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Whats the difference between Ju-jutsu and Jiu-jitsu? In Sweden we only have Ju jutsu and i have notice that in USA thay have both Ju jutsu and Jiu-jitsu and it looks like the same thing.

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I think this explains it all. – THelper Oct 16 '12 at 12:37
up vote 15 down vote accepted

They are the same thing. It's only a matter of romanization (spelling japanese words using roman letters).

As a reference point, here is how it is pronounced in japanese (found on wikipedia).

As to how it is written, it all comes down to how the names were romanized. The most popular systems used today are probably the Hepburn system, the Nihon-Shiki system or the Kunrei-Shiki system.

Of those, the Nihon-Shiki system is the oldest, created in 1885 by a japanese physicist hoping to get rid of the traditional kanji and kana system in the hopes that it would make exchanges easier between Japan and other countries. This system was developped with japanese-speaking users in mind and as such is probably closer to the japanese pronunciation.

In this system, the proper spelling would be "zyuzyutu".

The Kunrei-Shiki system is an evolution on the Nihon-Shiki made just before WWII to incorporate the phonetic changes that naturally occured in the japanese language since the Nihon-Shiki system was put in place. Since it's still made with native japanese speakers in mind, it can, like it's predecessor, induce non-native speakers to pronounce words in an awkward way. As such, even though the japanese government made it the officially recognized romanization system, most people, including some government agencies, prefers to use the Hepburn system.

In this system, the proper spelling would be "zyuzyutu" as well.

The most globally accepted romanization system is the Hepburn system. This system was made in 1908 with a focus on english and italian pronunciations. As such, non-native speakers using this system will generally pronounce words with more accuracy. This system is the most used by non-native speakers, as well as by the japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (for passports) and by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (for road signs). There were some reforms to this system over the years, but I do not believe it affected the spelling of this specific word.

In this system, the proper spelling would be "jujutsu".

It is important to note, however, that prior to these systems, there still existed a romanization system created around 1550 by a japanese catholic. Indeed, portuguese traders spread catholicism to Japan around these times and I guess a romanization system could prove useful when dealing with foreigners.

In this system, the proper spelling would be "iuiutçu" or "jujutçu", depending on the version you used.

As we can see, even in officially recognized systems (like Nihon-Shiki and Hepburn), there exist vast differences in spelling. Historically speaking, some systems have written jujutsu using an "i/y" sound in between the consonant "j/z" and the "u". When confronted with non-native japanese speakers that only learned spoken japanese and no written form, it is highly likely that some accuracy in the pronunciation has been lost when they had to write the name of their martial art in their own language. This could explain the many spelling variants of jujutsu we can encounter.

However, if I had to say that a specific one is the "best", I'd go with "jujutsu" (Hepburn), as it seems to be the closest english analog one could get.

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+1. Very nice history lesson as well as a good and clear answer. – Sardathrion Oct 18 '12 at 15:29
+1, with the caveat that the Nihon-Shiki and Kunrei-Shiki systems aren't "closer to the Japanese pronunciation", just more consistent. Hepburn is much closer to the Standard Japanese pronunciation, it just doesn't capture the underlying phonological relationships between syllables -- e.g. the T-series written ta/chi/tsu/te/to in Hepburn vs. ta/ti/tu/te/to in NS or KS. (For even more than you ever wanted to know, see the "Palatalization and affrication" section of Wikipedia's Japanese Phonology article.) – David Moles Nov 12 '12 at 23:54
@DavidMoles thank you, it was a very instructive read ^_^ – Dungarth Nov 13 '12 at 5:39

If you are referring to 柔術, then we can look at the two kanji.

The first kanji is found in 柔道 -- judo. The second kanji is found in 剣術 -- Kenjutsu. Thus, I would opt for jujutsu as being the logical romanji form of 柔術. The other "spelling" maybe viewed as either incorrect or illogical based on this. Thus, I would translate 柔術 as the soft art which contracts nicely with weapon use -- aka hard.

Note: I am not fluent in Japanese and thus could have got the meaning/translation of the kanji wrong.

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So jiu jitsu and other spellings should point to Ju jutsu tag. – Mikael Svensson Oct 16 '12 at 14:34
If my assertions are correct, then yes they should. – Sardathrion Oct 16 '12 at 14:35
@THelper comment somwhat confirms it. – Mikael Svensson Oct 16 '12 at 14:40
Questions about tags should be brought up on the Martial Arts Meta. Incidentally, you may also want to look at this answer from a previous discussion. – Matt Chan Oct 16 '12 at 16:50

I believe these are spelling variations - wikipedia lists both of these as acceptable transliteration of the Japanese word. Of course I'm not fluent in Japanese, so I would defer to someone who is.

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In Germany those two refer to different things but that is a special case: Jiu-Jitsu in Germany is usually used for the traditional japanese system and related styles while Ju-Jutsu is used for a system developed in the 1960s for German police forces. So in Germany those two are different but that does only hold for Germany because everywhere else the German Ju-Jutsu is called German Ju-Jutsu.

Otherwise I would say it is a question of transcription from Japanese.

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