I haven’t updated my blog in awhile, since I was sailing on a boat for the past month! Now that I’m back to a more civilized life I will be updating more often. First topic to restart the blog is the Corrida!

During San Fermin I did not end up attending the Bull Fight that happens in the evening. I had mixed emotions about whether or not I wanted to attend. On one hand watching a bullfight would be a very unique experience and I wanted to see that part of Spanish culture. On the other hand, do I really want to be an eyewitness to a bull dying? Once I got to Madrid I decided I should complete my whole San Fermin experience (even if I’m no longer in Pamplona) and observe a Corrida.

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At Plaza de Toros stadium to watch the bullfight

What is a Corrida?

On a Sunday afternoon in Madrid, Spaniards and some tourists gather in a big arena to watch a bullfight. Corrida de toro literally means “running of the bulls”, and refers to the Spanish-Style bullfighting. The four main contenders are:

  • The Matador – the bullfighter who uses his cape to test and control the bull, and then eventually kills the bull. The matador is able to show his dominance by using his cape. A good matador will kill a bull in one try with his sword. If a matador stabs the bull more than once, the crowd starts hissing and booing.
  • Two Picadores – Men on horseback who stab the bull in the neck in the beginning of the fight to weaken it. The bulls often ram into the horses very hard, yet the horses never seemed phased…must have diesel armor! (In the past horses did not have armor, and more horses died than bulls during the fight).
  • Three Banderilleros or Toreros – each banderillero plants a sharp, colorful, barbed stick into the bull’s shoulder, which both weakens and angers the bull.
  • The Bull – usually between 4 and 6 years old and weighs no less than 1000 pounds.

My Perception of Watching a Bullfight 

Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honour.” – Ernest Hemingway in his non-fiction book Death in the Afternoon

Surprisingly, I am happy I attended the Corrida. Although I witnessed an animal die, it was not as gruesome as I expected. I definitely felt bad for the bull and was rooting for the bull most of the time. During the first fight the matador actually got hit pretty badly. The matador took a two-minute break, but then came back and finished his job. I was amazed by the courage of the matador and know if that was me I would be running out of that arena pronto.

There is a beauty in watching the bullfight to see how all the participants interact. Style, technique, and courage are all displayed. The bullfight isn’t merely a sport, but more an exhibition. There is bravery and strength in both the matador, who has no helmet and mask, and the bull. These men are risking their lives for the glory and tradition. One of my main concerns was what happens after the bull dies?  After doing some research the meat is used to eat.  Recently bullfighting meat has gained popularity amongst a new generation of Spaniards, who think the meat is of higher quality since the bulls have a better lifestyle. Although the corrida is controversial, I can understand why it is a part of Spanish culture.