CALIFORNIA BLOODLESS BULLFIGHTING
Bloodless Bullfighting Portuguese Style
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Unlike the classical Spanish style bullfight, the Portuguese-style bullfighting (also known as Portuguese tourada, corrida de touros or tauromaquia) in Portugal, does not involve killing of the bulls in the arena, but some blood is drawn to slow the bull down.
Bloodless bullfighting in California is Portuguese-style. Artful and yet skillful, bloodless bullfighting evolved so that the Portuguese people can enjoy part of their heritage and culture in the United States.
The difference between bloodless bullfighting in California, and the bullfighting in Portugal is the use of hook and loop fasteners. To keep this sport "bloodless", one inventive Portuguese came up with the idea of using "Velcro". A large piece of Velcro is placed on the back of the bull, while the other end is placed at the tip of the banderillas, a long stick/spear, with tassles or some kind of a decoration around it. This mechanism replaced the banderillas which possessed the 3-inch nails/barb used in the classic Spanish style of bullfighting. In Portugal, they use the banderillas, but with smaller nails/barb to slow the bull down.
There is some history about Portuguese bullfights. First, one influence if not the deciding factor for not killing bulls in Portuguese bullfights was the Battle of Salga, on the island of Terceires. This battle, also known as the Battle of the Bloody Sea, occurred on July 5, 1581, when a fleet of ten Spanish ships anchored off the shore of Terceira. Early in the morning on July 20, the Spanish sent their army in to invade. About mid-day, as the fighting still seemed indecisive a friar named Pedro thought of the idea of driving a 1000 wild cattle toward the Spanish lines. The strategy was a success, driving the Spanish back to the beach in an attempt to reach their ships. Almost all of the invaders were killed or drowned in their attempt to flee, hence the name Battle of the Bloody Sea.
Much later, in 1836, Portugal deemed the killing of bulls to be immoral, and passed a law banning the public killing of bulls. However, this law only lasted one year. The second time a law was passed prohibiting the public killing of bulls was in 1928.
Death bullfights were made legal again in 2002 by the Portuguese Parliament, saying that it has been a social tradition. In the past, when the Portuguese government deemed it illegal to kill the bulls, there was a great social outcry to legalize it again. In 2002, there was again a social outcry, but this time to keep illegal the killing of the bulls.
2 Opening ceremony
The ceremony (called the cortesias in Portuguese) starts with all of the performers and participants entering the arena, including the bandaleiros (helpers) and Pustals (bull herders), with the sounds of a Filarmonica (band), playing a march or a paso doble.
Here is the order of entrance during the ceremony, as well as the fundamentals of a Portuguese style bloodless bullfight:
Then enters the Matadores (professional) / Novilleros (amateur), meaning "killer", and one that bullfights on foot. These are the guys wearing skin tight pants and a bolero jacket called a "Suit of Light" (traje de luces), along with pink socks. Very similar to the Spanish matadores and most who come are from Mexico.
2.3 Puastal (bull herders)
They range from students to professionals.
2.5 End of opening ceremony
After everyone has made their way in and around the arena, one by one, they go to the front and center of the ring, where they ceremoniously salute the presiding official-the director of the bullfight, starting with the Cavaleiros and ending with the Puastals (bull herders).
A typical bullfight has 6 scenes with 6 bulls, giving each performers
3 bulls each. Usually, the line-up is listed as follows:
Notice how the Cavaleiro's act is immediately followed by the Forcados without changing bulls. Usually, the intermission occurs in between the 3rd and 4th bull, allowing a 15-30 minute break for all of the performers and attendees to either get something to eat or stretch their legs.
Once a bullfight is in session, it is with respect that the noise level is kept at a minimum, and the audiences do not stand up or run around. Doing so will distract the bull and could result in serious injuries to either the performers or the crowds in the stands. It's not often, but it can happen, where a bull will jump into the stands causing harm to people .
4 Filarmónica (band)
The bands (Filarmónica) provide traditional music during a bullfight. Such styles include a Paso Dobles Taurinos, Marchas/Marches, and Pecas de Concerto/ Concert Pieces. It can motivate the bullfighter to do better as well as add excitement to the crowd .
5.1 Scene 1, Act 1: CAVALEIRO
The Cavaleiro is always the first act of a bullfight. He enters the gates and waits for his opponent to hand him his first banderilla that he will fight with. This is a respectable gesture wishing him good luck. He then rides around the arena, showing off the horse while exercising at the same time (like stretching out before running). He will then dedicate his bull to either the bull owner, horse owner, the director, or someone whom he feels like honoring that moment. He hands them his hat and then gives the signal to the director that he is now ready to fight.
The fight starts when the bugle gives the signal to open the gates of the pen, and thus the first bull is released.
Without going into too much of the details, this is where man and horse both exhibit their skillful movements, while the bull shows his bravery and gives a good fight. The bandarilheiros are also in or partially inside the arena waiting and watching, in case the Cavaleiro needs him. Sometimes, the bull is not as cooperative where the expertise of a bandarilheiros is needed. Most often, the Cavaleiro prefers to do the work themself.
The Cavaleiros objective is to place several banderillas (short and long VTS/lances) on the bull where the Velcro has been placed (starting around the shoulder and extending towards half way of the back). It's almost like target, except everything has to be done just right. The first horse used is skilled for a Saida. The first part is where the Cavaleiro observes the bravery and movements of the bull. The cavaleiro will place around 3-6 lances and will then change horses. At this point, the Cavaleiro should already have an idea how the bull works and charges and can then determine which horse he will use next.
An exceptional Cavaleiro gives the bull the advantage by allowing it to initiate the charge first. A head-to-head action occurs until the very last second, while the horse dodges the impact of the bull by sidestepping and wrapping itself around the bull.
5.2 Scene 1, Act 2: FORCADOS
After the last bull has been fought by the horse rider, he will leave the arena and then the bugle will sound again, inviting the Forcados to enter the arena to attempt to grab the bull. They usually get only 3 attempts to make their grabs, but sometimes the director will offer leniency and allow them to continue for the 4th try. If the Forcados have not successfully grabbed the bull, then the audience will be very unhappy. Once they grabbed the bull, then it takes awhile to calm the animal down before they let go. During this time, you can see all 8 men tugging and pulling with the bull while the bull is trying to break free. Once they've subdued him, all but one let go, and the one that's left is hanging onto the tail while trying to get the bull to chase him in a circle. Once that's done, he then lets go and the crowd cheers him on.
The bugle sounds off again letting everyone know that they are done (successful or not).
At this point, if both the Cavaleiro and the Forcado (who made the grab) felt like they did good, they then walk around the arena (called a Vuelta) where the audience show their appreciation by tossing to them roses, candies, clothing, hats, and sometimes alcohol. Once completed, they go into the center of the arena thanking and taking their final bow to the audience.
5.3 Scene 2, Act 1: MATADOR
The sounds of the bugle is heard and out comes the second bull, while the Matador has been waiting patiently to show his artful skill.
A matador is considered to be as much an artist as a competitor. The style and bravery of the matador is regarded as being at least as important as whether or not he actually kills the bull. With a bloodless bullfight, everything is the same, except the bull does not get kill, but is honored in the same fashion.
The whole procedure is the same as the traditional Spanish style, with a few exceptions here and there, namely what he uses at the end of his act. Due to the event being a "bloodless bullfight", there is no pardon given to the bull, where the bullfighter demonstrates each part throughout his scene.
5.3.1 Matador's performance
6 Safety measures
A leather wrap is used to cover the bulls horns to avoid injuries on either the horse, Cavaleiros, and the Forcados. This only prevents "serious" injuries to the performers. Because this is a bullfight, getting hurt in the arena is almost inevitable, especially for the Forcados. A good horsemen will ensure the safety of the horse, otherwise, he can easily fall off.
For the Matadors, they sometimes file down the horns to make it more blunt and less harmful, but not too much or the bull loses his balance. Besides that, the fight for a Matador needs to be a little more challenging and exciting.
7 Ganadarias and fighting bulls
The bulls are bred as "fighting bulls" and specifically for bullfighting. They are also treated with respect and love by the Ganadarias (bull owners/breeders) who bring them to the fight. 15 minutes of fame and glory take at least 3 years for the bull to debut at an event. Due to the high intelligence of a bull, they can only be run once inside an arena because every minute, they are absorbing and learning the technique of what's going on. Each entertainer must be quick and savvy to do what he needs to do. Otherwise, they may lose the interest of the bull and/or the audience.
After the bull has done its deed, a group of cows brings him out of the bullfighting arena and back inside the pen. They are not killed immediately and their future is usually retirement in the pasture to relax, graze, and/or breed and then they eventually go to the slaughterhouse. It can take years before they are slaughtered. If the bull shows strength and bravery in the arena, then the Ganadero will use him to breed more of his kind.
Every year, each Ganadaria has a "Tienta" (or "tenta"), which is basically a mini-festa/bullfight. This is the time when the calfs and heifers are branded. Then a few baby cows are tested to see if they have what it takes to be a good fighting bull. This is done at the age of no less than 1-1/2 years old. Tientas are usually small and are sometimes "invitation only" parties, and occurs before the start of bullfighting season and sometimes after.
8 Azorean style
In the Azores, they practice a different kind of bullfighting, in addition to the traditional style called Touradas á corda (bullfight on a rope). This very special event is unique to the Azores, and has been practiced since 16th Century. From May to October there will be about 250 events on the Azores. The bull is let loose with a very long rope around its neck, usually at the main road in a small village. Before every bull is getting out of a wooden crate, there will be launched a small rocket which makes a loud noise. This signal indicates, that there is a bull on the street, and the game is ready to begin. The bull is guided by several experienced men, keeping a grip at the rope. The whole idea is, that the local young men now try to get as close to the bull as they dare, teasing the bull which is getting agitated. All this game is very amusing and dangerous, and in a way also an attempt for the local boys to impress the local girls.
After a while the bull is taken back to the wooden crate as it arrived in, and another rocket will be launched, announcing a break in the game. Now it's time to move around, have something to eat, a drink ( or several ), or leave the village.
Similar to the running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, but they use an umbrella to taunt the bull, while it is tied with a rope around the neck, held by the "puastals" on one end to keep it from injuring the people. This is done on the streets and not inside the arena.
In California, the same is practiced, except the bull is inside the arena rather than the streets.
9 See also
11 External links
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