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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cheongdo Traditional Bull Fighting Festival

On Sunday morning, we drug ourselves out of bed bright and early to meet Andy and Wayne to drive to the Cheongdo Bull Fighting Festival.

This is not like the Spanish Bull Fights you've heard of. Instead two bulls are pitted against one another. And no bulls are killed.

So how did this tradition start? From Frommer's Events :
"Bullfighting in Korea is a 1000-year old tradition, with it's roots in the territorial fights that establish grazing rights between the bulls. The farmers were quick to see the benefits for themselves, should their bull emerge victorious, so they took to lending a hand.
It's not all about strength and aggression - these carefully trained bulls are awarded points, in much the same way as martial arts, for such recognized moves as pushing, head attack, neck attack, and more"
Using my brochure, which lists the different striking techniques, let me see if I can find pictures that example the 8 ways a bull can score.

Neck Striking. This is being done by the Champion on the left. Apparently this is a crazy hard technique everyone was going wild for. The Champion won, even though his competitor was bigger.

Horn Hanging. My brochure says: "It is an aggressive attacking technique to press or raise the other bull's horn" I don't know who's doing what here...

Horn Striking. Maybe?

Pushing. (Really cool to watch one bull push the other with his head!)

Head Striking.

Techniques we didn't see: Side Striking (Striking the belly)
Hanging and Striking- I don't think anyway, the translation on this technique is pretty vague.
Repeated Striking

It's over! The other Bull is running away!

From what I understand, the Bulls that participate in these competitions (professional and amateur) are like family. Pets even. The trainers showed no fear of them and would get right up in their faces to cheer them on in the fight. Sometimes a bull would pull back and look at its trainer for instruction. The trainer would shout commands and the bull would go back to fighting. 

Other things at this festival include lots and lots of food. Some home-made moccoli, which was so-so, lots of drinking. Some agricultural displays about traditional Korean farming. Some shows on a side stage, including a professional dance troupe, which Shannon and I thought were 15, turns out they're like 25.   >.<     They were dancing to american music, one piece which shouted C*ck several times. lol. Not family appropriate! Oh well, they probably don't teach Korean children the word C*ck in their English lessons... 

Another highlight was this extremely drunk old guy at the magic show.

See him? He's there far in the front. Telling the magician what he's doing wrong, dancing, and trying to incite the crowd into cheering. His poor wife keeps trying to call him back, he pays attention for about a minute then waves her away and goes back to hassling the poor magician.

The old guy got tired of the magician ignoring him and decided to take matters into his own hands by going up on stage. rofl!

This is a good example though of the filial piety, hierarchical culture in Korea. Up until this point everyone was politely ignoring the obviously trashed old guy and letting do what he wanted. After he was removed from stage, he went back to standing in front after a couple of minutes. Fortunately for the poor magician the show was almost over. No one had watched him. :( 

For anyone wondering, here's where we went to get to this festival:

Apparently, this valley has a reputation for trapping and holding heat. Because, when we left it was in the upper 40s, and it was easily in the 70's at Cheongdo. (Fahrenheit of course)

Update! I figured out how to upload our videos to YouTube (OMG Kim, welcome to the 21st century!), so here's the sweet video Shannon took of the first Bull Fight we saw. Good job Honey!@!!

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