Jujutsu, Jujitsu - what's the difference?

Jujutsu, jujitsu, jiu jitsu — there's a wide range of spellings used to describe this Japanese martial art. The problem is that, in its native Japanese, none of these spellings are used. Instead the word is written using kanji, ideograms of Chinese origins. To translate these into the western alphabet used in the English language requires a series of somewhat arbitrary decisions.

The current standard for this translation provides us with jujutsu — the spelling adopted on this website. But back in the first half of the twentieth centry, jiujitsu and then jujitsu were preferred. As this corresponded to a period of wider awareness of Japanese martial arts in the West, these earlier spellings have stuck in many places.

As a quick check to see how common the various spellings are, I used Google to count the number of occurrences of each on the web. As of 28 Nov 2002, the figures were:

  2002 2019
jiu jutsu 94,300  
jujitsu 81,000  
ju jitsu 52,900  
ju jutsu 51,700  
jujutsu 51,300  
jiujutsu 11,600  

So there is no obvious agreement on either the spelling or where the word breaks — absent in Japanese — should be placed.