If you have spent any time in or around BJJ, then you have heard the term, “OSS.” It is a term that is used quite frequently in the BJJ community, but only a few actually know what it means. Let's take a look at the origins of the term and how it has evolved and used within BJJ.
Origins of "OSS"
The origins of the term “OSS” comes from Japan and the original term is actually “OSU” and is pronounced “OSS.” There are a few different sources to the term that are debated to be the true origin.
One alleged origin for “OSU/OSS” is actually not even from a martial art. In Japanese history books, the term “OSU” is said to come from the Officers Academy of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
It is supposedly an abbreviation of the term “Onegai Shimasu” that is used as a greeting to start a game. Also said to be used as an invitation or request for a partner to play with you.
There are also a few different theories that the term comes from certain forms of karate.
In Kyokushin karate it is said that “OSU” comes from a combination of two different kanji - (押忍) . “Osu”, which means to push and “shinobu” which means to endure, suffer, or to hide.
When you put these two kanji together it makes a compound word with many different meanings. Anything from combat spirit, give effort, overcome obstacles, go forward with a positive attitude, or show the spirit of perseverance.
The other origin of “OSS/OSU” from karate goes back to the term “Onegai Shimasu.” In a karate dojo, you’ll sometimes hear the term, but it is said that it was shortened to “OSU.” The abbreviation was made to save time saying the whole term and is used to reciprocate gratitude toward others.
OSS in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Many credit Carlson Gracie Jr for bringing the term “OSS” to BJJ. He said he first started using the term at the end of every class to honor is father Carlson Sr. Also to acknowledge the Japanese roots of BJJ.
“OSS” has many different meanings in BJJ and used differently depending on the school. Below is a list of meanings for “OSS” in Jiu Jitsu.
- Respect: At the beginning and end of a class, you say “OSS” as a sign of respect to your instructor and fellow students.
- Response: After a technique is shown, the instructor will ask if the class understands it. After students nod, they will sometimes reply with “OSS!” and then practice the move. The instructor may also countdown 1-2-3 (Clap!) and then everyone then says “OSS!”
- Encouragement: “OSS” is also used as a way to encourage your teammates and instructors to encourage students. Examples of this is to pump up a teammate/student before they roll at a competition.
How is OSS Used in Conversations?
A better question is how is “OSS” not used in everyday speech and conversations. Anyone in BJJ knows it is used for almost anything and everything.
- Hello/Goodbye: When you see a teammate, you may use it as a respectful gesture towards them. For example, “Hey bro, what’s up? Doing good? Alright cool, I’ll see you later. OSS!”
- Beginning/End Of A Roll: Sometimes people will say good training and “OSS” after doing the slap and bump before a roll starts. Some might also say “OSS” at the end of a roll after thanking them for training with you..
- Social Media Posts: After training people will make posts on Facebook or Instagram. Something like “Good training with a bunch of killers today! #OSS”
Is OSS Sometimes Overused in BJJ?
Some people get annoyed by others that overuse the term “OSS” using it for nearly any occasion. There’s a common joke that some Jiu Jitsu people will tell people that don’t train. If you want to know if somebody trains just wait a minute and they’ll eventually say “OSS!”
Honestly, who cares if “OSS” is overused? It just means they love Jiu Jitsu!
“OSS” is a term used for different situations that signifies respect and camaraderie between people that train BJJ. Go train and enjoy the martial art. OSS!!!