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Mini-matadors train in the art of bullfighting

Nino, a ten-year-old toreador apprentice of the Nimes bullfighting school, nicknamed El Nino, performs a muleta pass during a beginner's bullfight (becerrada) at the bullring of Bouillargues, near Nimes, Oct. 5, 2013. A muleta is a small cloth attached to a short tapered stick and used by a matador.Jean-Paul Pelissier / Reuters
Solal, a twelve-year-old toreador apprentice of the Nimes bullfighting school, nicknamed Solalito, performs a muleta pass during a beginner's bullfight in Bouillargues, near Nimes, Oct. 5, 2013.Jean-Paul Pelissier / Reuters
Nino, a ten-year-old toreador apprentice of the French Tauromachy Centre, attends a course at the bullring of Garons, near Nimes, Sept. 25, 2013.Jean-Paul Pelissier / Reuters
Nino, a ten-year-old toreador apprentice of the French Tauromachy Centre, holds a sword as he prepares to strike a practice bull during a course at the bullring of Garons, near Nimes, Sept. 25, 2013.Jean-Paul Pelissier / Reuters
Solal, a twelve-year-old toreador apprentice, dresses before a beginner's bullfight at his home in Nimes, Oct. 5, 2013.Jean-Paul Pelissier / Reuters

Since 1983, the French Tauromachy Centre in Nimes has trained some 1,000 youths in the art of bullfighting. Twenty of them have gone on to become professional matadors, facing fighting bulls in the arena. Twice a week, students take courses with a matador to learn the movements and gestures of the bullfighter in the ring, but without an animal present. Students train with calves in the surrounding fields during spring, and regularly participate in beginner's bullfights (becerradas) but without killing the calves.

Editor's note: Photos were made available to NBC News today.