#23 Yin Yang


The Yin Yang symbol is circle with two interlocking teardrop shapes in complimentary colors with a dot on each side. It’s used in popular culture, but it is a core Chinese philosophy. The Yang side represents positivity, firmness, masculinity, substantiality, brightness, day, and heat. The Yin side represents negativity, softness, femininity, insubstantiality, darkness, and coldness.

Excerpt from Book 1 Chapter 28 of the Tao Te Ching: “Know the masculine, but keep to the feminine. And be a valley to the realm. If you are a valley to the realm then constant virtue won’t leave you and you will return to infancy. Know the bright but keep to shadows and be a pattern for the realm. If you are a pattern for the realm then constant virtue will not be lacking and you will return to the unlimited. Know the glorious but keep to the humble and be a valley to the realm. If you are a valley to the realm then constant virtue will be complete and you will return to the uncarved block. The uncarved block is cut into vessels wise men use them as rulers of vessels, the great cutter does not cut away.”

Bruce Lee had a way of taking heady philosophy and physicalizing it, giving it a purpose in a human context, and illustrating it in an entertaining way. Instead of viewing the Yin and Yang as opposites, Bruce would say that they are complimentary to each other. He said that the basic theory in Yin Yang is that “nothing is so permanent as to never change.” Instead of opposition, there is cooperation. Bruce’s core symbol for Jeet Kune Do is a modified Yin Yang symbol that he added to.

He added two arrows around the Yin Yang to represent the continuous interplay of the two parts and a Chinese phrase around the arrows that says: “Using no way as way, Having no limitation as limitation.” Bruce had his friend George Lee construct 4 plaques that showed the stages of a man's cultivation: Partiality, Fluidity, Emptiness, and the core symbol for Jeet Kune Do.

Bruce incorporated his version of the Yin Yang into his martial arts practice by not only learning hardness and toughness, but gentleness and softness. Because sometimes you need to flow with your opponent’s energy as opposed to always stopping or hitting.

Yin and Yang mutually help each other and are in harmonious relationship with one another. This ties in with the idea of harmonious individuality, how you can cultivate yourself as an individual, but be in harmony with the world around you.

“Taoism is a philosophy of the essential unity of the universe, of the leveling of all difference, the relativity of all standards, and the return of all to the one. The divine intelligence, the source of all things. From this naturally arise the absence of desire for strife, contention, and the fighting for advantage. It emphasizes non-resistance and the importance of gentleness.”

“No one should follow passively, one must learn that there is an active way of following. One must have what the occidentals call ‘backbone.’ By the same reason one should not be totally firm. Resolve must be softened by compassion.”

“Fluidity leads to interchangeability, self knowledge leads to awareness, totality leads to ultimate freedom.”

Take Action: What extremes are you holding on to? When you’re in conflict, can you see the situation in totality? Can you to hold on to your point of view, yet soften and hear the other person? Whatever your position is, it is one half of the Yin Yang symbol, try and soften to see the other side.

If you’d like to share how you’re doing with this action item on Yin Yang you can email us at hello@brucelee.com or on social @BruceLee.


(Awesome Asians and Hapas)

This week’s #AAHA is Cary Fukunaga, an American film director, writer, and cinematographer, and his recommendation comes to us from his childhood friend. Cary is known for directing Sin Nombre, Jane Eyre, HBO’s season 1 of True Detective, and Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation. On Beasts of No Nation he was the writer, director, cinematographer, and producer, which reminds us how Bruce Lee would write, produce, and direct his own work. Cary, we admire your mastery, artistry, storytelling, and hard work, keep being awesome!

Here's his friend's wonderful email recommendation:

Hello, I would love to nominate a childhood friend of mine. Though our lives paths have taken us in different directions and we haven't communicated in about a decade, I feel as if we had enough shared experience for our friendship to last through the ages. Cary Joji Fukunaga is a friend who has the gift of storytelling that few can measure up to. Even when we were children playing in the open hills behind our homes, he could tell a story well enough that we would be totally immersed and lose track of time and place. Cary has been awarded high praise in the film industry and is a rising star. Hopefully he gets a nod on this wonderful podcast. He deserves every bit of it. Anderson


This week our #BruceLeeMoment is from Tory Elena:

Hello Shannon, Sharon and the Bruce Lee Podcast Team! I grew up practicing martial arts with my family and my father and I shared a love for Bruce Lee’s films. I remembered finding the Tao of Jeet Kune Do on his bookshelf and flipping through it, some of it went way over my little 10 year old head, but some of his words were planted as seeds in my mind, lingering inside, only to bloom later on in my life.

Now, many years later I find Bruce Lee’s philosophy and spirit has become an ever present guiding inspiration in my life. I’ve rekindled my passion for martial arts and studying the philosophy and words Bruce left behind for the world. (I carry “Striking Thoughts” in my purse everywhere I go!) I find so much of his approach to martial arts can apply to my approach to my creative path...

As a professional creative I use the JKD motto as a mantra in my life, “Using no way as way. Having no limitation as limitation.” I am a drummer, vocalist, composer and one half of the rocknroll band Sea At Last, a board member of an independent record label GYPSYPOP RECORDS and also a freelance artist, illustrator, painter, and writer… and that’s just the nutshell version of it! There were many times early on in my life when I felt the pressure to “choose one path” to choose either my music, or my art. There are many challenges that women face in the male dominated music industry, and also I’ve found that being a “renaissance man” is more accepted in our society than a “renaissance woman”.

Thankfully, I never believed this limiting idea that I could only pursue and be successful in one thing as a career. Bruce’s words really helped motivate me to work hard to dissolve those limiting beliefs inside myself. Now I welcome the challenges as an opportunity to get to know myself in a deeper way and strengthen my passion for my work. I feel all my creative endeavors are just different expressions, different colors and sounds coming from the same source inside me. It’s all one big synesthetic experience, and I love sharing it with the world!

I also really love Bruce’s quote: “Art is the music of the soul made visible. Behind every motion is the music of his soul made visible. Otherwise, empty motion is like an empty word; no meaning. Postures without proper channeling of your emotions, behind them are dead movements.”

I am continually inspired by Bruce’s discipline and dedication to the many things he loved. He has really taught me to value my time here on earth! Thank you so much for doing this podcast and continuing to share his legacy with the world in a good way. I look forward the new episodes every week and play it while I work on art in my studio! All the best, Tory Elena

Share your #AAHA and #BruceLeeMoment recommendations with us via social media @BruceLee or email us at hello@brucelee.com.


Lydy Walker