"Osssssssssssssssss"

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GouRonin

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This is for Rob Broad. Please post this to the e-mail list you have on Yahoo as I can't seem to find the addy. It was something I was discussion earlier in that list and Dr. Chap'el was good enough to repost it.

"osssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss"
by Dr. Chap矇l

When you walk into some karate schools in the United States, you might here someone say "Oos!" At first some wonder what all of the grunting and hissing is about, but soon enough you'll begin to understand that the word is being used to mean hello, goodbye, yes sir, that's cool, and a host of other expressions. "Oos!" permeates many karate schools or dojo, as some insist. In many it is enforced upon the membership. Newcomers, unfamiliar with this expression, look at each other in dismay when students and teachers start barking "Oos!" when they walk through the door, approach an instructor, receive a command, begin an exercise, end an exercise, or need permission to go to the bathroom?

What is the word, and how did some end up barking it at each other? Why do some people use and over use it, and why do people who trained in Japan return to the United States no longer speaking the word much - if at all? Forget what you have been taught about "Oos!" It's probably wrong.

Oosssssss! If you are going to go around barking foreign words at other people, then it behooves you to learn to pronounce this, the most over-used of all Japanese terms, correctly. Most people say "Oos!" the way its written here. Typically it is pronounced as if it rhymes with the word "book." Osu, or ossu, is properly pronounced with a long "oh" sound. Osu rhymes with rope, boat, and toe.

The long sssss noise you hear in karate schools the United States and Canada is an affectation as well. Osu shouldn't be said with a lot of hissing. The 's' sound at the end of the word should be followed by half of a 'u' noise as in the word 'book'. The 'u' at the end of most Japanese words is present, but choked to 1/4 length. Oh-sue would be poor pronunciation. Try saying OHS(u), with the u so short in length that it is almost completely inaudible. There. At least now you can stop pronouncing it "oos" incorrectly over and over and over again. Now let's learn where the expression comes from.

The word osu has its origin in one of two places. Dr. Mizutani, a linguistics professor at the University of Nagoya thinks that the word's origins are in the term Ohayo Gozaimasu. This greeting literally means it's early, but is not used that way any longer. The expression has become an idiom meaning good morning or I greet you for the first time today. One uses this expression primarily toward one's in-group, not people that one is not familiar with. The expression is very polite, but connotes intimacy. Mizutani claims that the word becomes contracted in order to sound more familiar and casual, or more familiar, tough, and manly.

He says it is a very tough, rough expression of masculinity. Used primarily by young boys and others engaged in athletic activities. It is generally aimed toward one's colleagues, not the coach, instructor, or other seniors. The expression is avoided by women, unless the particular culture of the athletic activity has become one in which the ladies use this word regularly. Mizutani additionally from his study finds the word to be used by people engaged in athletics as a rough, abrupt greeting which could be rude if used in a situation where a longer polite greeting would be possible or more appropriate.

There is another potential source for osu. That source is shown in the way that the word is written. The word is generally written with two kanji. The first one is "osu" - to push, and the nin character from ninja. It can also be read as oshi or shinobu, and it means endure, bear, put up with, conceal, secrete, spy, sneak.' Ossu, by this way of creating the word, means "grin and bear it."

In training in Japan, the adults do not use this word toward each other. At the beginning of the class, everyone sits, meditates, and then bows saying Osu, Onegai Shimasu, or some expression of "Please teach us." However, after that group usage, no one in the karate club would utter it again. "Oossssss!" is unwelcome. Many Japanese in particular situations frequently see Osu as rude. It is inappropriate in the office, wrong to use during church, not used in the home, and generally never used at school, or public. Most of the time, the word is inappropriate and considered forbidden. It is a locker room type of expression, very manly, and masculine and macho. Osu expresses a sort of intimacy with others. Think about how you might call your best friend "*******." He probably laughs. Would you use that toward your boss?

Osu is also restricted to usage by particular people. Usually only young men ever utter this sound when they are involved in some sort of extremely team oriented sport. A team of girls playing on a rough and tumble soccer team, looking like a troop of amazons, might use Osu toward each other. Remember, all of the people you've read about so far are Japanese children 18 years old and younger. Because of the intimacy suggested by using such abrupt language, osu is rarely appropriate. Adults, especially females, usually do not use the word osu at any time in the dojo unless they are the type of hard-core type of women who could play professional hockey in Canada.

Some karate instructors encourage their students to use the word osu while other more educated and even Japanese recommend you avoid it. Others will get angry if you "osu" them, although this is less likely outside of Japan since the instructors here are fairly used to non-Japanese slaughtering their language for fun. You should understand that Japanese is an actual language that actual people speak just as we speak English.

Imagine that you are Japanese, and that you come to America and visit a karate club. The mispronunciation of counting numbers, technique names, and the hideousness of hearing the Dojo Kun said in Japanese must absolutely send a chill down your spine. Your instructor may think it is cool, but to Japanese who are not odd-balls it must be like going to Disney World in Tokyo.

"Japanese is one of those languages where one syllable out of place gets you into severe trouble. There is a lovely pickled vegetable roll you can order at a sushi bar called oshinko, but if you make the sh sound into a harder ch, you are requesting to be served a penis instead of some rice and vegetables. Ooops?" Another really fine one is the word for 'awaken' which is 'oko****e'. Change one syllable slightly and it becomes an extremely vernacular term for a socially taboo sexual activity. Oku****e means please rape me.

Here is more commentary on the usage of Osu from someone who is currently living long-term in Japan: I don't have a clue about the history of osu, but in its common usage it's only respectful in a childishly macho way. My six year old uses it when he meets a bunch of eight year olds and wants to prove that he's 'cool' enough to play with them. I know that 'bosozoku' (teenage biker gangs) use it in much the same way. My young son might use it to a male PE teacher at school during a practice, but not to other male teachers and never would use it to a female teacher. Why? Because contrary to its American usage among martial artist, it's not respectful."

"Osssssssssssssssss"
 
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Rob_Broad

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I posted it in the Spirit of the Tiger and Dragon. I hope that is where you wanted it posted.
 
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Rubber Ducky

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Originally posted by GouRonin
Think about how you might call your best friend "*******." He probably laughs. Would you use that toward your boss?


Here's some reasons why censorship, especially censorship by 'bots, is bad.

Exactly what should I not say to my boss here that I would call my friend? I can think of many things, but this auto-censorship takes away from an excellent article.


Another really fine one is the word for 'awaken' which is 'oko****e'. Change one syllable slightly and it becomes an extremely vernacular term for a socially taboo sexual activity. Oku****e means please rape me.

And here it takes out letters from a foreign word (or words), making them completely illegible.

I understand the idea behind it, I just don't support auto-censors. Sure it makes the moderator's work easier, but I write software for a living so I know what types of crap get put out there. :)

I appreciate this forum, and all the work that the moderators put into it, so please don't take this as a harsh critiicism. It's certainly not meant that way. I just thought this was a goodexample of how using software to censor can unwittingly cause serious communication problems.

Pierre
 

Bob Hubbard

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I agree. I'm trying to lock it down so we have less errors like those mentioned. If Gou would edit his post, the Japanese words should come thru ok now. (it replaces on posting, not on the fly)

The filter is a simple string match. Easily tricked, hopefully not done by members. We are only filtering about 7 words at this point. If you notice that a post has been incorrectly filtered, please by all means, let me know which thread, and what the word is supposed to be. I'm willing to do what I can to make sure that things run smooth. Just can't read every post immediately. (That day job thing. :) )

Let me know where the hiccups are, and I'l see what I can do to fix em ASAP. :)
 

arnisador

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Originally posted by Rubber Ducky
I just thought this was a goodexample of how using software to censor can unwittingly cause serious communication problems.

You're absolutely right. Let me just say that when it was noticed by a moderator it was brought to the attention of the administrator (Kaith) and the other moderators and as Kaith mentioned he has already fixed this particular problem (hopefully)--within a matter of hours of it being noticed, in fact. Please, bring any of these to the attention of a moderator.

Your larger point about censorware and trying to patch these types of things one at a time--as when it censored Shito-ryu karate to ****o-ryu karate--is quite valid. It is a trade-off not only regarding moderator effort but also completeness and even-handedness. Is it truly better if a moderator looks at each use of a vulgarity--as with teh example in this post that apprently was meant to be an English language vulgarity--and judges it in context? It sounds good in principle until people start seeing these words censored sometimes and not othertimes, and egos get bruised and misjudgements are inevitably made. I don't have the answer; ultimately it's Kaith's call.

-Arnisador
MT Mod.
 
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Rubber Ducky

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Hey cool. You guys rock.

:cheers:

Pierre
 

Jonathan Randall

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arnisador said:
Your larger point about censorware and trying to patch these types of things one at a time--as when it censored Shito-ryu karate to ****o-ryu karate--is quite valid. It is a trade-off not only regarding moderator effort but also completeness and even-handedness. Is it truly better if a moderator looks at each use of a vulgarity--as with teh example in this post that apprently was meant to be an English language vulgarity--and judges it in context? It sounds good in principle until people start seeing these words censored sometimes and not othertimes, and egos get bruised and misjudgements are inevitably made. I don't have the answer; ultimately it's Kaith's call.

-Arnisador

I love that ****o-ryu!

Seriously, this thread has good information in it, so KICK! Another forum had the same discussion recently and the term osu is, in their learned opinion, best to be avoided in any formal situation, with elders or seniors, or outside of an Americanized dojo - unless initiated by the presiding sensei.
 

still learning

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Hello, Could it have evolved into a slang word from the Japanese word" Ah-so" (not sure of spelling) means "yes I understand" Oss!

I remember hearing Ah-so alot before in the old days......Aloha

Yes..I understand!
 

deadhand31

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I remember hearing this at a sport karate tournament. Some chick was doing a musical escrima form, and every time she turned and finished a series of movements, she would go "OSSS!!" in a manner that sounded like a female buffalo getting a love-thrust from another buffalo. When the form finished, she let out a 5 second long "OSSSSSSSSS!", assumed ready stance ("OSSSSSSS!"), bowed ("OSSSSSSSSS!"), stood at attention ("OSSSSSSS!"), and left the ring. I'm wondering if this was correct. I tried my hardest not to laugh. Would that have been considered innappropriate?
 

Grenadier

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deadhand31 said:
I remember hearing this at a sport karate tournament. Some chick was doing a musical escrima form, and every time she turned and finished a series of movements, she would go "OSSS!!" in a manner that sounded like a female buffalo getting a love-thrust from another buffalo. When the form finished, she let out a 5 second long "OSSSSSSSSS!", assumed ready stance ("OSSSSSSS!"), bowed ("OSSSSSSSSS!"), stood at attention ("OSSSSSSS!"), and left the ring. I'm wondering if this was correct. I tried my hardest not to laugh. Would that have been considered innappropriate?

Excessive, in my humble opinion. In the dojos where the OSS / OSU term was used, I'd tell the students that it has three letters, not twenty.
 

SFC JeffJ

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Just a guess here, but I'm guessing it evolved from Kyokishin Dojo's. They love that word there.
 

tkd_jen

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We have a black belt at our gym who uses a similar word for almost everything. He says "osh" it would rhyme with Yoshi (Mario's friend from video games) without the "i".

It sounds kinda cool, something different than the other kihaps at the gym. Variety! I don't know the origin of his training, that would explain a lot.
 

swiftpete

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deadhand31 said:
I remember hearing this at a sport karate tournament. Some chick was doing a musical escrima form, and every time she turned and finished a series of movements, she would go "OSSS!!" in a manner that sounded like a female buffalo getting a love-thrust from another buffalo. When the form finished, she let out a 5 second long "OSSSSSSSSS!", assumed ready stance ("OSSSSSSS!"), bowed ("OSSSSSSSSS!"), stood at attention ("OSSSSSSS!"), and left the ring. I'm wondering if this was correct. I tried my hardest not to laugh. Would that have been considered innappropriate?

I couldn't help laugh at this story. I've never heard a female buffalo getting a seeing to but i like the idea that OOOOOSSS! is the sound they make! Of course I can imagine the buffalo eyes widening as it says it!
 

bignick

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We say osu, once, each class in judo and jujutsu. At the end of class, after mockuso and bowing out right before we get up to leave, we all shout osu to end the class...
 

Cruentus

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I don't know about anyone else, but I think it's hilarious that the author who seems intent to tell us about the improper usage and grammer of a word also seemed to think that "rope" "boat" and "toe" rhyme. heh.

Osu rhymes with rope, boat, and toe.
 

Hand Sword

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Probably shows that they just found the info somewhere and copied it.


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MSUTKD

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It is true that Osu is a very misused word. It is actually slang, like yea man. It is composed of two characters (押忍) and means pledge to endure. In Korean it would be said as (압인) Ahb in , although it it not used there.

ron
 

Drag'n

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I live and train in Japan and I thought the article was terribly inacurate. I dont know about other karate styles but in kyokushin influenced dojos the word osu IS used frequently. It is used to replace hai(yes) and wakarimashita(I understand)when answering commands from a teacher or sempai. Its also used to show respect and your willingness to persevere.
We use it so much that I sometimes let it slip into my normal Japanese conversation by accident, which gets a laugh if anything, because people instantly realise that I must be a karateka. Because of its frequent use in kyokushin its also been adopted into the slang of various groups, because of its "warrior spirit " connotations.
Its pronounced with a short o sound as in cot and pot, not a long o as in boat.
The use of the word as a slang term for ohayo gozaimasu(good morning) is not related to its usage in the dojo. Same sounding word but different meanings.
I really wonder if the guy who wrote this article has even been to Japan
I doubt it.
As for how its used or misused in the rest of the karate world, I have no idea.
 

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