Is there a reason why they always stab that one spot on the bull in bullfighting?

Warning: Some graphic pictures in links…

When I see bullfighting in pictures like this, or like this, or this, the matador always seems to be aiming his spears at one spot on the bull’s back. For the longest time, when I was a kid, I would see bullfighting from an angle like this and thought that they had simply draped some kind of colorful sticks on the bull’s back. You don’t really see the wounds or blood from that point of view.

Is there a reason they aim for that one spot? I mean, why don’t I see matadors try to stab the bull on the side of its stomach, or its face? Maybe a big blood vessel is back there that weakens the bull?

Also, are there hooks or something on those spears? They seem to stick in pretty well and don’t often fall off.

What you’re seeing aren’t spears, and they’re not placed there by the Matador. They’re called banderillas and are placed by three blokes known as Banderilleros in the act before the Matador enters. They’re short sticks with hooks, and they’re meant to cause blood loss and to irritate the bull.

When the Matador stabs the bull with his sword, he aims to pierce the heart and aorta to ensure a swift kill. Poking it through the stomach or face would be contrary to that aim.

Actually all the pre-game - the horsemen with lances, and the banderillas are performed so that the bull will lower his head.

I think the idea is to weaken the trapezius and/or sternocleidomastoid muscles so that the bull will lower his head. This in turn widens the space between the spinous processes of the C2 and C3 vertebral bodies, allowing the matador to transect the high spinal cord with a sword and drop the bull instantly and really rather amazingly.

In Spain this is usually the second part; the first part may be the kind called varas, which does include spears called varas or rejones, and the bullfighter who performs it, rejoneador. In a varas-banderillas-estoque sequence, the people on horseback, with the banderillas and with the sword will be different ones (they work and get hired as a team, though).

There’s other variations where the matador (whether on foot or on horse) handles both the first and third part, or where he does some work within the first part along with a rejoneador, but it is extremely unusual for a matador to do his own banderillas.

It’s all done to weaken the bull because the matador is a lot more cowardly than he’d like us to believe.

Wow. Why the hell do people enjoy this?

Shrug, that last question can be asked of any blood sport or risk sport. I can tell you that I’m a lot more familiar with the non-blood (except for the occasional human) versions of bullfighting, and that participating in those (why? to see if I could) gave me some appreciation for the physical and technical skill involved in this other version (I’ve only watched a corrida live once, though, and never a whole one through the tv - still not my cup of tea), but that is my personal answer; I’m sure it’s not the answer of my coworkers who’d spend every summer weekend at a different feria (= in this case, “a series of bullfights”).

I would have to disagree with this. Even with hunting, there is no guarantee that an animal will die. With bullfighting, death is a given and includes torturing the animal prior to the kill.

The last time I was in Barcelona I saw the the Recortadores (sp?) which are basically guys playing dodge bull. The bull is not killed and quite possibly the recortadores could be. They feint the bull one way and jump out the other way with the announcer saying “Si Senor!” for every successful jump. One guy ran straight at the charging bull and performed a flying-leaping-swan-dive right over the bulls horns and executes a perfect tuck and roll somersault landing. He was judged the best of the 16 ‘fighters’ and won the biggest prizes.

Other forms of bull fighting involve a rosette that is either attempted to be placed on the horn, or removed. Never seen this live, though - I believe it is on the other side of the Pyrenees in France.

In the fights where the bull is killed… it is a bloody mess and becoming less frequent as Spain tries to become less barbaric. Possibly this year is the last year they will be held in Barcelona (and Catalunya). They do continue in the south. (I fought a juvenile when I was ~12, in the ranch where they raise bulls for fighting. It was scary but there was a guy in the ring directing me and I only did two passes.)

It is said the reason for fighting bulls is because of centuries ago: man against beast.

Except, in this case, it’s MEN against beast. With swords. And spikes. And other beasts.

Small penises.

I’m not sure what Nava meant by “blood sport” but it never ceases to amaze me that people enjoy watching boxing, for instance. In fact I wonder how it comes this sport is still allowed in our modern and sanitized societies.

The death of an animal during bullfighting (let alone hunting that I find a perfectly acceptable and “natural” activity) doesn’t bother me nearly as much as seeing crowds cheering at people beating the crap out of each other.

Bulls are killed too during French corridas, allowed in South-Eastern regions where the practice is traditional (the rosette/cocarde game you mention is rather a south-western practice, AFAIK). It seems to me that bulls are also killed in Mexican bullfights. Am I mistaken?

While I don’t equate bulls with humans, a boxer chooses to fight. He’s not plucked from his house and tortured before being forced into a ring where he’s then stabbed repeatedly until he dies. I’m glad that in America the only time we see video from bullfights is when the bull takes the matador down. I root for that bull every time and have zero remorse to learn when a matador’s been disembowled. If this filthy enterprise had even a shred dignity, they’d allow the bull to live if he ever won a fight.

There’s no way to sugar-coat it or to even try to comprehend it. Spain is an old country with old traditions, but bullfighting is no great tradition no matter which spin is put on it. There are protesters in the streets with signs dressed in white clothes stained with red, to protest. It is horrible. At least Barcelona has decided to ban it… although… enforcing the ban is no guaranty. Don’t know anything about Mexico.


If anyone above wishes to continue a hijack of the OP, please start your own thread in a different forum. Otherwise, keep it on track.

samclem, Moderator

If an FYI is allowed after the note, the ban is not “in Barcelona”, it’s “in Catalonia”. The other 3M Catalans are a bit sick of people talking as if they don’t exist… (their own politicians do it a lot). As Lukeinva mentioned, there are many no-bull-killed variants of bullfighting: encierros, recorte, vasco-landesa, portuguese corridas… And while it’s been decades since it happened in one of the majors, a bull can get pardoned.

Thanks, didn’t know there was a pre-bull weakening ritual too. I’ve never watched a full bullfight, I always just see the matador and the bull and then it skips ahead and he’s got those spears on his back

And I googled pics of the banderillas. Holy shit, that thing is painful looking! :eek:

I heard the injuries reduce blood pressure and prevent the bull from having a heart attack. Is that true?