13 Cockfighting Superstitions

As cockfighting has been around for centuries, it is not a surprise that the sport has cultivated many superstitions in its history. While superstitions are beliefs that have no rational substance to them, many cockfighting enthusiasts follow the practices in order to get the best outcome of a fight.

What Are the Superstitions of Cockfighting?

A lot of these superstitions originated from the Philippines where cockfighting is highly popular, akin to a national sport. Many rural sabong devotees take these superstitions seriously.

However, some cockfighters do not follow them as most of these superstitions don’t offer any explanations or sound reasons behind them. Not all superstitions denote bad luck, there are also some that indicate good luck.

  1. Having a female visitor on the day of cockfighting can bring bad luck.
  2. Avoid attending cockfights if you have a hole in one of your pants pockets.
  3. Avoid cockfighting on Fridays.
  4. Bet on the “shy” and white cocks on days with moonlit nights.
  5. It is considered to be an unlucky day if one runs into a funeral procession on the way to a cockfight.
  6. Shaving is avoided on sabong day for fear it might cause the game cock’s blade to break.
  7. Don’t look back when walking to the cockpit arena.
  8. If a fighting bird crows seven times at around 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock at night and it is not resonated by other roosters, this is a sign that the bird will be the king of the arena. 
  9. At night, when a fighting cock is bending its head to reach out from the outside of its food in the throat (storage area of the food), it foretells winning in the cockfight.
  10. Written charms containing biblical verses, cryptic words, or signs slotted into the spurs of a cock can bring good luck.
  11. Any objects that are twins should be put inside the clothes’ pocket to become a cock fight gambling winner.
  12. A feather that falls off a cock is considered a good luck charm and should be put inside the pocket of one’s clothes.
  13. Wearing black to a game or sitting next to someone wearing black is a sign of bad luck.

Final Note

Cockfighting, or sabong, is one incredible window to Filipino culture. If an intrepid traveler can stomach venturing into a cockpit arena and witnessing a fight, a rural cockpit is more ideal than big, urban-suburban venues to fully absorb this incredible slice of fringe Filipiniana. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you get caught fighting cocks?

Depending on where you live and whether cockfighting is illegal or not in your area, you may face criminal charges.

Why is cockfighting a problem?

Cockfighting is deemed a problem as many see it to be cruel to the animals involved. Fighting cocks can get killed in any match due to the spurs equipped on their legs. While there are also a lot of roosters that survive fights, they can acquire serious injuries which they’ll end up succumbing to later on. 

Cockfighting is also seen as a breeding ground for a lot of illegal activities such as gambling, gang activity, drug trafficking, illegal weapons sales, and more. A lot of individuals also use cockfighting to breed particular bird species and ship them across state lines or even across the world. Such a thing is criticized and even illegal to do as shipping birds across countries can increase the occurrence of avian influenza.

How bad is cockfighting?

Defined as a blood sport, cockfighting is often perceived as a form of animal cruelty. Fighting cocks wear metal spurs on their legs and use that to attack their opponent in the pit. Even before fights, birds are subject to harsh living conditions and training. A lot of times, the fighting birds are also injected with steroids to raise their aggression. 

In the past, there were other variants of cock fighting called “shying at cocks” where spectators hurled pieces of wood at the birds in the pit, attempting to knock them over. There was also an activity called “throwing at cocks” which involved tying birds to a stake and shooting at them with staves until they were injured or killed. While these practices do not exist any longer, it is undeniable that they were a part of cockfighting and therefore were treating cocks cruelly.

What is a Kristo in sabong?

A fascinating facet of the sabong experience in the Philippines is witnessing Kristos during cockfights. The “Kristos” (singular, “Kristo”) are betting managers sacrilegiously named for their Christ-like crucified stance with their arms stretched out, beckoning spectators to place their bets. 

Once the cock fight starts, the arena erupts into the deafening din of Kristos calling out and beckoning bets as their hands are busy with a frenzy of motions and signals. Hand signs are Kristos’ arithmetic language, made because of the distance and loud noise. Kristos rely on these signs to communicate bets with other Kristos. 

It is a fascinating display of memory as some Kristos are known to take in as much as 8 to 10 or more bets. Knowing the language of fingers facilitates communication with your Kristo effectively. Here are their meanings:

  • Upward fingers – In small arenas, especially in the rural and boondock hack fights where small bets are common, each finger signals 10 PHP. Five fingers equal to 50 PHP. In big cockpits or derby events where cocks fought each other head to head until only one is left, an upward finger could signal 10,000 or 100,000 PHP.
  • Downward fingers –  Each finger is equal to a 1000 PHP bet. Caution is needed in pointing the fingers downward twice as it could be interpreted as a 14,000 PHP bet or more.
  • Sideward fingers – Each sideward finger is equivalent to 100 PHP. If a Kristo points four fingers, that means it’s equal to 400 PHP.