Monday 13 March 2017

Interview with Anshu Christa Jacobson

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Anshu Christa Jacobson, the Headmistress of the Budo Ryu Kai, one of the most sought after instructors in the traditional and eclectic martial traditions, member of the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and said to be the only non-Japanese to receive a Menkyo Kaiden (The highest level license that exists in Japanese martial arts.) and Sokeship (inheritor and grandmaster) of a koryu bujutsu/ninjutsu tradition. Hello Anshu!
Anshu: Hello! It is an honor to be asked to do an interview with you!
Monika: You are quite a lady, could you say a few words about yourself?
Anshu: Well… I’m a very eclectic person that does many things. Outside of the martial arts I also work in the adult entertainment industry as an escort/courtesan (geisha) and erotic dancer.
I’m also very open about my spirituality as I am an active pagan who practices Wicca. Wicca is a nature religion, that is derived from very old spiritual and magical practices that help one become more connected to the earth.

Anshu Ch. Jacobson; Headmistress of the Budo Ryu Kai.

Monika: Why Budo Ryu Kai rather than ikebana? How did you develop your interest in Japanese martial arts?
Anshu: I’ve been doing martial arts for many years. Although I teach various different arts within the Budo Ryu Kai, ninjutsu was the art that I had a stronger connection to. In the “ninja community” the majority of schools are not teaching ninjutsu at all, they just claim to. They are teaching “taijutsu” and calling it ninjutsu.
Although the ninja of the past may have trained in taijutsu, taijutsu is not ninjutsu! I was tired of all major ninpo organizations not living up to what they say they’re teaching and making false claims about the historical art of ninjutsu.
So in 2004, I decided to break away and show the world REAL AUTHENTIC NINJUTSU. The Budo Ryu Kai (School of the Warrior Way) was developed by my personal research, training & experience, combining all of these facets into a way to fully develop one's mind, body, and spirit as one, while teaching the correct history and tradition of the ancient ninja.
Monika: Have you heard about any other women with such martial skills as yourself? 
Anshu: There are many women in the martial arts, and there are many women that run their own dojo. But I am the only woman in the world (to my knowledge) that runs an international martial arts organization, teaching martial arts on a worldwide platform. I am also the 1st transgender woman inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame. All of the awards and accolades that I have achieved are great.

Anshu Ch. Jacobson also works in adult entertainment as
a nude model, erotic dancer and professional courtesan.

However, the majority of all students and teachers in the martial arts community are men, and the idea that a transgender woman can be very successful teaching combat on a worldwide platform really irritates a lot of closed-minded conservative people.
The fact that I am a woman, who has multiple schools worldwide, makes me a major target for hate and bigotry from many hateful and insecure people within the martial arts community.
Monika: You have a vlog on YouTube. I am sure you get many questions from your YouTube fans. What do they ask for?
Anshu: It all depends. On my vlog, I talk about everything in my life like adult entertainment, martial arts, spirituality, mediation, etc, etc. I’ve been married now 18 years and we have 2 beautiful daughters together. As a transgender mom, raising 2 girls, I sometimes get questions about that, but because I’m involved with so many different things, the questions that I get from fans greatly vary. I would say that the most popular question, coming from the martial arts community is how can a martial arts teacher work in adult entertainment? There’s a long story on how I started working in adult entertainment, but we can leave that to another day.
However, I will say this on the topic. To me, transgender women are just as “beautiful” and “sexy” as any other woman. Being able to show that, and express that is important to me. The human body and human expression to me is the most basic yet complex form of artistic expression. A transgender woman will not be seen as “equal” if we are not seen as “equal”. Every woman, trans or otherwise, is beautiful and sexy. When we get a chance to express our femininity, it draws people in and they get to see that.

As an erotic dancer and martial artist, maintaining
a strong healthy body is essential.

I’m a strong believer in freedom of expression and I feel that the government SHOULD NOT be allowed to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body. Yes, it is a radical, progressive, unconventional stand. But I feel that nudity and one's body should not be controlled by the government.
I will say that it’s sad, that IT IS socially acceptable for me to provide people with the experience of how to hurt others through martial arts, but it is NOT socially acceptable for me to provide people with the experience of how to enjoy their life through the erotic arts. But society is changing, so love and acceptance for all will hopefully become the norm for everyone in the future generations. 
Monika: What was the strangest question that you answered?
Anshu: This might sound like a really odd answer, but the strangest question for me is: “How did you know that you were transgender?” To me, that’s a really odd question, especially when the answer has to be: “I just knew”. I do not think that people realize how difficult it is for a trans-woman to “come out” and start their transition.
With the way that the media portrays women, being a transgender woman, going through a transition, taking the hormones, and living as a woman before our bodies have even started to change is really difficult. Every place you go, you get mocked and stared at. It’s tough. No one would ever go through that much ridicule if it was not a true reflection of self and a proper action within their heart. 
Monika: At what age did you transition? Was it a difficult process?
Anshu: I was 26 years old when I started my transition in 2003. It was a very difficult process. I had issues with my family, lost almost all of my friends, and even lost a very profitable business because of my transition. It was tough, but I was going to be damned if I was going to live my life by someone else’s standards, then die my own death. Fuck that, I am who I am. The greatest thing about going through a rough time is that you see real quick who’s with you and who’s not. For me, I’d rather have 4 quarters than 100 pennies.

Outside of Martial Arts Soke Anshu is a witch
who practices an ancient religion called Wicca.

Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Anshu: No, years ago, (2003) I was watching Oprah, and this lady on her show was a transgender woman. If I remember right, she was an English teacher and wrote a book called: “She’s Not There”. So I bought the book and read it and it was great. Other than the internet, that was really the only “look” into the life of a transgender woman as I was starting my transition.
Monika: Her name is Jennifer Finney Boylan. Are there any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Anshu: I respect everyone the same. So many people know that I’m a trans-woman, and send me emails with their love and support thanking me for my strength. I guess because of my experiences and my success, they also found the strength to follow their hearts and come out as well! That in itself is cool, and I am honored that just me being me helps inspire others to do so. So to answer the question, I respect anyone who is true to themselves, transgendered or otherwise.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Anshu: As I said earlier, I had issues at the beginning with family; I lost almost all of my friends and lost a business because of my transition. It was tough, but I’ve never been the kind of person that had a lot of self-doubt. I’ve always been very secure with who I am and go after what I want. So even though I was faced with adversity, it never stopped me from wanting to follow my heart and be the woman that I knew that I was.

As a witch, Soke Anshu Christa Jacobson
practices esoteric arts that connect
her to the elements of nature.

Monika: The transgender cause is usually manifested together with the other LGBT communities. Being the last letter in this abbreviation, is the transgender community able to promote its own cause within the LGBT group?
Anshu: I really do not keep up with the “LGBT Community” per se. For me, I feel that if I just do what I do and inspire others to follow their hearts, then that is good enough for me. I do not care what race, religion, sex, or gender any of my students, supporters, friends, or clients are.
I am going to do what I do and that is to promote love, acceptance, and individuality. I know that it sounds like I just sidestepped your questions, but I absolutely didn’t. What I am saying is, as a transgendered woman, who runs an international martial arts school of instruction; I feel that I do not need to “join a group”.
What I need to do is be a strong mentor and role model for other transgendered people who are seeking to do martial arts. If people see me, get inspired, and then find out that I am a trans-woman, that is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Because then, they start to see that transgendered people are no different from anyone else.
Monika: What do you think about all of the transgender news stories and newspaper articles in the media that we see today?
Anshu: Well… I’m all for the media and the right to free speech, I just wish the media would portray the trans-community in more of “normal” light. They always pick people that are very flamboyant and over the top. Not that that is a bad thing. It’s just not the norm. If people got to see the majority of transpeople, I feel that they would not see us much differently than them.
Unfortunately, the government does not want to help the transgendered community either. They want to create separate bathrooms for “us”, as well as many other laws and restrictions. This discrimination and prejudice really bother me. In all of the years that transgender people have openly lived in the United States, there has not been one reported incident, of any kind, by a transgendered person (that I am aware of) sexually harassing someone while trying to go the bathroom,… not one.

Soke Anshu Christa Jacobson sharing some of the ancient
scrolls and densho in the Budo Ryu Kai Hombu Dojo.

Meanwhile, rape continues to rise in our community. Multiple reported incidents of teachers molesting children in schools, as well as bishops and religious leaders molesting little boys in the Catholic Church. I know that is a VERY controversial thing to say, but it's true. 
There are WAY MORE crimes of sexual harassment from teachers, religious leaders, and people of power, than there are with transgender people just wanting to go the bathroom. They do not make teachers use a different bathroom than the kids at school, nor do they have any kind of checks and balances with the people that we trust with our children in churches, school activates, boy/girl scouts, etc, etc…
The “bathroom bill” is nothing but a form of discrimination to create separation and hate for the transgender community. This “bill” is discrimination and it’s wrong. Unfortunately, the administration that we have right now (in the United States) is not going to do anything at all to help the transgendered community. This is why I (and other trans-women) have to have the confidence and work hard to show that we are just as part of the “normal community” as anyone else. [old saying] “It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.” - Miyamoto Musashi
Monika: Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Anshu: As of now, no. I have never participated in any kind of political campaign. However, with the way that things are going, I may change my mind on this topic in the future.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Anshu: I’m all about fashion! With my eclectic lifestyle, clothing is just another way to express who I am! Here, check out my “Random Christa Photo Album” on Facebook.

Soke Anshu Christa Jacobson demonstrating Ninjutsu/
Bujutsu at the Annual Budo Ryu Ninjutsu Daikomyosai.

Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants? Some activists criticize their values, pointing out that they lead to the obsession with youth and beauty.
Anshu: I feel that beauty is beauty. Trans-women should not be looked at any differently than any other woman. Everyone, no matter if you are trans or otherwise, wants to look good and feel confident.
So I do not agree that transgender people have some different ideas about fashion, beauty, or self-image. Everyone wants to look good and all kids want to dress and look a certain way. You don’t have to be transgender to want to look good. 
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Anshu: It’s very important! As I said above, I’ve been married now 18 years and we have 2 beautiful daughters. I would not be the woman that I am today without my wife by my side. The support and love that one can get from family and friends are beyond anything else. When no one else had my back, my wife did. Having a strong supporting cast is always a good thing.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Anshu: I’m always working on new projects! It seems like my work is never done! The next project that will come out is a new book that I am writing called: “Kage-no-Sho” (Book of Shadows). It is an esoteric look into the art of Budo Ryu Ninjutsu as well as historical ninjutsu!
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Anshu: Follow your heart! You only have one life to live, live it! No one needs to live their life by someone else’s standards. Do what you need to do to survive and be happy. 
Monika: My pen friend Gina Grahame wrote to me once that we should not limit our potential because of how we were born or by what we see other transsexuals and transgender people doing. Our dreams should not end on an operating table; that’s where they begin. Do you agree with this?
Anshu: The “operation” is nothing but a physical thing that has nothing at all to do with the start of one's journey as a transgendered person. It does not start with a physical change that is just one moment within the journey. The start of a transgendered person’s journey is looking in the mirror, gazing into your eyes, and admitting to yourself who and what you are. From there, that is the start of one's true journey.
Monika: Anshu, thank you for the interview!

Follow Anshu Christa Jacobson on Social Media via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter *nudity*

All the photos: courtesy of Anshu Christa Jacobson.
© 2017 - Monika Kowalska

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