OSS is one of those phrases that pops up in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and if you’re new to the scene, you may not know what it means. Regardless of where you are in the world, if you walk into a BJJ academy, your chances of hearing “OSS” are incredibly high. Have you ever wondered what OSS means and the OSS meaning?
Where Did Oss Originate?
In most BJJ dojos around the world, OSS is commonly used, and this is a reminder of the Japanese roots nesting in BJJ. As many of you probably already know, BJJ originated in Brazil as the development of Mitsuoy Maeda’s Judo expertise.
Today, in every dojo or Japanese martial art in the world, where the sensei or teacher bows to the Kamiza and then turns and takes a bow to the students, the students will reply by saying: “Onegai Shimasu!” At the end of their lesson, as they’re bowing to their teacher, the students will say: “Domo Arigato Onegai Shimasu!”
What does “Onegai Shimasu” mean? At the beginning of the lessons, when the students say this term, it shows that they are willing to participate and learn. Roughly, this is translated into meaning, “Please let’s do it.”
The more extended version containing the words “Domo Arigato” is translated as meaning “thank you very much.” This means they are thanking the teacher for teaching them.
With all of that said, in Japan, the root meaning of Oss is a demonstration of gratitude in the knowledge that the instructor shared with his students. We tend to shorten our terms, especially if it’s a term we’re not familiar with or it is hard for us to say – For this reason, the term “Onegai Shimasu” has been shortened to OSS, which is commonly used today.
This term first popped up in the early 20th century. During our research, we discovered that Imperial Japanese Navy officers were using the term as a way to greet each other. However, there are many theories on how this word came about.
One of the most popular of the theories comes from Kyokushin Karate schools in Japan – they use the term “Osu no Seishin.”
With this phrase, you have the word “Osu,” which is usually pronounced as Oss – this is a combo of 2 Japanese Kanji: You have the verb “Osu,” which can be translated as “Push” and then “Shinobu,” which can mean “endure.” When you take these two kanji and combine them, they form an entirely new word that can be translated into meaning “combat spirit.”
What Does Oss Mean?
When trying to answer the question “What’s the meaning of Oss” and “What does Oss mean,” the phrase has more of a social meaning behind it. Oss is a phrase used to acknowledge the techniques that have been demonstrated or as a simple greeting. Many may share it as a compliment for a rolling performance or even a competition. For example, an entire arena may be chanting “Oss” when the berimbolos first appear – this is an indication that they admire the berimbolos.
In Jiu-Jitsu, respect is not something to be ignored. There are many academies where people bow before they enter the dojo, and often, this is accompanied by Oss. Then you have other schools that don’t bow, but the words Oss are still spoken out of respect. So, generally speaking, the meaning of Oss shows respect between the two sides.
The Modern Meaning of Oss
Today, this is a word that is commonly used in martial arts as a greeting or a way to pay respect. Personally, we like to think of it as a sign of respect and equality between fellow combatants and martial artists. When it comes to those mats, there is no ego, and that is precisely how it should be.
Where Do We Hear this Phrase?
You will more than likely hear this phrase while training BJJ regardless of where you are in the world – it is used worldwide. MMA fighters also use this phrase, especially if they have a traditional martial arts background.
Using Oss in MMA
During the early days of Pride and UFC, when the fighters came out, the dojo’s pride would be resting upon their shoulders. One of the most symbolic moments we can remember was when George St-Pierre would walk into the octagon with his BJJ gi. Obviously, he’s proud of his roots in martial arts, which is one reason why he would always greet with an Oss.
How Should You be Using this Word?
At the end of the day, the way you use the word is entirely up to you – this is a versatile word in the martial arts community. We have noticed that some people are speaking it in every sentence, while you have others that rarely speak it.
In our opinion, OSS is a universal greeting used to pay respect to the fundamentals of martial arts. Next time you’re up there, go ahead and give your opponent a friendly OSS as a sign of respect.
How Do You Pronounce Oss?
Many beginners in BJJ may be wondering how on earth they should be pronouncing Oss, and this is perfectly understandable because, in the beginning, even we were a bit confused about how we should be pronouncing it. You may hear this phrase pronounced as “Oh-ssss” or maybe even “Oh-suuu.”
This is a multi-purpose phrase – the meaning can range from “excuse me” to “hello” to “let’s roll.” So, next time someone asks you what OSS means, know that this phrase has more than one meaning, so there is more than one answer here.
Now that you have a good understanding of the meaning, you can say “Oss” with confidence in your body the next time you step onto those mats.