Gentler Cock Fighting

Sundays are special days here in Tijuana, days of languor, even torpor, afternoons of beer 'n' bullfights by the beach (commencing May 16), and, right now, cockfights in the Zona Norte.

A newly remodeled bar, Las Chavelas, on Calle Coahuilla, is featuring 5 o'clock cockfights on the dance floor normally reserved for hoochie dancers and go-go girls. Three big game cocks, confined in cages on the sidewalk out front of the bar, strut and crow, glaring aggressively at each other, as intrigued pedestrians pass by. Resplendent in their plumage, the multicolored cocks are ready to rumble. Inside, the saloon is filled with chicken-fight aficionados eager to watch two pissed-off pieces of poultry punch each other out.

The squeamish spectator need not fear any bloody mayhem, since the pugnacious cocks do not have razor-sharp sabers attached to their talons, de rigueur in a regulation duel-to-the-death match. These birds' talons, normally an inch-and-a-half long, are trimmed to a blunt half-inch stub and wrapped with foam rubber and adhesive tape, thus achieving a sort of padded, bird-boxing glove.

Emilio, the TJ trainer, takes his rooster to the dance floor and puts it down in front of Roberto's fighter. The two birds begin to brawl, with plenty of high-hopping, chest-bumping and karate-esque kicking, until one rooster is routed, pummeled to the mat and pinned by his opponent´s foot on the vanquished bird's chest.

Emilio grins at Roberto. "No que no?" he says, as he picks up his victorious gallo. (¨What did I tell you?¨)

The short match most resembles a version of avian cage-fighting , employing the martial arts of jiu-jitsu, French foot-fighting (savate) and hillbilly wrestling. Despite all the flapping and fury in the energetic bout, nary a feather was lost nor beak bent.

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