I am training at a new Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy, and their use of the word "Oss" is ubiquitous.
I have asked and also answered the question What is the etymology and meaning of Oss? in the Martial Arts StackExchange forum. However, following the lead of another community member and his question in this forum, I wanted to see if I could further clarify my answer by understanding the Japanese to a greater degree. I would be grateful for any further references.
Here is what I've come up with so far:
The Meaning of Oss
- persevering when pushed
- to push and to suffer1
- to keep the faith1
- the equivalent of a warm-handshake1
- hello, yes, or I understand, (additional reference)
- acknowledging an opponent's good, hard technique, or, their skill, (additional reference)
- the absolute and unfaltering devotion needed to "scale the cliff" of a martial art discipline
- good job, rad, or kewl brah2
From Kyokushin Karate:
This strength of character develops in hard training and is known as Osu no Seishin 押忍の精神 (the Spirit of Osu). The word Osu comes from Oshi Shinobu 押し忍ぶ, which means "to persevere whilst being pushed". It implies a willingness to push oneself to the limits of endurance, to persevere under any kind of pressure.
From Carlson Gracie's philosophy of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:
In BJJ, Carslon Gracie introduced the use of the word “Oss” and it rightly fits the mentality of Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu: Brave, determined, strong, smashing. It’s a bit similar to the war cry “Hoo-ah” that you will hear U.S. Marines use.
The Etymology of Oss, Osu, and Ossu
Meaning, patience, determination, and perseverance.
Meaning, a polite or honorific way of requesting something from another, of saying "please".
Ohayossu, Ohayoosu, and Oossu
From Jesse Enkamp of Karate by Jesse, who quotes Dr. Mizutani Osamu3:
Meaning, "hey ya", by male runners in the midst of jogging, responding in rougher, masculine ways to Dr. Mizutani's greeting to them of "Ohayo gozaimasu!" (good morning).3
So it seems that the term oss, which is derived from osu or ossu, has a variety of interpretations and meanings.
However, there also seems to be a common essence shared among them all.
"Oss" seems to mean having humility and an acknowledgement of respect for the person to whom it is being spoken; to have a perspective of strength and perseverance towards a challenge that is being addressed, or, that is to be endured; in more general or colloquial contexts, it operates as an affirmative acknowledgment, a greeting, or a polite request.
Am I on the right track, or am I missing something?
1FEY, B.R., 1994, To oss or not to oss: that is the question, Dojo Magazine, Winter 1994, p. 80-81
2These are general impressions from training, class, and, sigh, bro-jitsu experiences.
3Mizutani, Osamu, Japanese: The Spoken Language in Japanese Life, Tokyo, Sotakusha, Inc., 1981, p. 59-60