View Full Version : Jutsu or Jitsu?

22nd November 2002, 06:36
Most Japanese sites use the term jutsu as opposed to jitsu in their English pages. Jutsu is the correct way to romanise it, in fact, jitsu has a completely different meaning. Many foreign schools still use Jitsu, perhaps because that's the way it was first transcribed. Some, have changed to Jutsu. I am also puzzled wh ysome use hyphen, I mean, you rarely see Ju-do but Ju-jitsu is quite common. Surely, Jujutsu is correct. Why do so many schools stick with -jitsu anyway?

Rupert Atkinson

Daniel Lee
22nd November 2002, 08:27

I guess the lack of solidarity in romanisation of Japanese (both by Japanese nationals and others) when these words were first borrowed brought all of this on - and it stuck :( At least nowadays the Japanese Language Council has prescribed one system of romanization.

I think the hyphen is probably used to show an awareness of kanji/moraic units, but it does look kinda funny. At least it's better than that 80s art NIN-JU-KA that claimed to teach NINjutsu, JUjutsu and KArate - too bad the kanji is KARA, not KA!:p

Mike Williams
22nd November 2002, 09:30
In the UK, there's a (fairly big) jujutsu federation called "the Jitsu Foundation". What's more, on all their websites, they constantly refer to their art as plain ol' "Jitsu" (no "Ju" involved).

What I find particularly strange is that in all other respects they are far more "traditional" than the organisation I train with - they use Japanese tech names, wear Hakamas at black belt, include a lot of (Japanese) weapon work.

This isn't meant to be a criticism of TJF, but that "Jitsu" thing just feels... kinda weird.

If I recall correctly, the most popular romanisation before the Gracies came along was "Jiu-Jitsu" - that's always how I remember seeing it writen as a kid. Nowadays that particualr spelling seems pretty much reserved for BJJ.



Budoka 34
22nd November 2002, 11:11

Shinto Yoshin ryu still uses the "Jiu-jitsu" spelling also.


22nd November 2002, 11:22
Rorion Gracie (or one of the youngsters) copyrighted Gracie Jiu Jitsu so it stays and properly separtes it from all JMA martial arts because it isn't Japanese.

The Japanese use the jujitsu spelling as well in some organizations to this day.

Judo was written as Jiu-do, jiudo, jyu-do or jyudo, and jiu jitsu pretty much until the 1950s, perhaps into the early sixties. In older days, the original judo, Jikishin ryu, judo was probably written jiu no michi or yawara no michi, all correct pronunciations of judo kanji.

The funny thing is that when I started judo training in 1963 we received handouts which "jujutsu" was given a short history and it was spelled just as I did, IOW, correctly. I didn't even notice the difference until someone opened a "jujitsu" dojo in 1964 nearby my dojo.

Today, I've seen all sorts of spelling of judo which is supposed to recognize a newer, more correct way of spelling it, eg, juudoo and judoo or jiudou. You will find the old spellings in the old books on judo or Kano jiu jitsu or Kodokan ryu jiu jitsu.

The hyphen seems to be there to make sure words or terms are properly separated. Probably, simple ju jutsu would be fine.

Anyway, even those in Japan who spell it jujitsu should probably know better, as it doesn't mean that being Japanese means you know everything about one's own language or culture. How many spell well in their native tongue such as English, always getting it right? It would seem that those who learn it as a second language spell better than natives.

I should end it here so I don't get caught. I've all ready caught a number or errors and I'm finishing my third proof read. I know Tony Kehoe (kimpatsu) will come trolling for misspellings any time now.;)


22nd November 2002, 19:21
Technique; art

The real problem between jitsu and jutsu [meaning "technique; art"] is in the way these two words sound if you use a Japanese accent. But let's not say "Japanese accent" because too many Westerners will then tighten up their eyes and give a vaudvillian, clipped, pseudo-Japanese accent. Instead, let's use a modified Italian accent which actually is a closer approximation.

In English we Americans pronounce the romanized spelling "jutsu" as "Juht-zoo". However, the Japanese prono unce this same romanization as "jewtz" [almost a "jitz" with a soft "i" sound]. Sometimes they even vocalize the "almost-silent" ~u ending.

When hearing the proper Japanese/"modified Italian" pronunciation complete with the vocalized ~u ending, "jutsu" sounds like "jitsu" to we Americans. Therefore, early romanization was "jitsu."

Truth; reality

The kanji for "truth" is romanized as "jitsu". Again, to we Americans, it looks the same as I described above. However, when you hear a Japanese read this kanji and romanization, it will sound like "jee-tzu" [a long "e" sound]. So when you hear a Japanese say, "Jitsu wa ..." he/she is saying, "in actuality/truthfully/honestly speaking..."

Oops ... looks like I've muddied up the waters again.


Jim London
23rd November 2002, 02:43
This Kanji was posted on another thread on e-budo as the one for Jitsu=truth.

It would help me, as I do not speak Japanese, if someone would post some kanji for jujutsu.

Jim London

25th November 2002, 23:30
Hope these kanji come out OK.

- can't seem to make them any bigger.

Rupert Atkinson

Jim London
26th November 2002, 03:13
Sorry Rupert,

My browser didnt show those characters as Kanji. Do you have a GIF or JPEG?

I know every Kanji has other translations. What is the broader translation of ju-jutsu?

Jim London

26th November 2002, 05:28

Jutsu have the following tranlations: art, technique, skill, means, trick, resources or magic


Neil Hawkins
26th November 2002, 09:49
Here is jujutsu in kanji...



Jim London
26th November 2002, 13:35
Thanks Neil, Tommy.

I have heard the other translations, but that is the first time I have heard magic used for jutsu. It would sort of make sense, in line with the tricks part. One old instructor I had simply refered to all of his techniques as tricks.

Jim London.

"Any technology that is sufficiently advanced that we would not understand it would appear as magic" Arthur Clarke.

28th November 2002, 01:44
Majutsu is magic, sorcery, or witchcraft, and the kanji for 'ma' is 'devil', therefore, I guess you could call it the 'Devil's Art!'

If you can read it - ت

Rupert Atkinson

28th November 2002, 02:08
Shujutsu is "hand art/technique" and it means surgery. Go figure! :D


28th November 2002, 02:13

29th November 2002, 03:48
Jujitsu also refers to a state of total enlightenment. It makes me laugh sometimes to see some of the modern jujutsu schools claim to teach jujitsu(the enlightenment), and they seem to do more wrestling or bjj.

Jim London
29th November 2002, 15:05
Jujitsu also refers to a state of total enlightenment.

I think its the "Dog Brothers" who have the motto: "Higher consciousness through harder contact."

I like the translation of a state of enlightenment. Focusing on your centre and your zanshin really makes you a better martial artist and possibly a person.

Jim London

Mike Williams
29th November 2002, 15:46
Originally posted by hakuda
Jujitsu also refers to a state of total enlightenment.

Do you mean linguistically? Or that there should be a spiritual aspect to the training?

If the latter, is this common to all or most or any koryu JJ?

I had always been led to believe that one of the reasons gendai styles (e.g. Judo, Aikido) were founded was because of the lack of "personal development" present in traditional JJ training - that basically the old styles taught you how to hurt people and not much more.

I realise that mastery of any physical skill through intense study can lead to spiritual self-discovery, enlightenment, whatever you want to call it - but I'd be surprised if it was a significant part of the teaching?