What Does OSS Mean?

(Last Updated On: August 10, 2019)

If you train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or if you are a huge fan of the martial art then you have probably heard the words “OSS” or “OSU.” But do you know what does it mean? To understand the term, first, we need to talk about the origin of it. Use of “OSS” or “OSU” can be tracked down to the traditional Japanese martial art called Japanese Okinawa Karate. Another thing you need to understand is that this term can be used as a form of complementing your opponent’s skill, answering a question, and greeting. To be honest, this term is used in many various situations.

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Meaning of OSS

Since the “OSS” drags its roots from Japanese Okinawa Karate, it is actually an abbreviation for Onegai Shimasu which we can literally translate to an invitation, request, or even a solicitation. Another meaning of this term can be translated to Oshi Shinobu or “ossu”. This term stands for the mentality of “preserving when pushed.” To simplify it; withstands, be determined, and never give up.

Another thing you need to understand that many other martial arts use practically the same term, but they call it different. Because “OSS” stems from Japanese Okinawa Karate, it can also mean “Ki” which is a manifestation of energy. That is why you often can hear karate fighters shouting “kiai” which means that you are ready to fight or strength during the fight.

In ancient Japan, the Samurai used the shout three times during the fight. The first one before the fight, one during the fight, and the last one after the fight during the celebration of victory. Or accepting the defeat.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is no exception. The term OSS also can have different meanings when talking about BJJ. Because of that, it is really important to understand when it is appropriate to use the term. You can use this term to show the admiration towards your opponent or sparring partner, respect to your instructor, and all kinds of different things.

Grand Master Carlson Gracie was the first one to use the term in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was the one who introduced the term, and it stood as a sign or respect.

How To Use It

Now we will talk about the different situation in which you can use the term OSS.

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  • General Routine – You can use the term while training and improving your skill. Most of the fighters use it while drilling their skill as a way to keep their mind focused on performing the technique correctly. Every time you nail the technique you can use the term.
  • Respect – Showing respect is typical for almost every form of martial arts. You can use the term to respond to a referee before the fight, or you can say it when entering a fight by bowing onto the mat. It is very much like showing respect to your instructor by bowing.
  • Greeting – You can hear the term OSS often in gyms. Gyms use the term as a form of greeting. In various martial arts gyms or dojos, the class starts a lesson and ends it by bowing down to the instructor while saying “OSU!”.
  • Compliment – Since Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an attractive form of martial arts with many great moves that a fighter can pull off, it often calls for complimenting. You can often hear the term being spoken on the tournaments by fighters watching another fighter perform a skillful move on the mat. This way you can acknowledge and admire someone’s skillset and/or technique. This can be easily compared to skating. If one skater pulls of a challenging or attractive trick, other skaters will often hit their boards to acknowledge and compliment it.
  • Response – Another time you can hear this term I the gym is when instructor demonstrates a technique. The class will often respond to that situation by saying “OSS.”

How Not To Use It

Now that you know when and how it is appropriate to use the term “OSS” in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, let’s talk about when and how not to use it. When you say it during a BJJ tournament or in a BJJ gym, it almost always represents respect. However, you should never use the term in Japan or in Japanese dojos. There are only three instances when it is appropriate to use the term. Those instances are when your opponent is lower rank compared to you, younger than you, or they are requesting you to say it. In Japan, the term is often interpreted as a provocation.

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