Though focused on teaching, Della Monica strikes gold at Nationals

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Gracie Barra’s Philipe Della Monica really turned it on at the American Nationals last weekend. The lightweight black belt had two matches in his weight class of the Gi tourney before closing the bracket out with friend and teammate Rodrigo Simoes.

In Philipe’s first match, he faced Marcos Torregrosa of Lloyd Irvin, winning by referee’s decision. His second match had him up against renowned Jiu-Jitsu artist and world champion surfer Joel Tudor. “I got my knee on his belly and then got a baseball choke in from side control,” Philipe says, explaining how the match played out after he pulled guard and managed to sweep.

Della Monica's hand raised, to surfing legend Tudor's dismay. Photos: Deb Blyth.

The win over Tudor led to the third and final match, which he and Simões were thrilled about, as they closed out the bracket for their team. The two agreed that Philipe should take the gold this time around. “I won the American Nationals last year,” Rodrigo says, “so this year I gave the title to Philipe.” To get to the finals himself, Rodrigo had a difficult road, having to face off against the one and only Megaton during his journey.

Lightweight podium – from the left, Simões, Della Monica, Megaton, Tudor

Philipe decided not to register in the Gi absolute because he wanted to conserve his energy for the No-Gi competition on Sunday. It turned out to be a good thing because, once again, Philipe cleaned out the competition, taking gold in the No-Gi lightweight division.

Philipe had two No-Gi matches on Sunday. The first saw him take on Osvaldo “Queixinho” Augusto from Gracie Fighter. Philipe won by advantages, but when the buzzer rang, Philipe had taken his back and had a choke in ready to strike. In his second match, the divisional final, Philipe encountered Marcos Torregrosa, who had just defeated Philipe’s teammate Rodrigo Simoes. Philipe ended up winning by points, taking Marcos down and passing his guard in the first minute of the match, then trapping him in his guard. In the end, it was a close match but Philipe held out, winning gold on the day.

Philipe playing guard against Marcos Torregrossa

Philipe likes both Gi and No-Gi but trains more in the Gi. “I train No-Gi once a week,” Philipe says, “I like the stand up part and the takedowns. I’ve come in third place the last three years at the No-Gi Worlds, and I’m hoping to come in first this year.”

Gracie Barra has already started their camp for the No-Gi Worlds and Philipe says he thinks his team will do very well there. Gracie Barra placed first as a team at the American Nationals, so he’s hoping they can do the same at the No-Gi Worlds.

More than the actual act of competing and winning, Philipe really savors the journey of getting to the tournament. “I come here to enjoy myself,” he says,” I love to train, to diet and to prepare myself for a tournament. It makes me feel healthy.”

Celebrating with Gracie Barra teammates

For Philipe personally, he has been focusing more on his role as a professor than he has on being a competitor. He has been competing since he was 13 years old and got his black belt at 20 years of age. Now 26, he has a different focus and passion. “I love to compete,” he says, “I’ve been to all the big tournaments and have been involved in all competitive situations. I’ve won a lot and I’ve lost a lot and I feel like I’ve fulfilled that part of my life. I’m a very competitive person, and I like to win, but my focus is not on winning gold medals anymore. Now, I like to share my competition life with my students and give them whatever they need on and off the mats.”

Philipe doesn’t have the time or the desire to maintain the “competitor lifestyle” that is required to win all the big tournaments but says that he will keep competing and that he will always make sure he’s ready to do his best at every tournament he attends and try to win all of them just the same.

You can find Philipe coaching his students at the upcoming October 15th Gracie Barra CompNet Tournament in Irvine, after which he will compete in the November No-Gi Worlds.

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