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Should Bullfighting be Banned?

Should Bullfighting be Banned?

DESTINATIONS, SPAIN

Being of Spanish decent I always wondered what it would be like to go to a bullfight. Growing up, bullfighting had a very glorified image.  The brave matador, dressed in his traditional costume of brilliant colors, boldly risks his life and limb to tackle a mad and ferocious beast. The bullfight is seen by many as the mysterious ritual between man and beast, which is an integral part of Spanish culture and custom. But is it?

Bullfighting in Spain it said to date back at least 1000 years.  It is considered as an art form or as a sport.  So, on my trip to Spain this year, I decided to go see for myself what all the excitement was about.

In Madrid my girlfriend and I, both curious about seeing a bullfight, bought tickets to go see one in Madrid’s Las Ventas bullring (Plaza de Toros).  The event’s flamboyant costumes and baying crowds make it one of Spain’s most globally recognized traditions, so supporters argue that it’s an important cultural landmark. Those on the other side of the debate, however, counter that tradition and recognition do not make it art.

 

las-ventas

 

We walked around observing the walls of the Colosseum that proudly displayed retired bullfighting matador capes.  The Plaza de Toros of Las Ventas is considered the most important bullring in the world, the Mecca of bullfighting. The arena has a capacity of holding up to 25,000 people and it’s where all matadors want to succeed.  We worked our way through the crowds of people selling drinks, food, and cushions for seats.

 

Retired Bullfighting Matadors Capes.  The Plaza de Toros - Madrid
Retired Bullfighting Matadors Capes. The Plaza de Toros – Madrid
Retired Bullfighting Matadors Capes.  The Plaza de Toros - Madrid
Retired Bullfighting Matadors Capes. The Plaza de Toros – Madrid

 

Walking up the stairs into the arena I had a flashback of the Colosseum in Rome and what it must have been like for spectators going to see gladiators fighting animals.  We took our seats on the concrete benches and used the cushions we rented for $2 euros to ease the hard seats.  I was glad that our seats were in the shade and not directly in the sun.

 

Inside Plaza de Toros of Las Ventas, Madrid
Inside Plaza de Toros of Las Ventas, Madrid

 

To start off the bullfight, all the participants enter the arena in a parade procession.  First, men riding horses followed by the matadors dressed in brightly colored costumes. Behind the matadors were men riding horses covered with some type of armor.  After parading around the entire arena some of the madators took their place behind a barrier wall lined with capes.

 

 

Following the parade,  the first matador enters the ring with a few assistant matadors and the doors to the corral are flung open and the bull comes charging in. The matador walks around the bull observing the bulls every move and rotates his cape around with the actions of the bull. He worked on getting the attention of the bull, as if saying, “Shall we dance?”  The matador cleverly gets the bull to move in rhythm with him.

 

Bullfight at Plaza de Toros, Madrid
Bullfight at Plaza de Toros, Madrid

 

Next, two Picadores (men with spears) enter the ring armed with a pica and are mounted on heavily padded and blindfolded horses. The pica is a weapon about 6-8 inches long, it looks like a small spear. The bull is distracted by the horses and charges into one of the horses while the picador attempts to stab the spear into the bull’s neck/shoulder area. The horse is blindfolded and literally had mattresses on either side of them to take the charge of the bull.  Once the pica is thrust into the bull, it is twisted round and a large, gaping wound appears. The bull then starts bleeding heavily from either side of its body. It made me feel little sick to my stomach and it was just the beginning.

 

Picadores in Bullfighting ring at Plaza de Toros, Madrid
Picadores in Bullfighting ring at Plaza de Toros, Madrid
Picadores using his pica (spear) at Bullfight at Plaza de Toros, Madrid
Picadores using his pica (spear) at Bullfight at Plaza de Toros, Madrid

 

Next the Picadores exit and it’s the Banderilleros (men who operate the mini spears) turn to stick banderillas (flag-like mini spears) into the bulls. These are plunged into the bull’s body as he is distracted and taunted by the capes. Up to six banderillas may be used. When the banderillas strike, the bull stops in his tracks and bellows madly.

At each pass of the bull, as part of an old and important tradition in the spanish culture, the entire crowd yells in unison, “Ole!”

 

Matador about to make the kill in Plaza de Toros, Madrid
Matador about to make the kill in Plaza de Toros, Madrid
Matador about to make the kill in Plaza de Toros, Madrid
Matador about to make the kill in Plaza de Toros, Madrid

 

The kill last about 6 minutes, and is done by the main matador. If he has any difficulties (which is an extremely rare occurrence), the others immediately rush in to his aid and finish off the bull.  He moves in for the final blow by lunging his blade into the bull.  I’ll spare you the pictures.

 

Matador about to make the kill in Plaza de Toros, Madrid
Matador about to make the kill in Plaza de Toros, Madrid

 

Even then, the bull isn’t allowed a little dignity to leave this world in peace, his bleeding body is dragged around the ring by mules, to which he is attached by an apparatus made of wood and chains.

 

Bull being dragged away from the bullring, Plaza de Toros- Madrid
Bull being dragged away from the bullring, Plaza de Toros- Madrid

 

So what do I think? Well, despite being Spanish and raised on the glory story of bullfighting, I’ve always suspected that bullfighting is barbaric and should have been banned long ago.  Now that I’ve seen what is actually involved. I’m sure it’s barbaric and I regret supporting the tradition with my purchase of a ticket.

After witnessing the sheer horror of this sickening slaughter, I would never consider a second visit to a bullring.  As I walked out of  the Colosseum, it was difficult to understand how in this so-call civilized age, crowds of people pay money and take pleasure in watching a creature getting slowly hacked to death.

Each year, thousands of bulls are tortured and killed in bullrings throughout Spain.  Prior to the fight, bulls are intentionally debilitated in various ways: They’re often deprived of food and a few inches of their horns are sometimes sawed off to expose the nerve and impair their coordination in an illegal practice called “shaving.” And a study at Spain’s Salamanca University revealed that 20 percent of the bulls used for fighting are drugged before they enter the ring.

The vast majority of tourists like ourselves were appalled by what happened at the bullfight and left after we saw what happened to the first bull.  Bullfighting is barbaric and is a cruel blood sport that should be banned.

What do you think?  Should Bullfighting be Banned?

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder and Senior Editor of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

13 Comments

  1. Dori Eckert
    July 1, 2015 at 6:06 pm
    Reply

    I agree, it is barbaric and it should be banned. I also witnessed a front row seat bull fight in Mexico years ago, where I was nauseas to my stomach. Even though I ended up staying to the end, trying to look at the fight from the fighter’s view point and not the bull’s. I, like you, will never go see another bull fight and will discourage anyone who wants to go.

    But this also makes me ask, what about the gray hound dog racing currently in existence, or the Kentucky Derby horse races, or the deer, bear, and duck hunting, or fishing as a sport, etc. In some form or another, these animals are being killed or abused for the sport of it. Some, like the bull, more cruelly than others.

    Or what about the sport of Boxing? can never understand why people would enjoy seeing grown men beat each other up unconsciously…just saying.

    Great article, prima!

    • HEIDI
      January 13, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      SO TURE

  2. Zoe
    August 4, 2015 at 3:52 pm
    Reply

    Not sure I am too keen on the old bullfighting.

    Zoe | Love and Limoncello

  3. HEIDI
    January 13, 2016 at 5:41 pm
    Reply

    I so agree with you that bullfighting should be banned! I am even doing a debate in school and i choose to be on the bullfighting should be banned team!

    • Carmen
      January 13, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      After seeing first hand how they treat the bulls during a fight I was sick to my stomach. I’m surprised that they haven’t banned it throughout Spain yet.

  4. Dan
    January 22, 2016 at 9:44 am
    Reply

    You ask “Should bullfighting be banned?” More to the point, why hasn’t it been?

    • Carmen
      January 23, 2016 at 11:02 am

      It hasn’t been because it is a tradition that has been around for many years. I’m all for it being banned.

  5. Vicky C
    January 22, 2016 at 9:45 am
    Reply

    Agreed, its ridiculous to call this art or tradition, blood sports bear baiting, cock fighting, ritualised animal slaughter and the Roman amphitheaters (where this originates from?)where gladiators or innocents were fighting wild animals captured from other countries all come under he broad bracket of “tradition”, burning “witches” alive was part and parcel of life under so called religious persecution. Many Spanish people are appalled by this and do not feel it should go on, why should they be tarnished just because a few profit from it

    • Carmen
      January 23, 2016 at 11:04 am

      I’m of Spanish decent and I’m appalled that they are still slaughtering bulls for the art of a sport that should be outlawed.

  6. Luisa
    January 22, 2016 at 12:42 pm
    Reply

    Teasing torture multiple stabbings this HAS TO END

    • Carmen
      January 23, 2016 at 11:05 am

      I agree, it does have to end. The question is why haven’t they ended it yet?

  7. juancarlos casas
    March 1, 2016 at 11:29 am
    Reply

    i don’t consider anything about the ‘sport’ an art form and because it’s tradition doesn’t make sense anymore. some things in life become outmoded, like the sacrifices in the Colosseum in Rome… yes, the bulls are drugged, kept in total darkness for 24hr prior to disorient them…totally abused. Bulls are rough animals and can charge and kill we know…. why is it they come out so disoriented and almost dumbfounded…. and what about the horses, with wet paper in their ears to tone down the noise, and blind folded…they get injured bad, broken ribs and soon down they go… it’s disgraceful.

    Spain has a very glorified image about bullfighting…and the culture, ego, history, etc… but look at what got them in the top 10 worse economies ? lack of change, corruption and fixed in it’s old ways… the country is going down the tubes, they complain there’s no work but they all have money for soccer, bullfighting and tapas (well i can understand this one)…that’s another topic i know, but it’s all what we can justify. There’s plenty of Spanish out there in their own country that see no value, fun or dignity in this barbaric tradition.

    • Carmen
      March 1, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      I don’t know how the people in Spain think this sport is enjoyable. When we went to see it I was totally disgusted by it and was only able to last 45 minutes before we walked out.

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