Do not “Osu” me please!
Across karate dojos all over the world we can hear the term “Osu” being used for all manners of expression, from greetings to acknowledgement or even goodbye. Some people use this expression outside of the dojo, for example in shopping centres, cinemas, bbqs etc. when they see someone from their dojo. However, how many of us have really put any effort in to understand the meaning of Osu?
For years I was using it in my dojo without really paying any attention to it, as our style is an offshoot from Kyokushin karate and so everything is Osu! The only difference for us was that we did not use it outside the dojo. My teachers have always said that we are not in Japan therefore there is no need to use it. For me personally it feels awkward when I meet someone in Tesco and I am “Osu-ed” at, my answer is always “hello, how are you?” Some people just ignore this change others ask me why I do not reply Osu!
These kinds of situations make me think that maybe I should find out more about Osu. I started to talk about it with Sensei from different martial arts, and most of them informed me that it is a rude and impolite expression and is used by “common folk”. Some people explained to me that it is used in the army and that is why Mas Oyama incorporated Osu so much into his Kyokushinkai.
Whichever origin is true for Osu, the common opinion is that it is not polite and should only be used in friendly groups, but not everywhere. I have come across a really informative article by Rob Redmond published in 2005 in 24fightingchickens. I am very impressed with his knowledge and explanation of all aspects of Osu. If you have any interest in the meaning and appropriate usage of the term Osu this article is a must read! Hope you will enjoy reading it, please see link below:
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