Bullfighting, also known as tauromachy, is a national spectacle of Spain and several Spanish-speaking nations in which a bull is ceremoniously battled in a sand arena by a bullfighter. The term "bullfight" actually refers to the sport itself, rather than the entire repertoire of techniques used by a bullfighter.
It is a form of drama in which actors play various roles: the bull, the matador (matador means "killer"), the banderilleros ("flower girls") who use their shaves to try to distract the bull. The event can last for hours and often ends with the death of the bull. Success depends on the skill of the matador who tries to avoid being gored himself while at the same time trying to find a way around the ring to get close to the bull.
The art of bullfighting is an important part of Spanish culture. It was introduced from Spain to Mexico where it is still practiced today. In France, Portugal, Andorra, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States, the sport is also popular.
In Spain, a town or village may have its own bullring if it has enough people interested in bullfighting.
Spanish-style bullfighting is called corrida de toros (literally "coursing of bulls") or la fiesta ("the festival"). The festival takes place in Spain every year between August 15 and September 2. It began as a religious celebration honoring Saint James the Great, but it has been commercialized over time.
There are two types of corrida: the corrida de toros blanco ("white coursing of the bulls"), which takes place in Pamplona and around the country at festivals that include el chupinazo and el puente levadizo. The corrida de toros rojo ("red coursing of the bulls") takes place in Madrid and surrounding areas at festivals that include el molino del Rey. In addition to these three major corridas, there are many other exhibitions and competitions throughout the year that do not have any connection with traditional bullfighting but use some of its techniques such as banderizos (bands made up of musicians who play while riders attempt to tame their horses with bull horns), retoques (people who ride into the arena against white-clad picadors armed with red-handled spears), and tercios (groups of three riders who try to catch their bull during the course of the afternoon).
The "traditional" bullfighting style, in which the bull is killed, is practiced in Spain and several Latin American nations. During the nineteenth century, bullfighting was common in several Spanish provinces. Bullfighting in Spain is known as corrida de toros (roughly "coursing of bulls") or la fiesta ("the festival").
In France, Portugal, and North America, various forms of rodeo include events that are similar to those in traditional bullfights. In these countries, it is not customary for the bull to be killed after it has been defeated by the matador.
In addition to these locations, modern-day bullfighting takes place in other parts of the world. Although its origins are Spanish, Mexican bullfighting is different from the sport practiced in Europe and South America. In Mexico, only young bulls are used in the fighting arena because older animals are too dangerous to deal with.
Most recently, bullfighting has become popular in China where it is known as hejiu. Bulls are captured from the wild and trained to fight each other to the death. The winner is given to a master bullfighter who uses him as a prop in public performances.
China banned the practice in 1994 but it continues to be popular among the country's bullfighters who move abroad to work in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Overall, more people attend bullfights in Spain than any other country in the world.
Bullfighting in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru, as well as sections of southern France and Portugal, is known as Spanish-style bullfighting. Spain's bullfighting season lasts from March to October. The sport is also known as a "corrida de toros" (Spanish for "bull-running") or "tauromaquia." In Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela, the term "toreo" is used instead.
In Spain, bullfights are held throughout the year, but they are most common during summer months. The best known festival is that of San Fermín, which takes place in Guellalabadas near San Fermin de Grado (province of Cádiz). This annual event starts on July 17 and ends on July 24. It commemorates the day in 1572 when Garcilaso de la Vega, the Inca scholar, saw his first bullfight in Peru. Today, San Fermín is one of Europe's largest street festivals with about half a million visitors each year.
There are about 150 professional bullfighters in Spain. A minority of them belong to large organizations with many fighters under contract, while the majority work alone. Each fighter selects his own opponent who is given permission to fight the bull once he has been defeated in several other matches. The referee stops the fight when either party requests it, or if he feels that it would be too dangerous to continue.
Bullfighting has waned in popularity in Spain since the late 1980s, owing to animal welfare concerns, its affiliation with blood sports, and its links to nationalism. However, it remains popular in Mexico and Argentina.
In Spain, there are two main seasons: the spring/summer season and the autumn/winter season. The best known event of the spring/summer season is the Feria del Toro (Bull Fair) in Toledo, which includes horse races where picadors compete against their horses to gain advantage in battle with the bull. The second major event is the Salón de la Platería (Plate Dealer's Salon), which takes place every year in Madrid at the end of September. This is when artists and art dealers show off their works painted on plates used by dentists as diagnostic tools.
The most important annual event in the autumn/winter season is the Sanfermines festival, which takes place in Pamplona over seven days in July. The festival includes a marathon race that starts in the early hours and ends with a fight between a matador and a dead bull. There are other fairs and festivals across Spain during this time, such as those held in Malaga, Seville, and Barcelona.
What Exactly Is a Bullfight? The Spanish term for bullfighting is "corrida de toros," which translates literally as "running of bulls." Bull fighting is an iconic event in Spain, in which three toreros must battle and finally kill two bulls. Sometimes the bulls are killed by other bulls or by the matador himself.
The first corrida de toros was held in 1772 in Madrid's Plaza del Toros (Bullring). It was organized by King Carlos III to raise money for his war with France. Up until that time, people used to fight each other with swords and spears, but the king wanted something more exciting so he hired matadors from Mexico to the Caribbean to fight the bulls instead. The fights were popular events attended by royalty and high society; seats were sold at high prices to help finance the war effort.
Over time, the corrida has become a major tourist attraction in Spain, much like the Grand Prix in France or the Masters Tournament in America. There are now annual corrida festivals in various cities across Spain, including Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla, Pamplona, and Barceon. In fact, the festival in Barceon is one of the largest European festivals of its kind!
Each corrida lasts for about an hour and includes several dangerous moments.