During the recent Tai Chi Summer Camp hosted by Grandmaster Chen Zenglei, the highest rank Tai Chi master in the world, in Las Vegas, Nevada, a remarkable family of three captured everyone's attention. Drs. Philo, Kwei, and Jennifer Su from Missouri attended the camp and left a lasting impression and inspired all because of their love for each other and for Tai Chi.
Dr. Philo Su, seated in a wheelchair, was lovingly accompanied by his daughter, the beautiful Dr. Jennifer Su, who pushed him into the training hall. Kwei Su, Ph.D, an elegant woman in her early 80s, gracefully walked alongside them. Once inside, Kwei joined the advanced training group to learn the complicated Chen Style long form of Old Frame Routine One, while Jennifer carefully positioned Philo to observe and record Kwei's class. Whenever possible, he also participated in the Qigong practice from his seated position. Jennifer then joined her group to learn the Essential Chen 18 for Health.
Throughout the intense four-day training, the family remained incredibly focused and dedicated. Jennifer, a certified Yoga instructor, described the experience as physically demanding and mentally challenging, yet they all persevered and succeeded. Their spirit and enthusiastic participation deeply moved Grandmaster Chen and the others at the camp.
In recognition of her age, skills, and commitment, Kwei was honored with a special award as the most senior attendee. Touched by Kwei’s example, Grandmaster Chen decided to create a new award for future trainees aged 80 or older, aiming to encourage more seniors to embrace Tai Chi practice.
Anyone who has learned Tai Chi can attest to its seemingly easy and soothing nature, but in reality, it proves to be a complex art to study. Its richness lies in the intricate details and the simultaneous involvement of all major body parts—eyes, right arm, right hand, left arm, left hand, right hip joint, left hip joint, right leg, right foot, left leg, and left foot—all performing different movements and at various directions but in harmony. Beyond the physical aspect, Tai Chi chuan demands a high level of intellectual understanding, making it a regimen that engages both the left and right brain. Kwei did not start her Tai Chi journey when she was young. At her advanced age, it was truly remarkable how Kwei was able to memorize and execute all the intricate movements.
Born in Taiwan, Kwei Su earned her Ph.D in Pharmacognosy from University of Minnesota with further training through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Quantico, Virginia. She worked as a forensic scientist with the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory on forensic laboratory work and testified numerous times in federal and state courts as an expert witness in trials. In 1987, she founded Mid America Labs in Jefferson City, MO, a forensic laboratory specializing in drug testing services for the legal community, civil cases, and private inquiries as well as other medical services. As a successful entrepreneur, Su Kwei received recognition from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and was honored with the "Women of Achievement" award by the American Association of University Women. Apart from her professional achievements and being a dutiful wife and mother, she maintained an active lifestyle as an avid golfer and found stress relief through ballroom dancing with her husband. Struggling to find a smoke-free environment, at her suggestion, the couple established Capital Ritz in 1997, a state-of-the-art studio with top-notch flooring, lighting, and sound systems. The studio offers ballroom dancing and regular fitness classes, and hosts conferences, large events, and wedding banquets.
In 2015, Su Kwei and her husband, Philo, relocated to St. Louis due to Philo's serious medical conditions, seeking access to better hospitals and surgical centers. In 2017, Philo underwent a transplant, and Kwei became his sole caretaker, leading a stressful life. To cope with the stress, she joined a YMCA branch to take up line dance in 2019. Soon after, she discovered Tai Chi when the branch offered classes. Despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kwei continued her Tai Chi practice diligently, even taking private lessons via Zoom to advance her skills. Recognizing the depth of knowledge required for Chen style Tai Chi, she decided to attend Grandmaster Chen's summer camp, which presented the challenge of caring for Philo. Yes, Kwei could have a nurse to care for Philo while she is gone for 6 days. But they are married for 55 years and deeply committed to each other. To help her fulfill the dream, Philo agreed to go along. Jennifer volunteered to take a vacation out of her busy schedule and accompany them.
Jennifer is a trained physician specializing in OB-GYN, and she recognizes the limitations of standard Western medicine. She greatly admires her father, Philo, who dedicated 45 years as an OB-GYN and always made an effort to connect with his patients, understanding not just their physical conditions but also the happenings in their lives. This patient-centered approach embodies complementary medicine, where doctors view a person as a whole, rather than merely focusing on a single affected organ. Inspired by her father's approach, Jennifer pursued a complete education in complementary and integrative medicine after delivering babies for 20 years, at University of Arizona Dr. Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine alongside her husband, John Lucio, another physician. They were trained by the renowned Professor Andrew Weil, seeking to gain solid knowledge and provide comprehensive healthcare advice to their patients. Jennifer emphasizes her desire to be a doctor of health not a doctor of sickness. She wants to provide holistic well-being care rather than merely treating sickness.
Jennifer advocates the importance of various energy modalities, such as meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi, in disease prevention. She is a certified yoga instructor herself. She and John make a conscious effort to explain the concept of integrative medicine using straightforward language, and they have shared their insights through videos on YouTube.
Having witnessed the physical and emotional benefits of Tai Chi for her mother, Jennifer decided to try it herself by taking Chen 18 Tai Chi for health. Before attending a summer camp, she took a crash course from Kwei. After the camp, Jennifer experienced tangible results, losing 4 pounds of weight and noticing improved tone in her legs and arms. However, the most remarkable experience was when all training groups practiced Tai Chi together, generating a heightened level of energy or Qi.