Don't judge a bullfight until you see one, matador says

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Don't judge a bullfight until you see one, matador says
Spanish matador Lopez Simon is seen after killing a bull during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 7, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Spanish matador Rafaelillo opens his jacket after killing a bull during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 17, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Spanish matador Lopez Simon stands during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 7, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Spanish matador Julian Lopez "El Juli" walks wounded in his right gluteus after being gored by a bull during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 15, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Peruvian matador Roca Rey washes his face after killing a bull during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 15, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Spanish assistant bullfighter Manuel Rodriguez "Mambru" waits for the start a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 16, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A Spanish assistant bullfighter walks before a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 4, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Spanish matador Javier Castano washes his face splattered by bull's blood after killing it during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 17, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Spanish matador Jose Maria Manzanares holds his bullfighter's "muleta" during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 9, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Spanish matador David Mora is seen after driving a sword into a bull to kill it during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 11, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Spanish assistant bullfighter Francisco Javier Sanchez Araujo (R) gives a rose to Spanish matador Morante de la Puebla who holds a trophy, an ear of a bull, during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 15, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Spanish assistant bullfighter Vicente Herrera stands during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 7, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Spanish matador Pepe Moral touches his face before a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 5, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Spanish matador Pepe Moral celebrates after winning a trophy, an ear of the bull, during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 5, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Spanish matador Javier Jimenez stretches before a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 5, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
French matador Sebastian Castella puts his montera before a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 7, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Spanish picadores Francisco Romero (L), 26, and Agustin Romero, 25, pose for a portrait before a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 5, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Spanish matador Borja Jimenez prepares to perform a pass to a bull during a bullfight at the Real Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain April 4, 2016. At the Real Maestranza arena the crowd enjoys a tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Wearing an embroidered gold and white outfit and wielding a long thin sword, the matador taunts the 600-kilo bull with his cape, dodging its horns again and again. Despite the full stands at the bullring, which hosted its first fight in 1761, the sport attracts an increasingly slim audience, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair fight. Matadors say those who oppose bullfighting don't understand the bullring's intimacy or the artistry of the fight. To finish off the bout, matadors deliver the "estocada," a deft strike through the bull's shoulder blades to pierce its heart. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "EL MATADOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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SEVILLE, April 18 (Reuters) - It may be a dying spectacle in more ways than one, but matador Javier Jimenez says the people who oppose bullfighting have simply never gone to feel the intimacy and artistry of the contest.

"I have friends that don't like bullfighting, but they have never been," he says. "It's like a song or a painting; you don't know why you enjoy it, but it gets you deep down."

Jimenez is only 25 but has already been fighting bulls since he was 15, not long after he and his brother Borja, also a matador, began taking a red cape into school in Espartinas, near Seville, to show off their feints and pirouettes.

Now in his seventh year fighting at the Real Maestranza arena in the Spanish city of Seville, Jimenez says he still feels the same fear he did the first time he knelt in the sand to await the bull charging out of the gate.

"I asked a matador who had spent 50 years in the ring -- and he still feels the same now as he did the first time."

As Jimenez and the 600 kg (1,300 lb) bull begin to circle around the cape, the crowd cheer every pass with cries of "Ole! Ole!".

In his embroidered gold and white "traje de luces" or "suit of lights," the matador dodges the horns again and again.

The Real Maestranza is packed for this fight, part of Seville's April Fair, a celebration of all things Andalusian filled with Flamenco dancing and copious drinking of locally produced Manzanilla sherry.

But elsewhere, audiences for a tradition that goes back over a thousand years are dwindling, as new generations shun what they see as a cruel and unfair contest.

Back in the ring, the bull's movements become ever more labored as the barbed stakes that have been stabbed deep into its neck drain its strength away.

With the hulk tottering, Jimenez raises his long, thin sword and swiftly delivers the "estocada," a deft strike through the shoulder blades to pierce its heart. The bull keels over and, as mules are brought in drag out the body, the band strike up again. This fight is over, the next one can begin.

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