The indian asil
The aristocrat among Game fowl
The Asil is the product of selective breeding from victors in combat over severl millenie under the severest test of courage when a single combat was fought over 4 days with blunted spurs padded with tenfolds of tape. Compared to this system the fight in naked heel is not nearly as satisfactory as a test of gameness. No other breed of fighting cock possesses the courage and tenacity to survive such an ordeal or for that matter to undergo the arduous training involved. An Arabic the word "Asil" means noble and applicable to any living creature whether horse, camel, falconan, m or game fowl. In this instance it designates a breed or gamefowl, in which inessentials for a fighter such as the comb, wattles, fluffy feathers and elongate intestines have been reduced to a minimum. A throughbred Asil cock is an amazing combination of speed, power and gameness, within a beautifully proportioned body admirably adapted for such combat. These birds were the zealously guarded property of the nobility and were fought for very high stakes. In fact an Asil was considered a fit gift for royalty and breeders regarded the selling of birds or eggs as a gross breach or etiquette. A highly paid Ustad (master trainer) was employed together with one assistant for every twelve birds.
When the chickens are 4 mos.old they are separated from the mother which would otherwise remain with them for as long as a year. They are then hand fed to acuustron them to the trainer. The Asil develops more slowly than do other breeds, a necessity for the accumulation of its dense, dry muscle. The cockerel commences to crow at six months, and the spurs emerge after a year. Its training commences at this stage which is in autumn in time to have the bird fighting fit six months later in spring before the summer rains when moulting occurs.
The cockerel is kept seperate from the other birds, exercised, and fed twice a day. The 'Murgh Nama' an old Indian treatise, recommends extremely, and perhaps unreasonably, complicated food mixtures. However, simpler ones are generally adopted today. The morning feed consists of a few pellets of millet and wheat dough mixed with small quantities of some other flour such as that of gram. In the evening, millet is given after soaking it for about six hours in water. Lots of green food and shell grit are necessary components of the diet. During months of scarcity, garlic is a suitable substitute for green food. Remarkably little food is given to the cock and the crop should be empty by exercise time. The bird is watered in the afternoon and when let out is kept muzzled with a string around the beak which is tied behind the comb to prevent it swallowing anything other than its fixed diet. As training progresses, the bulkier food are suppressed and concentrated ones such as eggs, meat and sugar substituted so as to reduce the belly as much as possible. Liquids are restricted for a few days prior to the fight. When fully trained the bird's muscles should stand out conspicuously and should not be juicy.
The cock is exercised for about an hour, twice daily, before feeding. Half hour spells suffice for a light bird. Various exercises are devised which strengthen the nect, wings and legs in particular. Much importance is attached to the massaging of joings and muscles with the hand dipped in some lubricant such as melted butter and great care is taken not to disturb the feathers when massaging. Wet and dry fomentations dispose of fat which the Asil is apt to accumulate internally if not properly fed or exercised. Water is spouted or blown upon the bird to refresh it both during and after exercise. After forty days of such preliminary conditioning the cock is sparred regularly at intervals of ten days. Initially each of these sparring bouts lasts for ten minutes but once the bird is fighting fit it should be capable of wearing down six fresh opponents over ten hours of sparring spread over two days. During the early phases the bird is sparred with a muzzle on, in order to force it to hit and to discourage excessive reliance upon the beak. After three months of training the comb, if large, is cut into a knob and the ends of the sickle feathers are trimmed. The trainer also decides upon the optimum fighting weight for the bird rather early in the training schedule after observing its performance at different weights. An Asil should crouch very low when approaching its adversary so that the breast touches the ground. This posture enables it to launch itself at its opponent with long, low, powerfully propelled leaps. The cock should attack any available part of its foe but its main target should be a vital point such as the head where it should rain down a volley of hard, accurate blows, after securing a beak hold. Some birds are extremely dexterous at avoiding a counter attack while others are so highly trained as to strike hard on command. An Asil tucks its tail between its legs when fighting breast to breast and constantly pushed forward so as to weaken its opponent legs which places a long legged bird at a disadvantage. The balance of an Asil is very important. The bird should be weighted forwards, never backward. A bird that squawls when hurt assumes a non aggressive posture by ducking frequently under the belly or wings of its opponent or turns it back towards its foe is no Asil. Indian cockers also affirm that dark birds and those with coarse combs are more rugged and harder hitters than the lighter colored or small combed ones which are said to be more active. The are said to be more active. The beavy Asils are markedly less aggressive than the lighter ones.
Rival owners match their birds by size and assess them by handling and by sight, age too is taken into account. The birds are fought in May or June with their blunted spurs tightly bandaged with ten folds of tape. The arena or pit usually contains sand although a carpet is preferable. These matches were often helf by the Nawabs as light recreation after a mornings hunting and usually commenced at two in the afternoon. A latecomer forfeits a round. The duration of a round is not defined although the intervals or rest, (pani) are. Some rounds were fought by day and a few by night by mutual agreement but as first rate cocks became rare the nocturnal rounds were dispensed with. A cocker could obtain an interval of rest for his birds whenever he wished but the man who claimed an interval for the tenth time lost the contest. He either stopped the combat or let his bird fight to the death on the third or fourth day. As each man is entitled to request ten pani the match comprises twenty pani. On the first day of fighting the rest intervals are 20,30,40,50 and 60 minutes respectively. On the subsequent days there are all of 60 minutes duration.