What can we learn from Bruce Lee? And Ping Pong

There is a famous saying by Bruce Lee, which goes like this:

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

Bruce Lee

I think this is inspirational because it inspires us to have an open mind.

Here are two unrelated chinese words that I would like to introduce. I think they are interesting. The first is interesting because of how it looks, the second is interesting by thes story behind the meaning.


Ping pong is one of China’s most popular sports. The character for Ping pong is similar to how it sounds. It uses the character 兵 Bīng means “army”.

Here we can see the the character takes the sound from army, and then changes it, the character represents what ping pong might be, you could imagine it as an upside down table, with the ball going from left to right, and its almost incomplete without both sides. 


The character 矛盾 Máodùn comes is made of two parts, and its meaning is a contradiction.

It comes from a story with a spear 矛  that is so strong it could pierce anything, and the shield 盾 that is so strong, nothing can get through. In this case, what happens when this spear attacks this shield? Its a contradiction. 

矛 means spear and its actually a radical by itself. Anywhere we see this we know it would be related to a spear. The origin looks like the shape of a spear.

盾 means sword it looks like it used to be a pictogram in oracle bones

Now I’m going to finish with a Bruce Lee quote

“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

Bruce Lee’s story is inspirational. I recommend to read about his life story and philosophy.

Are you interested in learning Chinese? Checkout some of the programs in China.

Founder and CEO at China Admissions. Originally from UK🇬🇧, based in Beijing. Studied at Peking University & BLCU. Preparing for HSK 6. Hope we can help more talented international students have the same amazing experiences and opportunities that I have had
Richard Coward

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