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Spider fighting

By Floro Mercene

When we had no malls, no smartphones, and no game centers in town, kids were playing outside and catching spiders for spider fighting. It was a common past time of children. Spider fighting occurs in different forms in several area of the world. Among them are the Philippines, Singapore, and Japan.

In the Philippines, the fight is staged between female orb-weavers from the genus Neoscona. The game begins by placing two spiders at opposite ends of a stick. The spiders are then prodded to move along the length of the stick until they encounter each other and fight. In Singapore, they use males of the genus Thiania, a jumping spider.

During fights, two spiders are placed on a flat surface, facing each other. The spiders fight until one of them backs away or falls out of the ring.

In Japan, an annual spider fighting contest, 400 years in history, called Kumo Gassen (spider battles) is held in Kajiki, Kagoshima in southern island of Kyushu. This spider battles were declared an Important Cultural Property in Japan by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

The Kogane spider (the Argiope spider) is remarkably docile, and doesn’t tend to bite large animals or humans even if they are being handled roughly by children. The spiders are captured or reared by locals and entered into the contest. The first spider is placed on the stick. The second one is then introduced on the other end of the stick.

Wrestling itself takes place tournament style until the top 10 spiders are chosen. From there, it’s a single elimination bout until the overall winner is crowned. There’s an official judge and referee. He is there to make sure things don’t get too far out of hand, and neither spider is seriously injured. In addition to the battle, there is the spider beauty pageant. The spider with the most beautiful and unique markings is named best in show.