Why I don’t use “Oss”

I do not “oss” — on the con­tra­ry: the infla­tio­na­ry use of this litt­le word hurts my poor ears. But why?
I have been prac­ticing various mar­ti­al arts sin­ce I was 12 years old. With Kem­po I am now about 10 years old. But only recent­ly I stumb­le more and more over the word “Oss”, also often writ­ten “Ossu”. When I hear it, then it hap­pens ump­te­en times during a trai­ning. At every oppor­tu­ni­ty Oss is hum­med, at every con­fir­ma­ti­on with Oss is con­fir­med, even at the gree­ting the­re is ossing.

Why does that get on my ner­ves? For one thing, I don’t speak Japa­ne­se during the trai­ning. I can’t speak Japa­ne­se. Only a few voca­bu­la­ry words, name­ly tho­se of the respec­tive tech­ni­que, I have labo­rious­ly pumi­c­ed into my head. So to speak pro­fes­sio­nal Japa­ne­se. I do not speak Eng­lish, French or Ser­bo-Croa­ti­an in the dojo. If I have a ques­ti­on, I ask it in Ger­man. I have some com­mand of that. I get the ans­wer in Ger­man too. So why should I give a Japa­ne­se con­fir­ma­ti­on phra­se from me, and that all the time? Does that make me more “Japa­ne­se”? After all, I speak in my own lan­guage during nor­mal inter­ac­tion with my fel­low human beings, and I don’t just give a snap­py “Yes” or “Oui” every time I con­firm or affirm.

So I first of all dealt with the mea­ning of this mys­te­rious word, which is obvious­ly very important for so many Kem­po and Kara­te­ka peop­le. Stran­ge­ly enough, the word “Oss” is pro­bab­ly rare­ly used in Japan, not at all on Oki­na­wa. Why? Becau­se it’s a slang term, accord­ing to sources of the omni­sci­ent Inter­net, it only came into exis­tence in the mili­ta­ry envi­ron­ment after the Second World War. What was “Moin” to the East Fri­sian, was a mum­bled form of “One­gaishi­ma­su” to the drunk Japa­ne­se sol­dier. Which he would never say to a woman. Even women among them­sel­ves do not use this word. The­re­fo­re, it obvious­ly has a sexu­al con­no­ta­ti­on, too. And not a very nice one at that.

If you take a clo­ser look at the word, you will learn that Oss con­sists of the cha­rac­ters for “push”/“push” and “endure”/“suffer”/“suffer”. Hope­ful­ly this makes it clear that this term has no place in the nor­mal com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on bet­ween man and woman.

So what’s the point? Do I express my respect to a tea­cher when I smash a rather nas­ty slang expres­si­on at his ears? Actual­ly, “hai” is the Japa­ne­se form of “yes.” And no one yells that out during prac­tice eit­her.

The com­bi­na­ti­on of a com­ple­te­ly exa­g­ge­ra­ted attempt to be as “ori­gi­nal Japa­ne­se” as pos­si­ble and the stran­ge back­ground of this term makes me fall silent when others try their hand at oss or osu. I hope that my tea­chers will not con­si­der my silence as dis­re­spec­t­ful. If necessa­ry, I’ll be hap­py to greet them with the nort­hern Ger­man “Moin”, though, becau­se that’s a real­ly nice wel­co­me, which is qui­te ori­gi­nal. 🙂

PS: Do you know that Oss is also a lit­te vil­la­ge some­whe­re in the Nether­lands? 🙂 I bet you are wel­co­me the­re by “ossing” around …
PPS: Ano­t­her very nice explana­ti­on of Oss you can find here

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