The Crossroads of the Aether
Please have a look at the blog of my friend, Ay-leen the Peacemaker. She has been thinking about non-Eurocentric Steampunk for a few years now.
Ah very cool, I'll have to see if I can add some of her aspects
Sherlock Holmes knew martial arts.
Japan went through a phase of rabid Westernization during the Meiji Restoration, but did manage to retain its basic culture despite many people trying to suppress it because it wasn't "progressive" enough. The Last Samurai is a pretty decent, for Hollywood, look at this; you can look at how the characters in it combined traditional martial arts with modern warfare (or not, depending on the character).
Sakura Wars is a SteamPunk series (movies, television and video games, no less) which is set in Japan around the 1920s (so, okay; it is technically DieselPunk, but it feels Steampunk, with steam-powered mecha...) which is a lot of fun, but may not be very applicable to what you are interested in doing ;)
There was a martial arts form in the late Victorian/Edwardian period using the malacca walking stick as the weapon; see http://ejmas.com/jnc/jncart_vigny_0500.htm and http://www.bartitsu.org/index.php/the-martial-arts-of-bartitsu/ and related sites.
I'm no expert on the Meiji era but it seems to me that the two worlds, the feudal and the modern western, didn't mix much. There were those who wore the traditional style of clothing and those who went with the western style. I have seen a few examples of western style dresses with oriental fabrics but otherwise the two didn't blend into a uniquely Japanese modern style.
Even the steampunk of "Sakura Wars" and "Sukiyaki Western Django" shows this separation. Either traditional or western but not a combination of the two. I should like to see more blending and adaptation.
As far as I know, you are absolutely correct; some of the Japanese stayed traditional past the point of death, while others did their best to eradicate their culture because it was so "obviously" inferior to the modern Western culture. It took time for the cultures to mix, and there are still pronounced separations to this day (when I was in Japan I took a photograph, lost in the house fire, of the corner of the eave of a fantastically decorated temple, with in the far background of the sky a portion of a very modern relay tower gave it contrast...). Some years ago, Mangajin Magazine, sadly no longer in publication (I can not recommend it highly enough for those interested in Japanese and the Japanese modern culture) had an article on the mixing of the cultures, which featured a bijin portrait of a young woman in a traditional kimono reclining in very unJapanese fashion on a western sofa, dangling one of her zori from her toes, which she has obviously not taken off when she went inside (a major faux pas under normal circumstances). The cultures did mix, but slowly and imperfectly, which gives plenty of room for someone to pick their own degree and type of mix ;)
*cough cough* Nippon, in particular, is perfect for Steampunk. I, personally, never appear at high functions without wearing my kimono.
If you should ever make it east, far enough to reach the dreary midwest -- I would love to cover you in silk, dear. Just the thing. And yes, the idea of Nippon-steam does appeal, doesn't it? Hor green tea and hammered metal. I love kimono, and have a rather vast assortment. I would love to see your gorgeous face framed by flowers and deck you in long, slowing hikizuri... :)
You are every photographers dream ^.^
*Is entirely flattered and enticed by your words of blossoms and honey* My black pinstriped furisode embroidered with circular Gallifreyan-looking clockworks and stars combined with Victorian hats and goggles is my general appearance at high-functioning soirees. I do get sharp tonged when the clumsier among us step on the fabric, however. Four layers are hard to rearrange.
You description sends me into a swoon of envious delight! I would love to see an image of you in this amazing attire! Yes, it is always a travesty when the unwashed masses step on pure, hand-painted silk... also, even the best of himo-ties cannot always hold up to being trodden upon...
You are entirely welcome, my dear, although it is only the truth that you are lovely. Your graceful frame is perfectly suited to the Asian silhouette. I hope you do post images of your finery. I'm sure many an inquiring mind would be overjoyed to see!
Is your goal to mix Asian culture into your steampunk presentation or just martial arts...and I am assuming you mean eastern martial arts.
Yes eastern, like Japan and such. But I aim to do both mixing the culture and martial arts comes along with Japanese, Chinese culture.