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Old 06-10-2002, 06:43 AM   #1
ianb
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Question Osu!

We say "osu" all the time in my dojo, and it just occurred to me that I have no idea what it really means.

Its difficult to determine from context, because we seem to use it in several different ways, a bit like the Maori saying "Kia ora," which we Kiwis use to say hello, goodbye, thank you, or "you're standing on my foot..."

Kia ora (by which I mean, if anyone could enlighten me, I'd be most appreciative)
Ian
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Old 06-10-2002, 07:09 AM   #2
erikmenzel
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Please remember, I am not japanese and my knowledge of japanese language is limited. (And sometimes plain wrong!!)
Only remember two diffent forms of osu.

The first is iirc the short form for ohayo gozaimasu and means something like ggodmorning.

The second osu is iirc the same as shinobu and means something like to push oneself forward to endure.

I only heard people of Yoshinkan Aikido use it and assumed it was the second one, but I am not really certain.

Maybe one of the people with better knowledge of japanese can explain it all much better.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
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Old 06-10-2002, 08:24 AM   #3
Nathan Pereira
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Perhaps you should ask Paul or Eva at training tonight!!!!

If you can't wait till then I think that it basically means "thank you". That can be "thank for showing me that technique/for letting me be your uke/for smashing me into the ground/for taking the time to explain that to me".

I think there are other variations though like when we also use it in a sort of greeting context. This I'm not sure of as I don't know Japanese.


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Old 06-10-2002, 09:09 AM   #4
Mathias
 
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In a kyoukushin karate class i saw they said it all time. I think they used it like "thank you" or/and "i understand"

/ Mathias
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Old 06-10-2002, 10:53 AM   #5
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At our dojo, we use it in practically every context. Originally, as Sensei told us, it meant Oyaho Gozaimasu, good morning. Every time we bow, we say a loud military like Osu. Some of the guys use Onegai Shimasu and Domo Arigato Gozaimashita, but most just simply use Osu. And we are Aikikai not Yoshinkan, by the way, eventhough many surprised visitors do ask this question often.
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Old 06-10-2002, 11:10 AM   #6
Erik
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Here is a very extensive article on the word.

http://www.24fightingchickens.com/sh...eresy/osu.html
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Old 06-10-2002, 03:01 PM   #7
siwilson
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Osu

The meaning of Osu can be found in the Aikido Shudokan web site, at:

http://www.shudokan.org.uk/osu/shudokan_osu_meaning.htm

Osu

Si

Osu!
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Old 06-11-2002, 03:12 AM   #8
ianb
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Thanks, guys, I knew you wouldn't let me down :-). Thanks for the links, they were pretty interesting.

(Hi Nathan, missed you last night. I knew I'd have forgotten the question before I got there, and I have enough questions to ask during training without adding linguistic inquiries. Besides what is the Internet for but to answer idle questions while you're at work? :-)

Kia ora
Ian
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Old 06-19-2002, 12:45 AM   #9
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to osu or not

I posted this to the AJ forum a couple of years back following the same question. I had read Gaku Homma's book "Children and the Martial Arts : An Aikido Point of View" which has a very good explanation of Osu/ Usu, it's origins and why it isn't/ shouldn't be used in an Aikido dojo!

Quote:
Original post:

I've gone over Gaku Homma Sensei's book again (the relevant section ), as well as consulting my wife (native Japanese) and a work colleague with MA experience (also native Japanese). OK, here goes, forgive me if it comes out garbled.
Dictionary form-

Osu - means to push, or male of species with regards to animals, not humans.

Usu - is a large bowl used in cooking.

Osae - means to hold down or to pin, as in osae waza (ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo etc.).

Osu/ usu can also be taken to be equivalent to "hey" or "oi you" or "yo". However, this term is mainly reserved for College students, primarily male. It is unlikely to be used outside of college and almost certainly not used when addressing a senior.

Is also used to fire up the kiai in some of the fighting arts.

With Regards to Homma Sensei's explanation, it's a three/ four page excert in his book. I've pulled out a lot of it but not the entire section, apologies for the missed bits, but I don't think they are needed. Also apologies to Homma Sensei for typing up his words, especially if they now seem out of context. The actual section that it is in is titled "Rei is easily misunderstood".

REI = RESPECT (for those unsure).

Homma Sensei was witness to a MA demo by the son of a friend, the son presented himself to Homma Sensei and bowed whilst saying ossu. Homma Sensei asked the boy what it meant, and was told a "a respectful bow". This is not true.

In Japan, ossu has come to mean something like "how's it going", but if you look at the origin of the word, the two kanji that form ossu (kanji characters not displayed) = push and patience. Literally translate to - "to be patient and be patient some more".

Why is it popular in MA dojos? not because it implies students would react patienly if attacked! During the samurai period, anyone caught practicing MA that were not of samurai stock were executed. The martial philosophy behind saying ossu was developed by the non samurai people of the era to protect themselves against violent predators of the era. This tradition was inherited by by post WWII MA students, saying ossu implies that no matter what happened to their body, whether punched, kicked. stabbed or shot, they would continue to respond by hitting, punching and doing anything possible as long as their bodies could function. More than anything else, ossu came to signify tolerance against pain, it became a declaration of fighting spirit based on self sacrifice.

He then talks about MA students using ossu to fire themselves up before breaking boards, bricks baseball bats etc.

This approach to fighting was not found amongst samurai warriors. When samurai fought samurai, there was an accepted code of conduct. Samurai had had to be prepared to fight at any moment, as a result, they paid close attention to their bodies and health. Self sacrifice in training was not considered a virtue, nor was risking the damage to their bodies whilst breaking bricks. bats etc.

Before two aikido students practice together, they each sit in seiza, place both hands palm down on the floor and with a straight back, bow deeply to each other as an expression of rei. This simple action is an integral part of our training.

In contrast to the practice of ossu, the practice of rei helps develop respect for all people.
Since I have been living in Japan, I have noticed a number of work colleagues (regardless of age) use it casually in the morning as a cut down ohayo gozaimasu, but I haven`t come across it in any aiki dojo`s.

Hope that`s of use

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 06-19-2002, 10:07 AM   #10
SimonW11
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Yo! seems to fit as the best translation. As such some dojo regaurd it as uncouth.
In those Dojo HAI! meaning
I hear! Is the correct response when in doubt.

Simon

Simon
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Old 06-19-2002, 02:13 PM   #11
siwilson
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Hi Bryan

To say that Osu should not be used in an Aikido dojo is a little bit of a narrow view. I prefer my students to use it. I have already posted a link that explains the meaning and context of Osu within Aikido, but here it is again.

http://www.shudokan.org.uk/osu/shudokan_osu_meaning.htm

This context is as within the Yoshinkan path and you must understand that this is the martial way of Aikido. The context is as follows:

"If you look at the word "Osu" written in the original Chinese, it is comprised of two characters. The first character is "Osu", which the dictionary defines as "push". The second character is "Nin", which the dictionary defines as "Shinobu", which means endure, persevere, put up with. If you put them together you get - to push ourselves to endure any hardship, in training or in our daily lives."

And...

"Sensei Joe Thambu also says that he feels we should look at "Osu" as saying "Please be patient with me", for both the student and teacher.

"I believe this holds the spirit of this word, and if we all carry that spirit when saying "Osu", student and teacher alike, it will pass through each and every person we train with."

I hope you can see that Osu is a word that has an important place in any Aikido dojo, as surely one thing our Aikido gives us is the strength to persevere and push ourselves through hard times and problems. Also, what better place than the dojo to learn patience and tolerance?

It is not just the word that is import, but the spirit of it. If it is just a hollow word used as nod or "Yo" in the dojo then it is worthless, but so is "Hai" or "Rei" or "Domo"!

I hope you now see why Osu is used in some Aikido Dojo and that it does have a very important place in those dojo.

OSU

Si

Osu!
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Old 06-19-2002, 06:27 PM   #12
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Simon,

In my original post, the why it isn`t/ shouldn`t be used in the dojo came from Gaku Homma`s book, not from me, he is far more experienced in both the martial way of aikido and Japanese than I. His translation of the two characters is similar to yours, but his interpretation of their meaning is quite different. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to add another perspective.

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 06-19-2002, 06:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by siwilson
Hi Bryan

To say that Osu should not be used in an Aikido dojo is a little bit of a narrow view. I prefer my students to use it. I have already posted a link that explains the meaning and context of Osu within Aikido, but here it is again.

http://www.shudokan.org.uk/osu/shudokan_osu_meaning.htm

This context is as within the Yoshinkan path and you must understand that this is the martial way of Aikido.
Simon,

please read my post again, I don`t think there is anything there that suggests a narrow view, not nearly as narrow as the quote above.

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 06-20-2002, 12:32 AM   #14
siwilson
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Quote:
why it isn't/ shouldn't be used in an Aikido dojo!
Your words.

Osu

Si

Osu!
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Old 06-20-2002, 02:22 AM   #15
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Last Saturday I walked into the dojo and in response to my Konban wa there was a resounding osu from the sushi chef and a pair of university students. This was of course followed by laughter since its not normally used and I think it was part of a running gag before I walked in that night. Osu is used in Yoshinkan quite a bit and alot of university clubs - I don't think it is inappropriate in the right context. Generally we use Hai as others might use Osu.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-05-2004, 05:46 AM   #16
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Re: Osu!

Quote:
Bryan Bateman wrote:
Simon,

please read my post again, I don`t think there is anything there that suggests a narrow view, not nearly as narrow as the quote above.
Woah! Bryan!

Ever consider Homma's opinion of "osu" might be slanted, as opinions always are, mine included!?!? With that established, I would find it hard to believe that the entire Yoshinkan and Yoshokai organizations (not to mention numerous other budo styles) would accept hordes of students to utter such a horrible and disrespectful word like "osu," day in, day out, if it really was horrible and disrespectful. Hardly. Maybe at one time within one group of individuals who disagreed with it's use for whatever reason (maybe they prefer "onegaeshimas," my style uses "hai" just as much) the word took on a bad rep. However, many students of budo out there today shout the word from the bottom of our hara, and we mean it when we do so. That feeling in my heart is enough and speaks for itself, and so is the look on my Sensei's face when we shout it as loud as we can, with all our spirit driving the sound out. Do you or Homma have the etymology of "osu" all figured out? Really??
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Old 09-05-2004, 03:28 PM   #17
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Re: Osu!

an old thread.

As Peter indicated, it's used quite a lot in Yoshinkan but not at all in other Aikido organizations. In some Karate schools you will hear it a lot.
I have seen no evidence that is was ever commony used outside of Yoshinkan lineage schools.

Far be it from me to defend Homma Sensei, but what was quoted really is not far off from what I have heard from other native or fluent speakers of Japanese. In most contexts it's a way bit too informal.

My understanding is the origins of "Osu" is in crude informal usage among young males - around college age.

It's not hard to believe that particular group may have derived a very specialized flavor to the meaning in a particular context.

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Old 09-05-2004, 04:16 PM   #18
siwilson
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Re: Osu!

The web site I posted the link to is no longer up, so here is the text:

"All of us who practice Yoshinkan [style] Aikido are familiar with the word "Osu". We use it when we enter the dojo, when we start class, when the Sensei show us a technique, when we pour beer for each other at parties and especially when [the] Sensei yell at us and we don't know what they're talking about! I even use it when I receive my dry cleaning or get my change at the 7-11, which usually results in strange looks from the respective cashiers. But what does "Osu" really mean? Does it have a deeper meaning?

"In Japan, the only people who use "Osu" are usually the sports teams of the high schools and universities, and most karate styles. In most companies you will hear "Osu", but it is usually a lazy man's way of saying "Ohayo Gozaimasu" (Good Morning). As far as I know, the only style of Aikido that uses this word is the Yoshinkan style of Gozo Shioda.

"Kancho Sensei attended Takushoku University, which has a strong reputation for its hard training in Budo, and it also has a reputation as a stronghold for far right-wing sentiments. My former Kendo teacher was the captain of the Takushoku Kendo team, and he told me training stories that made my hair stand on end. In order to continue the Takudai and old style tradition of hard training (Shugyo), Yoshinkan Aikido continues the use of "Osu" while other styles do not.

"If you look at the word "Osu" written in the original Chinese, it is comprised of two characters. The first character is "Osu", which the dictionary defines as "push". The second character is "Nin", which the dictionary defines as "Shinobu", which means endure, persevere, put up with. If you put them together you get - to push ourselves to endure any hardship, in training or in our daily lives.

"Also, in the field of Budo it is used as a greeting or reply with the connotation as a sign of your willingness to follow a particular teacher or way of training.

"The most important aspect of the word "Osu" is that we must not let the word, through repeated overuse with no feeling, lose its meaning of reminding ourselves to always train as hard as possible. It must come from our hearts and really have meaning. I have had the experience of showing some people techniques or correcting their techniques and their reply of "Osu" has left me feeling that they are not interested in what I have to say or teach and kind of telling me to go away. Needless to say, I refrained from showing ar teaching these people further until they showed me by their actions that they wanted to learn.

"Surely there can be no greater misrepresentation of Yoshinkan Aikido, than a person saying they practice Yoshinkan Aikido, but their "Osu" has no conviction or spirit. I don't want to give the impression that we should always be screaming OSU at each other at the tops of our lungs, but let's try to find ourselves the conviction to always do our best in our training and also in our daily lives. Kancho Sensei always said, "Aiki soku seikatsu" or "Aikido is life".

"I wish you good luck with your training."

- Sensei Robert Mustard



Sensei Joe Thambu (Aikido Shudokan, Australia) also says that he feels we should look at "Osu" as saying "Please be patient with me", for both the student and teacher.

I believe this holds the spirit of this word, and if we all carry that spirit when saying "Osu", student and teacher alike, it will pass through each and every person we train with.

OSU!

Osu!
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Old 09-05-2004, 06:07 PM   #19
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Osu!

A Japanese young man from the University of Houston came to our class the other night. He is from Shotokan Karate and as I was teaching and explaining the techniques, he was saying, "Osu" continuously. Also, in the Corpus Christi seminar with Kato sensei, there was a man everyone said was a Japanese shihan in some style of karate there and he also was saying "ous" throughout the explanations.
Best

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Old 09-06-2004, 03:51 AM   #20
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Re: Osu!

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote:
an old thread.

As Peter indicated, it's used quite a lot in Yoshinkan but not at all in other Aikido organizations. In some Karate schools you will hear it a lot.
I have seen no evidence that is was ever commony used outside of Yoshinkan lineage schools.

Far be it from me to defend Homma Sensei, but what was quoted really is not far off from what I have heard from other native or fluent speakers of Japanese. In most contexts it's a way bit too informal.

My understanding is the origins of "Osu" is in crude informal usage among young males - around college age.

It's not hard to believe that particular group may have derived a very specialized flavor to the meaning in a particular context.
Yep. An old thread but one I had to address.

Indeed, you're correct in saying that it isn't used much in other schools/styles outside Yoshinkan.

However, my head instructor is quite fluent in Japanese because he grew up in Japan and was one of the first to learn from Shioda Sensei. In my style, the use of "onegaishimas" in place of "osu" is a little bit too formal, if that is possible, which I think it is. Just like in Japan, it is rare for someone to say "domo arigato gozaimashita" because for most things, it is viewed as a little bit of overkill. Most people would literally gasp at it's casual, everday use. It is reserved for extremely purposeful occasions.

The same is true for my style and the hakama. We simply don't use it except for extremely special occasions. I like to think that there are common sense, utilitarian reasons for this. My instructor can see what my lower body is doing all the better so he or she can correct me.

I think that a negative view of the word was spread simply because of ignorance. . . perhaps by post-war styles and offshoots. The whole issue makes me think of trash-talking, hakama-wearing prima donnas.
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Old 09-07-2004, 01:17 AM   #21
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Osu!

Could not follow those links to Osu given above. Here's my take. I trained in a University dojo in Japan for one year and what I noticed was this:

1st years - most polite: They said, "Onegaeshimas" and "Domo arigatou gozaimashita."
2nd - fairly polite: They said, ... less sylables
3rd - so so polite: They said, ... even less syllables
4th - most brusk - They said, "Ooss" and "Ooss"

Seems to me "Ooss" is just being part of the in crowd, or perhaps, just plain lazy!
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Old 09-07-2004, 11:52 AM   #22
siwilson
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Re: Osu!

In Yoshinkan, "Osu!" )which sounds like "Ooss!" is said with energy, humility, respect and not a hint of laziness.

OSU!

Osu!
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Old 09-07-2004, 12:43 PM   #23
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Re: Osu!

Quote:
Shaun Donovan wrote:
Just like in Japan, it is rare for someone to say "domo arigato gozaimashita" because for most things, it is viewed as a little bit of overkill. Most people would literally gasp at it's casual, everday use. It is reserved for extremely purposeful occasions.
Purposeful occasions like say at the formal closing of a class ?
I don't hear it being used otherwise much in dojos except in that instance.
This is really not relevant.

Quote:
The same is true for my style and the hakama. We simply don't use it except for extremely special occasions. I like to think that there are common sense, utilitarian reasons for this. My instructor can see what my lower body is doing all the better so he or she can correct me.

I think that a negative view of the word was spread simply because of ignorance. . . perhaps by post-war styles and offshoots. The whole issue makes me think of trash-talking, hakama-wearing prima donnas.

um....perhaps by what ?

You seem to be carrying around a big chip on your shoulder of us-them baggage and what almost sounds like hakama-envy.

"Osu" apparently means different things in different contexts. What language doesn't have such complexity ? According to what is posted here, those in the Yoshinkan feel that "Osu!" has a deeper meaning than what the general public in Japan is aware of. Why are you looking for a conspiracy ?

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Old 09-07-2004, 02:57 PM   #24
siwilson
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Re: Osu!

Quote:
"If you look at the word "Osu" written in the original Chinese, it is comprised of two characters. The first character is "Osu", which the dictionary defines as "push". The second character is "Nin", which the dictionary defines as "Shinobu", which means endure, persevere, put up with. If you put them together you get - to push ourselves to endure any hardship, in training or in our daily lives.
OSU!


Osu!
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Old 09-11-2004, 02:10 AM   #25
bruce bryan
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Talking Re: Osu!

Hi guys,

you might be interested to read another slant on the word 'Oss' or 'Ous' at

www.shotojukukai.com/Articles/tooss.htm

The article is written by a Karateka though, not an Aikidoka, but that doesnt change the point of the essay.

See what you all think.
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