Perhaps you have a different instructor, but I've visited these guys gyms. They wear light pads and they snap kicks.
You must never have seen taekwondo sparring then, totally different from point and similar to a "very technical street fight."
There's a reason I keep attempting to make a distinction between competition TKD and the way I learn it; the former would support all IronMan's claims. The latter does not. Idk if it's due to my teacher's military and boxing background in addition to being a 3rd dan black belt, but the way I have learned TKD has nothing to do with any of the stereotypes I've heard before on here.
I have said before that I have no illusions that Im going to beat the crap out of a BJJ or MT practitioner. It's pointless to debate the superiority of one art over another anyway; as an earlier post stated.
I would credit the military background more than I'd credit the TKD level, since two of the TKD blackbelts I have faced came out of a fourth Dan school. Still, that's beside the point.
You may not think that you can debate the superiority of one martial art to another, that's fine. I will say this, though, of all the Muay Thai guys I've worked with and both fought and coached against, alongside all of the TKD guys I've fought and coached against, I've come to the understanding that Muay Thai is a more comprehensive, more full-contact (and, thusly, street fight) practical striking style.
Again, I'm just drawing this out of my experience.
You may have a great instructor who teaches a very good, practical branch of TKD, but I have a hard time believing that he, or any of the other top TKD guys in the world, would last more than a minute in a streetfight with Melchor Menor, much less Rickson Gracie.
If you disagree with that, show me a TKD guy that you think can.