As a BJJ practitioner, you have probably heard the term ’OSS’ being thrown around left and right and read it online more times than you can count. It is probably one of the most commonly used terms in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Even though it is frequently used, few people actually know what it actually stands for.
In short, the best answer would be that it can mean a lot of things. In addition to being a term for greeting, it can also be used to acknowledge an opponent’s effort, or an answer to a question, it is even used by all students after the instructor shows a technique and at the end of a class.
Continue reading to learn more about the commonly used term known as ‘OSS’, as we will dive into its origins, how it came to be widely used in BJJ, how to use it properly, and when.
Whad Does OSS Exactly Mean?
To begin with, the term ‘OSS’ is not exclusive to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it is also utilized in other martial art forms that originated in Japan. As we previously mentioned, it can refer to a lot of things; therefore, let’s take a look at the most common ways it is used:
- For Acknowledgement
After a great roll in the gym or after a competition match, ‘OSS’ is used to acknowledge the opponent’s skills and to show respect, ensuring that the roll session or match has ended on a positive note.
- For Motivation
Right before a BJJ competition match with a teammate, ‘OSS’ can be shouted among them as a means of raising motivation to win the fight.
- As a Response
‘OSS’ is frequently utilized as a response as well. BJJ practitioners use it among themselves instead of ‘yes’, but it might be strange to use it among people who don’t train. Moreover, the term is used by students when the professor is done showing a technique, meaning that they are ready to perform it.
If a person persists in using ‘OSS’ too much, some people may find it funny and start using it ironically in his presence as a way of making fun of him, especially if the person does not know the meaning of the term.
It is important to note that not every BJJ academy uses it in the same terms. Some academies rarely use it, while others may use it often and in many other ways. Every academy is unique.
Brief History of OSS
The initial abbreviation was ‘’OSU’’; however, it is pronounced as ‘’OSS’’, which ultimately led to the term evolving to reflect the pronunciation.
Although it might come as a surprise, some evidence suggests that OSS did not originate from within the martial arts circle. The term came to be widely used later in older martial arts such as Judo. It is believed that Carlson Gracie Sr. is responsible for introducing the term to BJJ.
Carlson intended for the term to be utilized as a sign of respect between students and as a tribute to the martial arts that came prior to BJJ.
It is believed that the word Oss was first used by Imperial Japanese Navy Officers in the early 20th century. Many theories suggest that it was used as a greeting.
There is no doubt that OSS is an abbreviation of a Japanese term. Over the years, people have researched various terms that OSS may be an abbreviation of. Let’s dive into each one and after, you can judge by yourself which one makes the most sense to you.
The terms are:
- Onegai Shimasu
In Japanese, ”Onegai Shimasu’’ basically means ” please” , regularly used when accepting an invitation to roll, asking the instructor for instructions, etc. In a non martial art context in Japan, it can be used as a reply to the waiter that has confirmed your order.
- Osu no Seishin
‘’Osu no Seishin’’ is a term that can be traced back to Kyokushin Karate. The most appropriate translation of this term is ‘’combat spirit’’.
- Oshi Shinobu
Lastly, it is possible that OSS derived from the term ‘’Oshi Shinobu’’ which means ‘’persevering when pushed’’. Combat sports push a person’s boundaries, progress cannot come without struggle.
The Proper Usage of OSS
As we previously mentioned, the term ‘’OSS’’ has a variety of meanings and it is uncertain where it came from, and we could only guess what it meant in the beginning. Nonetheless, one thing is for certain, it does have a meaning.
Some people may disagree, but it is very interesting how every BJJ academy uses ‘’OSS’’ in different scenarios. Moreover, some academies do not use it at all. Students just bump their fists and start rolling, which is fine as well.
In order to properly use it, pay attention to how and when it is used in your academy or the academy you are visiting, or if they don’t use it at all. In the latter case, it is also fine for you to use it if you like, nobody will find it strange.
Lastly, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Avoid overusing it as some people may find it funny and they will make fun of you. You might have seen some memes about people who overuse OSS on BJJ Facebook pages, groups, Reddit, and Instagram.
Moreover, remember to use it in a BJJ setting exclusively. People who do not train will certainly find the term strange and you will likely end up explaining what it means.
With its many meanings and various ways in which it can be used, the term ‘’OSS’’ is synonymous with BJJ. It is very interesting how its usage and meaning vary from academy to academy.
By now, you should have found out everything regarding the famous term known as ‘’OSS’’ and you can start or continue saying it with the confidence that comes from knowing something about it. You might be surprised that most BJJ practitioners do not actually know what it means, let alone its history.