OK! So this is probably one of the biggest stereotypes that we have. NO! Really! We are asked all the time about it..."Are you a bullfighter?" "Have you seen a bullfight?" "Do you like them?" etc. Well,.. there are many opinions about this, but the question is what is really bullfighting and where does it come from that are most interesting.

Toreando a la veronica - Emlio Muñoz Eventhough there might have been something of the sort in ancient Greece, bullfighting is as Spanish as Spain itself! Dating as far back as the Spanish Reconquest (711-1492 AD). The first historic bullfight or "corrida" took place in Vera, Logroño in 1133 in honor of the coronation of King Alfons VIII. It became a respite between the battles, and later on and outlet where the noblemen, knights and squires could demonstrate their courage and zeal. It is authentic of the Iberian Peninsula (including Portugal). It is also celebrated in many countries of Latin America and Southern France (they copied it!).

A Bullfight has its protocol, which is observed religiously, and it begins with the "paseillo". This is when the bullfighters parade through the center of the arena towards the presiding balcony escorted by the "alguacilillos" on horse to salute. The bullfighters then go to their respective places around the arena and the game is on!

Each bull is let into the plaza, for what is called the first third. The bullfighters carry on a touch-and-go kind of game in which the protagonist studies the animal's strength, temperament, and quickness through the reactions to the movements of the "capote" (the red cape they carry). The sound of the clarinet announces the "Tercio de Varas", which is when the bullfighters and riders come out with their picks and lances. This is done draw out the bull's tremendous strength to tire it. At this time the protagonist joins his assistant in the arena. Las Ventas
Plaza de las Ventas, Cathedral of Tauromaquia

At last, the time has come for the "muleta", which is the sword for which bullfighting is most known. This is the time when the protagonist and the bull are alone, while the assistants watch ready to come out in case of an accident. This is called the "faena", and it is when the "Ole!" (s) are most common. After several passes, the bull fighter will squarely face the bull for the "estoque", or the final touch to the death.


If the bullfighter takes too much time at this, he receives a warning from the presiding balcony, However, if the bullfighter "cuaja", or finishes the fight cleanly, he receives the applause of the audience, and may be awarded the ears and the tail of the bull. May be even carried around the plaza.

A little gory? Some people say so. Not all of the Spaniards are into this, in fact some are very much against it. There are as many opinions about bull fighting as there are Spaniards. Nevertheless, the bull does not go to waste. Its meat will be sold in the local markets later on, just like any other steak.

One thing for certain, bullfighting is a dance with death. A mistake on the part of the bullfighter, a misread movement, could mean his death. The bull, by its nature, attacks anything that moves. The bullfighter must then be at wit's end and maintain his poise and dexterity as he directs the bull's attacks as close to his body as he dares. In theory, the artistic event is simple, the difficulty lies in the carry through. The bullfighter must measure each step to control and master the fight.

Manolete: 50th anniversary of hist death
Manolete: 50 aniversario de su muerte


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