Chen Zen, you make good points. I did better in the Chang style of sparring too. I found I was much more effective when letting my opponent come to me. I stand by my feeling that sparring brings in a dynamic that isn't there in self-defense. hand and feet coverings change some techniques and totally eliminate others. There's a line that isn't crossed while sparring.In self-defense there isn't that barrier. If you think that to defend yourself you need to blast the knee.. you do.Strikes to the neck,throat,groin are all targets in SD.
I'm not saying that sparring is useless,far from it. I just think that the whole idea that :"I'm a tournement champ so I can defend myself on the street"is flawed.
Having said all that you are correct in you opinion that MMA has surpasssed TMA as far as the physical aspects of training. I just wish they would call it something else. To me they are fighting while using martial techniques. I don't see much art in what they are doing.