Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture


Picture


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 related site.

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 fish bottle.
  • 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 good fighter.
  • 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.
The social 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.

1.  People:

  • The unique habit of the player
  • Who are involved in the fighting fish game
2.  Social value:

  • Belief
  • Fate
  • Family ethic
  • Role player
3.  Language and information system

  • Language
  • Style of Language
  • Naming and Metaphor
4.  Business:

  • Breeder
  • Gambler
  • Supplier
  • Seller
5.  An impact to the social life.

  • Old man
  • Unemployment
  • Related small business sector
People

  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 trap.
  • 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 referee’s decision-making. This means that no matter how many tricks you have, you must obey the rule and the referee’s judgment.
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 advantage.
  • 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 with.
  • 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.
Social value

  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:

  • Belief: 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: 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 fate.
  • 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.
Information system

  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 game.

Language:

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 bet.

The following are the style of languages the trick player uses to provoke the other to jump into his trap.

  • Mocking: 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.
  • Praising: 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 match.
  • 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.
Information System:

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 public.

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 ring?
  • 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 fighter etc.
  • 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 he has.
  • 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.

  • Eagle: 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.
  • Deer: 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.
  • Fox: 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 approach.
  • 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.
4.  Business:

  • Breeder
  • Gambler
  • Supplier
  • Seller
  • Fish facility and Live food seller
5.  An impact to the social life.

  • Old man
  • Unemployment
  • Related small business sector
Temporally omit Jump to ----------

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, destructive aggressiveness. 

 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 “aggressive agent”.
  • 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 itself.
  • 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 of people.
  The fighting fish ring and social policy

  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.

WILD BETTA SPECIES GROUP & LOCATION

Picture
  Betta akarensis group Betta akarensis Regan, 1910: Sarawak & Brunei (Belait, Tutong and Bandar Seri Begawan) Betta aurigans Tan & Lim, 2004: Indonesia (Natuna Besar)
Betta balunga Herre, 1940: Sabah (Tawau); Kalimantan Timur (Sebuku, Mahakam)
Betta chini Ng, 1993: Sabah (Beaufort)
Betta pinguis Tan & Kottelat, 1998; Kalimantan Barat (Kapuas)
Betta ibanorum Tan & Ng, 2004: Sarawak
Betta obscura Tan & Ng, 2005: Kalimantan Tengah (Barito)
Betta antoni Tan & Ng, 2006: Kalimantan Barat (Sanggau)   Betta albimarginata group
Betta albimarginata Kottelat & Ng, 1994: Kalimantan Timur (Sebuku);Sabah (Tawau)
Betta channoides Kottelat & Ng, 1994: Kalimantan Timur (Mahakam)

Betta anabatoides group
Betta anabatoides Bleeker, 1851: Kalimantan Selatan and Tengah

Betta bellica group
Betta bellica Sauvage, 1884: Malaysia (Selangor, Perak, Pahang, Johor); Sumatra (North)
Betta simorum Tan & Ng, 1996: Sumatra (Jambi, Riau, South Sumatra)

Betta coccina group
Betta coccina Vierke, 1979: Sumatra (Jambi, Riau); Malaysia (Johor)
Betta tussyae Schaller, 1985: Malaysia (Pahang)
Betta persephone Schaller, 1986: Malaysia (Johor)
Betta rutilans Witte & Kottelat, 1991: Kalimantan Barat (Kapuas)
Betta brownorum Witte & Schimdt, 1992: Sarawak (Sibu, Matang); Kalimantan Barat
Betta livida Ng & Kottelat, 1992: Malaysia (Selangor)
Betta miniopinna Tan & Tan, 1994: Sumatra (Riau – Bintan Island)
Betta burdigala Kottelat & Ng, 1994: Sumatra (Bangka Island)
Betta uberis Tan & Ng, 2006: Kalimantan Tengah (Pangkalabun)

Betta dimidiata group
Betta dimidiata Roberts, 1989: Kalimantan Barat (Kapuas)
Betta krataios Tan & Ng, 2006: Kalimantan Barat (Pontianak, Sanggau, Mandor)

Betta edithae group
Betta edithae Vierke, 1984: Kalimantan Selatan, Tengah and Barat; Sumatra (Riau – Bintan Island, Bangka, Biliton)

Betta foerschi group
Betta foerschi Vierke, 1979: Kalimantan Tengah (Mentaya)
Betta strohi Schaller & Kottelat, 1989: Kalimantan Tengah (Sukamara)
Betta rubra Perugia, 1893: Sumatra (North Sumatra, Aceh)
Betta mandor Tan & Ng, 2006: Kalimantan Barat (Mandor)

Betta picta group
Betta picta (Valenciennes,in Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1846): Java (Bogor, Bandung, Yogjakarta)
Betta taeniata Regan, 1910: Sarawak (Serian, Sri Aman); Kalimantan Barat (Kapuas)
Betta simplex Kottelat, 1994: Thailand (Krabi)
Betta pallida Schindler & Schmidt, 2004: Thailand (Narathiwat)
Betta falx Tan & Kottelat, 1998: Sumatra (Jambi, Sumatra Utara)

Betta pugnax group
Betta pugnax Cantor, 1850: Malaysia (Pulau Pinang, Kedah, Terengganu, Pahang, Selangor, Johor), Singapore; Sumatra (Riau, Jambi) Indonesia (Anambas)
Betta fusca Regan, 1910: Sumatra (North Sumatra)
Betta schalleri Kottelat & Ng, 1994: Sumatra (Bangka Island)
Betta prima Kottelat, 1994: Thailand (East Thailand); Cambodia (West Cambodia)
Betta enisae Kottelat, 1995: Kalimantan Barat (Kapuas)
Betta pulchra Tan & Tan, 1996: Malaysia (Johor)
Betta breviobesus Tan & Kottelat, 1998: Kalimantan Barat (Kapuas)
Betta lehi Tan & Ng, 2005: Sarawak (Lundu), Kalimantan Barat (Kapuas)
Betta stigmosus Tan & Ng, 2005: Malaysia (Terengganu)
Betta cracens Tan & Ng, 2005: Sumatra (Jambi)
Betta raja Tan & Ng, 2005: Sumatra (Jambi)
Betta apollon Schindler & Schmidt, 2006: Thailand
Betta ferox Schindler & Schmidt, 2006: Thailand

Betta splendens group
Betta splendens Regan, 1910: Thailand (Central Thailand)
Betta smaragdina Ladiges, 1972: Thailand (East and North Thailand)
Betta imbellis Ladiges, 1975: Thailand (South Thailand); Malaysia (Selangor, Pulau Pinang, Perak, Kedah, Terengganu, Johor); Singapore; Sumatra (North Sumatra)
Betta stiktos Tan & Ng, 2005: Cambodia

Betta unimaculata group
Betta unimaculata Popta, 1905: Kalimantan Timur (Kayan, Howong)
Betta macrostoma Regan, 1910: Sarawak (Marudi, Niah); Brunei (Belait District)
Betta patoti Weber & de Beaufort, 1922: Kalimantan Timur (Balikpapan, Samarinda)
Betta ocellata de Beaufort, 1933: Sabah (Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Tawau); Kalimantan Timur (Sebuku)
Betta gladiator Tan & Ng, 2005: Sabah (Maliau Basin)
Betta ideii Tan & Ng, 2006: Kalimantan Selatan
Betta pallifina Schindler & Schmidt, 2004: Kalimantan Tengah (Upper Barito)
Betta compuncta Tan & Ng, 2006: Kalimantan Timur

Betta waseri group
Betta waseri Krummenacher, 1986: Malaysia (Pahang, Terengganu, Kuantan)
Betta hipposideros Ng & Kottelat, 1994: Malaysia (Selangor); Sumatra (Riau)
Betta spilotogena Ng & Kottelat, 1994: Sumatra (Riau – Bintan Island, Singkep)
Betta chloropharynx Kottelat & Ng, 1994: Sumatra (Bangka Island)
Betta renata Tan, 1998: Sumatra (Jambi, South Sumatra)
Betta pi Tan, 1998: Thailand (South Thailand – Sungai Kolok); Malaysia (Kelantan)
Betta tomi Ng & Kottelat, 1994: Malaysia (Johor)


STORY OF BETTA SMARAGDINA

Picture
Betta Smaragdina is just one species in the Betta family, available in the northeast of Thailand.  The general characteristics of the fish are crystal-like shiny green scales and gill covers.  The trunk of the fish is round when viewed from the side and slim when viewed from above.  The pelvic fin is long and tapered, and the caudal and anal fins are slightly orange in color.  The dorsal fin is a green color.  The local people call the Betta smaragdina “green fighter” or “Plakat Keaw” or “Pla Keaw” for short.  The average size is about 1.5 - 2 inches in length, they are shy in nature and easily frightened by any stranger that approaches them.   Betta Smaragdina’s Natural Habitat Betta smaragdina is the native fighting fish of the Isan people. The Isan area of Thailand covers over one third of the entire country, and consists mainly of highland plateaus.  This geographical characteristic is very isolating and helps to preserve Betta smaragdina, as well as keeping the species from mixing with other bloodlines.  The Betta smaragdina, like the Betta splendens, can be found widely, living in the shallow rice paddies, ditches, and the lowland spaces beside the rice fields.  This buffer area is a free space that the farmer uses for releasing the fish and also for irrigation to and from his rice field.  Naturally this area is flooded throughout most of the year, except maybe in the dry season when it may remain only wet mud.

The farmer does not actually use this area for growing rice so fortunately it is untouched by chemical sprays.  This small area is very complex and complete in itself.  There are various kinds of plants, weeds, and animals that reside in this area. This small area plays a very significant role in the farmers’ life.  It is a direct source of food, providing edible plants and fish.  For children, this is their paradise playground.  It is a place for adventure and imagination, and a classroom to teach children the way of nature, running and playing with each other.  Some children may even search for small fish; of course one of those fish is Betta smaragdina,  “THE GREEN FIGHTER”, the fighter from the Northeast of Thailand. Catching the Fighter with a Tender Scoop of the Hands

To catch other wild fish, some may use a massive net that is thrown into the water and slowly pulled back ashore.  The unlucky fish will get stuck in the net and the fisherman will free him from the tangled mess and then put him in a bamboo cage.  This fish is his food.

Catching Betta smaragdina is entirely different.  This method is very smooth with no noise or violence at all.  To get this fish from the wild there are no special tools required, only two hands are needed.  It seems that the green fighter is just sitting there waiting for someone to take him or her out of the wild and into his new home.

 If a boy wants to get a green fighter he will walk along the pathways between the rice fields and the flooded land.  With experienced eyes he slowly scans the locations where he might find the green fighter.

Without any hurry, he will slowly step into the 10-inch-deep water and direct his attention to the target.  Being very careful, he slowly opens the wild grass, his eyes scanning intensively for the bubble nest.  A high percentage of the time he will find the small bubble nest of the green fighter.

The boy slowly opens the grass all around the Betta’s bubble nest.  Without any hurry he tenderly scoops the fish up into the palms of his hands and raises the fighter into his
new home.

One of the green fighting fish breeders I met in SakonNakorn province told me that fish fighting in Isan country may go back over 200 years.  He was 53 years old. He said that his father had told him his grandfather was a big player in the fighting fish game.  From his personal opinion, fish fighting may have come along at the same time as cock fighting or possibly even before that. In order to validate his opinion he said that Thais today and in the past have always had a close relationship with the water.  We are a riverside society. Over 80% of Thai people were farmers, so naturally their lives are very close to nature.  They grew rice and caught fish for food; children ran around playing and also caught the small fish in the rice fields.  So it is possible that we knew the fighting fish before the fighting cock.  This answer is very similar to the 45 years old theory, which comes from the owners of a local aquarium shop in U Bon Rat Cha Tha Ni, 119 Kilometers from SakonNakorn.  I am inclined to believe their explanation.  However, at this time I am taking a temporary break from researching the origin of the fighting fish of the Northeast of Thailand.  I hope that by doing deeper research in the literary reviews I can go into more detailed explanations with some objective primary sources to support it.

The fish fighting takes place regularly at any one member’s house.  Normally the matches are held on Saturdays and Sundays.  The starting time is usually about 10 a.m. with a few latecomers joining the event a little bit later in the day.  The game is started later in the morning so that people can finish their daily work and enjoy the playful game.  People start to gather themselves around the fish fighting bottles.  A tall square glass is held at the
center of the group of people. This manner of grouping is a symbol that represents the community and shows unity between the Isan people.  The fish fighting plays a very significant role in the social interaction amongst people on the weekend.  No one cares about the week’s workload or stress; in the group everyone is laughing and talking loud with a happy face.

  When fighting Betta smaragdina the owner uses a small net to shift the fighter to the fighting bottle, unlike fighting Betta splendens, for which we use the small scoop to transfer the fish.  The Isan do this to be fair in the match, some people will put chemical solutions in their water and transfer this into the fighting bottle with the scoop.  Once the second fighter has been lowered into the fighting bottle, the waiting challenger will rush the opponent, spreading open its splendid green gill covers.  Then both will flare their fins in an attempt to intimidate and trick their opponent into believing they are bigger, more aggressive, and more powerful.  With a very dignified look they will slowly rotate around each other.  Their eyes fixed firm to each other, they both will flare their fins to scare their opponent, but neither of them will back down. Suddenly one of them will attack like a flash and immediately go back to flaring his fins to show his strength, when this happens the other fish must pay him back at once.

Betta smaragdina does less “swinging” in its body to push away its opponent (in Thai we call this “tec” or kicking) compared to Betta splendens, which try to push the opponent in order to make them lose control. The Betta smaragdina fight is more artistic and has more style-almost like traditional wrestling, a playing game not aimed at killing or injury. After the game neither fish is injured very much. They will return to their normal condition after the fight without any assistance from medicines.

The fight ends in about a half-hour. If the fight lasts a full hour and no one runs away, then the judge will tell the owners to take his fish from the fighting bottle and the fight is declared a draw. On average the fights last only 15 minutes. Some matches only take 5-10 minutes and one of the fish will run away with very little damage. The loser is freed back into the rice field, and the winner can fight again after recovering about a week. Very interestingly, the winner can develop his fighting skills and do better in his next fight. The fish fighting games take place from March to September during the rice growing period when the fields are full of water. Whether the fish is a winner or a loser, all fish are released back to their natural habitat after the fish-fighting season is over.

  Breeding Techniques of the Betta Smaragdina

  The philosophy when breeding Betta smaragdina is “to preserve the characteristics of fighting stock to be as close as possible to its original form, first found in the wild.”  To accomplish this, breeders try to simulate the Betta smaragdina’s natural habitat by releasing the fry back to specific locations in the wild.  The breeder will secretly release the fry at night because he doesn’t want his opponents to find the source of his fighters.  The opponent might catch one of your fish and use it against you.  The wild environment slowly trains the human bred Betta smaragdina to be the real wild toughened fighter.  From the struggles for life, to living with various predators, this time in the wild gradually teaches the green fighter how to defend its territory and fight.  Only the strongest survive.  The weak shall die.  This is the process of natural selection.  The wild environment will shape its structure to be as close as possible to its ancestors.  The only difference being that they are not naturally selected bloodlines; they are human controlled bloodlines.  More precisely they are a hybrid of Betta smaragdina and Betta splendens.  They are like Arnold in Terminator, the new strain.  The super selected fighter.

Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
If you need more information and want to purchase some wild or splendens just email me at : cyntia2012@gmail.com thanks for visiting my page
Picture
Picture