Aside from the explosion of the availability of instructional martial arts cassettes and dvds in the last 25 years and now internet courses, the same period has seen the proliferation of workshops and seminars. The good side of this is that practitioners can spend an intensive weekend or week studying with like-minded students under a famous instructor with an international following. Deepening your understanding or contrasting how your style diffes from what is being shown can be very useful for an experienced practitioner. The bad side of this is that some participants will inevitably confuse a superficial familiarity with the material with competence. This can affect all levels of attendees and it is not uncommon to find teachers incorporating new material into their own curriculums based solely on what they were able to glean from a few hours or days with a master practitioner.
Having said that, I also think that any serious practitioner should try to attend whatever relevant workshops he or she can find and afford. One of the things that has contributed to my development as a practitioner and instructor has been attending several dozen workshops/seminars by teachers famous, infamous, as well as relatively unknown from 1987 - 2002 and also my giving a couple of dozen workshops to strangers on a variety of topics from 1993-2000. I stopped the later, even though they were usually financially lucrative, because I didn't want to be away constantly from my young family at the time and because I also grew to dislike the feeling of being a trained monkey on display for the benefit of strangers.
However, that didn't sour me on the importance of getting a variety of perspectives or new information for those who really wanted to learn and I used to tell my students about relevant workshops in our geographical area for many years. I finally gave up as it was depressing to see how rarely any of them would talk about attending such even when they were affordable and in our own city or relatively nearby. I heard many excuses [scheduling conflicts, financial cost, not having the time to get away from family or other commitments] but, in the end, it just didn't seem as if many cared to learn to the extent that it was worth the effort outside of coming to class with me.
It is also true that in later years I used to tell my students to avoid workshops until they had at least an intermediate understanding of their main discipline to avoid confusion. I guess it didn't help the confusion factor that I would sometimes suggest, conversely, that being confused can be a great way to stimulate growth if you use that stimulation to find answers!
I also recommended that they attend with a partner who would subsequently be interested in working on the material covered after the fact. It's pointless to pay attention to new material for a weekend unless you find something that you can work on afterwards with someone who can help you correct your efforts and vice-versa. This applies particularly to two-person training.
As to giving workshops as I did many times in a variety of cities as well as Ottawa ... such can be rewarding financially as well as exhausting in terms of travel and time away from family... they can be rewarding emotionally when you see at least a few members of the audience light-up when exposed to whatever quality you can bring to your teaching or it can suck the soul out of you when you realize that a room full of uniforms covered in badges and stretched over fat bellies just means that you will be casting pearls before swine.
Whoops, did I say that out-loud? :)
Copyright, Michael A. Babin ©2018
43+ Years of Experience Training in the Chinese martial arts; 33+ years experience teaching taijiquan and 24+ years experience teaching baguazhang