Bullfighting - Rough Guide

The regulations on bullfighting define in exacting detail the structure and procedure of bullfighting in Spain.

Six bulls are selected and allocated in pairs to three individual matadores (bullfighters). This takes place at noon on the day of the fight.

The impresario (promotors) contracts matadores who engage their own assistants. They dress in trajes de luces (suits of lights) in hotels of the town during the day of the corrida (bullfight).

The bullfight begins in late afternoon, which is why there are different prices for seats in or out of the sun.

Each matador and his team walk out together in ordered procession across the arena, adding pomp and ceremony.

The president of the bullfight signals for the first bull to be released whereupon the fanfare of trumpets from the brass band also ends the pasodoble (popular two beat dance music).

The first bull is engaged by the first bullfighter's team of assistants with large purple capes to see how it moves in the plaza de toros (bullring).
In the next section, the president signals the entry of two picadores (lancers on horseback), one of whom is to pierce the bull´s neck in a limited way.

Then the first of three banderilleros (usually older bullfighters who form part of the matador's team) individually run towards the bull making him charge. Their job is to insert two banderillas (decorated wooden sticks with spiked ends) over the horns into the bull's neck muscle.

In the final section the torero (star matador) engages the bull with his elegance and control, then exchanges the purple and yellow capote (large cape) for the red muleta (smaller cape) and curved sword. He might dedicate the bull to an individual or the audience.

If he performs well and the bull is killed cleanly, the audience will wave white handkerchiefs to try to oblige the president to award an ear or two ears and tail to him.

If a matador is injured and has to leave the ring to be attended by his surgeon or to hospital, then the remaining matadores must kill the bull.

The bull's carcass is quickly removed, pulled out of the arena by harnessed horses and then distributed for sale in butchers' shops or local market.

When the sixth and last bull is dead, the matadors and their teams cross the arena. Occasionally a matador may be carried out of the arena through the main gates on the shoulders of his fans. This is the ultimate accolade. They usually return quickly to their hotels to change.

The newspapers may report the fight with photos in the sports pages of the next day´s edition. League tables of matadors are maintained each season based on the number of bulls fought, ears awarded, and tails awarded.