TTigerAtty 63M
3769 posts
11/16/2005 5:35 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm


Bull Fighting in Spain

My step-father, Glenn, now age 81, likes to talk. He mostly reminisces, telling stories from his youth, about growing up working on his father's farm and the many things he has experienced during his 81 years. He also likes to talk about past travel experiences.

This weekend, I was home for a visit and Glenn told me the following story about a trip to Europe many years ago with friends. Part of this two week trip was spent along the southern coast of Spain in a city called Malaga, Spain. The story goes something like this....

"The group of traveling friends had heard about bull fighting in Spain, and so they were all delighted to learn that, as part of their tour, they would be taken to a local bull ring the following day to attend the afternoon bull fights.

That evening a small contingent of the group went to a local restaurant which the hotel concierge had recommended. On the menu, Glenn, always eager to try new local cuisine, noticed a dish that sounded very appetizing. Asking the waiter to interpret the Spanish name given to the dish, Glenn learned that what sounded so very appetizing was actually broiled bull testicles. Not to be deterred, Glenn went ahead and order the bull testicles. And when they were delivered steaming at his table, Glenn carefully began eating the delicasy. To his utter amazement, the dish had the most exquisite and succulent taste. They were, in a word, fantastic! He learned, upon further inquiry, that the restaurant's only supply of bull testicles was from the Malaga bull ring.

Well, the next afternoon, the entire group attended the bull fight and were very much entertained and enlightened with regard to the Spanish love for bull fighting. Several bulls were faught and killed on this particular afternoon.

That evening, the same contingent of friends decide to go back to the same restuarant they had eaten at the night before. Glenn was so impressed with the bull testicles that he ordered them once again. Finally after a moderate period of waiting, the food arrived at their table.

And when the waiter, Ferdinand, lifted the cover from the dish of bull testicles, Glenn immediately noticed that these testicles were not nearly as large as the ones he had just eaten the night before. Ferdinand had left the table by this time, so Glenn summoned him to return by waving his arms excitedly.

"Ferdinand" Glenn said "I have noticed that these testicles are not nearly as big as those you served me last night. "Further" Glenn continued "these testicles appear to be all dried out and not nearly as juicy and succulent as those I had just last night".

At this pointed, Ferdinand stroked his mustache and beard, contemplating his answer. Finally, after a long pause, Ferdinand said "Excuse me, Senor Glenn, you see it is this way ..... Sometimes ... sometimes the bull wins!"

Bull 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.

Bullfighting 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 1724.

So 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.

Then a trumpet is sounded and several fighters called Picadores weaken the bull by placing spears into it. This takes around 10 minutes.

Another 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.

The 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.

This 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.

The faena continues until the Matador has demonstrated his superiority over the bull. Once this is achieved the bull is ready to be killed.

The 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.

The 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.


saddletrampsk 55F

11/16/2005 7:14 am

Another "lovely" barbaric tradition like foxhunting and cock fighting..I guess when we are so high up on the food chain it is "okay" for us to call another living beings pain and fear and suffering "entertainment"..

TTigerAtty 63M

11/16/2005 9:38 am

Thanks for visiting, saddletrampsk! My step father said there were only about 500 people in attendance when his tour group attended. Perhaps, things like this will just die a slow death as the old tradition gives way to "new thinking". I fail to see how the "Matador" can be honored for bravery when the bull is weakened by loss of blood prior to facing the "Matador". Perhaps, someone from Spain will chime in to explain this tradition which dates back to 711 A.D. I'll make a point to come and visit you at your blog. The glimpse you have given me of Canada, judging from your photo, is certainly very nice!

rm_luke69iner 49M
3275 posts
11/16/2005 8:29 pm

A wonderful description of bull fighting Tiger

I just finished re-reading Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" last month

S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo

TTigerAtty 63M

11/17/2005 4:00 am

Luke...Never been to a bull fight! Not sure I really want to see it! Give me a good football, basketball or baseball game instead!

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