Hello again Ronin,
Your training and experiences mirror my own, yet are worlds apart. I too spent many years, and my formative years in MA, in a "in house" enviroment. These are some of my fondest memories in training.
Our approach was different, however. The forms were there, but there was more focus on the 1-3-5 step sparring approaches. Often one student would work a certain technique while another found different ways to work around it and so forth but it was very technique focused and resistance focused. And, as you suggested these things were all agreed upon. The resistance was there as a tool to learn the strengths and weaknesses of what we had to work with within our system. Its not about ego but about making sure that a technique will "Hold up under pressure".
These excercises were used to supplement our sparring,and for refining technique and mechanics. The sparring was always the largest focus of training. The thinking is that it is the closest thing to what we train for, thats what should be done. Thats not to say we never did forms,we did. There was simply less focus on it and more shifted onto application against resistance.
I wondered if you were going to catch the one kata comment. Judging by what you describe above, it may be a long form but could you not do it? After purple belt my art required that you create your own kata. As you are an experienced student, then surely you have come across the techniques that you will use from now on?
Perhaps Im alone in this, as I recently brought it up to another MA who said it was folly, but to me, I believe Ive reached the point in my training that Im no longer looking to add to the curriculum. Ive decided what I can and cannot do well and what I am willing to use in a self defense situation and these are the things I train. He says I have unnecessarily limited myself, while I maintain that I have simply streamlined my training and become more focused.Surely some of the more experienced MA out there feel the same way concerning there art?
The kata Idea, I think I could do it other than the grappling techniques. Purely striking wise, it would be simple and not very long. May have to buy a camera for this one...
p.s. Oh, and while you may say you know little of tradition, you have a traditional attitude. Something lacking from many modern MA., and sorely missed. When MMA streamlined training, they threw ethos out the window, perhaps not universally but on the large, anyways.
"When I let Go of who I am, I become who I might be."