The Light Heavyweight championship in the Rumble in the Cage promotion is a resident of Claresholm.

Neil Berry runs his own gym called "The Berry Patch" to help people in the area learn more about Jiu-Jitsu.

Berry has an extensive background in multiple martial arts, even going as far as China to learn Sanda.

"I have been doing martial arts for about 25 years, started with boxing when I was younger. Then I got into kickboxing, Jiu-Jitsu, and Jeet Kune Do, when I was 18. I did a year of Sanda, I trained in China doing martial arts there and then I got my third-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu," Berry said.

"When I was younger and fighting, I was more of a striker, but as I grew and progressed, I got more into the Jiu-Jitsu aspect of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)."

Berry has really fallen in love with Jiu-Jitsu since he first started training in the martial art, which should come as no surprise as he currently helps people in the area explore its many nuances for themselves.

"With Jiu-Jitsu there is more depth to it, I have been doing Jiu-Jitsu for over 20 years now, and I'm still working on all that stuff. I'm still working on stuff with striking too, but I just find there is so much more to Jiu-Jitsu. Just so much more to learn and work on," he said.

"I think it's one of the best places to start, Jiu-Jitsu is great because it gives you some confidence and some ability if somebody does grab you and if you end up on the floor. But, more than that, it's a great foundation for self-defence and for being able to protect yourself. You do learn that through leverage and through technique you can give yourself a lot more ability and strength than you realize," Berry said.

In Berry's opinion, the martial art might be better suited than your typical self-defence class.

"A lot of self-defence classes teach you a bunch of stuff and you don't ever really do it again. If you get into Jiu-Jitsu, you can train and you can train for years without taking abuse to the brain and give yourself a lot of great skill and ability," he said.

When it comes to getting in the cage and fighting, Berry suggests that any sort of brain damage resulting from fighting often occurs during sparring and training for fights. The striking aspect and repeated blows to the head can cause damage, something that Jiu-Jitsu doesn't focus on.

"I have been pretty lucky with my career; I haven't taken a lot of damage to my head. But, just throughout my life, like I grew up playing hockey and had a handful of concussions through that. Mountain biking and skiing, I have been hit in the head, and then I was boxing when I was younger," Berry said.

"Then I got into MMA, the competition itself isn't where a lot of guys get their CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) from, it's more the training and sparing over the years. That's one nice thing about Jiu-Jitsu is that you are not taking those shots to the head. We are focusing more on submission, control, and grappling. There is no striking when we are grappling so, you can train at a very high intensity for years and years and years and not get the CTE that you would get from boxing, kickboxing, and combat sports like that."

Berry's passion for MMA has led him to help train kids and adults at his gym in Claresholm after one of his instructors gave him advice to start teaching. That led to him establishing "The Berry Patch" in Claresholm.

"I have been training at the Canadian Martial Arts Centre in Lethbridge for a number of years, and some people started asking me to do personal training with them. Teaching them how to fight and whatnot, and when I talked to an instructor there, he said get started with the kid's classes. So, I started helping out with the kid's classes, and then the teaching classes and then the private lessons," he said.

"Over the years I've done a unique amount of both striking and Jiu-Jitsu but, it has grown significantly with the Jiu-Jitsu aspect for the most part. That's what I really love teaching, the Jiu-Jitsu part."

Not only does Berry enjoy learning more about the sport himself, but he is very passionate about helping people learn, and gets some self-gratifying moments seeing the kids and other students he trains get better each and every day.

"I love the "Aha" moment when things click for them and you can see it, that's one thing I love. Another thing I love is when people train with me and then other people, and those people say oh you have been training with Neil, like they recognize my technique and that in other people and I absolutely love that," Berry said.

"With kids, I love seeing them actually grow. Like my niece, I had the pleasure of teaching her for a few years and her doing some competitions. Just watching her do super well in those competitions made everything worthwhile."

Berry is accepting new people at his gym and has classes for kids from ages five to eight on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 4:45 to 5:15 p.m. The other kids' class is for ages nine to twelve years old from 5:15 pm to 6:00 p.m. 

There's also an adult class starting at 6:00 p.m. which will have 45 minutes of technique and then another 45 minutes to an hour of grappling.

For those who want to train with Neil at "The Berry Patch" in Claresholm, you can either just show up for a class or you can text Berry at (403) 360-5937. You can also visit Berry's Facebook or Instagram page for more info and to get set up with Jiu-Jitsu classes.