After years of training and preparation, Halle Berry is about to make her UFC debut.
The Oscar-winning actress and lifelong combat sports fan plays a disgraced MMA fighter who is seeking redemption in and out of the Octagon in her latest film, Bruised. Bruised, which is also Berry’s directorial debut, will be released in select theaters on November 17 and begin streaming on Netflix on November 24. Netflix dropped a new trailer last week.
The AWMA Blog has been waiting for this moment since Berry first announced the project back in the fall of 2018. We’re always interested in seeing how martial arts are portrayed in film and television, and we’re especially excited when those productions are made by people who seem to care as much as we do. And Berry is clearly one of those people. She’s been following boxing since she was a child and has been a vocal supporter of mixed martial arts, especially women’s MMA, for a number of years now. The star has also been a firm believer in martial arts training. It’s a big part of her personal workouts, and she’s taken up a number of styles to help her prepare for various roles.
As we start counting down to the day we’ll be able to see the final product, let’s take a look back at how Halle Berry got ready to take on Bruised.
How did Halle Berry get into Boxing and MMA?
Halle Berry started watching Boxing when she was a child. “When I was a kid, like a little girl, like six, seven, eight, nine years old, English boxing was everything to me,” she says in a new interview with UFC.com. “I spent a lot of time in front of the television. I was a kid who got into a lot of fights, so watching boxing and having that energy channeled in a professional way somehow healed my own hurts in a way because I got to watch others take it out in a way that seemed noble and admirable. I didn’t have a father in the house, so watching great fighters like (Thomas) Hearns and (Muhammad) Ali and Joe Frazier. Those guys, to me, were strong images of strong Black man that I was missing in my own household, and that’s how I viewed them.”
In fact, her interest in combat sports was so strong that she feels she might have pursued it as a career if it had been more of an option at the time. “I feel like if MMA, women in MMA were a viable sport like it is now when I was 10 years old, I’ve probably would have taken that path as a way to channel my own hurts, my own demons, my own pains, would have found a positive way to channel that.”
While her life and circumstances took her on a different path, Berry was eventually able to find a positive outlet in martial arts. She took up capoeira while preparing for 2004’s Catwoman and has been kicking butt both on screen and off ever since.
What martial arts does Halle Berry train in?
Halle Berry has a background in capoeira, Boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and MMA. Her longtime personal trainer, Peter Lee Thomas, is also a martial artist, and a lot of that influence shows in the workouts he plans for her. “You better believing we are doing some boxing, some kick boxing, some Muay Thai… I’m definitely working on those skill sets with her and she’s also doing strength and conditioning,” he told E! in 2018. “She’s using kettle bells, bar bells, dumbbells, working on the pull up bar, doing dips, sprinting pushing heavy things, pulling stuff. It’s just a really dynamic way to jumpstart anyone’s metabolism.”
Berry’s most intense training generally happens when she’s preparing for a new action role in movies like John Wick 3 and Bruised. But even when she starts to scale back, she includes at least a little martial arts in her general routines. “Once you try it, it’s like you get bitten by a bug; you can’t stop!” she told Women’s Health in 2020.
According to an interview with W Magazine earlier this year, BJJ and Judo are her current favorites.
How did Halle Berry prepare for Bruised?
Berry really put the mixed in mixed martial arts when she started training for Bruised.
“I was doing four-to-five hours of training per day, learning six different martial arts disciplines, as well as doing strength and recovery training — which is just as important,” Berry recently told InStyle.
In addition to her work with Peter Lee Thomas, Berry also did a camp with Valentina Shevchenko. The current UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion also appears in the film.
“If you are speaking about training, she went not only like just a few months for this movie. She went all of this training for a couple of years. She was training like three or four years. She was training Muay Thai. She was training jiu-jitsu. She did a lot of preparation before the movie started,” Shevchenko told MMA Fighting last month.
“That’s why about her toughness, I can say a lot. We were training leading into the [filming]. Filming days, we were training in New York for about two months and every single day we were working five hours straight, no rest. We were working different combinations, striking, punching, everything. She was doing this same every month. No resting, no saying anything, just doing it.”
When asked about Berry’s prowess in the cage, the champ gave her a glowing review. “I’m honest. She has a lot of power,” Shevchenko said about Berry. “She has a lot of flexibility. She catches techniques very quick, very fast. She has everything. She has everything for being a fighter.”