...the difference in training was frightening, and very eye opening.
Yes, it can be, especially if you've never really experienced functional, alive training. It's even worse if you happen to wind up in a gym with an a-hole coach (in some of those cases, there may not be any "progressive" resistance).
However, how do you train for functionality, and still keep the pure tradionalism, and can you? Personally I dont think its possible, but Im not a purist either so it doesnt bother me like it would, say a traditional karateka or judoka
What I have found is that there is always traditionalism in different forms. But I'm guessing you are referring to the more ritualistic practice, board breaking, hitting/kicking the air, line drills, kata, etc? If so, I would agree. I don't think you can have the best of both worlds. Well, perhaps you could, but you would really be cutting into your time.
It's like I have always said, if people love kata, great. Do it. Do everything and then include some functional, alive training as well. That works if you have endless time to train or, simply enjoy practicing dead patterns, etc. Hey you know, to each his own. Personally, I couldn't do it. I just can't. I can't even hardly practice the "RAT" (PFS-JKD drill).