“The Suicide Squad”

Copyright © 2011 Deborah M. Zajac.  All Rights Reserved.

Portuguese & Azorean Style California Bloodless Bullfights

Photograph by Deborah M. Zajac

I first read about these Bloodless Bullfights in California 5 or 6 yrs ago. Since that moment I’ve had attending one on my “Bucket List”. When I was a girl I would watch the Bullfights on TV while other kids were watching cartoons. I loved the drama, the costumes, and the crowds shouting Ole!  Recently I went to a Portuguese Bloodless Bullfight. Bloodless because in CA it’s illegal to kill the bull. They use a  “velcro dart” to stab the bull. The bull wears a large piece of fabric on its neck that also has Velcro to keep the “dart” somewhat secure.

I had so much fun. The costumes are as colorful, and fancy as I had hoped, the horses are magnificent, the Matador, and the bulls are passionate, and thrilling! I even shouted Ole!

There is an order to how things are done I’ve learned.

First come the Forcados-(Forcado means Pitchfork) Eight men that line up to face the bull and stop him in his tracks. The lead man faces the bull and draws his attention then he eggs him on to charge him, and perform the “Pega de Cara” (face catch). Literally the lead man takes a full hit of the charging bull who grabs the face and head of the bull then the other men  jump on to stop the bull’s charge.

Photograph by Deborah M. Zajac
Photograph by Deborah M. Zajac
Photograph by Deborah M. Zajac

Once the bull has been stopped all but one man let go of the bull. The last man has the bull by the tail. The bull chases the man around and around in a circle trying to catch him, but does not succeed.

Photograph by Deborah M. Zajac

These men are not professional bullfighters and have no training or credentials for becoming a Forcado, but they must follow the traditions of old the moment they step into the arena.

It’s insanely fun, and exciting to watch!

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 lens| Induro CF213 Tripod

4 thoughts on ““The Suicide Squad”

  1. Sounds a little crazy, but must be fun to watch. At least the bull lives!
    Thanks for sharing this, Deborah…

    1. I think they’re nuts! It is fun to watch though. The bull is tired but not hurt. One bull scored big points. He butted the horse of a Matador who fell off his horse but was caught in the stir-up and pinned against the wall!
      The Matador was okay…bruised ego, and sore ankle I’m sure. The horse was a bit shy for a few minutes, but both horse, and Matador were fine. It was intense for several minutes!

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