Oss is a word that is used in many martial art forms. But the term “oss” has become widely used in the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which comes from the mother art – Japanese Jujutsu. It has been recognized that the usage of this term ‘oss’ has increased when BJJ became one of the more popular martial arts in the world and also became an essential martial art form in MMA tournaments.

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the focus is to take the opponent to the ground. In BJJ the term ‘Oss’ was brought by the Grandmaster Carlson Gracie Sr. He has mentioned that he has taken this term from other Japanese martial arts, and he has brought this to BJJ to use as a sign of respect among the BJJ practitioners.

Is Oss a real word?

It was common practice that, the term ‘Oss’ was used before starting a fight in a tournament. When going back in history this word first appeared in the 20th century as a military greeting word that was used in the Japanese navy. But we cannot find this word in any dictionary and that means this word is a very rare word in day-to-day life. But in the world of martial arts, this term is used frequently.

The meaning of the term ‘Oss’ has been defined in some sources under the subject of martial arts. in those sources, this word is defined as showing of the ki energy or kiai, which means the strength, and this is used to show that the practitioner is ready to fight.

In the book “Go rin no sho”  (Book of the Five Rings) which is written by Miyamoto Musashi, it is stated that there are three types of shouts that were used by samurai.

  • The first shout is before fight.
  • The second shout is during the fight while attacking to increase the strength.
  • And the third shout is for the celebration of the victory or for grieving over the defeat after the fight.

The usage of the term ‘oss’ demonstrates the spirit and the strength of the fighter in those situations. And when a sensei asks or gives a message this word is used to confirm the message and to show that the message is understood by the practitioners.

It is said that this term has been generated using some terms and phrases in Japanese language. When considering the usage of this word in martial arts, it comes from the Kyokushin Karate schools in Japan from the phrase of “Osu no Seishin.”

Oss means anything and everything in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the meaning of this term differs from one martial art to another martial art. In some martial art forms, it is a method of greeting and in some martial art forms it is a term which is used to respect each other.

The original term of Oss comes from the word Osu. It is the shortened form of ‘Onegai Shimasu’ which has meanings like, ‘be patient with me’ or ‘take care of me.’ And there is another instance that the term ‘oss’ is clarified by Dr. Mizutani Osamo who is a linguistic professor and language expert. This professor has built up a theory that the thid term ‘oss’ has been delivered from a set of formal words ‘Ohaya gosaimasu’ which means good morning in a polite way.

And there is another instance where it is believed that the term ‘oss’ is generated from. It is from the term ‘osu’ which is used by young warriors in 18th and 19th centuries to greet in the morning when going to school. The factor is is stated in the book ‘Samurai of the Saga Clan’ by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. In martial arts also it is used to say ‘yes’. As an example, in military, they say “OOH-RAH”.

Is OSS in Karate the Same as BJJ?

In Karate Oss means “yes” and in BJJ its means anything and everything and also, it is an inspirational word in BJJ. In karate this word is used to respect someone. In BJJ as mentioned above this word is used to inspire others. In Kiyoshinkai karate, the words ‘Oss’ and ‘Osu’ are used to remind practitioners to keep pushing.

In BJJ, Oss has a significant meaning. They are Respect, Response and Encouragement.

karate oss


The term ‘oss’ is used in BJJ dojos to respect other practitioners. Before the start of the training sessions, as a respect to the professors, this term is used with a bow and again this term is used before dismissing the training session after finishing.


When a student understands something or when a student needs to agree with something, rather than using “yes” in martial arts they use the word “Oss” in the dojo.


This term can be used to encourage a student or a BJJ practitioner. It means keep trying or don’t give up. And in such situation, the word is pronounced in a strong manner and in an alive manner.

How Do you pronounce OSS?

The word oss is commonly used by the martial arts practitioners, especially in BJJ and Karate. It has been identified that people are using different ways of pronunciation of this particular term. When pronouncing the term ‘Oss’ it is pronounced as ‘oh-ssss.’ Also, in some regions it is pronounced as ‘Osu’ (oh-suu) The meaning of this term differs from region to region and in the modern day this term is used as a word that is used for greeting and showing respect to others.

But there is a traditional way of pronouncing this word. It is ‘oh-sss.’ But there is no wrong way in some other latter pronunciation methods.

What is the English term for OSS or OSU?

These terms come as a combination of different kanjis which means Sino-Japanese characters. Osu means “push” and shinobu means to suffer or “to hide”. These two kanjis have put together to inspire people and gain combat spirit in the martial art, make positive attitudes, not showing suffering and etc. The term ‘osu’ is used to say “hello” in day today life in Japan.

‘Oss’ means saying yes and accepting what the facts that sensei is said, and it also used in showing respect to the other fellow practitioners in the dojo. The term ‘oss’ is used to pay respect to the senior players in the dojo by combining the bow with this word. It is the way of greeting in the martial art practice in the present era. In the modern-day martial arts, saying oss has become a tradition. In the martial art world George St-Pierre always shows respect to the world by saying Oss in his every UFC tournament.

The term ‘oss’ cannot be used in the normal world and society unless it is Japan because people don’t understand the meaning of this term. This term can be heard in the BJJ gyms while rolling and while doing drills. Also, in trainings to mean the partner up or to stop something this term can be used. In a BJJ dojo if you heard this term that means you are already in the BJJ community and enjoy training.

What does Oss mean in slang?       

In slang Oss means to get away, stay away likewise there is a meaning for this word in the informal language too. In Japan, the term ‘oss’ is not being used to a younger man or to a person who is lower than your rank. Women do not say this term and do not use this term when talking with a woman too.

When to Use Oss?

When greeting someone in the Dojo.

In a Dojo/Gym when a senior belt holder or when the sensei comes near to the practitioner, the practitioner bows them and says Oss as a greeting. Also, when starting a session and finishing the class all the practitioners bow and say Oss as a greeting.

When responding to someone

In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, practitioners use Oss term as a method of responding. When the instructor is teaching or asking to do the techniques, the practitioners keep saying the word ‘oss’ to accept what the instructor said or asked to do.

As a sign of respect or acknowledgment

Before starting a tournament both fighters come to the ring and bow each other and say Oss as a symbol of respect.

When complimenting the skills of the opponent, that he/she is doing well based on their flawless talents or skills, you can use the term ‘oss.’

When Shouldn’t You Use Oss?

Although using the word ‘oss’ has its own different meanings, there are instances that this word must not be used. However, this term ‘oss’ is used as a sign of respect and a method of greeting, sometimes it is not suitable to use it for a Japanese person. As they consider this word as a slag and will cause for miscommunications between people.

At the start and end of every sentence, the use of word ‘oss’ must not be done. It is better to be aware of the usage of this term.