Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

February 19, 2010

Bullfighting

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Bullfighting is a traditional spectacle in many countries, especially in Latin America and Spain.  In recent years, the killing of the bull has been prohibited in many places.

Many people are repulsed by the tactics used to weaken the bull and the ultimate death of the bull.  Those who have held the tradition of killing the bull respond by speaking of bullfighting as an art.

My opinion is that it is not a bull-fight, but a fight to death between a man and a bull.  That is not to defend the killing of the bull, however.  I have found that one almost begins to be a fan of the bull and not the man, yet no one desires to see the matador injured.

Bullfighting is a spectacular event.  It has all the pomp and circumstance of any big concert or theatrical production.  There is a band, stands packed with spectators, a booth for royalty, and vendors coming through the crowd.

I can never forget my first bullfight.  I went because it was to be a bloodless bullfight.  It was to be  a show to prove the skill of the matador.  I was surprised to see all the men involved with the bull prior to the appearance of the matador.  As you observe, the realization comes that all the activity by these others is simply to physically wear the bull down.

Eight men  came out and taunted the bull.  They called on the bull to chase them.  They  attempted to jump on the back of the bull,  grab his tail, and do whatever to decrease the energy of the bull as he charged  into the arena.

There were  horsemen who came out to likewise aggravate the bull.  The horses wore heavy pads to help absorb the charge of the bull.  Yet,  there was pain to the horses.  I realized that the horses were blindfolded.  They had no awareness of the foe at hand.  Knowing the horses could not defend themselves, I found my allegiance was for the horses.  But then, the riders began to spear the bull on his back.  Again, I was  pulling for the bull!  All of this is to weaken the power of the bull!  I called it an unfair fight!

Then the matador appeared.  The translation of the word matador is killer!  That is his goal in a traditional bullfight.  That is also the goal of the bull, of course.  So, let’s call it a fight between the two.  The matador wore clothing called a suit of light.  It derives the name from all the sequins on his clothing which reflect light.  He was carrying a large cape.  I was surprised it was not red!  It was a pink color.  Some matadors have pink and orange, sometimes, even blue.  He began to taunt the bull with his cape.  The bull would charge again and again.  You could even hear the bull bellow as he  would dig the dirt with his foot. 

The bull seemed to be tiring, the matador exchanged the large cape for a red cape.  I knew a red cape was always used in the movies!  It was smaller than the first one.  The large cape was handled with both hands.  The smaller cape, called a muleta, had a rod in it to make possible the holding of the cape with one hand, out from the body.  Now the bull was taunted with the red cape, and the matador displayed his skill as he allowed the bull to come closer to his body because of the smaller size of the cape.

After a time, the matador was given some long pikes. Pikes are barbed, wooded, decorated sticks.  As the bull passed closer to the matador, he  thrust these long spikes into the neck of the bull.  Some four to six of these were stabbed into the bull.  Again, the purpose was to weaken the bull.  With each charge of the bull and the thrust of the pike, loud cheers ascended from the crowd.  Wait, wait, wait I  exclaimed,  “This is to be a bloodless bullfight, but the bull is bleeding!”

As the matador prepared to stab the bull with the last pike, his red cape got twisted against his body.   Before he could get the cape away from his body, the bull charged and gored the matador.  This was no bloodless bullfight!  As assistants rushed to get the attention of the bull, the matador lifted himself from the ground and waved to the crowd.  Yet, it was obvious that he was injured, and his suit of light was covered with blood.  He was weakened, and I wondered if he would walk from the arena.  After all, the skill and ability had been demonstrated.  Let both the bull and the man now recoup from their wounds.

But no, the fight was to go on.  An attendant wrapped a large white cloth around the chest of the matador to control the bleeding.  He knelt and made the sign of the cross and bowed his head.  I was in dismay.  Was this to be a fight to the finish?

The matador asked for his cape and estoque.  The estoque was a curved sword.  In a bloodless fight, it would be an imitation sword that would break as it supposedly was thrust into the heart of the bull.  But this was the real thing!  It was obvious that the rules had changed.  It would be a fight to the death.  Everyone watched with great concern.  The picadores on horses came out and inserted lances into the neck of the bull.  The crowd felt this was unfair and gave an advantage to the matador.  Yet the bull had injured the fighter, and it appeared now more even.  As the matador taunted the bull to charge, the bull made several passes at the matador.  With each charge, the bull grew weaker from loss of blood.  The last charge of the bull brought the bull almost to his knees.  And on that charge, the matador raised his sword and skillfully placed it between the  bull’s shoulder blades into the heart.  The bull dropped to the arena floor.  The crowd broke into applause and jubilation.

No applause from me.  I cannot tell you what I was feeling.  I did know that I had seen my last bullfight. Tradition or not, I believe there must be strong enforcement of bloodless bullfighting if bullfighting is to continue.  There needs to be this message to the matador and the bull!  But can man ever wear down the bull enough to bring him to his knees without  being speared and stabbed?  And can man have enough speed and endurance to outlast the energy of the bull and avoid injury?

Fortunately, I don’t have to answer those questions.  Again, today, I have simply written my thoughts and memories.

Lawson

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1 Comment »

  1. No applause from me either. But hats-off to you for this interesting, candid obsrvation.

    Comment by jjr — February 20, 2010 @ 8:45 pm | Reply


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