Kyokushin Spirit – The Spirit of Osu

The purpose of Karate training is to train the body. To make it strong and powerful. This is not to be approached on its own. The Body is trained by training the mind. When the mind and body is strong this in turn produces a strong spirit, a strong spirit produces a harmonious individual. This is our goal. Achieving this goal requires a lot of patience. Each time we say Osu, we are reaffirming our determination to achieve this through our Karate training.

Osu is the one word that you’ll hear the most in a Kyokushin dojo or at a Kyokushin tournament. When you enter or leave the dojo, you bow and say “Osu”. When you greet a fellow Kyokushin 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?

Osu is a contraction of the words:

Oshi meaning “Push”

Shinobu meaning “to Endure”

It means patience, determination and perseverance. Every time we say “Osu”, we remind ourselves of this.

Kyokushin 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.

Kyokushin karate is not learned overnight. It takes years to properly learn the fundamentals. The basic techniques are performed thousands of times (Renma – “always polishing”) until they are done by reflex or instinct, without conscious thought (Mushin – “no mind”). 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.

The absolute and unfaltering devotion needed to “scale the cliff” of Kyokushin karate is Osu.

. Each time we say Osu we are reminding ourselves to be patient with ourselves and each other. Kyokushin teaches us never to give in, no matter how big the task may seem, always do your
best. This is the spirit of Kyokushin. This is what we call: The spirit of perseverance – or: Osu no Seishin.