The removal of Martial Damage Dice, and thereby the monk's Flurry of Blows, marked a downturn for Melissa's enjoyment of the class. I can understand why: while other classes could use an action to attack one monster, the monk bucked trends by being able to at least try to punch more than one monster at a time. Now? It just punches things in a manner and frequency identical to every other weapon-wielding class.
|Oh hi there 3rd Edition monk!|
|Though my point of view might be blinded by too much awesome.|
I am not saying that the monk needs to be able to do all of this stuff at the start, but she should have some kind of always-on benefit that at least helps differentiate her from other monks. As it is each monk tradition gives you all of one thing you can do, and only once per day at that. Even worse is that aside from three, count 'em, three tradition specific features every monk gets the same thing at the same level.
Were I do redesign the monk—and pretty much every other class—I would lean heavily towards 4th Edition's approach to classes, giving you exactly what you need to function and letting the player choose the rest. Since all the monk really needs is the ability to function without weapons or armor (but still make weapons a viable choice), this leaves a lot of room for customization.
For starters, why not have Monastic Tradition give you something passive in addition to a ki-fueled daily ability? For example, The Path of Four Storms could give you a boost to your speed that scales as you level. Say, every 4-5 levels, so that there is more incentive to stick with the class and that level 20 has something extra for you, while The Path of Stone's Endurance could let you reduce all damage you take by 1 or 2 points if you do not move during your turn.
As you level up you could pick from a list of generic monk features, and your tradition would give you access to exclusive features (though there might be some conceptual overlap between traditions). Like, maybe at 2nd-level you can opt to have advantage on jump checks. Maybe The Path of the Phoenix lets you spend ki to spend Hit Dice during combat if you are dropped. To make it easier on new players, each tradition could have a list of recommended thematic features, similar to how feats and Specialties work (at least for now, anyway).
Another benefit of this model is that you provide better control for players to determine character complexity, as well as how "magical" they want their monk to be. If they do not want to think about too much stuff they can stick to more passive features. If they want to fire blasts of energy or create hand-shaped impact craters from a distance, then they can pick stuff with ki-costs (since those basically act like more flexible spell slots).