Diversions : How to Fight a Bear

bearMark Cohen, Peak to Peak.  Editor’s Note: With the return of warm weather to the Peak-to-Peak area, the bears are out in abundance. Area residents must know what to do in a bear encounter. As a public service, the Mountain-Ear asked Diversions columnist Mark Cohen to offer some tips on bear fighting. A resident of Nederland for more than two decades, Mr. Cohen holds a black belt in Shudokan karate and boasts an impressive 17-3-1 record in bear fights.

Well, spring is here and so are the bears. We tend to think of bears as big, cuddly, loveable creatures, but the truth is bears are mean. Bears hate people. Even though we built roads in their territory to make it easier for them to travel and built houses in their woods stocked with food to make it easier for them to eat, these ungrateful mammals are always eager to fight a human. Given this reality, it’s vital that mountain residents know how to fight a bear.

The first thing to remember in a bear encounter is – don’t run! You can’t outrun a bear.  A bear has more speed than a hooker at a Republican convention. When a bear sees you running away, that bear will chase you down like a Republican pouncing on an Exxon study denying climate change. The bear will catch you and eat you, so don’t run!

The other important principle to keep in mind is that the bear weighs a lot more than you. There are no weight divisions in bear boxing. The bear doesn’t care if you are a heavyweight or a bantamweight. Either way, the bear will outweigh you by several hundred pounds. Given the massive size of these man-hating creatures, you DON’T want to get into a wrestling match with a bear. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu won’t do you any good in a fight with a six hundred pound bear.

While bears possess superior speed and strength, many humans have one important advantage over bears – 85% of Peak-to-Peak area residents are smarter than the average bear. You can prevail in a bear fight – if you use your brain.

The first question to ask when a bear confronts you is what is the bear’s motive? Is the bear motivated by profit or does it just want to mess with you because it’s a mean, man-hating bear? If the bear just wants your sandwich, the solution is easy. Throw the sandwich as far as you can behind the bear’s head. Being a gluttonous animal, the bear will turn around and take off after the sandwich. Then all you have to do is run like heck in the opposite direction.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of bear attacks are not motivated by profit. Bears want to fight you like Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. It’s just their nature.

If you must fight a bear, remember that bear boxing differs from traditional boxing in several critical ways. First, a bear fight is not organized into three-minute rounds. Second, there is no referee. Third, there are no rules. If a bear bites your ear, head-butts you, or hits below the belt, those things are perfectly legal. In fact, bears don’t even wear belts.

When forced to fight a bear, it’s important to know that most bears are right handed. According to the University of Montana Journal of Ursine Pugilism, the percentage may be as high as 99.44%. This means you want to stand with your left foot forward so you can pepper the bear’s snout with left jabs to prevent the bear from getting close to you.

Where should you hit the bear? Focus on the bear’s snout. Bears have long snouts. Consequently, it’s much easier to hit a bear’s snout than to hit it in the eye. You’d have to get much closer to the bear to hit it in the eye, and you don’t want to get closer to the bear than you have to. A bear’s snout is filled with sensitive nerves. God gave bears long snouts to make it easier to box them, so take advantage of it. Focus on the snout!

As I stated, bears are not smart. It’s easy to fake them out. One effective technique is to feint to the bear’s body twice with your left hand, then duck under and come around with a solid left hook to the bear’s temple. This is the technique Joe Frazier used to use on bears. You would think the bears would catch on because his fights are available on YouTube, but they keep making the same mistake.

Bears are so stupid. Once I was fighting a bear that was holding his own. Suddenly I put up my hands and made the universal time out sign. The bear look confused, but he stopped fighting. I pointed at its foot and politely said, “Your shoe’s untied.” Forgetting that bears don’t wear shoes, the dumb animal looked down at his feet and I threw a great uppercut that nearly took his jaw off.

Another technique is to let the bear punch itself out – the Rope-a-Dope. Just lean up against a tree and use your arms to protect your face and body. Most of the bear’s punches will just bounce off your arms, doing little harm. Eventually the bear will get tuckered out and drop its paws, and THAT’S when start showing the bear who is the boss. I once used this technique on a Mexican bear named Robearto and by the end of the fight he was saying, “No mas!”

By using your superior intellect, you can get inside the bear’s head. Trash talking can be very effective and cause the bear to lose focus. Don’t be afraid to scream at the bear and taunt it. The bear already hates you and wants to kill you, so it’s not like you’re going to make the bear any more angry. Say things like, “Your momma’s so fat, her senior picture was taken by satellite.”

Then, when the bear gives you a quizzical look, do a quick Ali Shuffle and throw a straight right to its face. In fact, when Ali fought bears, he liked to recite poems. He’d say things like, “I am so pretty, you ain’t so great; eat your berries and salmon, I’ll take you in eight.”

It’s important to believe in yourself when fighting a bear. Too often, I’ve seen young bear fighters become intimidated by a bear’s size, but in bear boxing, size doesn’t always matter. Hit a bear in the spleen a few times and he’ll come down to your size. I remember February 15, 1978, when a 197-pound kid named Leon Spinks took the heavyweight title from the much larger Muhammad Ali. How did Spinks pull this off? He believed in himself.

Now, many people will tell you the best way to deal with bears is to avoid confrontation. This is bad advice offered by naïve people with good intentions. Remember, bears want to fight you, kill you, raid your refrigerator, eat your edibles, and sleep in your recliner. If you don’t stand up to a bear, it will think you are weak and this will only encourage aggression. The only thing bears understand is force, so always be willing to fight a bear. Appeasement did not work with Hitler and it doesn’t work with bears. That’s why Neville Chamberlain never won a bear fight.

Look, there is nothing more fun than watching a pathetic bear limp back home with shame on its face because he knows he got beat by a 58 year old lawyer that he outweighed by four hundred pounds. Now he’s got to explain that to his friends. Like a Republican who has to explain why he lost to a Kenyan born Muslim community organizer intent on imposing Sharia law or to a draft dodging, pot smoking womanizer. They just can’t fathom that they lost.

Of course, no amount of knowledge and training can guaranty that you will prevail in a bear fight, but by understanding bear psychology and the basics of bear fighting, you can greatly improve your odds. Just remember the bear necessities, the simple bear necessities.

Editor’s Note: The Mountain-Ear makes no warranty, express or implied, that the advice in this column will help you in the event you must fight a bear.

Mark Cohen

Mark Cohen, J.D., LL.M., is a lawyer in Nederland, Colorado. He is also the author of the Pepper Keane mystery series. A former chairperson of the editorial board of The Colorado Lawyer magazine, one of his interests is the use of Plain English rather than legal jargon.