Thursday, 12 July 2007


Osu is the one word that you’ll hear the most in a traditional karate dojo . When you enter or leave the dojo, you bow and say “Osu”. When you greet a fellow karateka, you say “Osu” instead of “hello”. When you respond to an instruction or question in class, you say “Osu” instead of “yes” or “I understand”. When performing kihon waza (basic techniques) in class, each technique is often accompanied with a loud “Osu”. When practicing jiyu kumite (free fighting) in class and your opponent lands a good, hard technique, you say “Osu” to acknowledge your opponent’s skill. As a measure of respect, knockdown fighters at a tournament bow and say “Osu” to the front, to the referee and to each other, before and after the fight. Osu is used in many situations and seems to mean a lot of things. But what does it really mean?Oshi means ‘Push’ and Shinobu means ‘to Endure’.Osu means patience, determination and perseverance. Traditional Karate training is very demanding. You push yourself until you think you’ve reached your limit. First your body wants to stop, but your mind keeps pushing you. Then your mind wants to stop, but your spirit keeps you going. You endure the pain. You persevere. That is Osu.Great Okinawan Masters of the past rightly said that karate is not learned overnight. It takes years to properly learn the fundamentals. The basic techniques are performed thousands of times until they are done by reflex or instinct, without conscious thought . It’s easy to get frustrated by doing the same thing over and over again, especially when progress seems to be slow. To overcome that frustration and continue training takes patience and determination. That is Osu. Traditional Karate is Osu !