way. But these two factors do not imply directly to bringing about
the good conduct to the people. We often found that well educated person can
harm other people in the very hard to believing way. This is because we are
pre-assumed that well education person is a well train disciplinary and well
self control person. So education alone is not enough to diminish a negative
side of aggressiveness reside in human. What social planner should think is, how
to temporally parting aggressor people and provide the room for them to exercise
their aggressiveness. Of course this is not a full medicine dose to cure the
social weakness. But at least it cans relief, and grouping an aggressive
behavior in one private place in which they can set their own rule and express
on the way they are.
Fighting fish is something like a filter to take away a few
aggressive people from other people for short period of time. They do setup
theirs own system and regulation. It is something like unconventional private
club. In the group they can express theirs’ inner drive of aggressiveness
through the game of fighting fish which is fills theirs’ life balance. It is an
acceptable group behavior of each member. This is so importance in the social
context. The transformation aggressiveness through the fighting fish activities
routine on breeding, keeping, training and fighting at last dissolves theirs’
aggressiveness action. Theirs’ aggressiveness seems to remain faint in the
normal live society.