Grand Master Rodel Dagooc: The Man, The Legend, The Master


 Grand Master Rodillo ‘Rodel’ Dagooc, the Man,  is considered as a living legend and one of the cornerstones of modern arnis. ) An inductee of Australasian Martial Arts Hall of Fame ( AMAHOF) and of World Karate Union Hall of Fame ( WKUHF ) in 2008,  duly-awarded for lifetime achievements in Modern Arnis. He is a protégé of the late Grand Master Remy Amador Presas, ‘the Father of Modern Arnis.’ 

Grand Master Rodel Dagooc did not rest on his laurels but strive to attain greater heights,   passing the torch to his top lieutenants, his anointed successors who would follow the same career paths he has trodden, leaving behind a legendary legacy…

Photo courtesy of Guro Don Castillo

Early Days

A  14-year old unassuming, unheralded teenager had brushes with Fate’s twists and turns of event at that tender age.  What is known as ‘calling in life’ was beckoning him to a direction he did not want to go.

His struggles with the physical injuries he sustained as he practiced  a type of martial art that relies heavily on what we call ‘baston’ or ‘cane’ developed within him a disdain for this kind of art.

Nonetheless, his dislike for this art was overwhelmingly overpowered by the  kinship that ran deep in the veins of his kindred folks.  His personal narrative tells us that his parents and brothers relentlessly taught him ‘the secrets’ of this martial art until he assimilated them in the deepest corners of his soul.

The Turning Point

  • His chance meeting with the man considered as ‘the legendary father of modern arnis,’ the late Grand Master Remy A. Presas, in 1970, was the game-changer, as it turned his life around until it reached full circle.
  • Little did he know that such a chance encounter was instrumental in shaping his life as the man destined to become a living legend in his own right.
  • Such as a fortuitous event  brought his career to a pedestal of fame and fortune.
  • Simply put, that turning point numbered him in the elite company of martial art practitioners whose careers made them ‘the cornerstones’ of one of the greatest martial art of all time.

Hereunder are the timeline and recapitulation of the outstanding and stellar career of the man, the legend, and the cornerstone of Arnis, the stick fighting martial art enthroned and steeped deep in Filipino culture and tradition:

Formative Schooling

  •  Rodel Dagooc enrolled himself in a karate school in his hometown Iloilo and diligently studied Shotokan Karate. His perseverance and dedication paid off as he earned a greenbelt rank in Karate in 1968.
  •  Afterwards, he moved to Manila where he continued to practice Karate at the National Amateur Karate Organization (NAKO), earning a 5th Degree Blackbelt in Karate in 1970.
  • In 1972, his unrelenting resolve to succeed paid off as Master Rodel earned his blackbelt degree (Lakan) in Arnis. As one of the Grandmaster’s top students,  He was assigned to assist in the teaching of Modern Arnis to students of the Arnis school of Grand Master Remy Presas.
  • In 1978 his remarkable career as an International Modern Arnis Instructor began when he  left the country for Osaka, Japan, where he showcased the art of Arnis, as the country’s national martial art and sport. From then on, he became a globetrotter visiting many foreign countries(e.g. Australia, USA, South America, Japan, Thailand, Israel, Italy, Spain, Germany, Brunei,  showcasing the art of modern arnis to people of different races.
  • In 1985 when the Grandmaster  left for the United States , Master Rodel was one of the few Arnis practitioners  given the official seal to spread Modern Arnis in the entire archipelago.


Multi-Awarded Practitioner

  •  Master Rodel was awarded the rank of Master or “Lakan Anim” (6th Degree Blackbelt in Arnis) in 1994 and after five years, he was promoted again to Lakan Walo(8th Degree Black Belt in Arnis) in 1999. The awarding ceremony was witness by a huge crowd of martial art enthusiasts in Rizal Park, Manila.  All these accolades were conferred upon him by the late Grand Master Remy Presas .
  • In 1997, Master Rodel Dagooc received the “Master Instructor of the Year Award” by the World Head of Family Spokeship Council International Hall of Fame in Florida, USA.
  • In 2003 Grand Master Rodel Dagooc was also one of the awardees in the 18th Parangal ng Bayan Awards for his immeasurable contributions in Sports held in Makati, Philippines .
  • His remarkable careers with his myriad of amazing accolades speak volumes of the strength of character and the temper of personality of  the living legend who has deservingly earned the monicker ‘  ‘the smoking sticks’
  • The Grand Master exemplified  breath-taking dexterity and finesse in exhibiting a masterful display of prowess and aptitude, leaving spectators and judges alike, ‘breathless and stunned’ in amazement of his ingenuity.

In a nutshell, his career has been decorated with legendary feats and accomplishments deserving an honourable place in the archives of the greatest martial artists of his generation.