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Shanghai Cricket Fighting

Shanghai Cricket Fighting

Asia, China, Shanghai

Established over 1000 years ago during the Tang dynasty, cricket fighting is a popular sport in China.

Unlike similar sports that feature animals fighting, these fighters rarely get injured.

Believe it or not, these crickets are carefully bred and selected to fight. They’re raised on a strict diet. The night before fighting day, female crickets are even put in the same cage to boost the male’s fighting spirit.

The cricket fighting season continues until the end of September so, eager to experience a match firsthand, we wandered to the Flower, Bird, Fish, & Insect Market of Shanghai.

The market is worth a visit in and of itself. You can wander aisles filled with stalls of giant crickets, colorful birds singing in cages, puppies piled up, and fish flitting through tanks.

Some of the giant, colorful crickets you can find in the market
Some of the giant, colorful crickets you can find in the market

The Fight

The crickets are assigned fights according to their weight class and the rules are pretty simple: the first cricket to turn away loses. A cricket minder meanwhile pokes and prods the fighters with a hay stick to start the fight.

The beginning of the cricket fight
The beginning of the cricket fight

Although it’s illegal, gambling on the crickets is quite popular. Top fighters can even sell for over $1000.

We missed the main fights that morning, which are even broadcasted on a TV for the audience to see. However, we were able to pay 15 yuan to witness our own private match.

While the fight isn’t violent, it’s certainly an experience worth seeing.

Historically, emperors and concubines placed crickets in small cages next to their beds to lull them to sleep.

In order to engage in the culture to the fullest opportunity (and perhaps because I like Mulan) I purchased my own 幸运的蟋蟀 or lucky cricket complete with a woven bamboo cage.

Our new lucky crickets!
Our new lucky crickets!

Perhaps this little guy can help make my next Chinese test go smoother!

About the author

I got my first taste of long-term travel when I took a gap year before beginning college. I lived and worked in Australia in one of the most transformative years of my life. Like many others, I caught the wanderlust bug and now I'm always busy adding to my bucketlist. Besides traveling, I'm into hiking and photography. I'm currently finishing up my senior year in college and planning my next big adventure!

6 Comments

  1. yomomma
    September 14, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Are those crickets as big as they look???! What have you named your?

    • pgoode12@gmail.com
      September 15, 2014 at 5:41 am

      The crickets are huge and slightly terrifying! I’ve named mine Jim (short for Jimminey)

  2. Frank Goode
    September 18, 2014 at 12:48 am

    To think this is the same person who is, was?, terrified of any insect!

    • pgoode12@gmail.com
      September 18, 2014 at 7:04 am

      No I’m definitely still afraid of insects. I don’t touch Jimmy-just poke food into his cage and pour water onto a leaf!

  3. Siddesh
    December 7, 2014 at 4:03 am

    Thanks for the info. Ive heard a lot about this place. I am going to visit it today. Sounds very interesting! Awesomeness of Shanghai!

    • pgoode12@gmail.com
      December 7, 2014 at 8:04 am

      Thanks for commenting:) And yeah the markets definitely a neat little part of Shanghai!

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