This article was written by Peter Mylonas, Kancho for publication in Blitz Martial Arts Magazine 1999
What is the spirit of OSU? Why is it important? Do we really need it?
These are the questions needed to be asked for one to continue to research, practice and understand it.
In Karate OSU is our inner self, our spirit that makes us continue through every obstacle and overcome any adverse condition.
However, Karate is not the only art that practices the spirit of OSU, Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do and so on have their own name however what we all share is the same belief of what this spirit builds.
Many great masters talk about the spirit of OSU, most notably the late Sosai Mas Oyama. He states that the Way will teach individuals to over come any obstacle in their lifetime. The Way develops the human spirit to become stronger, better and purer.
The great Kenpo Grandmaster Ed Parker in the Zen of Kenpo discusses OSU in a more modern way of the American language (we need to remember it doesn’t matter what individuals call it rather the meaning and the practice of OSU matters). Parker discusses OSU as the Power of the Mind he says ‘the super-conscious self is like a genie within you who, when called upon, performs beyond the limits placed upon your natural or normal self. The mind has an unlimited capacity for achieving perfection in both learning and enlightenment. Concentration is the power of force that boosts the mind in its ability to direct the body. Will power is the hammer that drives action. The mind leads and the body follows’.
In Kempo Ryu Karate, which shares the beliefs of both great masters and practices the Spirit of OSU in the Dojo and outside the Dojo says ‘that the Unshaken Spirit is synonymous with OSU: which seeks to build the human spirit and keep the individual at peace within. It builds the spirit of an individual who is constantly striving for improvement. It builds the spirit of courtesy and respect. To live the art one must live the spirit of OSU and to live the spirit of OSU one must live the essence of the Dojo Kun. Only with total dedication to the training can one begin to realise the true strength of the Unshaken Spirit, the spirit of OSU’. In Kempo Ryu Karate the Unshaken Spirit is the Spirit of Osu. With a spirit that is unshakeable the individual can accomplish anything.
OSU can be explained in an old Chinese folktale of a young man piercing a large striped stone with an arrow, thinking this large striped stone was a tiger. This tiger had killed his loved one and with his determined mind he sought revenge. Spotting this large striped object he saw that killer tiger. Drawing his bow he shot the arrow right into the tiger. Running to see the dead tiger he realised it was a large stone, which resembled a tiger. Later when the story was known in the village the act was attempted by many and even by himself, however there was no way he or any other person could repeat this feat. His strong will for revenge to kill the tiger was such that when he spotted what seemed to be the tiger his power was beyond that of a natural being. He created this spirit, this strength that was beyond natural strength and achieved a result that a natural man could not achieve.
This is the spirit of OSU, achieving the unachievable through mind development and developing such power to accomplish this achievement. To withstand what the natural being cannot. Through the correct practice of our Martial Art code we develop further not to seek revenge but justice as per our own community values and by self-actualisation through our dreams and goals.
It is constantly preached in our Martial Arts that we develop better individuals. We develop courteous and helpful individuals, and these qualities of the Martial Artists are not readily seen in many other lifestyles or disciplines.
We take pride that we are not fighters rather we are Martial Artists. A fighter could be any person who fights in the street and seems to be able to overcome most opponents or even at times looses to opponents. The individual who only is concerned with himself/herself without any regard for individuals around them could be classified a fighter however, a martial artist is much more trained in both the physical and the mental approach. He or she will deliver an attack appropriate to the threat in the situation. It isn’t just another fight to them. It is just a situation they need to overcome with minimum effort. A Martial Artist is highly trained to be able to defend himself/herself without the opponent realising what is happening.
As Martial Artists we have respect for our fellow individuals and we walk through our life ready to help and grow individuals. We all have different limits to how we can help each other, however this is part of the practice of OSU.
I hope we all can see why we need the spirit of OSU as a core in of lives. This spirit is the essence of any art, the essence of any community; to continually grow, develop, nurture, to live in harmony will all around us.
As instructors we transfer this spirit to our students and each student to each other. If our schools where full of the spirit of OSU we the Australian martial art scene would be dynamite in terms of people and talent. The fact is that Australia is a major force in world Martial Arts. We have great talent comparing to our population to that of other countries. It could mean that the spirit of OSU is alive and well, however it does not mean we need to neglect it and not continue to focus on further development, for this is what makes a great Martial Artist; with true OSU - continual improvement of oneself. How will we transfer the spirit of Osu across to our students and peers is continual in our lifetime, a technique that needs to be practiced, practiced & practiced.
Our lives are as complicated and difficult as we choose to. Through the training and development of OSU, I guarantee you that your life with be much more fulfilling and richer in all aspects. Our Martial Art training needs the core of OSU in it, with it we will be Martial Artists, without it, we are just fighters. Osu!!
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