Mastering the Language of Sabong: A Guide to Common Terms and Jargon

Cockfighting, or “sabong” in the Philippines, is a sport that has been part of the country’s cultural heritage for centuries. From the different breeds of gamecocks to the various fighting styles and techniques, there’s a lot to learn about the world of sabong. But beyond the physical aspects of the sport, one crucial element that every cockfighter should master is the language of sabong.

Understanding common terms and jargon used by judges, officials, and enthusiasts can make all the difference in winning or losing a fight.

From uncommon sabong terms to slang expressions used in cockfighting derby, this guide will equip you with the knowledge to communicate effectively in the world of sabong.

Essential Sabong Terms

To fully understand and appreciate the world of sabong knowing the basic terminology of sabong will allow you to communicate effectively with other cockfighting enthusiasts and deepen your understanding of the sport.

  • First, we have Kristo or the bet taker. In Sabong, trust is a sacred virtue, and one person who plays an important role in the game is the bet taker, also known as “Kristo”. The origin of this name comes from the word “Christ”, as bet takers are expected to be as honest as Jesus himself. As they take the bets, they often spread their arms in a symbolic gesture of honesty and fairness. The role of the bet taker is crucial in Sabong, as they are responsible for ensuring that bets are placed correctly and recorded accurately.
  • One of the key players in a cockfighting match is the “casador“. This person is responsible for announcing the opposing bets. Once the bets are equalized, the casador will shout, “Larga na!“, signaling the start of spectator betting.
  • Meron and Wala are the designated spots or sides in the arena where the two gamecocks are placed. Meron is the side where the cock with the bigger center bet or initial bet is placed while Wala is the side for the cock with the lesser initial bet. This is an important factor to consider when betting as the initial bet determines which side the gamecock will fight on.
  • Parada (Center Bet) refers to the amount or bet placed on the gamecock with the management’s “favorite”. This is an important factor to consider when placing bets as it can affect the odds and the payout.
  • Llamado is a term used for the gamecock with the bigger center bet or initial bet. It can also refer to the gamecock which is the crowd’s “favorite”.
  • On the other hand, Dejado is the term used for the gamecock with the lesser bet or which is an “underdog”.
  • In the midst of betting, there is another element to the game of cockfighting that adds to the excitement: kulitan. Kulitan is the term used to describe the act of each gamecock pecking at the other’s head. This is done to anger the other gamecock and maintain a level of aggressiveness.

Kulitan is an important part of cockfighting as it helps to ensure that the gamecocks remain aggressive and engaged in the fight. This is crucial, as a gamecock that loses its edge may become disinterested in the game and lose the match.

  • Carreo is the actual handling of both gamecocks by the referee when one or both gamecocks stop fighting, to see if they will continue to go until a winner is declared. This is done to ensure that the game is fair and the winner is determined by skill and not by chance
  • A promoter is a person licensed by the Commission who is engaged in the convening, meeting, holding, and the celebration of specially programmed and arranged cockfighting events like local or international derbies or competitions, special mains or encounters, pintakasi, or ordinary fights or hackfights. They are responsible for organizing the event and ensuring that it runs smoothly.
  • Pot Money is the amount prescribed by the promoter/management to qualify for a prize but which is not obligatory for entries. This is an important factor to consider when participating in a derby event as it can affect the prize money.
  • Entry refers to a registered participation in a derby event as prescribed by the promoter/management. This is important as it ensures that the gamecocks are matched based on their weight and skill level.
  • Sentenciador (referee) is a person licensed by the commission who is vested with full power and authority to watch and oversee the progress of the cockfight and to decide and declare the winner or a draw contest.
  • Hackfights are the ordinary fight or actual combat between two pitted gamecocks by ulutan system or pairing. This is a less formal type of cockfighting event and is usually done on a smaller scale.
  • A derby is a special cockfight event wherein registered fights are pitted by weights, the championships which are determined by the entry garnering the highest number of points. This is a more formal type of cockfighting event and is usually done on a larger scale such as cockfighting arenas.
  • Bettors are the people who place bet money on the gamecocks slated for combat. They are the ones who make the game more exciting and interesting as they try to predict the winner and place their bets accordingly.
  • Soltada/Sultada is the actual fight or physical combat of two pitted or evenly matched gamecocks, where bets on either side are placed. This vernacular term for a cockfighting tournament which also means “round” or “bout” in boxing or wrestling but is commonly referred to as sabong in Bisaya.

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Origins of Sabong Language

The language used in sabong has a rich and complex history, influenced by various cultures and languages. The origins of sabong language can be traced back to pre-colonial times, when cockfighting was a popular pastime among indigenous groups. 

Over time, the language evolved as various colonizers, including the Spanish and Americans, introduced new words and phrases. Today, sabong language reflects a unique blend of indigenous, Spanish, and English words.


Understanding the various terms used in Sabong is essential for anyone who wants to fully appreciate and enjoy the sport. From the bet taker or “Kristo” to the casador and the role of kulitan, each term plays a significant role in maintaining the integrity of the game.

Cockfighting has been enjoyed by many for centuries and remains an important part of many cultures around the world. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a beginner, Sabong offers a unique and exciting experience that is unlike any other sport.


Yes, Sabong is legal in the Philippines but is subject to strict regulations.

Sabong has a significant economic impact in the Philippines. It provides employment opportunities, generates revenue from betting, and supports related industries such as feed and equipment suppliers.

No, Sabong is illegal in many other countries due to concerns over animal welfare.