I couldn’t help but feel transported back in time, a time where beauty and pageantry were an honored part of an already rich cultural tradition. A time when men could embody strong masculinity while maintaining a genteel refinement. I’ve always been drawn to the passionate expressions of the Hispanic cultures. Perhaps because I grew up in Texas, I am particularly fond of Mexico .
(And Guatemala… but I’ll save that one for another day)
Passion seems imbued into the many layers that make up the Mexico I know. The people, the culture, the history, the stories, the land, the art, ohhhh, the FOOD… its all so rich and beautiful! Of course this passion would permeate bullfighting, how could it not? Clearly I’m not alone in my fascination with this topic! What other sport boasts such focused intrigue from artistic icons such as: Manet, Van Gogh, Cassatt, Picasso, and Goya? (just to name a few) Hemingway was KNOWN for his obsession with the bullfight. Just google his writings, you’ll see.
I attended my first bullfight a couple of years ago in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The 500 year old arena was packed with spectators waiting to see two matadors: one fighting his last bull and another fighting for the first time in front of such a crowd. The musicians were flown in from Spain. The image (I thought was painted by chalk on the dirt floor) was made up of flower petals. It was magic. I was mesmerized by the movements between matador and bull. It seemed they danced to a melody only they could hear. Then it happened, the matador placed his sword right between the shoulders of this rather frantic, very large beast. Without even thinking, I jumped over the back wall so I wouldn’t have to hear and see this 1,000lb animal as he fought for his life. (I’m a bit of an empath… I SWEAR I could feel this creatures’ fear!)
So, needless to say: I love everything around the bullfight except the actual fight.
Imagine my surprise (and skepticism) when my buddy David introduced me to Bloodless Bullfighting. As odd as it sounded, I was sure no kill bullfighting would somehow equate to a less passionate, perhaps a bit gentrified version of the sport. Loosing the culture, passion and beauty made me sad. I’m still perplexed by my reaction. (As I illustrated above, I abhor harming creatures… my boys make fun of me for catching spiders found in the house, only to set them free in our yard.)
How wrong I was.
Bullfighting is now illegal in all but 8 countries… for the sport to survive, changes needed to be made. Seldom comes along a person who has the experience of the past along with the ability to visualize a different future. As you will see in the interview, Gerardo Martinez has found a way to not only preserve the sport but also mold it into a version of itself that will ensure it’s survival. I take it back, I don’t believe Gerardo intends to merely preserve the tradition as much as he’d like to introduce people like me to bullfighting.
In 2016, Gerardo, along with some pretty impressive names, created the US company Ole Entertainment, LLC. Ole hires professional matadors and is the only company in the US who brings the bullfighters into the country on official "matador visas"!
Check out their website. www.OleBullfighting.com Ole offers bullfighting classes AND ways to host authentic NO KILL bullfighting events! Keep an eye out, Kari and I are planning on heading to McAllen for our turn in the arena! We’ll post photos and videos!!!!
cool beans! Kerry