The Power of “OSU”

Muay Thai champion Kevin Ross faces his fiercest opponent – himself.

Young Director Award Cannes ’17
Director: Judith Veenendaal
Written by: Kevin Ross
Fighter: Kevin “The Soul Assasin” Ross

What is the Power of Osu? 

Osu, or Oss, is a term loaded with rich meaning. In modern-day dojos or training gyms, you will overhear this expression used repetitively.  

“Osu this, Osu that, Osu Sensei, Osu, Osu, Osu….” 

You get the idea! But, what does it all mean?!

In this article, we will dive into the origins of osu, its numerous uses, and the profound symbolism behind it all. Do you have the Power of Osu? Read below to find out. 

Osu is an affirmative statement. To simplify osu, it means yes. It can also be used as a greeting or farewell. However, it does not exclusively mean hello or goodbye. It contains within it a sincere display of respect for the other person. When your Sensei makes a request of you, you respond with “Osu!” to demonstrate you understood their directions and intend to execute them. You are holding your Master’s counsel in high regard and indicate this through the Power of Osu. Used with a training partner, this displays tremendous admiration as, without your partner, you would not be able to hone your martial arts technique. You express reverence for each other before and after each training session without fail. This reciprocity is fundamental to the character and rapport building functions of traditional martial arts. 

Where did this multi-faceted word originate from? 

Osu stems from its application in Kyokushin Karate. It is a compound of two Japanese kanji. 

  1. Osu—To Push 
  2. Shinobu—To Endure 

When these two concepts are linked, an intricate symbol emerges portraying the strength of spirit one must maintain in their study of any martial art. Martial arts demands a solid spirit, unwilling to relinquish victory under any circumstance. The body and mind put up many barriers as a martial artist walks the warrior path. It is the Power of Osu inside that enables one to endure pain, pushing through obstructions, seen or unseen. To achieve this, perseverance is paramount. Osu is a commitment to your Sensei, Master, training partners, and most importantly, yourself to continue striving. The mental conflicts a martial artist experiences are far superior to any physical battle they will fight. The Power of Osu propels them towards their highest potential through literal and metaphorical sparring matches. A martial artist who has harnessed the Power of Osu within is unstoppable against all opposing force.  

“It is the body that tells you to quit, it is the mind that disciplines the body, it is the spirit that joins the two in symphony.” – Unparalleled Martial Arts  

Our recommendation is to use Osu sparingly, pun intended. You don’t want to dilute its essence through overuse. Instead, thoughtfully employ this word to communicate respect of your mentors and training partners. When used properly, they will sense the genuine sentiment behind it, making the Power of Osu even more formidable as you pursue your Unparalleled Martial Arts journey. 

Kyokushin Way                    51rp2l130UL._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_

Check out, The Budo Karate of Mas Oyama or Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide: Replicating Mas Oyama’s Budo Karate in the Western Dojo for a full study on the Power of Osu!

Are you a Kyokushin Warrior? You are going to want this armor! 

Kyokushin Warrior Hoodie Gray

Kyokushin Warrior Hoodie Black

These handcrafted tapestries from Takase Studios will inspire your students to release the Power of Osu within!

Our favorite is Osu No Seishin: The Spirit of Perseverance.


Do you use the Power of Osu at your gym? How does it help you build a culture of mutual respect amongst your students? Leave us a comment below to share your thoughts.


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