While the autumn heralds the start of the conker season in Britain, in China it means the age-old tradition of cricket fighting is about to get underway.

Enthusiasts in the Orient have been gathering to pit their prize insects against each other for about 1,000 years.

And this year more than 20 teams from across China competed in the two-day National Cricket Fighting Championships.

The reputations of the crickets’ owners are on the line and plenty of betting takes place on the side meaning the matches are fraught with tension.

Man Zhiguo, a truck driver who has been involved in the sport for more than 40 years, said: ‘I raise crickets as a hobby because I admire their positive spirit.

‘They never admit defeat, they have a fighting spirit, so we all like them.’

Man, 54, has a diverse collection of at least 70 crickets from all over China, some of which are worth more than 10,000 yuan ($1,600).

Similar to cockfighting but without the blood, two crickets are sent into a ring the size of a shoebox to do battle.

They are goaded with small sticks or pieces of straw until they are ‘hopping mad’ and ready for a fight.

Loud chirps indicate the crickets have been significantly wound up,  and a judge then removes a divider between the two crickets so they can fight it out.

Man feeds his fighters a mixture of bean paste and water as part of a high-protein diet, and trains them regularly.

They are kept in modest clay jars on the shelves of his cricket room in a traditional Beijing courtyard.

The insects have a lifespan of about 100 days and are in their prime in the autumn.

While cricket raising and fighting tend to be associated with China’s older population, Man said the sport still has a devoted following. see more

source: Dailymail UK