To rebuild Karate as a True Art, and this would include Shotokan, Goju, Uechi, or various other types of the art, one should always look to the techniques. The applications are the kata made real, they are concepts made to work. They are the heart of the animal that is The True Art.
The first step, in making your art work, is to make your stance work. The forms teach how to get into stances from a variety of directions and previous postures. So one should practice the movements of the kata until this concept of transitioning from stance to stance can be done without thought.
The second step, if you are going to make the karate forms real, is to make sure your limbs are in functional positions. There are many arm positions in the martial arts techniques where your limbs cannot support weight enough to make the technique work. You must examine your form and change arm positions until they become functional in real world situations.
The third step is to have proper body alignment between the floor and the target. The body is a chain of muscles and bones from earth to strike (block), and you must make sure that every piece of the body is properly aligned. The old wisdom, a chain is as strong as its weakest link, is certainly important here.
The fourth step if you are going to make karate moves become significant, is to focus on your breathing. Breathing should be relaxed, but intent upon keeping the abdomen taut, especially upon hitting, or getting hit. Breathing simply for the sake of breathing, as is done in Goju Ryu Karate, must be examined for real function, and possibly altered if you are going to have real martial arts self defense.
The fifth and final step, and ultimately the most important, is that you must have Coordinated Body Motion (CBM) when you move your body. You must synchronize all motion, taking into account the length and mass of every muscle and limb, and the entire body. You must understand how this all relates to timing, and you must make your body motions assume this harmonious timing.
Interestingly, martial arts fighting has very little to do with finding The True Art. As a matter of fact, fighting tends to interrupt the concentration of thought that is necessary to put the pieces together that will resurrect your martial art. This is something that the old masters knew, and not just because they were old.
Any art can be a great art, but it always requires a great sensei, and a great student. The purpose of this bit of writing has been to educate students to be their own great teachers. Ultimately, your progress is up to you, and if you understand that then it will be easy to use Karate techniques to find the True Art.