The following is an excerpt from the Chudokai Express Newsletter, Volume 20, Issue 1 (January 2013)
What does Osu mean?
This is one of the most common questions of an Aikidoka (Aikido student). Most find its meaning confusing and it’s easy to see why. Osu is often used as a greeting, a fond farewell, and even a thank you; but its true meaning can be explained with a little history behind it. Long ago, in the day of the Samurai, a lord would have many Samurai in his service. These Samurai above all else were people, and like all humans, they didn’t necessarily get along with each other all the time. After all, we all have our differences from time to time. However, in times of war, differences had to be put aside. To go into battle holding on to petty grudges could cost lives. Osu was to say I will honour you with respect; I will do everything in my power to get along with you for the time we are together; I will put aside our differences for OUR best interest and our lord’s interest. In this way, Samurai clans could come together and enter into conflict with strength, empowerment and unity. Osu was not just a greeting of respect, but a declaration of “harmonious intent”. So the next time you say OSU, remember the empowering, harmonious intention behind what you are actually saying.
– M. Dubé