The Truth About Matadors: Revealed


The torero kills the powerless, panting bull with a precise stab to the bloody neck, surrounded by his assistants in case the bull momentarily recovers.

Margaret Ross, Staff Writer

The flashing of a red cape, the cheers of a delighted crowd, and the stomping of hooves in a dirt ring.
These are all the things an average Miramonte Matador associates with his beloved mascot. But little do the Mats know, a traditional Spanish bullfight is far more violent than what they envision.
In reality, the shouts of the bullfighters, lashes of lances, sharpened barbed sticks, and swords jabbed at a bloody, agitated bull, are the true experiences of a Spanish corrida de toros (bullfight).
Trained from childhood in prestigious bullfighting schools, the matadors of Spain are comparable to the football players of the United States: adored and honored.
In a corrida de toros, three matadors, called toreros, each fight two bulls. First, each torero and his six apprentices enter the ring in a parade to salute the president of the event. In line are two picadores (lancers on horseback), followed by three banderilleros (matadors with barbed flags), and one mozo de espadas (sword handler).
In the first stage, the bulls enter the ring with the toreros and banderilleros to be tested for strength and ferocity. At any time during the event, the presiding president may wave a flag signifying that the bull is not suited for the fight. If this happens, a herd of neutered cows are released into the ring to lead the angry bull out of the arena.
During this testing, the bullfighters first introduce the cape. These initial capes are colored magenta and gold, rather than the iconic red. After a few passes of the capes to analyze the bull’s movements, the first stage concludes.
The second round involves the picadores. They enter on horses covered in a protective padding, and follow a white circle drawn in the arena, herding the bull into the center. Two picadores ride around the circle opposite each other, with the bull between them, allowing the bull to decide which side he will charge to. As the bull charges toward one side, the picador will jab his spear into the bull’s neck muscle. This weakening is the first bloodshed for the bull, and will eventually make the matador’s stage easier.
The picadores exit, and the tercio de banderillas begins. In this stage, each one of the three banderilleros runs toward the irritated bull, head on. They attempt to thrust a pair of banderillas (sharp, barbed sticks, often brightly colored) into the bull’s shoulders, before leaping out of the bull’s path. This further angers and tires the bull.
After the banderilleros comes the torero, bearing a red cape and sword, for the final stage: tercio de muerte (third of death).
Like the towering mural in Miramonte’s gym, matadors carry bright red capes into the arena for this stage.
“I think the capes are red because the bulls get pissed off when they see red,” junior Margaret Rae said.
Despite our assumptions, bulls are colorblind. The color actually remains the traditional red in order to mask the spilled blood of the bull.
This stage finally presents the elegant flashing of the cape and charging of a furious bull that Miramonte Mats envision. However, after the matador has worn down the animal, he maneuvers the bull into a position to pierce its neck, through the heart. If not successful, more passes will be exchanged until the bull is finally gashed, and collapses into the dust.
Following the epic kill, the first of six that day, the president of the event decides if the torero gave an engaging show. The president may honor the matador by allowing him to remove and keep one ear of the bull. If the show was spectacular, as may be proved by the cheers of the crowds, two ears may be given, or even a foot if the matador prevailed through an incredible fight.
After the corpse is dragged away by horses, the show repeats five times, with a new matador and bull. About 10,000 bulls are ceremoniously slaughtered every year.
“I thought a bullfight was just a test of courage; a show of how long the matador could tire out the bull,” junior Marie Johnson said. “I had no idea so many bulls die. That’s really sad.”
The violent sport is illegal in the most of the United States, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Cuba, Argentina, and other Latin American nations, however matadors remain symbolic of Spanish culture. Although it is not very popular, traditional bullfighting is legal in Texas, and no other states. Even some cities in Spain, including Barcelona, have become self-declared “Anti-Bullfighting Cities.”
After learning about a traditional bullfight, students see their mascot in a new light.

“Having matadors as our mascot is promoting animal abuse because matadors, in the end, kill the bull. It’s like we’re condoning animal abuse,” junior Emily Friese said.