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The immediate reaction of many non-Spanish people to bull fighting is
that it is sick, animal killing, unmoral entertainment. To many others around
the world, though, bull fighting is a sport which involves courage, skill, and
power, in a struggle between man and beast. This purpose of this paper is not
to discuss the moralities of bullfighting though, it is to give some information
on a sport which is loved by many throughout the world.
A bull fight, or corrida de toros, consists of three matadors, and six
matches, which each take about 20 minutes to complete. These fights take place
in a bull fighting arena, or plaza de toros. The least experienced matador will
take the first and fourh matches, and the best matador will fight in the third
and last matches.
The matadors are not alone. They are accompanied by three banderilleros
and two picadores. The matador wears a brightly colored costume known as the
suit of lights. His assistants wear less flashy costumes.
The movement from act to act in the bull-fight is divided by a trumpet
blast. The first trumpet signals the paseo, or march of the bull-fighters. The
second trumpet proclaims the entrance of the bull. The matador first watches his
chief assistant perform some passes with the yellow and magenta cape, in order
to determine the bull\'s qualities and mood, before taking over himself. During
this period the matador is testing the bull\'s speed, power and tendencies to
hook one way or the other. Information learned now is crucial for a successful
The third trumpet signals the entrance of the picadores, mounted on
horse back, who carry long pikes with a steel tip which is prevented from going
more than four inches into the bull\'s flesh by a metal guard. The bull carries
its head and horns high, so the aim of the picador is to weaken the massive
tossing muscle (the morrillo) between the shoulder blades. When the bull charges,
the picador leans out and thrusts the pike into the bull\'s shoulders.
The brave bull disregards the pain and charges harder into the pike. The
cowardly bull backs away and is reluctant to charge again and may be booed by
the crowd. The trial of the picks is over at the bull-ring president\'s
descretion, but usually after 2 or 3 picks, which are spearated by a quite, or
rescue, in which the bull is lured away from the horse by the banderilleros.
Following the fourth trumpet the banderilleros attempt to place their
banderillas in the bull\'s withers, again trying to weaken the bull so that the
matador is able to work more closely with it. The banderillas are wooden sticks
decorated with colored paper and with a steel harpoon on the end. The
banderilleros usually run in a quarter circle leaning over the bull\'s horns to
place the banderillas.
On the fifth trumpet blast, the matador removes his black winged hat and
dedicates the death of the bull to the president or the crowd before beginning
his faena. The faena is the most beautiful and skillful part of the fight.
This is where the matador must prove his courage and artistry.
The faena consists of a series of passes made with a muleta. This is a
piece of thick cloth draped over a short stick, which is held in the left hand.
The matador also uses a killing sword, which is always held in the right hand.
The classic pass is called the natural, in which the muleta is first held in
front of the matador to site the bull and is then swung across and away from the
matador\'s body hopefully leading the bull toward it. The matador will continue
to perform a number of different passes varying in skill until he has
demonstrated his complete control over the charging bull.
The bull is now ready to be killed. The matador stands about ten feet
from the bull, keeping the bull fixated on the muleta held low in the left hand,
and aiming the sword between the shoulder blades. The matador attacks pushing
the sword over the horns and deep between the shoulder blades. If the sword goes
in to the hilt it is an estocada but if it hits bone it is a pinchazo. An
estocada usually results in the bull dropping immediately to its knees and dying.
If the bull fails to die, the matador may bring out a descabello (a sword with
a short cross piece at the end) which he stabs into the bull\'s neck severing the
spinal cord. Finally, the fight is over.
According to the
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Bullfighting, Spanish culture, Animal killing, Animal welfare, Spanish-style bullfighting, Muleta, Torero, Picador, Matador, Spanish Fighting Bull, Bull
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