Jujitsu, Jujutsu, Jiu-Jitsu – How do you spell it?

There is a common confusion over the spelling of this martial art. I find this interesting as I cannot think of another martial art for which this exists.

Karate – fine

Aikido – fine

Judo – easy

Hapkido – fine

then we have

Jiu-jitsu or Ju-jistu or Jujitsu or Jujutsu. Two i’s? Hyphenated? Two u’s?

Why is it so unclear?

The history seems straightforward.

The Japanese kanji which you can see in the club logo (柔 術) is split in two parts

柔 Jū can be translated to mean “gentle, soft, supple, flexible, pliable, or yielding”.

術, jutsu can be translated to mean “art” or “technique”.

So “gentle art” and the correct spelling is Jūjutsu. Simple. Done.

So why is the club name not spelt that way? Why are there so many other spellings?

Well it is mainly down to the anglicisation of Japanese pronounced words. Prior to the early 20th century many people it was commonly spelt “Jitsu” rather than “Jutsu” and this became common place in North Western Europe. In more southern parts of Europe and South America, the hard “Ju” became a softer “Jiu”. The Jitsu part stuck here too.

The original Jujutsu was developed for combat in feudal Japan and over the years has obviously been changed and developed into many of the different arts we see today. Most notably Aikido, Judo and of course Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Judo is a sport that is derived from Jujutsu and many of the techniques taught in Jujutsu are banned in competition Judo.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is today, a sport derived from Jujutsu and both are also very effective for self defence.

Our club teaches Goshin Jujutsu which is a derivation of the original Jujutsu but has taken a more defence based approach. Most techniques are taught as a reaction to someone attacking. It incorporates strikes, kicks, throws, locks, pressure points and grappling/groundwork. It is in my opinion the most complete of the martial arts on offer. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners specialise in groundwork/grappling and therefore do not have the striking, kicking and pressure point skills. Judo is a sport with strict rules and so the same applies.

So after all that, why am I spelling it “Jujitsu” in the website and club title?

Well that is simple but a cop out.

I wanted to clearly differentiate from Jiu-Jitsu as we are not a BJJ club. So Jiu-Jitsu was out.

I wanted people to find us n a web search and most people will not search for Jujutsu.

So I went with the half-way house and perhaps more accessible name.


Let me know what you think?