They met through kung fu. Now they better the Petersburg community

They met through kung fu. Now they better the Petersburg community
Posted at 10:16 PM, Jan 12, 2022

PETERSBURG, Va. -- For the past two years, a small group in Petersburg has quietly been making a difference in the community and in people's lives.

Ray Spivey has been practicing Tai Chi for a little over a year.

Marlo Collins started practicing with his sons.

"Two years ago during Christmas time, my boys were home and I said we need to get out and do something," Collins said.

Two years later and he is still going strong.

"I thought I was just going to a class, a couple of times a week, coming home and forgetting about it," Spivey said.

Behind this movement are a father and his son. Both are Daoist priests.

"We don't live in a temple, we don't live a monastic life but we have the vows and the teachings of a traditional Daoist priest," Alex Bechtold said.

At Little Creek Kung Fu, their goal is simple.

"The primary thing in Daoism is to be able to help others, serve nature, protect nature, protect people, keep the peace, that kind of thing," William "Bill" Bechtold said.

Quietly, that's exactly what they have been doing the past two years.

"This group that I'm with here is more than just a group that meets a couple times a week. This group focuses on community, the Petersburg community, on us being together doing things to help the community," Spivey said.

The group has done several clean-ups. Their biggest and most successful one was Cameron Field, according to Alex.

"The track had been covered in many inches of mud and grass and the whole thing. We shoveled it clean," Alex said.

"You have to improve yourself. Otherwise, how can you truly improve others," William said.

The next chapter for Little Creek Kung Fu was the holidays, both in 2020 and 2021.

"Then we moved in Thanksgiving and Christmas so we started to add a large clothing drive to the food that was available on the holidays," Alex said.

"This year at Thanksgiving, we had toys for the first time, there’s even personal hygiene stuff, I mean anything anybody needs," William said.

While some might misinterpret what kung fu is, this group's mission is to help others.

“Last spring, we held a fitness drive, so we gave away work out equipment, we gave away like 550 pounds of weights, like dumbbells and pilates and all this stuff for people to work out with. We gave out yoga mates, we gave out Pilates balls, all those kinds of things, basketballs, baseballs," Alex said.

For those practicing Tai Chi, the experience is life-changing.

“Just the stretching that we do, just to open up the class, makes a difference, in my knees, in my legs, I feel more energetic after I’ve just stretched, so that makes a huge huge difference to me," Collin said.

Little Creek Kung Fu just purchased an acre of land in Petersburg. Their goal is to make it part of public space and part of it a sacred space.

"We are hoping to give back, more than we consume, that is our biggest goal," Alex said.

They want to emphasize that their mission is not about religion but truly about making a difference.

"We can come together as a community, no matter what your religion, no matter what your background, your race or whatever, we can come together to make things better for folks," Collins said.

While it will take time to develop, the acre of land is already reaping benefits from its new owners. Them cleaning the lot and the street every day makes a difference on this road and in the neighborhood which makes a difference in Petersburg.

For Little Creek Kung Fu, it helps make the world a little better.