Wouldn't it be fun to know the future of anything? Well maybe.
Your point about making this art we study more our own though is well taken. I wonder how this medium we use so frequently will change and alter martial arts. I enjoy looking at changes that have occured in our style and others over the last forty years. I doubt that Funakoshi would recognize the art he spawned, but if we look closely we can see the influence of kendo (especially the tournament format and stances) the more native Japanese art, upon Okinawan karate. Would Kanbun recognize all the bouncing many Okinawans and Americans are doing (my predicition is that bouncing will either fade away as a fighting style, or be incorporated in a kata), and where did all the bouncing come from. Western boxing? Kendo? The Koreans?
Ah, the Koreans. Talk about diversification and evolution. 1954. The darn style is younger than me. (But I am still younger than Prof. Neide.) Goodness, look at the changes it has gone through. And speaking of cultural influence, since I am rambling anyway, is it any wonder that in a world where soccer is the number one sport that a style of martial arts emphasizing kicking would not also climb to number one?
Many of us look back fondly on a time when we were all one group (OK, we were never really all one group, but we sort of pretended we were or didn't mention any of the splinter factions). But, as many of the masters who the American seniors trained with age, we will be faced with a frightening prospect...there will be Americans with more experience, more years, and perhaps more knowledge of Uechi than many of their Okinawan counter parts. Will the lack of cultural identification with karate, that is the fact that karate is not part of our American culture as opposed to it being an very important part of Okinawan culture, diminish the accomplishments or lessen the skills of the American seniors. Will it harm the evolution?
In twenty years, provided we are still around, it is unlikely there will be anyone left who studied with Kanbun. How many will be left who attained mastery under Kanei?
I believe the challenge placed before us was best articulated by Funakoshi who observed, "To search for the old is to understand the new. The old, the new This is a matter of time. In all things man must have a clear mind. The Way: Who will pass it on straight and well?" (Karate Do Kyohan, by Gichin Funakoshi, translated by Tsutomu Ohshima; Kodansha International Ltd. 1974.) Let us hope the answer to Master Funakoshi's question can be found here in America with those of us crazy enough to study this art the Uechi family has so generously shared with us.
Robb in Sacramento