One of the most popular DVDs I have done teaches 25 exercises that begin to teach some of the key internal strength skills you need for quality Tai Chi, Hsing-I or Bagua, particularly the two most important skills -- establishing and maintaining the ground path and peng jin.
Those two things must be present in every movement at all times -- it does not matter which style of Tai Chi, Hsing-I or Bagua you practice. Sadly, millions of internal arts students have not been taught these skills.
The exercises in the DVD, and on my membership website, require a partner. Some of my website members have asked how they can work the ground path and peng if they don't have a partner to push or pull on them.
I have created some videos that show the use of fitness bands. I bought a box of heavy duty Thera-Bands and cut off a strip, wrapped it around a post in my basement and tied a knot in it.
The ground path is a solid feeling between the ground under your feet, extending through the body up to the hand, the elbow, the shoulder, the ribcage -- anywhere you need it.
Peng jin is an expansive outward force that feels as if your body is pumped with air, preventing your limbs from caving in.
Both the ground path and peng jin are physical skills, not metaphysical, and they do not rely on some invisible energy ("chi") flowing through your body. These are body mechanics, a way of moving that helps you develop relaxed power.
When you stand with your feet shoulder width apart (Exercise 1 and Photo 1), and a partner pushes gently into your shoulder from the side, you should not collapse. You can feel the push forcing your opposite foot into the ground. If you mentally establish a connection from the foot to the shoulder, you can take the push to the ground and remain solid. To your partner, pushing into the shoulder will feel very solid, as if there is a steel rod at an angle from the shoulder to the opposite foot.
The second exercise is to extend your hand forward (Photo 2) and your opponent pushes into the hand. You establish the ground connection from the hand to the rear foot. With the fitness bands, you stand so that the band is pressing into your hand and stretch it so that you can feel the "push" going from the hand to the foot.
Always remain relaxed through these exercises -- relax the legs, flex the knees, relax the lower back, and NEVER tense the arms. Use only the amount of muscular tension it takes to hold your arm up or to stand.
Another internal strength exercise teaches you how to ground a pull. When your partner pushes from the front, you ground the force to the rear leg. But when he pulls on your arm (Bottom Photo) you ground it with the front foot.
A pull from the front is grounded the same as if your partner pushed you from behind. You would ground it to the front leg.
If this is confusing, and you have not been taught these skills, I would recommend my internal strength DVD or you might consider trying out my website (you get two free weeks when you sign up and can cancel anytime). The video for these solo fitness band exercises is on the website but not yet on DVD. The Internal Strength DVD includes the concepts and partner exercises that help you begin developing real internal skill. Without these skills, your internal arts are empty.