The Bull Fighting Ring
I know this is going to sound naive, but I don't think I ever realized, until I was watching the sports on the Madrid news, that all bullfights end with the Matador killing the bull.There is a judge, whose role I don't really understand. I guess it's to decide if the Matador kills with finesse and he awards style points.But the end is almost always the same, a dead bull.
I did learn later, that if a Matador believes that he has fought the 'perfect bull' he can request that the judge save the bull's life and then the bull spends the rest of his broken, battered life on a stud farm.
I decided not to go to a live bullfight. But, I thought the ceremony and tradition was interesting, so I took the tour in Sevilla.Here is what I learned:
- The first matadors were noblemen. They would fight the bulls on horseback with giant and heavy lances. Unfortunately, the horses kept getting gored by the bulls and dying.
- Then the noblemen would fight with their 'team/slaves' in the ring and there would be several bulls in the ring at one time.It appears that it was always members of the Matador's 'team' that would be attacked and killed by the bulls. The matador always seemed to get out alive.
- Soon the Matador became a lone combatant in a man against bull contest - that remember the matador pretty much always wins.
- Our tour guide told us that more matadors have been killed 'practicing' with cows than have been killed fighting bulls in the ring
- Bulls get their size and aggression from their father, but their agility and intelligence from their mothers
- So for a while matadors would try to hone their skills by practicing with the smaller, less aggressive cow.The problem was, you can't pull a maneuver on a cow more than once. After that they would have the matador figured out. So, often, in the battle of cunning and wit, the cow would win. So I guess they stopped practicing with cows?
- There are many bull heads hanging in the museum.But the most famous head is that of a cow.There was a story of a breeder of bulls whose best friend was a matador.This matador was killed in the ring by a bull that his firend had bred.He was so distraught over the death of his friend that not only did he kill the bull, he killed the bull's mother and it is her head that hangs in the museum.
- My favorite story was the one about an older matador.He was in his 50's. He had a weak leg that was partially paralyzed.Because he needed both hands to hold the cape and swords, they would put a chair in the ring so that he could sit to fight the bull.His fights always drew the biggest crowds, because everyone was certain he would be killed in the ring and everyone wanted to see it.The man eventually did die, but it was at home and he was in his 80's.
Check out the photo album, I got a few good photos from the ring and the museum.