Seven Deaths in the Afternoon

On Sunday afternoon, a friend invited me to tag along on a trip to the Plaza de Toros here in México, D.F. to see the bullfights.  This was my second trip to see the fights at the plaza, which is reportedly the largest bullring in the world.  

I must admit, I always feel a bit conflicted about bullfighting.  It is on one hand, of course, a bloody, seemingly cruel, and most-definitely unfair sport.  The pain to the bull can be exacerbated by young matadors, such as those we saw on Sunday, who lack the experience necessary to end a fight quickly.  In one of the earlier fights, the matador, perhaps out of fear, exhaustion, nerves, or some other lack, needed six attempts to bring about the death of the bull.  With each stab, he would cut the already-bloody beast even more, only to hear boos, catcalls, and whistles from the uncomfortable audience.  

Young matadors are also prone to shows of unnecessary and unnecessarily risky bravado.  Perhaps it’s my lack of experience with these things, but I don’t think I’d ever turn my back on a bull.  Ever.

Early in the final part of the fight, the matador brazenly turns his back to the bull

Early in the final part of the fight, the matador brazenly turns his back to the bull

During the 5th fight, the matador had complained that the bull was not up to the standards that he had wished; being young, he may have only limited opportunities to fight, especially in front of an audience.  Despite his protest, however, the judge insisted that the fight begin, and after it did, the manager of the matador went to the ring officials and, apparently, purchased one of the spare bulls to allow the matador to have another chance.  Thus, after the sixth and final regulation fight, the matador was brought back to fight a third time (there were a total of three matadors), and the seventh overall.  With this last opportunity, the matador sought to show off to the audience, and he took the entrance of the bull and several subsequent charges from the beast on his knees.  His efforts were successful (i.e. he wasn’t hurt and it looked quite spectacular), but it seemed to me to be an unnecessary risk.

On the other hand, bullfighting has a certain style and tradition to it that, in a sense, makes it more of an art than a sport.  It is not so much that the matador kills the bull, it is how the bull is killed: the posture of the matador as he leads the bull past him with the cape, the speed of the passes, the height of the cape, the location of the final strike….  Most importantly, the art of bullfighting is how the matador demonstrates control over the animal, from the respect he shows at the beginning to the way in which he is able to control the bull with a yell and the flick of his cape.  It’s this art that appeals, in its own way, to me; and which I tried, perhaps unsuccessfully, to capture in image.


México, D.F.


2 Responses

  1. […] a trip I took to the bullfights last Sunday (you can read more about the fights, themselves, in the first post). […]

  2. […] a trip I took to see the bullfights at the Plaza de Toros last December.  I posted pictures of the fight and the costumes, and this final post will share a few pictures of the food.  Like a baseball […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: