Japanese fisherman, 63, fights off bear attack using karate
63-year-old Atsushi Aoki was fishing in a mountain creek in Naganohara, Japan when at about 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, September 1, he suffered an unprovoked attack from a six-foot-tall, snarling Asian black bear. Aoki survived but was bitten and scratched repeatedly, suffering injuries to his head and extremities.
“The bear was so strong,” said Aoki to the Tokyo Broadcasting System. “It knocked me down. It turned me over and bit me.”
Instead of running, the fisherman, who is only 5′ 6″ tall, determined to use his considerable black belt karate skills.
As Aoki related to the cameras, he took a fighting stance and struck repeatedly at the bear’s eyes with a finger jab. The undoubtedly startled animal retreated into the woods.
“I thought it’s either ‘I kill him or he kills me,'” said Aoki to NHK.
Aoki suffered a scratched up face, and bites on the head, forehead, right arm, and right thigh.
The police report that despite his injuries, the fisherman got back into his car, and sought medical care in Gunma prefecture, northwest of Tokyo.
“He drove himself to hospital,” said a local police officer to AFP. “He even remembered to grab the fish that he had caught.”
Despite Mr. Aoki’s success, karate is not the ideal response when confronted by a bear.
“If you witness a bear, don’t fight,” said an official. “Walk away quietly and report it to the police instead.”
Four death in June from bears foraging for seasonal bamboo shoots in the mountains of Akita Prefecture, prompted the Akita Prefectural Government to issue a public warning, urging residents to stay away from the bamboo forests and mountains where they dwell.