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Bull riders take to Agena

By: Kotoko Chinen

Date Posted: 1999-05-14

In spite of the gloomy weather, a good crowd of both American and Japanese fans were on hand May 1 for a rodeo riding demonstration by members of the Okinawa Bull Riding Association (OBRA). The event, part of the Spring Bull Fighting tournament held at Agena Bull Fighting Arena in Gushikawa City, provided the audience a rare glimpse of authentic American rodeo riding. Even before the rodeo started, you just knew it was going to be a serious affair, when six riders and three clowns gathered at the center of the arena, bent down on one knee and said what looked like a small prayer to maybe calm their nerves and hopefully ward off serious injury. According to the rules of rodeo, bull riders can use only one hand to stay on during the required eight seconds needed to make a score. If the rider falls within the eight second period or touches himself or the bull with his free hand, no score is given. To stay on the bull, a rider uses a flat braided rope, which is wrapped around the barrel of the bull's chest, behind the front legs and over his withers. One end of the rope is threaded through a loop on the other end and tightened around the bull. Then, the rider wraps the tail around his hand.

One after another, the six brave cowboys - Stan Russell, David Jordan, Laren Dufey, Charles Dugen, Cody Johnson, and Troy Davis - climbed the metal cage which housed the ferocious bull and jumped on. When they nodded their heads, the gate swung open and the bull dashed out onto the arena. Although a couple of riders fell off before the required eight seconds passed, others managed to "tame" the mammoth beasts. Each cowboy was awarded points for balance, posture, flexibility, quick reflexes, coordination and more. With 55 points, Laren Dufey claimed first place, followed by Cody Johnson on 50 points and David Jordan (46 points.) A non-profit organization, OBRA was founded in 1998 by a small group of rodeo enthusiasts to promote and increase awareness of the sport of bull riding throughout Okinawa. "We currently have 20-25 members," said Randy Reese Jr., president of OBRA. "The membership in the OBRA is open to all nationalities, men and women, those with experience or those new to the sport. We welcome anyone who is interested in the sport of bull riding." Those of you who have Japanese friends with limited English but with an unlimited interest in riding bulls, should come along; Reese is fluent in Japanese. For more details, call 622-6825 or e-mail OBRA69@hotmail.com.

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