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SOUTH-CENTRAL : Small School, Big Reputation

January 30, 1994|SANDRA HERNANDEZ

Amen Rahh is a small-business man by anyone's standards.

Standing inside the 12-by-24-foot room he uses as a karate studio, Rahh smiles and says: "Yeah, it's the small school with the big reputation."

Rahh, a stocky man who holds a fourth-degree black belt, began teaching classes at the 109 School of Discipline in 1987, as a second job. What he discovered was a school that was poorly run.

"Sometimes the instructors wouldn't even show up," he said.

Two years later, Rahh took over the school at 10853 1/2 S. Broadway while working full time as a computer operator.

"I was attending this business seminar and the woman said, 'How many of you have your own business?' And I raised my hand. Then she said, 'How many of you have a full-time job?' A couple others and I raised our hands. And she said, 'No, you have a full-time job and a hobby as a business,' " Rahh said.

"That's when I decided to quit my job and do this full time."

Classes at the school, nestled in the first floor of a beige stucco building, begin at 4:30 p.m. when the first group of six elementary school-age pupils prepare to learn the art of discipline in the tiny, red room.

Students pay $15 to $35 a month, and women pay a flat $15 fee to encourage more of them to take part, Rahh said. The cost decreases as students progress in rank.

"The best thing about this is you learn to fight," said Nzinga Harns, 10.

"Yeah," said Sharon Matthews, 11. "You learn to defend yourself. When I didn't know karate, the kids at school picked on me because I was a nerd. But now, after they saw me do karate at school, they don't pick on me."

Rahh plans to extend the school's program to include children as young as age 4, and has recently purchased a van to transport youths after school.

Operating on a budget of $300 a month for rent and salaries, the school is attracting students from outside the area who are drawn by the school's one-on-one approach.

"It's a jungle out there," said Adriana Talavera, whose son Odell D'antigac has been coming from Gardena because classes are kept small. "He doesn't have any brothers. This gives him a backup and keeps him motivated. He loves it here."

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