More Corrida del Toros (Bullfights)



Brief description of a Corrida del Toros (more photos below):

            Each traditional event has 6 matches and 3 matadors [Matar = to kill, Matador = the one who kills].  Each matador has a team of 4-5 guys and a Picador.  Each match starts with the bull charging into the ring.  The matador usually watches while his teammates get the bull to charge at them and/or their capes [capotes; heavy cloth, usually magenta on one side and yellow on the other].  They often run and hide behind the wooden barriers you'll see in the photos.  The matador watches for characteristics of how the bull reacts and charges.

            During the first phase the Picador, usually a bigger guy on a heavily padded horse, comes into the ring and gets the bull to charge the horse so he can pierce the neck muscles of the bull with a long lance [some say that the horse is heavily drugged and may have his vocal chords cut so that the crowd isn't distracted by his cries].  The lances cuts weaken the bulls ability to thrust his head up when charging, but more importantly keeps his head lower for what is to come in the third phase.  The matador gets the bull to attack the cape over and over throughout the whole match.  He is essentially training the bull to attack the capote so he can better predict his actions and draw him closer without being hit.  When he does well the crowd yells "Ole".

            In the second phase the Banderillas are stuck into the bulls upper back, two at a time, usually by the matador and often with the help of 1-2 teammates to distract the bull.  Banderillas are brightly colored razor sharp barbed harpoons [usually blue and white in these pictures].  They weaken the bull further.  The accuracy of the matador helps determine his success in the next phase and is being watched by the judge and crowd. 

            In the third and final phase the matador trades his heavy capote in for a lighter red one, and his sword.  The color has no impact on the bull; bulls are color blind and react only to movement, regardless of color.  His goal is to thrust the sword down directly between the bulls shoulder blades, a target the diameter of a medium sized apple.  If the matador is accurate he will pierce the bulls heart and it will drop almost instantly.  The element of surprise is very important here for two reasons:  If the bulls front legs are not evenly situated it makes the target smaller, due to the position of the shoulder blades;  Also, the matador has to essentially lean over the bulls horns to get a direct hit; obviously dangerous.  It's easier for the matador if the bull stands with his head down, emphasizing the importance of the Picador's job in the first phase.  If the bull doesn't die by the sword other instruments are used.  Below is an example where they used a lance to try piercing the brain stem of the bull.

            In the 6 matches I watched it took anywhere from 20 seconds to about 10 minutes for the bull to fall after the sword.  The performance of the matador is heavily weighted on his accuracy here.  If he doesn't do that well in the match he gets nothing.  If he does well he gets an ear.  A little better he gets two ears.  Even better he gets two ears and a tail, which is rare, and even better he gets all the above and a hoof, extremely rare.  The judge determines the award and is influenced by the cheers of the crowd.  I'm not sure what a matador does with his prize.

            The bull is almost always killed and sold for beef after the match.  Occasionally the bull shows such outstanding characteristics that he is kept alive.  He's patched up by a vet and lives the rest of his life grazing and breeding. 

            There are more bullfight pictures below and on the next page.  The pictures are in relative order, but don't show every part of every match.  It's fairly easy to tell what's happening in each picture.  On the next page a matador gets his ass kicked by the bull...



























Fresh into the ring.



Placing the Banderillas is dangerous because he's got no cape to distract the bull.

Accurate placement of the banderillas can help to correct a bulls tendency strike left or right with his head. A straight striker is easier to predict

More Banderillas.



This bull was getting pretty tired.

The matador does whatever he can to show he has mastered the bull. The crowd digs these displays of machismo, especially if the bull is aggressive.

More machismo, but this bull wasn't very aggressive and the crowd was only a little impressed.


Flirting with the bulls horns is safer with a worn out bull.

The sword was placed fairly well and the bull was down in a minute or so.

Right after the sword placement.

Next bull with one of the blue matador's teammates in the background.



More machismo but this bull was still aggressive and the crowd loved it.


BIG Ole!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The sword was poorly placed, about 5-7 minutes before this shot where he tries to pierce the bulls brain stem with a lance.

The bull didn't like this method.

Trying again.

The bull still doesn't like it. It took an extra 10 minutes to kill this bull after the sword strike. The crowd dislikes this extra suffering.

A close-up of the bulls bad hair day after the lance's. This matadore probably would've gotten 2 ears if he placed the sword better. He got nothing.

Next bull with the Picador.

The picador's right leg is encased in armor to keep from being gored. You can see the bottom of the armor above his foot.

Banderillas, good placement.

Red cape and sword ready.

He swats the bulls head, more machismo.

Just before the sword.