Society may follow fads but I think those that would be training karate have found other outlets.
So who are my students? Do they not count?
Have you seen the literally thousands of students under Buzz Durkin's liineage in New Hampshire? He's one of the most successful Uechi instructors (or TMA instructors for that matter) in the country. He does well because he's a professional. He comes to it with an MBA and good knowledge of his material. And his students have gone on to be both sport fighting champions (e.g. Gary Khoury) and active members of the military.
What you are familiar with is your own circle of friends who do what they do and prefer what they prefer. I would never presume to speak for them or their preferences.
Those who want fighting go towards MMA (even if they are bad at it),
That is a sport; that is not self-defense. You do not learn many-on-one in the ring. (I did it all the time with Dr. King in his Goju and aikido classes. He taught it in the military.) You do not learn and/or face weapons in MMA. That would include firearms, by the way. (Did you ever train under Rich Castanet?)
MMA is a fantastic SPORT proving ground, but it is not self-defense. The world has learned a lot from it. It got neutered and is now a safe sport. And the inquiring world moved on to the next fad.
Mixing a striking and a grappling style - something I and many Uechika have done - is MMA before MMA was a chiche. But that is outside the ring. That is not sport.
those that want flexibility and fitness have an incredible amount of choices.
As they should. But that has nothing to do with martial arts.
TMA, has a very small niche outside of young kids (my theory is TKD is a gateway to MMA).
Apparently you don't walk the same circles I do, Mike. It's still alive and well.
As I learned from 35 years of teaching, the numbers of students who come in the front door wax and wane with whatever movie or TV show is on. There's a large contingent that follow the fad du jour.
My core has always been the 5 or 10 percent who will always be there - with or without the "pink hat crowd" (a pejorative for a Red Sox fan who came around only when they started winning).
TMA should really drop the "T" and work at becoming contemporary (CMA?). After all, the principles should be timeless, the tradition not so much.
Why would you - someone who is here to tell us that nobody loves us any more - presume to come on here and tell us what we should do? And how would you know what we do? Have you ever been to a George Mattson camp? If you haven't...
Just a single example. Look up Rory Miller. I first met him at a Mattson camp. Now he has 2 books published. Check him out. I will bet $100 that you will not be disappointed. He was a teacher of prison guards in maximum security prisons. He's the real deal. And he's very nice, although I wouldn't gang up on him in a prison. You can tell...
Oh... and his roots are in Sosuishitsu Ryu Jujutsu. You cannot get any older or more traditional in the JJ world than that. Check that out as well. Interesting stuff... very close to what the Samurai actually did when the art was invented.
Good times, Mike. Remember you are always welcome here. But I will be passionate in my discussions.