“If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much road!”
In American bullfighting, there is only man and beast, no swords nor feathered spears nor capes. The fighter stands in the center of the pen, the bull is released from the chutes, and the fighter must survive for 40 seconds while keeping himself as near as possible to danger at all times.
The fighters are graded on two criteria: the bull’s aggression and their skill in evading it. The first variable may seem out of their control, but if the bull is passive, it’s on the fighter to goad him into attacking.
Here’s what matadors and American bullfighters — descended from the tradition of rodeo clowns — have in common: Their outfits, though they look nothing alike, are equally flamboyant. Surviving in the ring means little unless they entertain the crowd in doing so; and they are incredibly brave.