National

Gunma bear driven away by karate punches after picking fight with wrong person

Kyodo, Staff Report

A black bear got the surprise of its life when it attacked a 63-year-old man who happened to be a high-ranking practitioner of karate, police in Gunma Prefecture said.

The man, from Naganohara, was fishing on the nearby Jizo River when what appeared to be an Asian black bear crossed paths with him at around 1:45 p.m. Thursday, police officials said.

The roughly 1.9-meter-tall bear reportedly sprang when they locked eyes.

But its human opponent, standing only 1.7 meters tall, happened to be a high-ranked karate man who fought back with a fierce determination, punching the predator repeatedly in the eyes until it gave up and ran away.

The man emerged from the ordeal with a scratched up face and bites on the head, forehead, right arm and right thigh, before calmly driving himself to the hospital, the police said, adding that he wished to remain anonymous.

Noting they had received witness reports of a bear in the area recently, Gunma police officials advised would-be adventure seekers not to imitate the fisherman’s martial arts exploits if they come upon a bear in the wild.

“If you witness a bear, don’t fight. Walk away quietly and report it to the police instead,” an official said.

Bear attacks are not unusual in Japan.

On Monday, two men in Fukushima Prefecture were attacked by a bear and received serious face and head injuries.

In June, four people were killed by bears while foraging for seasonal bamboo shoots in the mountains of Akita Prefecture. The deaths prompted the Akita Prefectural Government on Thursday to issue a public warning about Asian black bears, urging residents to stay away from the bamboo forests and mountains where they dwell.

According to the prefecture, there were 722 reported bear sightings as of Aug. 22.