Master Rodel was introduced into Arnis at a young age of 14. Both his parents and brothers would summon him every afternoon to teach him a technique or two. By sundown, he’s got his arms tainted with bruises, making him hate the sticks at first. Training then was quite informal, and the system was not known. They merely call it “baston”, referring to the sticks being used. Such was the scenario for Master Rodel every afternoon. Naturally, as a boy, he did not appreciate it at all. That’s why he enrolled in a gym in his hometown Ilo–ilo to study Shotokan Karate, where he earned a greenbelt rank in 1968.
When he moved in Manila in 1970, he continued to practice Karate at the National Amateur Karate Organization (NAKO), and there he earned his blackbelt ahead of Arnis (at present, he holds the rank of 5th Degree Blackbelt in Shotokan). NAKO happens to share the same office with the Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines (MAFP). There, an eternal friendship between a genuine Arnis Grandmaster and a loyal disciple was born. Master Rodel came to know the late Grand Master Remy Amador Presas, and was convinced by the latter to focus on Arnis instead. They happen to come from two different provinces that speak one common dialect. “Ilonggo, magkababayan, ika nga”. Master Rodel was even prodded to stay at the gym and serve as a utility boy in exchange for studying Arnis which he did! After two years of practice, he earned his blackbelt (Lakan) in Arnis in 1972 and went on to become one of the Grandmaster’s top students and was even designated to assist in the teaching of Modern Arnis.