For the sake of learning, some debate, and at the encouragement of a reputable user, I humbly present to the community...

I have asked a question. What is the etymology and meaning of Oss?

My intent in asking this question was for the Q & A to contribute to the community's knowledge-base, by collecting verifiable meanings and the etymology for "Oss", a term that is widely used in some martial arts.

My question is similar to, yet different from, a previously asked question. When is it appropriate to respond with osu?

This latter question was specifically about when to say "oss", and was regarded as lacking research. The answers given to it seemed primarily opinion-based and were somewhat lacking in terms of citations or references. They also did not satisfy my own curiosity, and I determined that I did not want to engage with that particular question. I felt compelled to ask a slightly different question, which led to my own.

After all, isn't the sum of looking at a something from different angles the very activity that builds our knowledge and understanding of a topic? Isn't that one of the purposes of a forum such as ours?

My question was swiftly marked as a possible duplicate, to which I edited and clarified the differences that I felt distinguished my question from the other. My question was not about when, but rather, what the meaning of the word is, and its history. The answers given to the other post included some of this information, but that was secondary to the primary intent of the other question.

A comment was left that my question showed no research whatsoever, which was only partially true. I had read the other similar question, so I dutifully linked that. I had also documented my training and life experiences with "oss" thus far. Before asking the question, I'd done some investi-googling, but was disappointed to find that though there are a ton of articles, sifting through the heap, I found most to be less than academic, and poorly cited.

The disdain for my question mounting, I followed the encouraged approach of answering one's own question, and went about the task. I think a decent answer was produced from that effort.

To my understanding, my question is absolutely not a duplicate, and can rest on its own merit. It is another angle of discussion regarding "oss", that contributes to the knowledge-base of this forum. In my estimation, it is different both in content and quality.

It seems to be on-topic.

Ultimately, I'm trying to understand why 4 flags persist, to close my question after I've distinguished it as different, and provided a well-researched answer? I'm presuming it remains flagged for being a duplicate, as no other information has been given regarding why it is flagged.

I would welcome further direction on how I can improve this question and answer.

  • Also, note that there is no strict requirement for previous research. Some users think this is more important than others.
    – mattm Mod
    Oct 27, 2017 at 19:07
  • @mattm Got it - thanks for clarifying.
    – jacefarm
    Oct 27, 2017 at 19:10

2 Answers 2


A general view

First and foremost, we are a community driven site. If there are users that consider a question bad, they can do any of those things:

  1. Leave a comment seeking to improve it.
  2. Vote to close, or put on hold until the question is better.
  3. Down vote the question. The anonymity and no requirements of downvoting are a good feature.

When a question attracts both down votes and votes to close, there is a potential problem. One should not answer the question, instead one should seek to make it better either via edits or comments or both. Note that it takes five users for a question to be closed/on hold which allows for some disagreement in the community.

We do seek to make this site better all the time. Meta is here to help us decide what constitute "better".

The question itself…

The first five paragraphs of the current (at the time of writing, after eleven (!) edits) are all background settings about what osu means. Even the question subject is

What is the etymology and meaning of "oss"?

The meaning of osu is a duplicate of When is it appropriate to respond with osu? One cannot reply appropriately if one does not understand its meaning. Being a duplicate is not a bad thing at all. All it means is that "this has been asked before, go look there…"

The etymology part is off topic. We are martial art experts, not linguistic ones. We do have exerts in Japanese that would be more than willing to help. It would be more appropriate to ask there.

The answer…

The answer reads like a helpful collections of links from Google. There is a lot of presentation and summary of other links but no critical analysis: is osu derived from good morning or please or both? Is that even likely?

BTW, the Hagakure should be taken with the same scepticism with regards to samurai as Chrétien de Troyes is to western knights…

The conclusion that "Oss means having humility and an acknowledgement of respect for the person to whom it is being spoken." is plain inaccurate Source. Although, the source's author could have made their arguments stronger as well. In my personal experience, osu is used as (pathetic) macho chest thumping nothing more.

How to improve it all…

First, I would drop the generalities. Clearly, there is a strong BJJ focus on your question. Make sure it excludes karate, aikido, and all other arts. This is a BJJ only question. After all, Gracie and co might have some personal views on this and how to use it.

Second, ask the etymology on Japanese.SE. They will help.

Third, your answer could be salvaged if cleaned a little to not look like a copy and paste of Google searches links. Those are subject to rot in any case. Would it answer your modified question or not, that remains to be seen.

  • There are requirements for downvoting, you have to have at least 125 reputation, which means that you have participated on a site well enough to earn that reputation. Yes, it's easier if you have the 100 point association bonus, but to earn that also means you have participated somewhere long enough to be familiar with the SE model.
    – JohnP Mod
    Oct 27, 2017 at 14:24
  • 1
    @Sardathrion Thanks - that helps clarify the duplicate aspect, but I disagree that it is duplicative - seems a bit draconian. I'll work on the clarifications you have pointed out. I've never been a big fan of the word, but with my new school, it is used with regularity. It is not used as machismo, but rather, as a means of acknowledgement between instructor and student(s), and thus, my curiosity.
    – jacefarm
    Oct 27, 2017 at 15:01
  • 1
    @jacefarm We can disagree. That is allowed. ☺ As to the macho connotations within your dojo, I can clearly not comment at all. However, while you might not be using in that way, it is used that way by many. Thus, there is a potential for misunderstanding there. Oct 27, 2017 at 15:09
  • @Sardathrion Additionally, I did follow your example and posted to Japanese.SE, but have since deleted my answer there, due to your clarifications. Could your clarifications have been posted as comments to my answer? Or, with it being deemed duplicative, was that seen as undesirable?
    – jacefarm
    Oct 27, 2017 at 15:11
  • 1
    "One cannot reply appropriately if one does not understand its meaning." This is the key point for why the question is a 'duplicate'. A good answer to the previous question would also answer the new version. However, the best answer to the original question was left as an exercise to the original asker to write, as recorded in the comments.
    – mattm Mod
    Oct 27, 2017 at 18:28
  • @mattm Thank you for the further clarification.
    – jacefarm
    Oct 27, 2017 at 18:55
  • @jacefarm Yes, it could have were I not on holiday at the time … Oct 30, 2017 at 8:34
  • @Sardathrion I've flagged my original question for being a duplicate, and have posted a new question.
    – jacefarm
    Oct 31, 2017 at 1:58

As to why it remains flagged with 4 votes, is that the people who initially voted to close it have not retracted their votes. There are a few reasons that could be:

  • They haven't visited the site recently
  • They feel the question has not substantially changed
  • They feel their original concern has not been sufficiently addressed

There were some comments along the lines of there being a lack of research before asking the question. I do not know if that was the reason for a downvote on the question or not. As far as the downvote on the answer, that I am not sure of at all, it may be that the person felt it didn't answer the question, or was simply being voted down because the question was voted down. Votes are anonymous, and don't always entirely reflect content.

Perhaps, since you say you did some research first and you got a lack of research comment, you could have edited/added what you did do for research, and why that didn't answer your question? You were obviously able to come up with an answer after further digging, so that begs the question of why the research wasn't done first?

If the question does get closed, you can always edit in more information and nominate for reopening. As I said, I am not going to cast the final close vote (And my vote would be binding in any case), so it is up to the community to either retract their close vote or leave it or close it.

  • Thank you - that's helpful. I'm more of a whittler and sculptor when it comes to writing. The lack of research up front is fair criticism. I was curious and engaged, and asked too hastily. I will continue to work on the Q & A to see if it can be saved or salvaged.
    – jacefarm
    Oct 27, 2017 at 15:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .