While the implications of cockfighting can be debated, the fact is that it is a deep element of Indonesian and Balinese culture. Some events draw thousands of participants and onlookers and the organized chaos is both fascinating and frightening. Its not for everyone certainly, but it is an interesting look into the culture and the history of the Balinese people.
I thought this to be an interesting moment. Amist all the chaos, screaming, betting, chanting, fighting, blood spilling, etc., this young man took a contemplative moment to himself (and his fighter) in the moments leading up to battle in Singaraja in Northern Bali.
Although in 1981 the Indonesian government made cockfighting and gambling illegal, it is deemed as merely a suggestion and the 'sport' continues to this day.
The huge shiny 'Taji' or blade attached to the chicken's foot is readily apparent in this photograph and one can only imagine the damage that this metal talon can inflict. There is much lore attached to this mysterious and deadly object; menstruating women can not gaze upon it, it can only be sharpened under the moonlight, only very special charcoal from a tree hit by lightning can be used to forge the steel, it can not be handled by a member of a family that has recently had a deceased member, and the lore goes on and on.
Regardless of the views of westerners and other outsiders, cockfighting is tightly entwined into the Balinese culture and even religion. Part of Balinese Hinduism involves sacrifice and offerings and sometimes even blood sacrifice. The cock and its owner spend a great deal of time together and its owner spends a great deal of money and effort to care for and prep the animal for battle. A strong bond is formed and for the man to risk his prized pet is considered an offering to the gods.