Let me start by saying that nothing here is meant to denigrate BJJ or MMA in any way. As a rule, I do not criticize other systems. The BJJ guys I know are amazing martial artists and great athletes. My issue with the name Brazilian Jiujitsu (or Jiu-Jitsu) is a personal hangup, but bear me out here.
As a practitioner of jujutsu (the way we happen to spell the same word), when people hear what I do, they frequently assume I do something else. “Oh, you do that rolling around on the ground stuff right?” I get that all the time. Recently a fellow student of my teacher who has just started teaching complained about the same thing.
With the popularity of the UFC, and the BJJ domination of that sport, it is easy to understand that most people’s exposure to jujutsu has been nearly 100%. Koryu and gendai styles (like Ketsugo Jujutsu) are not generally used for sport and you don’t see them on TV very much.
The basic historical background of BJJ si that it is derived from Kodokan Judo. However, at that time, Judo was sometimes still referred to as Kano Jiu-Jitsu after Jigoro Kano, the father of Judo. It was 1914 when Mitsuyo Maeda brought Judo to Brazil, and it wasn’t until 1925 when the Japanese government declared that the art be called Judo. The Gracie family studied under Maeda in Brazil, and continued to refine and spread their art up to today.
So, there is indeed a historic reason, not that they need one, to call their art Jiu-Jitsu.
For us, ground fighting is not something we choose to do. It usually means you are about to lose your life. So, to be confused with a system that has become synonymous with ground-fighting sometimes takes us back a bit. We practice ground-fighting, but not for sport, and we use tactics which would be illegal in any sport competition (unless you believe the movie Bloodsport was a true story).
So, my personal wish was that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was called Brazilian Judo, or something different. I’m lazy and I’d have less explaining to do. In the end, labels are just that. After all, the name “Ketsugo Jujutsu” (also spelled jujitsu) was created by an American in the 20th century, and it is an eclectic art.