What does OSS mean in BJJ?

OSS [persevering when pushed]

Oss or Osu or even Osss is one of the phrases most often associated with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Although BJJ is a lot less ceremonial than eastern martial arts. Nowing with an Oss remains a big staple although, many of BJJ practitioner don’t know the meaning of OSS. You’re going to hear “Osss” when you enter a BJJ academy almost everywhere in the world. It’s almost as certain as the fact that you’re going to tap during class. But, have you ever wondered what does Oss mean and what’s the OSSS meaning?

The definition of “OSS”, also known as “ossu”, means Oshi Shinobu, which conveys the idea of “persevering when pushed”. In other words, never give up, have determination, grit and withstand the most arduous of training.

‘Oss’ is a term used in many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools as well as in other martial art styles. The origins of ‘Oss’ or ‘Osu’ (pronounced ‘ohss’) are not known exactly but there are two possible meaning. It is derived from the Japanese term ‘Onegai Shimasu’ which is a polite invitation like “Please, if you will”, or ‘Oshi Shinobu’ which roughly means “persevering when pushed” or “enduring under pressure”; values that are very much in line with the tradition of the Asian martial arts. Though it comes from Japanese phrases and most likely originated in Okinawa, it is not actually a Japanese word used by everyday speakers.

Many gyms use “OSS!” as a greeting form. In many traditional martial arts Dojos the class will bow to the instructor while saying “OSU!” at the start and end of a lesson

When you’re saying in a BJJ gym as a sign of respect, this is infact the opposite in Japan. You should never say this to a Japanese person unless:

  • He is younger than you
  • Lower in rank
  • Or they want you to say it

The term OSU is actually a mark of strong assertiveness, and masculinity  in Japan and could find yourself in hot water if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person.