There is proof that bullfighting has existed since ancient days. The oldest evidence of ancient bullfighting was a wall painting discovered at Knossos in Crete. The wall painting dated back to 2000 BC., it depicted two acrobats one holding the horns of the bull and the other acrobat vaulting over the back of the bull.
Bullfighting was also popular in ancient Rome, but it was the Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal, and Andorra) that developed bullfighting as it is known today. In 711 AD the Moors from North Africa ravished the Spanish community of Andalusia. During their time as conquering rulers, the Moors, developed a fascination for bullfighting and converted the contests to a highly ritualistic sport that was observed on special feast days. The Moors used horses that they trained specifically for bullfighting. The Moors rode these horses, faced, and attempted to kill the bulls. Many of the Moors moved on, some married and assimilated into the Spanish population but they left their mark on Spanish Culture in the changes that were made in Spanish bullfighting. Parts of early bullfighting were the men that were not on horses but on foot. They developed skills with capes that help the horsemen position the bulls. The crowds loved the cape work of these men and they became a part of the modern day Corrida (the Spanish word for Bullfight and the ceremony of the Bullfight).
In 1726, Francisco Romero of Ronda, Spain began a dynasty of bullfighters that made bullfighting what it is today. This historically acclaimed bullfighter was born in Ronda Circa in 1700, was a carpenter by trade, and is credited as the inventor of the muleta (red cape) as well as the estoque (the sword). Francisco Romero of Ronda was amongs the first to perfect the art of using the muletilla, which is waiting steadfastly for the bull face on, killing it hand-to-hand. The bullfighter wore suede breeches and jerkin, tightly fitting leather sash and attached black velvet sleeves to protect from being gored.
The traditional Corrida requires six bulls, to be killed by three matadors. Each encounter between the Bull and the matador lasts about 15 minutes. The Corrida usually starts at 5 PM.In the beginning ceremony the three matadors, each followed by their assistants, the banderilleros and the picadors, march into the ring to the accompaniment of traditional paso doble (“march rhythm”) music. The matadors are the headliners of the bullfight. The matador wears a distinctive costume, consisting of a silk jacket heavily embroidered in gold, skintight trousers, and a montera (a bicorne hat). A traje de luces (“suit of lights”), can cost several thousand pounds; a top matador must have at least six a traje de luces a season.
When a bull first comes into the arena out of the toril, the bull pen gate, the matador greets it with a series of manoeuvres, or passes, with a large cape. These passes are usually verónicas, the basic cape maneuver. This maneuver was named after the woman who held out a cloth to Christ on his way to the crucifixion.
A matador is considered skilled, based on his proximity to the horns of the bull, his calmness in the face of danger, and his grace in swinging the cape in front of an infuriated animal weighing more than 460 kg (1,000 lbs). The bull instinctively goes for the cloth because it is a large, moving target, not because of its colour; bulls are colour-blind and charge just as readily at the inside of the cape, which is yellow.
The bulls of the Corrida charge instantly at anything that moves because of the centuries of special breeding fighting bulls have under gone. Unlike domestic bulls, they do not have to be trained to charge, nor are they starved or tortured to make them savage, they have been bred to react the way they do to the matador. Those animals selected for the corrida are allowed to live a year longer than those assigned to the slaughterhouse. Bulls to be fought by novilleros (beginners) are three years old and those fought by full matadors are supposed to be at least four.
The Corrida is rich in Spanish History. Recently animal rights activists have attempted to come up with a bloodless Corrida. They are attempting to keep the beauty and grace of the bullfight without the bloody torture of the bull. It will be interesting to determine if they can radically change bullfighting while keeping the important traditions.