The meaning of “OSS” or “OSU”

OSS Kanji

When you train BJJ you will often hear the word “OSS” in various situations.The famous “OSS” has many origins. The first definition of “OSS” as an abbrevition for Onegai Shimasu, which translates into a request, a solicitation, an invitation like “please”, “if you may” or “with your permission”, much used when inviting a partner to train.

Carlson Gracie

“OSU” is pronounced “OSS” in Japanese. In Japanese martial arts, every question is answered with osu. Every greeting is Osu. Every instruction or question in class, is answered by “Osu” instead of “yes” or “I understand”. When performing basic techniques in class, each technique is often accompanied with a loud “Osu”. When free fighting in class and your opponent lands a good, hard technique, you say “Osu” to acknowledge your opponent’s skill. As a measure of respect, at a tournament bow and say “Osu” to the front, to the referee and to each other, before and after the fight.

In BJJ, Carslon Gracie introduced the use of the word “OSS” and it rightly fits the mentality of Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu: Brave, determined, strong, smashing. It’s a bit similar to the war cry “Hoorah” that you will hear US marines use. I use “OSS” in my everyday life to even answer regular questions. Just like BJJ, OSS is a specific mentality and way of life.


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