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What Does Oss Mean in Jiu Jitsu? How and When to Use It (Explained)

What Does Oss Mean? How and When to Use It (Explained)

Oss in jiu jitsu is often used to mean “yes” or as a term of acknowledgement, understanding, or approval. It is most often used after receiving instruction, before/after a sparring round, or at the end of a bjj class. It is pronounced as “oh-sss,” with the ‘sss’ sound similar to the hissing of a snake.

At my gym, we will often say “oss” as class ends to show acknowledgement and appreciation for our coaches and training partners.

Oss in Jiu Jitsu – Key Takeaways

  • “OSS” has multiple meanings and origins, ranging from a contraction of the Japanese phrase “Onegai Shimasu” to “Oshi Shinobu,” which represents perseverance in the face of adversity.
  • In BJJ, OSS is often used to show respect, give encouragement, or acknowledge an opponent’s skills.
  • “Oss” is pronounced as “oh-sss”
  • “Oss” is used as a generic term, similar to the U.S. Marines’ “Ooh-Rah,” and can signify agreement, acknowledgement, or greetings.
  • “Oss” is most often used after receiving instruction, before or after a sparring round, at the end of class
  • Our recommendation is not to use “oss” unless others in your gym use it (some gyms may say it more than others, some not at all, and some may think it is cheesy)
  • “Oss” can also be found in other martial arts like judo, karate, and tae kwon do. However, its most prevalent in Brazilian jiu jitsu.
  • You will likely find “oss” used more often in more traditional bjj gyms. If your gym is more modern and casual its likely you won’t hear “oss” used as much

Brazilian jiu jitsu, since it has a large influence from traditional (Japanese) jiu jitsu and judo, it actually does have quite a bit of Japanese words and phrases. Some of the most common ones you might hear are:

Japanese TermMeaning in BJJ
KuzushiOff balance (your opponent)
Ashi GaramLeg entanglement
Juji GatameArm bar
Sumi-gaeshiVariations of throws (often meaning sweep)

And if you’re new to jiu jitsu and grappling in general, you may be confused by what oss means in jiu jitsu and how it should be used.

Hopefully this article will shed some light on the word oss in jiu jitsu and when to use it, when not to use it, and its origin.

Oss Meaning Explained

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), the term “oss” carries a significant role in fostering a community and camaraderie among practitioners.

Originally derived from Japanese martial arts, oss has multiple interpretations, making it an essential part of the BJJ lexicon.

Although the precise origins of the term remain uncertain, one leading theory combines the Japanese expressions ‘Onegai Shimasu’ and ‘Oshi Shinobu,’ translating to “please” or “if you will” and “persevering when pushed,” respectively. These core values embody the traditions of Asian martial arts and are prevalent in BJJ culture.

Oss in bjj is often used to mean “yes” or as a term of acknowledgement, understanding, or approval.

While used as a sign of respect and acknowledgment on the mats of BJJ schools, oss also fosters an atmosphere of trust and commitment.

This term is typically employed at the end of a class as students bow out, to recognize a partner’s efforts, or simply as an affirmative response to an instructor’s directives.

How Do You Pronounce Oss

Since OSS is widely used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, and multiple other martial arts, it is important for practitioners to know its correct pronunciation. Many newcomers to martial arts often mispronounce the term, which may lead to confusion or misunderstandings. The correct pronunciation of OSS is often debated, but it can be pronounced in one of two acceptable ways.

First, it can be articulated as “oh-sss,” with the ‘sss’ sound similar to the hissing of a snake. Second, the pronunciation “oh-suu” is another commonly used variation. The most common pronunciation that I’ve heard is “oh-sss”

It is important to note that the pronunciation “oosh” or “oos” should be avoided, as these variations may not accurately represent the intended meaning of the term.

Regardless of the pronunciation one chooses to use, it must be made clear that the term is meant to convey respect, acknowledgment, or agreement.

When Should You Use Oss

Generally, there are a few common instances where employing the term is deemed appropriate.

  • The first instance is when greeting your fellow practitioners or instructors.
    • As a show of respect and acknowledgment, saying “OSS” fulfills this purpose by setting a positive and respectful tone for the interaction.
  • Another suitable occasion to use “OSS” is during training sessions when you receive instructions from your coach.
    • For example, if your instructor demonstrates a technique and then asks if everyone understands, responding with “OSS” demonstrates that you have heard, comprehended, and are ready to practice. This response also signals to your instructor that you respect their knowledge and are dedicated to learning.
  • Lastly, “OSS” can be employed when a fellow student accomplishes something commendable or demonstrates an impressive skillset.
    • In this situation, you may applaud their effort or technique by exclaiming “OSS,” essentially congratulating them for their dedication to their craft. Remember that your intentions should always be genuine and respectful in this context.

To sum up, some common times you might say “Oss”:

  • as a term of acknowledgement
  • to start or end class
  • before or after sparring round with your partner
  • to acknowledge or applaud efforts of your teammates

It is essential to be mindful of the culture within your specific gym or dojo. Some places might have a more traditional environment, where using “OSS” frequently is encouraged, while others may have a more casual and laid-back atmosphere.

When in doubt, observe your surroundings and follow the lead of the more experienced members. By doing so, you’ll be able to navigate the appropriate usage of “OSS” and contribute to a positive and respectful martial arts community.

Where Did Oss Come From? (Etymology of Oss)

The origins of the term “Oss” in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) can be traced back to Japan, where it was initially used in various martial arts practices, specifically Karate.

Although there are multiple theories surrounding the etymology of Oss, many believe that the word ultimately stemmed from the Japanese phrase “Onegai Shimasu.”

Other theories originate from Kyokushin Karate, where Oss is believed to be derived from “Osu no Seishin,” which translates to “persevering when pushed.”

The wide adoption of the term “Oss” in BJJ can largely be attributed to Grandmaster Carlos Gracie Sr., who introduced it as an expression of respect in martial arts schools. Since then, the use of this term has spread throughout the BJJ community and other martial arts disciplines worldwide.

Onegai Shimasu Meaning

Onegai Shimasu, directly translated as “please, if you will,” is the Japanese phrase that is often associated with the origin of the term “Oss.”

In a martial arts context, this expression is frequently employed when inviting an opponent or training partner to begin a practice session. By uttering “Onegai Shimasu,” one is essentially requesting one’s partner to engage in practice while demonstrating an attitude of respect and humility.

In BJJ schools, the use of “Oss” has evolved and broadened to include various meanings and applications. Again, it can signify acknowledgement, agreement, a greeting, or encouragement, among other expressions, making it an essential term in the practice of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Oss Kanji (Oshi and Shinobi)

Another popular theory traces the origins of the term oss back to the combination of two kanji, Oshi (押) and Shinobi (忍), which together form Osu (pronounced as OSS).

In this context, Oshi means “to push” and Shinobi means “to endure” or “to suffer.” This combination of kanji effectively communicates the idea of pushing through adversity and enduring hardships, qualities that are highly valued in martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).

In BJJ, mental strength and resilience are incredibly important, as the sport often demands its practitioners to persevere through intense physical and mental challenges, failures and frustrations.

This is where the philosophy behind oss becomes relevant, as it highlights the importance of maintaining a persevering spirit and never giving up, regardless of the obstacles faced.

Side note: While OSS has been widely adopted within the BJJ community, it’s important to keep in mind that its origins extend back to ancient Japanese martial arts.

The Good Morning Theory Explained

Another explanation for the origins of oss is the “Good Morning Theory,” which suggests that the term is a shortened version of the traditional Japanese greeting “Ohayo gozaimasu” (おはようございます), or “good morning” in English.

According to this theory, oss was derived as a convenient and quick way for Japanese martial artists to greet each other, especially during morning practice sessions.

Over time, the term evolved to take on a variety of different meanings within martial arts communities, including BJJ.

With the “Good Morning Theory” in mind, using OSS becomes more than just a simple greeting; it symbolizes the mutual respect BJJ practitioners share with one another as they train together and improve their skills.

Why do martial artists say Oss?

So why do martial artists say Oss?

It like many things in martial arts is one of the traditional remnants that still exist in modern martial arts.

You may often hear it said in Brazilian jiu jitsu, judo, karate, or traditional Japanese jiu jitsu.

It is probably most common in Brazilian jiu jitsu.

Martial artists, most commonly those who practice Brazilian jiu jitsu, say “oss” as a sign of respect, acknowlegement, or appreciation to their teammates and instructors.

Before, during, after you may hear your instructor or training partners saying “oss”

You may have someone come up to you and say “oss” before a match, or you may have a teammate or training partner say this to you while you’re rolling. And eventually, you might find yourself saying oss to another person, as well.

The more you practice BJJ, the more common you’ll find the term along with other Japanese and traditional martial art influences.

Tips for Using Oss

To effectively integrate the term oss into your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practice, it is essential to understand its appropriate usage and context. Oss typically conveys respect, acknowledgment, or encouragement, and it can play a major role in fostering camaraderie and discipline within the BJJ community.

You don’t however want to be the person who uses “oss” way too much.

Again, the safest ways to use Oss are as :

  • a greeting
  • acknowledgement of instruction
  • gratitude when class is dismissed
  • a sign of respect and appreciation before or after sparring with your partner

One practical application of OSS is as a greeting or salutation, typically exchanged before and after a training session, whenever entering or leaving the gym, or each time a belt promotion occurs. Another instance is during a class when the instructor demonstrates a technique or provides guidance to students; OSS can be used to acknowledge their understanding and indicate appreciation for valuable insights.

When using the term OSS, keep in mind that overusing it may detract from its intended meaning and impact. Strive to use OSS judiciously, reserving it for meaningful exchanges and genuine displays of respect, acknowledgment, or encouragement.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to “Oss”

What Does Oss Mean in BJJ?

Oss in bjj is often used to mean “yes” or as a term of acknowledgement, understanding, or approval. It is most often used after receiving instruction, before/after a sparring round, or at the end of a jiu jitsu class.

Is it Oss or Osu?

Oss and Osu are actually the same word and often used interchangeably.
In Japanese, many words end with “u” however, the sound for “u” goes unpronounced. So “Oss” and “Osu” are both spoken the same way out loud.
Osu is likey the original spelling, and Oss is the altered, Westernized, more common spelling.
Both are somewhat common, but in its original language it is written as osu.

Do Other Martial Arts Aside From BJJ Use Oss?

The answer to this inquiry is a resounding yes. Apart from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), “oss” is widely used in several other martial arts, including Karate, Judo, and Taekwondo.
Given that the term originated in the realm of Japanese martial arts, it’s no surprise that its use has transcended BJJ and found a place in other disciplines.
Side note: While the term’s usage differs slightly across martial arts disciplines, its essence remains constant—respect, persistence, and exhibiting unwavering commitment to training.

What Does Oss mean in Judo

In the world of Judo, though variations in meaning and application may exist, the core values associated with “Oss” remain largely consistent across both BJJ and Judo.
Within Judo circles, the term, again, signifies respect, acknowledgment, and the importance of maintaining a strong spirit in the face of adversity.

Do All BJJ Gyms Use the Term Oss?

While the term “OSS” is commonly used in numerous Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) academies, not all gyms adopt this terminology.
Different locations, instructors, and affiliations may bring their own unique customs and practices, leading to varied usage of the term oss. In some, more traditional schools, “oss” may be used more often. It honestly all depends a bjj gyms specific culture and training practices.

When Is Oss Used by the Instructor or Coach

Instructors or coaches in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu often use the term “oss” to convey respect, reinforcement, and acknowledgment during various instances in the class.
The first scenario in which an instructor might use “oss” is when greeting students at the beginning of the class to symbolize respect and communal camaraderie.
Another notable situation in which an instructor or coach uses “oss” is when explaining a technique or guiding students through a drill. They may say “oss” at the end to confirm that the technique or instruction is understood. In this case you will often respond with the word “oss” to acknowledge and confirm.

Will I Be Made Fun of if I Use Oss?

I would recommend only using “oss” if others in your gym use the word. Again, some gyms use the term more than others.
If you use “oss” too much and not in the correct circumstances you may be thought of as corny or dorky.
This, again, will all depend on your gym’s culture and use of the term.
To confirm, if you are a beginner in BJJ and unsure about how to implement the term “OSS” in your interactions in the gym, always observe how its used by your coach or more experienced practitioners. Notice when and how they use the term.

Who Started Using Oss in BJJ and Martial Arts

The widespread usage of Oss in BJJ is credited to Grandmaster Carlson Gracie Sr., who introduced the term to acknowledge the Japanese martial arts traditions preceding Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He aimed to establish Oss as a gesture of respect and recognition between BJJ practitioners and emphasize the deep-rooted connections to the martial arts that came before.
Oss initially found its roots within Japanese martial arts, such as Karate and Judo, where it was utilized to demonstrate respect among practitioners.
Today, Oss continues to play an essential role, not only in BJJ but also in other martial arts environments, where it is widely recognized as a unifying term, fostering a sense of respect and belonging within the martial arts community as a whole.

When Should You Use And When Should You Not Use Oss

Using the term OSS properly in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) largely depends on the context and the customs observed in individual gyms or dojos. In most cases, OSS is used to convey respect, as a greeting, or as an acknowledgment of understanding. However, it is important to recognize when to use it and when to avoid it to prevent misunderstandings or disrespect.
However, there are certain circumstances where using OSS may not be appropriate.
It is important to refrain from using “oss” in casual conversations outside of the gym or dojo, especially when speaking with individuals who are not familiar with the term or its meaning.
Overusing the term can cause confusion or convey an excessively forceful tone, which may be off-putting to some people.