Introduction:

 

My purposes on visiting Hong Kong, a special territory of China on October 16-19, 2009 were to learn fighting fish outside Thailand. To see how the difference culture and economy social practice players keep and train the fighter. I also want to join some matches with them for some fun and be part of them.  I have been visited and fought fighter in Singapore 2001, Vietnam in 2002 and Hong Kong in 2004 but that time I did not have a chance to visited fighting ring in Hong Kong.

My fighters sent to Hong Kong got Championship trophy 3 years continuously. My friend sent one of them to me, he said it is mine!!!

 

I do not feel alienated to Hong Kong, may be because my family moved from Hong Kong settle down in Thailand before World War 2 we use Cantonese language communicate in family.  My father had been long term importer and distributor traditional medicine from Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a high level industrialized business service like Singapore. Most people live in compact high building; space is one of the most expensive in the world.  

 

Since water and space are expensive, breeding and raising fighting fish in Hong Kong can be said almost impossible. People are busy, rush and separated by apartment wall, fighting fish club is a place for men who fascinated this exciting game goes outside his place to have some challenge at least once a week. It is a hobbyist meeting rather than playing gamble. I am not wonder why the players setup the game at night around 9 pm and the game end at 12.00 pm. It is only this time people are free from theirs' work. My friend said that Hong Kong never sleeps and I think so.

General consideration of fighting fish in Hong Kong:

 

Hong Kong players call Siamese fighting fish “Tar Yue” translated into Thai term “Plakat” or in English “fighting fish”, where "Tar" means fight and “Yue” means fish. I guess Chinese use "Tar Yue" without indicate the origin of this fish because a feeling of very close relationship with Thailand. So they use the same wording but differ only on using language. As we can see Western call "Siamese fighting fish  and Vietnamese call "Ca Siem" both point to the origin of this fish, from Siam or Thailand. People often indicate the origin of the thing when they feel a distance of it and want to fix a precise meaning on it, Persian cat, Arabian horse, German shepherd dog and so on.

From short interview with an old player he said that fighting fish in Hong Kong should begin around 50 years ago. The fighter was taken from the aquarium pet shop imported directly from Thailand. I think that time the fighter quality was simply regular fighter or may be even the long fin. The quality grade ring fighter may not available for export, at that time the selective fighter just bred for personal used. Even today the real ring fighter has to place special order at aquarium back door shop and the players are a first group to select the good quality fighter. Hong Kong and Thailand has very closed relationship both kinship and business partner. Chinese also has very long history on using animal for human entertainment purpose such as fighting cricket, fighting bird. Chinese consider physical fighting is an art, Kung fu; as also South East Asia people think of kick boxing. So to take fighting fish into the fighting game's category is easily welcomed and adaptable to fit in the building society.

There are three imported components build Hong Kong fighter club find it own unique form. One, use digital scale for sizing the fighter which I guess first taken from USA. Two, use water direct from tap in which avoid any complaining on water quality and trick player, I thought it may get influenced from Thailand. And three, using three liters oval plastic container for a fighting jar, I have seen using glass the same size in Singapore and Malaysia. They take and adapt what are suited to theirs' circumstance and availability. The fighting practice is comfortable for people in and out any time, fair to all. Thailand fighting fish rule is too details required a lot of experiences for taking in winning chance, it is suited for the professional and trick player.

 

A group's member is around twenty people show active. But in the hard time of world economy crisis the members’ activity seems to slow down. My friend said that last year there was only one ring that all players came to challenged the fishes. But those amateurs lose too many matches due to difference class and technique of caring the fighter so they automatic slide out to form another group. This make players are divided into two groups one is amateur that using pet shop quality and another is hard core player that import direct from theirs sources. Being a building social structure and the time consuming from conditioning and training the fighter I think Hong Kong ring shall keep the number of player as it is. However, Hong Kong as a large gate of china I can foresee that the game can spread to China in the very near future.

 

Weather in Hong Kong is same as other country in SEA. In winter could be slightly cold, 15 C but it is still considered not difference much. Street temperature is pleasant in summer and in rainy season. So Hong Kong can keep and play fighter an entire year, though in winter may slightly down.

Fighting fish activity:

 

The fighting ring I have visited was for the hardcore player. There were only 6 players met and matches in that night. Each player carries 5 fighters or more, so there were about 30 fighters to fight or 15 matches. However it does not means that all fighters get match in that night, because digital weighting is offering definite  weight of fighter. A player can not foul around other player by any mean or trick.

The players were preparing fighters by write down number on the bottle and waiting for weight the fighter by digital scale.

 

The fighting ring starts at 20.30 hours, the players show off the fighters in various sizes of containers. The weighting system makes no require standard bottle to match the fighter like in Thailand ring.

 

A small group of players can setup simple and friendly rule with no require judge. Each player can be a witness of the fighting event and foresee a result; it is flexible and easy to make agreement. This is an advantage of the hobbyist small group which make fighting ring atmosphere like a friend club meeting.

There are two agreements on the regulation make judge or middleman minimum needed

  • Sizing by digital weight
  • Three hour fighting limited

A middleman or judge is needed when game setting is complicated, subjective and require some judgment. A role of judge in fighting fish standing on the very difficult situation where his judgment alone put players into win or loss and even more harder when big money is concerned. So he must be able to arrange a hard and risky situation into objective judgment based on the preset regulation that all players accepted. A classic example is on how to decide in what degree a fighter open its gill towards third party fighter to make it qualified passed. This question always create argument among the players in the Thai fighting ring when we use open gill towards the third party fighter as a final judgment. So a judge is standing on the very hard situation on his judgment. Because of this situation a player often leaves out his fighter by putting suppression to his opponent which try to finalizing a game. The professional player often wins the game by this situation. Where as an amateur does not know how to taking a winning position chance.

Another bad situation which some players or judge may not recognized is, the hard feeling on the difference size of the fighter. A bad mood resided in a player mind, its growing and striking to other feeling that his opponent is unfair and he is cheated. This could lead player to feel bad and uneasy. So there is only one option remain for him, that is he will not submission the game. For he knows that his fighter has no way to recovered the game but at least he is giving to the last hope luck or may simply give some hard time to his opponent this make a game exceed three hours.

 

Sizing by digital weight: Sizing the fighters by digital weight is to ensure on matching of the fighters are the same or closest size. The size of the fighter is one of the most importance factor on winning and losing in this game. Based on an assumption that both fighters are the same quality and well prepared condition, the bigger one has very high potential in winning. That is why in Thailand ring a matcher always tries to get advantage on bigger size. Either they use deductive bottle or try to convince inexperienced players that the fighters are the same size. From my experiences a new comer often lose to professional because they do not know what should focusing on matching. Many of them say good bye to this game after loss badly a few times. This is not good when we consider the future of this game.

The weighting method is offered precise weight, simple and fair. The digital scale is set to be zero with water in a cup. A fighter was net out and placed on the soft cloth to drain water from the net then gently quickly drop a fighter into a cup placed on the digital scale.

 

So digital weighting is free from trick, all players are standing on the same position and no more complaining on difference size that often annoy to other players and make the ring dull. What a player has to do and can do is to prepare his fighter in top condition and this is what I mean fighting fish in Hong Kong is a game not a gambling. I did not see people who not carry fighter join the fighting fish club. One player in the group said that this is the most fair play method and I am totally agreed.

All fighters' weight were wrote down on the prepared table in each player row then coupling an appropriate weight of the fighters towards the weight in the table.

After finished the paper work each pair of fighter will net to the fighting bottle. On my visited day there were only 5 matches.

 

There are two things a player has to seriously prepare to take him advantage to other player. One is to have responsible and reliable supplier to send the good quality fighter to him. Another is he has to know how to keeping and training the fighter well in the limited available resource, space and time.

Many oval plastic container with three liters of water direct from the tap., placed on the table.

 

Three hours fighting limited: The player gathering at 20.30 hour and start to fight the fish on 21.00 hour, after matching is made. The finished time is 24.00 hour. The limited fighting time is show an attitude of playing the game that for friendly and fun. To limited fighting 3 hours is to save guard cruelty on playing a game. A player knows in advance when the game end. This is so suitable for the complex modern society when betting is not so serious rather than spare time for socially hobby entertainment. I got difficulty many times from the no limited fighting time. When two fighters completely stop and no one is in the real advantaged side. We have disagreement on this fighting situation, my challenger want to wait until the ring close where I offered a draw fight. This situation is also happening in Vietnam ring the challengers have to wait until the ring close 17.00. This difficulty happens when members of the ring are large number and concern more on betting.

I have contributed 3 matches out of 5 matches in that night.

Comment:

 

 

What I know from visited Hong Kong this time is that. A fighter can very well show off from agriculture playground to building meeting club society.  This is one more development phase in fighting fish. I can see the real toughness and well adaptability of fighting fish in this time. Its need minimum space, tap water also applicable, frozen blood worm easily get from the pet shop in a nice packaging and clean. Hong Kong player setup a fighting rule very well suited to theirs’ infrastructure. A limited three hours fight is something like go to see a story of movie. Hong Kong should be a sample on playing fighting fish in high technology society that it goes along with popularity on a fancy type.

You come I'm so please, I'm regret when you leave.

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