by Eduardo Lima, Lajes Field Community Relations Adviser

The “Forcados” are a group of brave young men who challenge the bull with their bare hands and grab him by the horns in the arena.

These groups are unique to Portugal and unlike matadors and cavaleiros (horsemen) they are not professionals.

They fight the bulls because they enjoy doing it and want to continue a very old tradition.

The forcados have been part of the Portuguese bullfights for many years and it’s unknown why or when this type of bullfighting originally started.

The exploits of forcados have even been used in films. In the 1951 movie “Quo Vadis,” a classic film about ancient Rome and an imperial soldier’s struggle to save the Christian woman he loves from the wrath of Nero, a famous Portuguese forcado named Nuno Salvação Barreto appeared as the stunt double for actor Buddy Bear, who played the role of Roman gladiator “Ursus,” and fought a bull by himself in the arena.


In Portuguese arena bullfights, after the cavaleiro (horseman) finishes fighting the bull, the forcados are asked to jump in the arena.

The leading forcado, wearing a green cap on his head, starts walking towards the bull and tries to grab the bull by the horns and neck with the help of the other members of the group. When the bull is to be fought by the horseman and forcados, his sharp horns are covered with a protection made of leather to prevent the bull from injuring the forcados and the horse.

The name forcado comes from the word “pitchfork” in Portuguese, which the forcados used to carry in their hands when appearing in the arena.

Terceira island has a local group of forcados from the bullfighting association Tertulia Tauromáquica Terceirense, who will appear in the arena bullfights.

Original content copyright & owned by Eduardo Lima and Lajes Field