Aficionados International

Which Matadors to see

A good first bullfighting experience depends on many factors, not all of which can be controlled; however, while we believe a good corrida has universal appeal much like a beautiful piece of music or work of art, some bullfighters' styles lend themselves more easily to the untrained eye than others. Below are profiles of currently active matadors who, when on form and provided with suitable bulls, would be expected to provide a good first time experience for someone seeing their first ever corrida. 


 

JOSE MARIA MANZANARES

Jose Maria Manzanares in Sevilla - April 2012

Born in 1982 in Alicante, JMM is currently one of the hottest tickets on the circuit. In addition to being a highly rated torero, and having developed into the new idol of Seville with four consecutive triumphant performances there between 2011 and 2012, José María, himself the son of a retired bullfighting legend, is a highly visible celebrity in Spain, regularly appearing in high profile photo shoots for fashion magazines and other publications.

Stylistically JMM seeks a classic elegance occasionally broken up by more modern flourishes, such as circular passes and a repertoire of idiosyncratic finishes. He is also well known to  kill often in the dangerous recibiendo style, standing still and receiving the bull as it charges, to deliver the death thrust, instead of moving towards it. Manzanares keeps an active internet and social media presence with his website having recently been translated into English.  His upcoming performances are noted on his website below:

http://www.josemariamanzanares.com/

 


 

JULIAN LOPÉZ "EL JULI"

Julian Lopéz "El Juli" in Albacete - September 2013

Born in Madrid in 1982, when only 30 years old El Juli was already a living legend, having been a fully ordained matador for half his life. El Juli became a major mainstream media sensation upon turning pro at just under 16 years old in September 1998, performing a staggering 134 times worldwide in his first full season as a matador. Since those early days of the late nineties, El Juli has slowly shifted and refined his style away from a blockbuster spectacular approach, to a more refined classic orthodox one. A major step in this development was his decision to stop placing his own banderillas from 2004 onwards, in order to begin his faenas, his performances, with the red cape with a lower heart rate, and in a more concentrated manner.

El Juli can easily be described as one of the most technically accomplished matadors active today and is a very energetic performer who succeeds in transmitting emotion to the crowd. Much of his most recent work is also marked by a deep understanding of the dramatic aspects of his craft, regularly delivering well-paced and structured faenas more often than not. This, in combination with his seemingly innate ability to understand even difficult bulls, almost instantly makes him one of the most consistent performers on the circuit, and a good choice for a first experience. His website in Spanish can be found below:

http://www.eljuli.com/

 


 

JOSÉ TOMÁS

José Tomas' historic solo performance in Nimes - September 2012

Born in Galapagar in 1975, José Tomás was already recognized as one of the all-time greats when he temporarily retired in 2002. Famously media shy, barely ever talking to the media at all; Tomás has cultivated an enigmatic image over the years. Upon his long awaited return in 2007, Tomás picked up where he left off, attaining major triumphs in almost all of his performances ever since. JT is known for his serene sense of bravery, vertical stance, frontal citing and technical brilliance. While employing a much reduced repertoire of passes compared to other contemporary matadors, the classic but highly unique style of José Tomás makes him one of the most exciting matadors to watch.  Since returning in 2007 he has been seriously gored multiple times, almost fatally so in Aguascalientes, Mexico in 2010. In 2012 he only performed 3 times, his final performance of the European season was his historic solo performance with six bulls in Nimes, France which elicited an unprecedented worldwide media echo. José Tomas does not have an official website.

 


 

JUAN JOSÉ PADILLA

News segment about Juan José Padillia's much celebrated return from injury in Olivenza - March 2012

Born in Jerez in 1973, this wily veteran matador rose to national and international prominence after receiving a serious goring in the eye at the end of 2011 during the European season closing feria at Zaragoza, Spain. The wound caused paralysis to the left side of his face and resulted in the loss of his left eye. The incident captured the attention of bullfighting aficionados and non-aficionados alike. 

Although many observers wondered whether the horrific injury would result in the end of Padilla’s career, he reinvented himself as a popular figure. Making a spectacular and internationally reported on return to the ring as early as March 2012, he took to the ring with an eye patch and hence-forth became known as the one-eyed bullfighting pirate. Although Padilla had been a well-respected torero who had spent years facing the toughest bulls on the circuit, his new found fame now allowed him to become the opening torero in many of the top bullfights in Spain, France and Mexico. His perseverance in the face of crisis and hardship resonated with a country suffering from a severe economic downturn, ironically turning his 2012 Spanish season into likely his most lucrative ever.
 
Aside from the PR stylings, the truth is that the bullfighter that returned to the bullring in 2012 had barely changed. His style has always been one of populist bravery, based more on spectacular moves and passes rather than artistic refinement. Sadly his package now comes with the added merit that he manages to do all this without depth perception. His cheerful spectacle, Padilla also still places his own banderillas, makes him an ideal candidate for the novice aficionado.