One of the most intriguing customs of the Yautja is the Blooding Ritual, a rite of passage that demonstrates a young Predator's readiness to join the ranks of the honorable hunters. This ritual is performed at the end of the First Hunt, which needs to be performed while strictly following the Yautja Honor Code and rules of the hunt. The ritual involves marking oneself with the blood of the enemy, which in most cases, is Xenomorph blood. Some variations of this ritual occur, and the blooding process can even be reversed if needed.
The First Hunt Of Unblooded Yautja
The First Hunt is a very important part of the Blooding ritual and a goal for any Young Blood Predator who is not yet blooded. Usually, three Predators go on this hunt together (less frequently it is five), and are monitored by an Elite or Elder Predator, often looking upon the young hunters from a hidden Predator ship. The targets of the First Hunt are usually the Kiande Amedha, which is the Yautja word for Xenomorphs, and translates directly to "Hard Meat". The Young Bloods are armed and armored well, but their gear is not acid-resistant and long-ranged weapons might be held back at first, so the Yautja need to claim them. Unfortunately, the Young Blood Predators can often fail, and sometimes no Yautja from the original trio will come back alive. This happened with the hunt in Antarctica in 2004, where Scan Predator did get blooded, but did not return to his clan mates alive.
Blooding Symbol on Forehead
Upon the successful completion of the first kill of a Xenomorph, the Young Blood Predator is ready for marking himself with the Blooded symbol. This symbol varies by clan, but it has usually been a thunderbolt sign in the comics, and two separate lines in the first AvP movie. The symbol is "written" with a Xenomorph finger that has to be broken off the hand of the dead Xenomorph. The acid then permanently burns the mark on the forehead of the Predator, which can be slightly painful but does not compare to the pain of melee combat with an adult Xenomorph. To mark the occasion of joining the ranks of the blooded, the Yautja usually performs a powerful roar, terrifying any remaining enemies.
Blooding Symbol On Bio-Mask
In addition to their foreheads, the Yautja often mark their bio-masks with the Blooded symbol as well. However, the Predators often use multiple masks or even lose them on their hunts, so this takes a lower priority than the more permanent mark on their bodies. There are many high-ranking Predators in the Yautja lore without any blooding symbols at all, neither on their bodies or helmets. This can be explained by the different Predator clans having different rituals, and some clans don't hunt Xenomorphs at all, removing the possibility of acid-burn marks. All the Predators in the non-AvP movies have no blooding symbols, but they have chosen to hunt humans instead.
Blooding Of A Human
The Yautja rules of the hunt allow other species to be blooded as well, including humans. Although Scar Predator failed to return from his First Hunt, he did pass on his blooding mark to a human - Alexa Woods, whose mark was distinctly made on her cheek. Other famous humans who became blooded human Predators include Machiko Noguchi, Ash Parnall, and Ripley 8, who all hunted Xenomorphs together with the Yautja. The Predators even blooded an android named Elden, who had become infected with the Black Goo Pathogen and became a capable warrior, killing several Xenomorphs. This shows that the Yautja respect and honor any good hunters, regardless of their species.
An Alternative Blooding Ceremony
There also exists a more ceremonial and theatrical Blooding ritual, with the whole Predator clan present and looking upon the act. In the Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator comic series, Ripley 8 wanted to join up with the Yautja to battle Xenomorph/Terminator hybrids that were threatening the whole galaxy. At that point, she was already an established Xenomorph killer and did not have to prove her worthiness. To become an official hunter, she was initiated into the Yautja ranks by a Predator witch, who doused her with a red substance from a bowl, which was presumably blood. She was then given a Predator spear which he raised above her head, while the onlooking Predators cheered. The joined forces of Ripley and the Yautja soon decimated the Xenomorph hybrids and defeated Skynet.
Bad Blood Predators
The Blood Feud between Bad Blood Predators and regular Yautja is often associated with the blooding ritual, but that is not always the case. The Bad Blood Predators are Yautja who have broken the rules of the hunt and have been made outcasts from their communities or even marked for death, to be hunted down by Enforcer Predators or Elites. The Bad Bloods don't even have to be blooded, a criminal Young Blood could become a Bad Blood immediately after committing a forbidden act, like killing another Yautja. A good example of young Bad Bloods came from the Predator: Homeworld comic, where a trio of crazed Yautja killed fellow clan members and escaped from Yautja Prime to Earth, only to be hunted down by an ancient Predator. The Bad Blood Yautja are usually killed, while some manage to escape to farther reaches of space, like the Rogue Space Tribe.
As there is a Blooding Ritual that marks the hunter with a blooded symbol, there is also an unblooding ritual that removes this symbol. This reversal ritual is not a violent act like the fate of the Bad Blood Predators, who are often just killed off unceremoniously. The unblooding ritual has been known to only occur once, on Machiko Noguchi, the human Predator who was blooded by Dachande. After she abandoned the Yautja ways and re-joined humanity, an Elder Predator from the Jungle Hunter clan decided to unblood her. Again, Xenomorph blood was involved, which was smeared on an Elder sword and then pressed on Machiko Noguchi's forehead. The thunderbolt symbol was removed, but a scar in the form of a red circle remained on her face.
In conclusion, the Yautja Blooding Ritual represents a revered rite of passage where young Predators prove their worth as hunters through challenging hunts. It culminates in the marking of their foreheads and bio-helmets with the blood of their fallen prey. This ritual symbolizes the Yautja's commitment to honor, skill, and the pursuit of excellence in the hunt, solidifying their place within their society as respected and blooded warriors. If they should stray from an honorable path, the blooded symbol might be removed or they might even be hunted down and killed as bad blood Predators.