A karate expert managed to fight off a bear attack which he thought would cost him his life by kicking the animal twice in the face, Japanese media reports.

Masato Fukuda was only lightly injured in his encounter with a pair of bears on Thursday morning in Nayoro city, on the northern island of Hokkaido, police said.

He was on a walk to see a waterfall in Nayoro’s mountainous area at around 10.30am when he chanced upon the two brown bears poking their faces out of bushes, Japanese media reported.

The two bears picked the wrong person to mess with when they approached the 50-year-old, who was visiting the woodland area from Toyota City.

One of them came towards him – but unfortunately for the animal, Mr Fukuda was experienced in the martial art of karate.

I thought I should make my move or else I will be killed,’ he told a local broadcaster.

Mr Fukuda kicked it in the face – twice – and in the process twisted his leg, but otherwise escaped unharmed, he said.

The day-tripper said that while he managed to scare off one of the predators, the other initially kept its distance, and appeared to be threatening.

Frightened, Mr Fukuda made his way back to his car – and managed to get a video of the animal looking down at him.

The footage shows it peering from out of the woods at him, before turning tail and running into the mountains.

‘I was just lucky. The bear just happened to run away, so I was saved, but if the bear had just lunged at me, I wouldn’t have had a chance,’ Mr Fukuda said.

Both animals looked to be about 1.5 metres (5ft) tall, according to Japanese media. Brown bears can weigh half a tonne (1,100lbs) and outrun a human.

The Ussuri brown bear found on Hokkaido is a slightly smaller cousin to the grizzly, but much larger than the Japanese black bear on Japan’s mainland.

The number of bear reports received in Hokkaido this month has exceeded 100, far higher than in previous months, said police.

There have reportedly been numerous bear sightings in Nayoro City this month, and police are conducting patrols to warn residents.

Authorities in the area have urged hikers to be vigilant when enjoying the forests, particularly as the number of bear sightings in the area has been on the rise.

It comes after a bear attacked a tourist in Europe this week, who also made a lucky escape.

British holidaymaker Moira Gallacher had her arm mauled by a brown bear in Romania, but was saved by her ‘thick M&S jacket’, a friend who was travelling with her revealed this week.

In another frightening episode in China, a zookeeper was attacked by pandas, which gnawed at her in front of horrified visitors.

The woman was jumped on after bringing snacks into the huge bears’ enclosure, and was only saved when a colleague came to her aid.

Fortunately, she is reported to have only sustained minor injuries in the attack.