At Japanese dojos, we often hear Karatedo students responding to their Senseis’ teaching by crying out “Osu”. The Chinese characters equivalent for “Osu” are「押〔Osae〕忍〔Shinobu〕」. If we take the literal sense of the term, it means “to overcome suppression with perseverance”.
Karatedo students are to undergo grueling trainings in order to go beyond their own limits and get elevated to the next level. However, though hurdle after hurdle the students overcome, Senseis might think there is still room for improvement, and advise even more efforts are required for one step further. In view of such set-back, instead of giving up, quite on the contrary, students re-engage in another round of arduous training and exceed their own limits. This might happen rounds and rounds until at the time, potential physical strength and underlying wisdom will be elicited. When students reach this stage of training, their ability would be elevated to a level that, without conscious thinking and deliberate physical maneuvers (which are otherwise required for the general population of Karatedo practitioners), they would be able to deliver swift, accurate movements and responses by merely following their will power. It goes without saying that, by solely taking part in standard Karatedo training will not lead you to this stage of extraordinary power; it is only by persisting yourself in the spirit of “Osu”, engaging in strenuous trainings and subsequently overcoming all hardship and spiritual, physical suppression thereof resulted that you would reach this stage of extraordinary ability. Thus, when students cry out “Osu” after receiving teachings from Senseis’, they are indeed making a solemn vow that they are willing to meet the demands of Senseis’ in the spirit of “Osu”.
From now on, we are to practise Karatedo in the spirit of “Osu”, and should respond to teaching of Senseis’ by crying out “Osu”.