The Taijitu represents the concepts of yin and yang. The Chinese characters indicate: "Using no way as way" and "Having no limitation as limitation". The arrows represent the endless interaction between yang and yin.[1
Bruce Lee created this symbol as a representation of the culmination of his own self cultivation. This symbol is the final in a series of four that show this progression.
The stages of cultivation are
- 1. Partiality: The Running to Extremes
- 2. Fluidity: The Two Halves of One Whol
- 3. Emptiness: The Formless Form
- 4. Jeet Kune Do
The final symbol that represents Jeet Kune Do and Bruce Lee’s approach to life is a full yin yang symbol surrounded by arrows. The arrows represent the constant interplay of the complements of yin and yang. Finally the Chinese phrase surrounding the symbol translates to: using no way as way; having no limitation as limitation.
JKD is based on the symbol of Yin and Yang, a pair of mutually complementary and opposite forces that act continuously this universe, hence interlocking parts of ‘one whole. Each part contains within its confines the qualities of its counterpart represented by the dot within.
Yin can represent anything in the universe moon, darkness, night, and in life as: negativity, passiveness, gentleness, internal or femaleness, etc.
Yang can represent anything in the universe as sun, brightness, day, and in life as: positivity, activeness, firmness, external, maleness, etc.
The common mistake of most martial artists is to identify these two forces as separate and antagonistic (thus the so-called soft styles and the firm styles). Yin/Yang are two inseparable components of one unceasing interplay of movement. They are conceived of as essentially one. They are neither cause and effect, but should be looked at as sound and echo or light and shadow.
If this ‘oneness’ is viewed as two separate entities, realization of the ultimate reality won’t be achieved. If a person riding a bicycle wishes to go somewhere, he cannot pump on both pedals at the same time or not pumping them at all. In order to go forward, he has to pump on one pedal and release the other.
In the Yin/Yang symbol there is a white spot on the black part and a black on the white one. This is to illustrate the balance in life, for nothing can survive long by going to either extremes, be it pure Yin (gentleness) or pure Yang (firmness). Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked. while the reed will survive by bending with the wind. Thus a JKD man should be soft yet not yielding, firm, yet not hard.”
Lee added two arrows around the Tai Chi circle to further emphasize that the JKD fighting techniques must contain the harmonious interplay of Yin (pliable, yielding) and Yang (firm, assertiveness) energies.
The JKD logo has chinese phrases surrounding the symbol which denotes the JKD motto: “Using No Way as Way” and “Having No Limitation as Limitation,” pronounced “Yee Mo Faat Way Yao Faat” and “Yee Mo Haan Way Yao Haan” respectively.
No way as way implies that one is to approach combat without any preconceived notions and be pliable enough to respond by fitting in with the opponent and situation instantaneously . He is using no particular or set way that was preconditioned in him.
“No-mindedness” is this state of unconscious consciousness where one tries to be like Water which automatically assumes the shape of the container that it is poured in, thereby fitting in and adapting to the situation.
By having no limitation as the only limitation, one can transcend martial arts boundaries that are set by style, tradition, race, individual preferences, etc. Lee gave the JKD man the freedom to explore other martial arts with the only limitation being that he has only has two hands and two feet and the objective is how to use them to the maximum. Furthermore, Lee wanted us to search deep within to find what works best for each one of us without depending on the teachings of various styles or teachers.
With this freedom to improve our skill and life in any way that we like, one is able to honestly express one’s self.