fighting in Spain
fighting is very closely associated with Spain and can trace its origins back
to 711 A.D. This is when the first bullfight took place in celebration for the
crowning of King Alfonso VIII. It is very popular in Spain with several thousand
Spaniards flocking to their local bull-ring each week. It is said that the total
number of people watching bullfights in Spain reaches one million every year.
was originally a sport for the aristocracy and took place on horseback. King Felipe
V took exception to the sport however and banned the aristocracy from taking part,
believing it to be a bad example to the public. After the ban commoners accepted
the sport as their own and, since they could not afford horses, developed the
practice of dodging the bulls on foot, unarmed. This transformation occurred around
what happens during a bullfight?:
Firstly the bull is let into the ring. Then,
the top bullfighter called the Matador, watches his chief assistant wave a bright
yellow and magenta cape in front of the bull to make it charge. He watches this
in order to determine the bull's qualities and mood, before taking over himself.
a trumpet is sounded and several fighters called Picadores weaken the bull by
placing spears into it. This takes around 10 minutes.
trumpet is sounded and the Matador now removes his black winged hat and dedicates
the death of the bull to the president or the crowd before beginning his faena.
faena which is the most beautiful and skillful section of the fight and where
the matador must prove his courage and artistry. The faena consists of a running
at the Matador carrying a muleta. This is a piece of thick crimson cloth draped
over a short stick, which can be held in either the left hand or draped over the
espada, the killing sword, which is always held in the right hand. Usually the
muleta, in left or right hand, is first held in front of the matador to make the
bull charge and is then swung across and away from the matador's body hopefully
taking the bull with it.
is a show, basically a dance with death - one wrong move and the Matador could
become impaled on the horns of the bull. It is the Matador's job to make this
dance dramatic and enjoyable for the audience.
faena continues until the Matador has demonstrated his superiority over the bull.
Once this is achieved the bull is ready to be killed.
matador stands some ten feet from the bull, keeping the bull fixated on the muleta
and aims the espada between the shoulder blades. The matador attacks pushing the
espada 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 or media-estocada.
An estocada usually results in the bull dropping immediately to its knees and
dying, but if the bull fails to die the matador may take the descabello (a sword
with a short cross piece at the end) which he stabs into the bull's neck severing
the spinal cord. The fight is over.
matador may be awarded trophies by the president, according to his skill in working
with the bull, which can be one or two ears from the bull, the tail and the hoof.
The crowd will often encourage the president to award the trophies by waving white
hankerchiefs, and this waving continues after the trophies have been awarded in
an attempt to get the matador to throw his trophies into the crowd. The crowd
in return hurls flowers which are collected by the matador's assistants.