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The spirit of pushing (oneself) or Osu no Seishin

What do they say?

Everyone who enters a Kyokushin dojo for the first time is surprised by the number of times they hear the word “Osu”.

You say Osu when:

  • you enter the dojo;
  • you bow at the beginning of the class;
  • you greet the sensei, the seniors, the students;
  • you perform the basic techniques;
  • your teacher gives you a command or an explanation and you answer “Osu” to say that you have understood;
  • you receive a good blow in combat in the dojo (not in competition) and you say “Osu” to inform your partner that it was a good technique;
  • you leave the dojo and say Osu to your sensei and friends as a sign of “goodbye”;
  • Etc.

Everyone wonders at first, what the hell does “Osu” mean?

You will hear the expression: Osu no Seishin less often. Most of the time, you will read it somewhere. Let’s explore these two terms together.

Firstly, Osu no Seishin means “the spirit of Osu”. This article is somehow about the “Spirit of Osu” as the title of this article specifies.

What is the meaning of Osu?

The word Osu is a contraction of Oshi Shinobu.
押し Oshi which means “to push
忍ぶ Shinobu which means “to persevere”.

Persevering in the face of adversity and pushing oneself to go on in spite of it could well sum up this spirit of Osu and the term Osu in one sentence.

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

“Osu no Seishin” means “The spirit of Osu” or “The spirit of pushing oneself”.

It means never giving up, even when things are difficult. It is like climbing a mountain and continuing even if you are tired because you know you can reach the top.

Osu no Seishin is an expression used a lot in Kyokushin karate which means “spirit of never giving up”. It is important to have this spirit when you practice karate because it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become good at this art. If you give up easily, you will never improve. Imagine trying to learn to ride a bicycle – if you keep falling off and giving up, you will never learn to do it. You may get tired or bruised during training, but if you have integrated Osu no Seishin, you will never give up and you will eventually become a great karateka!

The term “Osu no Seishin” is generally used in the context of karate training and refers to a state of mind characterized by perseverance and determination. This state of mind is considered essential for success in karate, as it helps the practitioner to overcome difficult training sessions and to continue to progress towards his or her goals. In essence, “Osu no Seishin” can be considered a key ingredient in the recipe for success in karate.

When considering the word “OSU”, it is important to understand the different meanings it can have. In Japanese, the word “OSU” can mean “push”, “endure” or “resist”. Each of these meanings has a different implication and can be used in a variety of situations. For example, if someone is trying to encourage someone else to carry on despite the challenges they face, they may use the meaning ‘to push’.

The meaning of OSU in Kyokushin Karate is a term used to describe the act of showing respect and means that the student is willing to persevere in difficult training. As Kyokushin karate is a particularly demanding form of karate, the use of this term serves to remind practitioners to maintain their concentration and effort throughout their training.

As trying as it may be for the inexperienced person to keep going when things get difficult, the determined karateka usually knows that if he or she can withstand any kind of pressure, he or she will have the strength to succeed. This reveals a willingness not to give in, no matter what the situation.

Those who succeed are warriors

The karateka’s only objective is to manifest his true Osu spirit. It is through this that he can purify his character. The environment of your childhood and adult life, as well as your talents and education, is not enough.

You have to face many challenges to gain physical and mental resilience. You have to be prepared to face difficult scenarios. Those who do not train in martial arts, but are successful, have these fighting qualities related to Osu. They come alive in those who, despite trials and misfortunes, do not give up in the pursuit of their goals. These people are ready to face difficulties with courage and not admit the existence of difficulties. They are examples of this manifestation of Osu!

No matter what obstacles are in your way, get to your destination

Osu Shinobu means the willingness to push oneself under difficult conditions, to persist under any strain. When we use the term Osu, we are urging ourselves to persevere or Shinobu. This self-control comes from the physical training one has to face. Whenever we use the term Shinobu, we should encourage ourselves to be consistent.

When a bad day or bad news happens, it can be easy to go to the dojo and get angry. It is easy to believe inwardly, “I don’t need to be more determined because of my discomfort and pressure, I am allowing myself to mistreat others. This is wrong, and we repeat Osu to warn ourselves that we must not allow this to happen. Patience emphasizes the correct idea of training, the one we want all our karatekas to follow. The purpose of karate training is to teach the body to develop with power and efficiency.

Developing a strong body also requires training of the mind, which leads to a unification that induces a firm and lasting spirit, which is the true nature of karate training.

Your character creates a sense of harmony within you. Achieving this goal, through coaching and proper training, requires endurance. Every time Osu is shouted, we reaffirm the will and patience to achieve the true goal of martial arts. Some people complain that they are unlucky in their lives and easily feel sorry for themselves, while others passively wait for the perfect opportunity to miraculously manifest in their lives. We do not want our students to be content to let changes happen in their lives in a passive way. If we remain strong, stable, and confident, we will be able to seize much better opportunities than in the past.

The goal of the warrior is to manifest the essence and spirit of Osu within him or her. People who devote themselves to the discipline of martial arts demonstrate qualities such as resilience in defending themselves in adverse situations and facing difficulties with an iron will to never give in. They excel in life and demonstrate warrior qualities by being able to accept uncomfortable conditions with confidence and diligence; they never give in to discouragement.

Osu Shinobu urges us to go further, to reach the limits of our perseverance, and then surpass them. Osu Shinobu continues to encourage us to push ourselves to the limits, even though they may be difficult to overcome. Each time we use the phrase Osu, we are promulgating a willingness to overcome any adversity with our heads held high. We remind ourselves to remain steady and focused, no matter how stressful the situation is. Every time we say the word Osu, we reiterate our determination to achieve the ultimate truth of karate.


Gaëtan Sauvé

Soon to be released is the first book of The Way of the Generative Warrior series.

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