This collection of photographs reveals a traditional past time sport in the Southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand. Chon Wua (or Thai style bullfighting) is a contact sport that creates a hierarchy between fighting bulls as it reveals which bull is more dominant through power and aggression. This is not only a sport between the animals, but also a sport for the crowd in terms of gambling. The fighting bulls use their body strength and aggression to reveal the status of who is more dominant through this artistic and gory form of entertainment. The owners of these fighting bulls take good care of their prize possessions as they spend and commit to an endless amount of time catering to the bulls before, during, and after the fight. Prior to the grand fight owners and trainers devote their time, energy, and money on extensively training the bull. During this year they will exercise, train, pair, and practice several times during a given period. This traditional sport intertwines the social economic culture of Thailand in a way that reveals a way of life and opportunity for those selling goods and services and for those who own and train fighting bulls. So while this sport is declining in other regions of the world it is enriching Thailand’s cultural way of living life as the fighting bulls and its event create a way for the people of Thailand and their visitors to immerse in this activity of leisure.
Home to many fighting bulls this arena is located in Nahkon Si Thammarat where bulls are paired and put to practice. It’s a common place for the men to socialize as they bring down their bulls to get use to the area and/or test their aggression when in the pit.
Release The Beast
(Nahkon Si Thammarat, July 2016) It’s not uncommon to see these fighting bulls walking down the street and neither is the sight of placing one’s bull on the back of a truck. This fighting bull in particular was brought into the practice ring on the back of his his owner’s tarnished yellow small pick up truck. The fighting bull was then carefully untied and released from the bed and brought into the arena to practice.
(Nahkon Si Thammarat, July 2016) Attending a practice match does not always mean the owners are there only to fight his bull. Most of the time a lot of the owners will bring out their bulls so they can get use to the area while other owners and trainers socialize and hang out.
All Hands On Deck
(Nahkon Si Thammarat, July 2016) Before and after a match there are a number of hands on the bull. The number of hands amount for the caretaking and preperation before and after a fight. Sometimes prior to a fight team members of one fighting bull will smear banana on the bulls face to take away the smell of a younger bull. Then at the end of a fight when a bull is being pulling back to it’s owner the bull will be held by many members of it’s team. Taking care and holding onto these massive animals is not a one man job.
(Nakhon Si Thammarat, July 2016) Different trainers means different techniques of fighting. Some bulls will twist and turn while others my drop low and push upward. The difference between these skills and techniques each bull uses is what keeps the crowd intrested in this sport of fighting and gambling.
Turning Loose Like Fire
(Nakhon Si Thammarat, July 2016) These two fighting bulls go head to head as they show off their skills of power and strength. Who will go and who will stay is determined by the state of fear and how domiant one bull is to the another.
Don’t Stop Push It, Push It
(Nakhon Si Thammarat, July 2016) When put to the test again these animals don’t hold back their chance to be aggressive. With the constant head butts and the twisting and locking of horns can sometimes leave these fighting bulls in standby mode and stuck in one position. That’s when an offical steps in and configures the stance and gives these massive bulls a little push back into the test of who is the more dominant male.
Eyes On the Target
(Nakhon Si Thammarat, July 2016) All sides of the areana are occupied once the sound a drum is heard. A drum roll represents a new fight and people of all ages stand nearby to see the action up front and center.
(Nahkon Si Thammarat, July 2016) The silence of the crowd and whipping noise of ropes hitting the muddy water causes some bulls to stand still in fear. As the opposing team members try to intimidate each others bull the fighting bull themselves await to see the next move of it’s opponet. As of result of different fighting skills the bull with more aggression tends to be the one who remains holding it’s gaurd up throughout the fight.
(Nahkon Si Thammarat, July 2016) White-Diamond Glory is owned by a Muslim man, who told the crowd that this bull had just lost it’s first fight on July 16,2016. Being the first one to turn away White-Diamond’s owner was out 110,000 baht -- about $3,000 U.S. dollars. White-Diamond at the age of seven years old was on the road to recovery while feeding on sweet grass.