Please Pronounce Correctly

koshiI don’t speak Japanese, but I do my best to pronounce it correctly. Too often, I can see t-shirt written “Gyokko Ryū Koshi Jutsu” instead of “Gyokko Ryū KoSShi Jutsu.” (1)

Twelve years ago in a Nagato sensei’s class, he asked what we wanted to study as he always does. An American teacher jumped in and said: “Koshi jutsu.”

So, we trained hip-throws for two hours. I remind you that back in 2005, Nagato sensei’s classes were more “dynamic” to say the least.

At the end of the training, everyone was happy that training was over. Then my American friend came and complained to me (why me?).

– Him: Why did Nagato do Nage Waza? I asked him to do Koshi Jutsu!
– Me (soft and enjoying it): Because Koshi means hip in Japanese.
– Him (getting excited): But I wanted to study the Gyokko Ryū!
– Me (playful): So you should have asked,
– Him (getting aggressive): That’s what I did!!!!
– Me (enjoying it): No. You asked for Koshi instead of Kosshi
– Him (troubled): …Yes, it is the same, no?
– Me (in heaven): No. Koshi is the hip, where Kosshi is the main kaname for this year’s study of Gyokko Ryū.
– Him (not getting it): ugh?
– Me: You have to pronounce each one of the “Ss” if you don’t, it means something else, like hip in that case.
– Him: ???

He left me with the bright, and sharp look of an oyster. (2)
To this day, I’m not sure that he did understand, but luckily he is a high rank… (3)

As I said in the introduction, I do not speak Japanese, but I know that some sounds with nearly the same spelling can have different meanings in Japanese. When you learn the vocabulary, we use in training, pay attention to those double consonants.
That is also important with the long vowels like “o” / “ō” and “u” / “ū.” (4)

So, learn Bakka correct Japanese sounds if you don’t want to look like a Baka. (5)
1. 腰, Koshi: back; lower back; waist; hips; lumbar region
骨子, Kosshi: main point; gist; essentials; bones (e.g. of an idea); pith. And in 2005, Sensei used it with the meaning of “central pivot”, “vertical axis”, “coccyx.”
2. Metaphor intended
3. pun intended
4. The correct transcription uses an extra “u” after the o for the long “ō” and long “ū”. For example, Happou is Happō; Doujou is Dōjō; Chuu is Chū, Juudan is Jūdan. Because in the French language the sound “ou” is “u” (like in “Bujin”), I use the transcription with the flat accent on top. More on this here
5. 許, bakka: only; merely; nothing but; no more than
馬鹿, baka: fool; idiot

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