Our school is wide open on this one. The older students have free reign (typically the lower belts sets the tempo). If you want to bang you can, there is chest protectors available, and most students wear shin and instep pads. Few use any type of forearm pads, and to the best of my knowledge none have or use gloves.
There are a group of students (mostly red and black belts) that if you want to fight hard they are more than willing (always a level of control though). As I said the lower belt sets the tempo and they learn quick what they can handle, the group tends to sort itself.
A few things to mention, we rarely make contact with head kicks and never with a punch to the face or head. And no matter what new students are always handled with kid gloves until we figure out what they can give and take, and kids are always hands off, no matter what
As far as intensity, if you get with the hard-core guys it is not uncommon to walk out of class busted up, but you knew it could happen. Friday Class is for fighting and if the instructor does not think you can take it he will not let you take class.
Personally, I donít wear anything (I do wear a uniform - Iím not that hard-coreÖ). No pads, no cup, I will make an exception on the chest gear if I have the right opponent and I think I may need it.