The rank of Shodan, a first-degree black belt, was conferred upon Birger Baastrup in December 2005 following an examination administered by Master Shojiro Koyama of the International Shotokan Karate Federation.
Baastrup successfully demonstrated his proficiency in Shotokan Karate, a traditional Japanese martial art he learned at the Juneau Shotokan Karate Club.
"Earning a black belt is a significant achievement, and rather than marking the completion of something, it marks the beginning of training at a more advanced level," chief instructor Diana Stevens said in a release. "There is a high expectation that the student will strengthen his or her commitment to perfecting karate skills and character. Karate is an activity that you can practice throughout your life, that benefits both the mind and the body."