Karate sensei presents book at Cedar Mountain

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  • On left, a Kindergarten student reads, "The Black Belt ABC's," with Melissa La Cour on right.

  • Principal Rosemary Gebhardt fields questions for author and illustrator Melissa La Cour.

  • PHOTO BY VERA OLINSKI Cedar Mountain Kindergarten students yell, "Kiai!" while practicing a fun low block.

Vernon graduate, author, and illustrator Melissa La Cour presented her recently self-published book: “The Black Belt ABC's,” April 6, to the Kindergarten and first-grade classes at Cedar Mountain Primary School.

La Cour's picture book follows the chicken, Omelette's, journey through the entire alphabet of character traits he learns while studying martial arts at “Eggcellent Martial Arts.”

La Cour said Omelette tells her story of how Karate helped her grow out of her shell. She said, she began training in Goshin-Ryu Karate as a shy 4-year-old and learned about courage, honesty, and sportsmanship – besides just kicks, punches, or flips.

Students read pages aloud from her book regarding: self-discipline — “When you do something, even when you don't feel like it;” integrity — “Do the right thing, even when no one is watching you;” and perseverance — “To never give up. You get back up, and you try again anyway.”

In college, La Cour continued, she studied graphic design, illustration, and animation, where she became interested in books and the idea of creating a picture book.

La Cour also gave credit to English major friends who helped edit.

She asked the Kindergarten class, “What is Karate for?”

One little girl explained, “For protecting yourself from bullies - that want to punch you, or hit you, or throw you, or push you.”

La Cour agreed, Karate is for self-defense, as she started changing into her Gi – white Karate uniform.

One helpful little boy cried out, “Don't forget Gi pants!”

La Cour reviewed the writing, illustrating and publishing processes. In addition, she taught how Karate students progress from a white belt through yellow, orange, blue, purple, green, brown, and black.

She also taught the students a fun low block, but required them to promise only to use Karate skills for self-defense and never purposely hurt or bully anyone.

Everyone yelled, “Kiai!” with their newly learned block. La Cour explained, yelling “Kiai,” helps one breathe, get energy out, and bring attention to a scary situation.

During question and answer time, Principal Rosemary Gebhardt knowingly reminded the Kindergarten classes, “Think of something in your head that you want to ask.”

After some false starts whispered to Gebhardt such as, “I'm taking Karate,” and “Why is her coat white?” some students asked how La Cour made her pictures, earned her black belt, and if she is writing any other books?

La Cour explained her intricate drawing process, receiving a teen black belt, while attending Lounsberry Hollow School, and wanting to create another book using Omelette, where he progresses through the ranks to earn his black belt.

In the end, she showed some Karate moves and reminded the students not “to go home and do Karate on your lamps, and your cousin, and your pets. Karate is to protect ourselves.”

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