OSS BJJ: If Jiu Jitsu is part of your life, you have certainly heard the phrase OSS before. But what is the meaning of OSS and how is it related to BJJ? Where does it come from and why is it used so commonly? Let’s find out.
Short answer: OSS is an expression that is commonly used in Jiu Jitsu and other martial arts as a form of greeting or sign of respect.
But there is even more to OSS, so stay tuned.
The meaning of OSS in BJJ
The meaning of OSS in BJJ today is manyfold as it encompasses the following aspects:
- Greeting: BJJ practitioners often use OSS when greeting each other as well as when starting or ending a class.
- Paying Respect: OSS is often used when stepping on the mat as an expression of respect for the art, the school, and the teammates. Additionally, it is used before or after a roll or fight to signal a sportsmanlike attitude and respect. Therefore, saying the phrase OSS is often followed by a bow.
- Motivation and Encouragement: OSS can be used as a chant for inner strength and resilience. It can remind yourself or a teammate to keep going even if the situation is tough.
- Agreement: Finally, OSS has the overarching meaning of signaling agreement. When the professor says OSS and bows to the students, they often respond with OSS. The same goes for two contenders of a Jiu Jitsu fight. The two parties agree on training together or fighting each other in a respectful manner.
The origins of OSS in Jiu Jitsu
There are several possible origins of the phrase OSS in Jiu Jitsu. Let’s break them down.
Shortform of Onegai Shimasu
Onegai Shimasu is a Japanese phrase which is used as a form of greeting to invite someone to play a game. The shortform of this phrase is OSU, which is pronounced OSS. Therefore, the spelling was adapted to fit the pronunciation.
Apparently, the term OSU doesn’t have its roots in martial arts but was a greeting used between members of the Japanese Navy.
Onegai Shimasu is used in Japanese martial arts Dojos to start the class, express respect and ask for the partitioners approval to continue. On the other hand, Otsukaresama Deshita is the expression used to end the class. The shortforms are OSU and TSUKARE, respectively.
OSS can also be explained as an expression for chanting inner strength. The Samurai used it to gather strength leading up to combat. Additionally, it was used during the attack and for celebrating victory and mourning defeat. Therefore, it encompasses three meanings.
Practitioner of Kyokushin Karate use the phrase OSU to express resilience and motivate themselves to do their best and keep pushing, no matter what. It is the shortform of “osu no seishin” which consists of the Japanese Kanji for “push” and “suffer”. Therefore, the phrase OSS or OSU unifies both aspects in one word.
Good Morning Theory
This theory suggests that the term OSU and finally OSS has its origins in the Japanese morning greeting.
A Japanese linguistic Professor conducted a study that consisted of him greeting strangers every morning and noting the responses. He found that most adult men used a short form when greeting each other to save time.
This shortform of the Japanese good morning greeting was OSU, which later found its way to Jiu Jitsu as OSS since most BJJ practitioners are adult men.
Who brought OSS to Jiu Jitsu?
Apparently, the first person to establish the word OSS in Jiu Jitsu is Carlos Gracie Sr. He learned from Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese Judoka, which explains why he would start using a Japanese phrase in the first place.
Nevertheless, OSS is not the only phrase we owe him as there are many great quotes that are dated back to Carlos Gracie. Check out our collection of BJJ Quotes for some great ones.
Should you use OSS if you are new to Jiu Jitsu?
As a Jiu Jitsu beginner you should simply focus on being respectful, making friends and doing your best in class. Don’t worry about terminology, you will grow into it. On top of that, everybody has their own way of living, talking, and interacting with others. Your attitude is what matters. Remember, you also don’t have to speak Portuguese in class just because it’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. People care more about how something is said and what it conveys than what is actually said.
OSS in the Military
As explained above, OSS is a way to say “yes” and express agreement. Therefore, it was used by the Samurai in Japan to express unity and motivate each other.
It is comparable to the phrase “OOH-RAH” that is commonly used by U.S. Marines as well as “HOOAH” used by the U.S Army and “HOOYAH” used by the U.S Navy.
Nevertheless, that is not the only thing that connects Jiu Jitsu to the military. Jiu Jitsu techniques are use by military groups around the world today as they are great means for attack and self defense. We wrote an in-depth article analyzing Jiu Jitsu’s self defense capabilities. Check it out if you are interested.
Is OSS overused in BJJ?
In our opinion OSS is not overused in BJJ as long as you keep it in the gym. On the one hand it is a greeting and on the other hand it is an expression of respect that aims to provide motivation and strength. It has no negative connotation and is therefore rightfully used so commonly.
Using OSS outside the gym
Maybe it’s not the best idea to shout OSS to people that are not into Jiu Jitsu. They will not understand the meaning and will probably feel disrespected. This goes against everything the term stands for and won’t make you any friends. Enjoy the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle on the mats and with your friends and teammates but don’t try to force it upon anybody.
That one guy that uses specific terminology all day long and can’t keep their mouth shut has become a meme and everybody seems to know him. Don’t be that guy. But he’s not the only meme of Jiu Jitsu. Check out our BJJ Meme collection if you want to see more.