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Integrity: 3 Reasons Accepting Our Failures Lead to Excellence

As a clinical psychologist, I find myself looking at the deeper meanings of what my students and clients say and do. For example, how often have we heard a child say “this is easy” while they can barely complete the training drill. This is typically a healthy, normal response in order to maintain our ego or belief that we are “good.” However, the problem lies that this behavior does not demonstrate integrity and can lead to further self deception that limits our ability to improve our skills by learning from our weaknesses. With that said, lets explore the meaning of integrity more and how slight changes in our mindset can make a huge difference in our performance, wellness and lead to excellence.

Integrity is more than just doing the right thing when others aren’t looking. It’s more than being honest with others. I believe integrity is also about being willing to look at oneself in an open and honest way. It is about our willingness to tell ourselves the truth. It is about having awareness of our weaknesses, faults, and failures and seeing them as opportunities to improve. This concept is called growth mindset and Dr. Brandy Baker recently wrote about it on her two part post, “When a Child Says She Hates To Learn, Part One” and Part Two. Here are 3 ways in which integrity can lead to excellence:

  1. Accepting Failure: Being able to accept one’s failures and be motivated by them to improve our performance is crucial to becoming an olympic champion or a master in other areas of our lives. The priceless insights we gain by looking at our failures allows us to identify areas that we can improve and thus improve our performance through deliberate practice as a result.
  2. Examining Failure: Without the ability to see the truth of our failures by examining them with curiosity rather than shame, we miss an opportunity to strengthen our weaknesses bit by bit, which in turn is what sets the best from the rest. Therefore, it is important to help our students shift their mindsets about failure from shame and embarrassment to one of growth and opportunity. One way this is done is by being honest with them; for example, rather than fall into the common trap of telling your student they were cheated from a first place trophy, explain to them in a gentle and compassionate manner that they weren’t good enough. Yes, that was not a typo. Tell your student they weren’t good enough and if that want first place, they are going to have to work hard to earn it. Another example, is to simply lead by example and when we, as instructors, fail at something, think out loud so that our students hear how failure can become an opportunity to get better.
  3. Growing From Failure: Like the phoenix raising from the flames, we too are able to raise stronger after a failure when we have a growth mindset. Yes, the that old adage is true about “the truth can be painful” but what it missed is that it also craves the way for growth. Once we have accepted our failures and see them as an opportunity for growth we can create an improvement plan. The key to this is to identify and deliberately practice the specific ability that caused our initial failure. Thus, if the failure came from poor balance or an improper side kick technique, we would create a training plan that would focus on improving our balance or a plan that helps us develop a stronger side kick technique.

With that said, remember that integrity is about taking an honest look at ourselves and examining what we discover with curiosity in order to identify our areas of growth. These areas of growth, are the ones champions and masters train to achieve the highest level of excellence. If this post was helpful, please leave a comment below and tell us what’s your answer to our question below.

What ways do you respond to failure?

Integrity is one of the five tenets of Taekwondo taught at Taekwondo Wellness. Check out my previous posts if you’re interested in learning about how courtesy and self control impact mental health. Also, be on the lookout for future blog post describing how the other tenets may improve mental health as well. If you are interested in learning more about our programming, please call 520-333-3320 or visit our dojang at Intuition Wellness Center.

Written by Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

Image by: theilr

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Self Control: 3 Mental Abilities That Improve Performance & Wellbeing

When I enrolled in my first Taekwondo class, I remember instructors expressing a strong emphasis on self control. At that time, in my youth, I understood self control to be strictly about being able to control my body in such a way that it would display balance, power, speed, and accuracy. I have come to discover with my clinical psychology education and my continued Taekwondo training, that our ability to control our body movements is just the physical portion of self control. There is an entire other portion that is rarely discussed during Taekwondo training, the mental portion.

In my last post, I proposed 4 Ways Courtesy May Improve Mental Health and in this post, I want to share how mental control impacts our overall performance and wellbeing. Lets examine 3 mental abilities and how they relate to  self/mental control. Moreover, these skills have been shown to have a significant positive impact Taekwondo performance as well as our performance in our daily lives. Here they are:

  1. Attention: This ability has to do with how well we are able to focus on what we choose rather than be distracted by extraneous stimuli. In the dojang, this might look like not being able to focus on poomsae or basic training drills because your mind is wondering off to problems at home, school, or work. Not surprisingly, our performance decreases if we are not attending to the matters at hand. Thus, it is very important that we are able to improve our mental control of attention.
  2. Self talk: This ability is known to increase or decrease our anxiety depending if it is negative or positive self talk respectively. Negative self talk can be heard when a student is presented with a new challenging drill and it may sound like, “I can’t do that” or “I’ll never be able to…” Needless to say, negative self talk can have a negative impact on self image, confidence, and performance while positive self talk can improve them and as a result should be a vital component of any training curriculum.
  3. Our responses to our emotions: I consider this ability is by far the most important in sport and in life. It is our ability to take a hit in the face and not respond with rage. It is our ability to feel depressed and not hurt ourselves or others. It is our ability to not let our feelings of nervousness stop us from experiencing life. Let me make an important distinction. This ability is not about controlling our emotions. Our emotions are appropriate responses to things that happen. Controlling our responses to our emotions is what we do with those feelings of anger, depression, or anxiety. We can choose to express rage or outstanding sportsmanship. We can choose to seek social support rather than self harm. We can choose find healthy ways channel our anxiety instead of letting it cripple us.

There you have it! Three mental abilities that I encourage all martial arts instructors as well as coaches to incorporate into their lessons. These mental abilities can improve with consistent training, just as balance, power, speed, and accuracy can improve. Research has shown these skills to improve performance as well as our wellbeing.

How do you define self control?

Self control is one of the five tenets of Taekwondo taught at Taekwondo Wellness. Be on the lookout for future  blog post describing how the other tenets may improve mental health as well. If you are interested in learning more about our programming, please call 520-333-3320 or visit our dojang at Intuition Wellness Center.

Written by Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

Image by: Republic of Korea


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4 Ways Courtesy May Improve Mental Health

In just about every martial arts class students line up at the beginning of class to salute the flags and their instructor. This tradition teaches students to honor their specific martial art heritage and respect their instructor. Courtesy is one of the tenets of Taekwondo and I would argue that it also teaches students the value of respecting themselves and improving their own mental health while they are at it.

Let me explain, courtesy is not just about respecting others, although it certainly is important, it is also about respecting one’s self. How many times have you heard someone insult themselves after a mistake or error. In psychology this self criticism is termed “negative self talk” and can be disastrous for our self-esteem and decrease our ability to perform at our best due to the increase in anxiety that usually accompanies negative self talk.

Here are 4 ways that practice a bit of courtesy can improve our mental health:

  1. Being nice to others may bring a smile to their face, which in turn may bring a smile to your own face and smiling is known to increase “happiness producing” endorphins such as dopamine in our brains.
  2. Respecting others, even in moments of frustration can help reduce increased stress and anger that may result when others disrespect you.
  3. Being nice to ourselves and either eliminating or decreasing negative self talk can boost our self esteem, motivation, and our performance.
  4. Being nice to ourselves can trickle down to the younger generations especially when children overhear how we reframe frustrating or disappointing events into a more positive perspective focused on personal growth rather than criticism.

What are other ways you think courtesy can help mental health?

Courtesy is one of the five tenets of Taekwondo taught at Taekwondo Wellness. Be on the lookout for future  blog post describing how the other tenets may improve mental health as well. If you are interested in learning more about our programming, please call 520-333-3320 or visit our dojang at Intuition Wellness Center.

Written by Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

Image by: Pixabay

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Families That Train Together, Stay Together

I remember training in Chicago, Illinois and hearing my sa bum nim, Master Rodriguez, say “families that train together, stay together.” I am now reminded of that value as Intuition Wellness Center restructures Taekwondo Wellness classes with the vision of establishing a family oriented program that brings families closer together.

As a result, we have decided to lower our Taekwondo Wellness monthly fees to $95/month so that it is more affordable for Tucson community members to participate. For families with two children interested in learning the art of Taekwondo, they only pay an additional $65 for the second child. Most importantly, we have created a $175 monthly “Family Membership” that encourages parents to enroll with their kids and benefit from Taekwondo Wellness training.

Lets kick together to make our families stronger and happier.

If you would like to enroll, please call us at 520-333-3320 or stop by our office between 9-7 pm.

Thanks, Yoendry Torres, Psy.D.


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Taekwondo Wellness Welcomes All

Our team at Intuition Wellness Center is proud to share that as of May 1, 2017, Taekwondo Wellness group classes are open to all Tucson area community members young and old and with or without a mental health diagnosis. This change was in an effort to be more inclusive of all Tucson area residents and to lower financial barriers for those interested in learning the art of Taekwondo. Private Taekwondo Wellness and psychotherapy sessions are still available.

For more information or to enroll, please call 520-333-3320.

Thanks and be well,

Yoendry Torres, Psy.D.

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Taekwondo Wellness Therapy Group Starting May 24, 2016

We have exciting news about a new Taekwondo Wellness therapy group for kids ages 7 and up that will be starting on May 24, 2016 at Intuition Wellness Center. We are currently accepting referrals for kids, teens, and adults who may benefit from an alternative approach to overcoming emotional, behavioral, and social challenges. The cost will be $35 per 60 minute group session. We are a provider for BCBS insurance and group therapy services may be billable. Please note that this can be an adjunct to current counseling services or a standalone service for clients.
Please call 520-333-3320 to register or visit us online to learn more about Taekwondo Wellness therapy groups and other services we provide. Here are two flyers, one for kids TKD and the other for teens and adults TKD. Please feel free to email ( or call (520-333-3320) if you have any questions about Taekwondo Wellness therapy groups. Below is a bit more info about Taekwondo Wellness.

Taekwondo Wellness Difference

What sets Taekwondo Wellness apart from your typical Taekwondo school? We incorporate three distinct services into our classes that are aimed at helping youth, adults and their families improve their mental health and family and peer dynamics. The first key component is psycho-education, which teaches psychological hygiene, coping skills, and social skills. The second key component is parent coaching that helps families improve their communication and interactions with their kids and others. Mindfulness meditation is the third key component, which is incorporated into each session to take advantages of its many benefits such as improved attention span, pain relief, and decreases in anxiety to name a few.

Taekwondo Wellness Core Curriculum

  • Clinical Interview & Treatment Plan: Participants will each be evaluated by one of our clinicians who will help identify mental health needs and treatment plan.
  • Taekwondo Philosophy: Students will learn about the core Taekwondo principles and how yin jang concepts of Taoism can be applied to our daily lives to reach a state of harmony.
  • Poomsae: Students will learn and practice a set pattern of defensive and offensive techniques as a means of improving power, speed, and balance while striving for self refinement.
  • One Step & Self Defense: Students will learn to apply Taekwondo blocking and striking techniques to real-life situations building self-esteem and sense of security.
  • Olympic Style Sparring: Intermediate rank students will learn sparring rules, skills, and strategies of Taekwondo sparring while developing good sportsmanship, coordination, balance, self control, and self-reliance.
  • Board Breaking: Students will learn to focus their minds and overcome fear to achieve feats of strength and build confidence.
  • Physical Fitness: Through rigorous exercises using interval training students will see improvements in their endurance and strength as well as managing their weight.
  • Flexibility Training: Students will practice stretching regularly for improved range of motion not only for higher kicks but for its physical and stress relieving benefits as well.
  • Psycho-education & Mental Training: Students will learn about self talk, goal setting, and energy, stress and anger management in addition to other psychological issues and risk factors.
  • Parent Coaching: Parents observing class will get parenting tips and learn how to manage or redirect unwanted child or adolescent behavior.
  • Meditation: Students will learn and practice mindfulness meditation for its physical and psychological benefits, including stress, pain, and mood management.
  • Body Awareness: Students will became aware of their bodily sensations and the difference between tension and relaxation, as well as, a better understanding of how stress can be stored in the body.
  • Fun: Last, but not least, is fun! Students will laugh, smile, and have lots of fun while practicing Taekwondo. Humor has been shown to have physical benefits such as boosting our immune systems and energy and diminishing pain, in addition to improving mood and relieving stress.

Written by Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

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Obesity, Mental Health, & Taekwondo

The Surgeon General reports that “obesity poses a major pubic health challenge” contributing to an estimated 112,000 preventable deaths annually in the United States (Surgeon General, 2010). Obesity can increase health risks to a number of diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Surgeon General, 2010). Moreover, there are a number of mental health issues associated with obesity such as depression (Surgeon General, 2010). Not only is obesity a serious health concern for adults but it is also an increasing problem, from 5% in 1980 to 17% in 2008, seen among U.S. children (Surgeon General, 2010). Furthermore, there are disparities among some racial groups, specially 29% of non-Hispanic black teenagers and 17.5% of hispanics teenagers are obese, while the prevalence for non-Hispanic white teenagers is 14.5 percent (Surgeon General, 2010). The Surgeon General (2010) points out that although obesity is a health crisis among the general population, it is  “even more prevalent in persons with mental illness with some reports indicating 83% of people with serious mental illness being overweight or obese.” The Surgeon General (2010) recommends 60 minutes of physical exercise. However children tend to struggle with the more traditional routine repetitive workouts that a adult may engage in, thus children require physical exercise that rigorous yet fun enough to keep children engaged in the activity.

Taekwondo is a martial art that uses rigorous physical exercise as a primary form of training. Many children find Taekwondo fun and exciting because they are learning an ancient martial art that is not only a sport, but a discipline that promotes healthy living through training the body and mind. For many practitioners, it is a way of living. Taekwondo strengthens the body through rigorous strength and endurance building exercises and cultivates the mind through the teaching of its philosophy and core principles: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control, and Indomitable Spirit. It is this combination of training the body and mind that has been shown to be effective at reducing aggression (Nosanchuk 1981; Daniels & Thornton 1992; Nosanchuk & MacNeil, 1989; Trulson, 1986; Skelton, Glynn & Berta, 1991; Lamarre & Nosanchuk 1999), increasing self-esteem (Duthie, Hope & Barker 1978; Richman & Rehberg 1986; Kurian, Verdi, Caterino & Kulhavy 1994; Finkenberg, 1990; Trulson, 1986), and decreasing stress (Iso-ahola & Park, 1996; Kurian et al,. 1993; Rothperl, 1980; Foster, 1997, Trulson, 1986). Furthermore, the literature indicates that martial arts are beneficial for various populations, including middle school students (Zivin, et al., 2001), adolescents with a history of violence (Twemlow, & Sacco, 1998), as well as geriatric populations (Cromwell, Meyers, & Newton, 2007).

Intuition Wellness Center is proud to bring Taekwondo Wellness classes this summer (2016) to the Tucson community that will help youth and adults experiencing mental, emotional, or behavioral challenges. Taekwondo Wellness classes will offer instruction in traditional Taekwondo with a focus on the mind-body connection, achieving a healthy balance in life, physical fitness, and relaxation through meditation. Visit our Taekwondo Wellness page to learn more about this exciting new program.

To learn more about obesity visit a previous blog I wrote for Intuition Wellness Center titled: Obesity in the US – Mental Health Implications & Recommendations.

Written by: Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist


  • Cromwell, R. L., Meyers, P. M., & Newton, R. A. (2007). Tae Kwon Do: An effective Exercise for improving balance and walking ability in older adults. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 62, 641-646.
  • Daniels, K. & Thornton, E. W. (1992). Length of training, hostility and the martial arts: a comparison with other sporting groups. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 26(3), 118-120.
  • Duthie, R. B., Hope, L., & Barker, D. G. (1978). Selected personality traits of martial artists as measured by the adjective checklist. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 27, 71-76.
  • Finkenberg, M. E. (1990). Effect of participation in taekwondo on college women’s self-concept. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 71, 891-894.
  • Foster, Y. A. (1997). Brief Aikido training versus Karate and golf training and university students’ scores on self-esteem, anxiety, and expression of anger. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 84(2), 609-610.
  • Iso-ahola, S. E., & Park, C. J. (1996). Leisure-related social support and self-determination as buffers of stress-illness relationship. Journal of Leisure Research, 28(3), 169-187.
  • Kurian. M., Caterino, L. C., & Kulhavy, R. W., (1993). Personality characteristics and duration of ATA Taekwondo training. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 76, 363-366.
  • Kurian, M., Verdi, M. P., Caterino, L. C., & Kulhavy, R. W. (1994). Relating scales on the children’s personality questionnaire to training time and belt rank in ATA Taekwondo. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 79, 904-906.
  • Lamarre, B. W., & Nosanchuk, T. A. (1999). Judo – the gentle way: a replication of Studies on martial arts and agresión. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 88, 992-996.
  • Nosanchuk, T. A. (1981). The way of the warrior: the effects of traditional martial arts training on aggressiveness. Human Relations, 34(6), 435-444.
  • Nosanchuk, T. A., & MacNeil, M. L. C. (1989). Examination of the effects of traditional and modern martial arts training on aggressiveness. Aggressive Behavior, 15, 153-159.
  • Richman, C. L., & Rehberg, H. (1986). The development of self-esteem through the martial arts. International Journal of Sports Psychology, 17, 234-239.
  • Rothperl, A. (1980). Personality traits in martial artists: A descriptive approach. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 50(2), 395-401.
  • Skelton, D. L., Glynn, M. A., & Berta, S. M. (1991). Aggressive behavior as a function of Taekwondo ranking. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 72, 179-182.
  • Surgeon General, 2010
  • Trulson, M. E., (1986). Martial arts training: a novel “cure” for juvenile delinquency. Human Relations, 39(12), 1131-1140.
  • Twemlow, S. W., & Sacco, F. C. (1998). The application of traditional martial arts practice and theory to the treatment of violent adolescents. Adolescence, 33, 505-519.
  • Zivin, G., Hassan, N. R., DePaula, G. F., Monti, D. A., Harlan, C., Hossain, K. D., & Paterson, K. (2001). An effective approach to violence prevention: Traditional martial arts in middle school. Adolescence, 36, 443-459.
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Taekwondo Wellness History

YoendryTorresTaekwondo Wellness has been offering its unique wellness classes to children, adolescents, and adults of all ages and skill levels experiencing emotional, behavioral, or relational problems since 2008. Taekwondo Wellness was developed by Yoendry Torres, a bilingual Cuban American, during his clinical psychology internship (2008-2009) at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. The program originally had a focus on physical fitness to help treat childhood obesity, which is not only a growing problem in the United States but also more common in youth or adults experiencing mental health issues.

After internship and graduation from doctoral clinical psychology program, Dr. Torres obtained a job as a post doctoral fellow and then as a psychologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, Illinois where he further enhanced and streamlined his program. A much stronger emphasis was given to the importance a family has on participants’ wellbeing with the incorporation of parent coaching during group sessions. Additionally, emotional regulation was emphasized by regular practice of meditation at the end of every session.

At the present time, it is the goal of Intuition Wellness Center and Dr. Torres to bring Taekwondo Wellness to youth, adults and families in Tucson, Arizona in 2016. Corporate and private programing will also be available through Intuition Wellness Center. For more programing information visit our Programs page or to see the Taekwondo Wellness training curriculum visit our Taekwondo page. If you would like to be added to our waitlist so that we contact you once the group is about to start, please give us a call or email us.


Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, 4th Dan Taekwondo Black Belt

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Hello Tucson!

DSCF4490I’m excited to share that Taekwondo Wellness will be restarting in Tucson, Arizona in 2016. Our team, at Intuition Wellness Center will begin looking for gym space in the northwest side of Tucson early next year. Please stay tuned for more news and updates about this program.

If you are interested in being put on our waitlist for Taekwondo Wellness training, please feel free to contact us at 520-333-3320.

Thanks, Dr. Torres