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What does OSS mean in BJJ?

Understanding the various uses of "OSS" is crucial when examining its definitions. The usage includes greetings, providing answers to inquiries,...

Understanding the various uses of "OSS" is crucial when examining its definitions. The usage includes greetings, providing answers to inquiries, complimenting opponents' abilities, and more.

OSS, this phrase, which derives from Japanese martial arts, is rather general. Similar to how the US Marines shout "OOH-RAH," it is an especially enthusiastic manner to affirm something or someone.

What does OSS mean?

oss meaning bjj

Many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools as well as other martial art systems utilize the name "OSS." There are two potential meanings for the word "OSS" or "OSU," which is pronounced "ohss," but its exact origins are unknown. It is derived from the Japanese expressions "Oshi Shinobu" and "Onegai Shimasu," which roughly translate to "enduring under pressure" and "persevering when pushed," respectively. These expressions share many ideals with the history of the Asian martial arts.

OSS was formerly only used in martial arts to call a training partner to the mats and to call upon one's ki (also known as "vital energy" or "spirit") prior to an attack or battle (just as the samurai use to shout out). This is still the most typical response in karate, you can say "yes" when your master or instructor gives you instructions or remarks.

The majority of the time in modern Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it is used at the conclusion of a class as everyone bows out simultaneously, sometimes to acknowledge a partner or person's efforts, or just as a formal "yes."

Different concepts of the term “OSS”

The notorious "OSS" has several antecedents. The term "OSS" is initially defined as an acronym for Onegai Shimasu, which may be translated as "please," "if you may," or "with your permission," and is frequently used to invite a partner to train.

The second meaning of the term, which is also referred to as "ossu," is Oshi Shinobu, which expresses the sense of "persevering when pushed." To put it another way, never give up, be tenacious and tough, and be able to endure the most demanding training.

Because gym etiquette might differ, you should glance around your immediate surroundings to determine when to use the word. The phrase is incredibly adaptable and is occasionally even used in every single conversation in the martial arts community.

A deeper insight into the term OSS

Although there are several ideas regarding the word's derivation, no one is certain of its exact source. But according to history books, the term initially arose in the Officers Academy of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the early 20th century.

Let's examine the various hypotheses that are put up in relation to the word's etymology.

According to Dr. Mizutani Osamu, a language expert and professor of linguistics at the University of Nagoya, the term is a shortening of the more formal statement "Ohaya gozaimasu," which may be a polite way to say "good morning."

Another theory contends that it is a condensed form of the phrase "Onegaishimasu," which is Japanese for "please be patient with me" or "please look after me." In Japan, the phrase is frequently used to express one's courteous request. It may also be employed while requesting instructions in other situations.

Another version holds that it was created by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a samurai from the Saga clan. In his work, he makes reference of how, in the 18th and 19th century, young Saga warriors would say "osu!" to one another as they rode to school.

The Kyokushin Karate interpretation claims that it is a contraction of the two words "OSU Shinobu." OSU and Shinobu both refer to exerting pressure. In plainer terms, according to this view, Oss refers to the core value of Asian culture, which is to be tenacious and never give up.

However, its actual origin is thought to be an acronym for the invitation or request known as Onegai Shimasu. The phrase is so typically used to invite a companion to start training.

Also read: Guide to BJJ Weight Classes

What does OSS mean in BJJ?

Before talking about the significance of OSS in BJJ, let’s first look at the term BJJ. BJJ simply stands for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a grappling, ground fighting, and submission hold-based combat sport and martial art for self-defense. BJJ focuses on the ability to take an opponent to the ground, control them, take control of the situation, and then use a variety of moves to submit those using joint locks or chokeholds.

OSS is a term that you're undoubtedly extremely acquainted with if you practice BJJ. You hear people mention it in BJJ all the time in class, in texts, and on social media, but you're not quite familiar with what OSS actually means.

So, what does OSS actually mean? Anything and everything is considered OSS. It's a term that's commonly used in BJJ and other martial arts communities as a means to greet and show respect to people.

Who initiated OSS to BJJ?

Grandmaster Carlson Gracie Sr. is largely credited with introducing the phrase OSS to BJJ. According to legend, he borrowed the phrase from Judo and Karate, two other Japanese combat disciplines. He intended for BJJ practitioners to use the phrase as a gesture of deference. Moreover, as a mark of respect for the martial systems that preceded BJJ.

Also read: How to get Black Belt in BJJ (From Blue to Black Belt explained)

Significance of OSS in BJJ

Similar to OSU in Karate, OSS has a different meaning and use in BJJ.

In BJJ, oss is a way to respect your coach and teammates. The instructor typically bows and says "Oss" to start class. Before being excused from class, students may bow and say "OSS" in some institutions. Additionally, you utilize it to welcome and farewell your comrades. It demonstrates your friendship with and regard for them.

As a response, OSS is also employed. Sometimes students will respond with OSS when asked if they comprehend something. This indicates that they are aware of or prepared to use the method or roll.

Also, OSS is a phrase that can be used to encourage. Encouraging a teammate or pupil to persevere and not give up.

The idea of inner strength is one that is prevalent in Asian culture and involves continuing to persevere in the face of extreme pressure. To express this attitude at the beginning of a combat, the martial artist will cry, invoke, or exude the "OSS".

When Is OSS Acceptable And When Is It Not?

When using OSS, there are several do’s and don'ts. Here are a few guidelines for using OSS in conversation.

  • Since many people outside a specific area might not be familiar with the term, it is safe to use the term exclusively with BJJ practitioners.
  • Secondly, The BJJ School’s gym is essentially the only location where using OSS is permitted.

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With any luck, this knowledge has assisted you better understand what OSS is and where it came from. 

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