In the manga Osu!! Karatebu the word "osu" is used quite frequently, and from context I have so far assumed that it is a way for the junior members of the karate club to respond to their seniors in a general "yes, sir" way. However, I recently came across this panel which presents a quite different take on the word:

Morigami Shingo on "osu"

What is the significance of Shingo's particular dialogue about "osu?" Is it a typical philosophy of the character, karate, or a mix of the two? Why is it so different from how it is used elsewhere in the manga?

  • I don't think this is on topic here...
    – ton.yeung
    Jul 17 '15 at 23:54
  • @ton.yeung Why not? From looking at the related questions, there seems to be quite a few on similar topics? E.g. this one
    – eirikdaude
    Jul 17 '15 at 23:55
  • I've heard discussions on whether what x means is related to anime or just the japanese language, the former would be on topic, and the later would not
    – ton.yeung
    Jul 18 '15 at 0:00
  • But this is in relation to the manga mentioned in the question? Have you got some suggestions on how I could edit it to make this more clear? @ton.yeung
    – eirikdaude
    Jul 18 '15 at 0:02
  • 1
    If you are asking about the usage of the word, then it's off-topic and a question for Japanese.SE. If you are asking about what he means in regards to the context of the manga, then it is on-topic. The line here is a bit thin in regards to Japanese language questions. Please word your question accordingly.
    – кяαzєя
    Jul 18 '15 at 0:03

You make an overly broad assumption with this particular word. "Ossu" here is talked about not as a salutation here, but for a deeper more philosophical meaning in general.

Ossu, is made of of two kanji:

[押]{おっ} and [忍]{す}. 押 by itself loosely translates to the action of apply pressure to something, such as pushing. 忍 means endurance or restraint.

The dialogue by the character here breaks down the literal meaning of the word and uses the two kanji as a philosophy of sorts. It's like using the word embodiment of a word as a sort of ambition or goal to live by.

In this case the spirit of Ossu is made up of these two kanji. The meaning here is to apply them meaning of those to your own life and when you use them remember their meaning so that it may carry you further, whenever or wherever you may need it, like a mantra.

  • Thanks for your clarification! Would those two kanji be the ones translated as "oshi" and "shinobu" here? And is this also the meaning the word carries when the word is used elsewhere, or does it simply carry multiple meanings, as it doesn't seem to carry that much meaning most of the time? Anyway, I am going to leave the question open for a while to see if any other explanations appears, but if no better answer comes forth, I'll mark this as the answer.
    – eirikdaude
    Jul 18 '15 at 1:05
  • "Ossu" is like a portmanteau, much like how “squawk” is made up of squall and squeak. In this case (in regards to martial arts, especially karate), it's "osu" (to push) and "shinobu" (to endure/hide) It's not how you read the individual kanji, but rather what happens when you mesh them together. How one interprets this compound kanji derives its symbolism/philosophy. It can mean a number of things to a number of people.
    – кяαzєя
    Jul 18 '15 at 1:38
  • Karate (especially Kyokushin Karate) requires extreme amounts of physical conditioning and guts so there exists a theory says that if you shout “osu!” as you train, you verbally condition yourself to break out of your comfort zone and push your mind and body to the limit .
    – кяαzєя
    Jul 18 '15 at 1:43

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