(E): Incompetent: Indicates a total lack of knowledge. The character has no idea what they are doing. Any attack would be based on instinct and guesses. If a punch or kick landed, the character would not be prepared for the impact and might sprain or break something. A miss would leave them off-balance or on their face. A return attack will almost always cause damage, because the character doesn't know how to defend themselves. Hand-to-hand could still be used in desperation, but the damage to the character is likely to be as great as, or greater than, the damage to the opponent. Assuming the character can land a hit.
E+: When executing hand-to-hand techniques, there is clear evidence of someone who knows how to throw a punch or kick with some accuracy, power and balance, and without hurting themselves when it lands. While no seasoned fighter, they would also know at least some fundamentals and might prove capable of lasting for a minute in a bar fight.
(D) Practitioner: Casual users of this art have learned enough of the basics to use it in instances where they lack a weapon. Their techniques have power, accuracy and balance, but they lack confidence in their skill, so application is likely to be unimaginative and cautious. They will miss openings and are likely to be drawn in by a gambit. Likewise, they leave more openings. Practitioners are not the most likely to engage in hand-to-hand combat, but it is a valid option if absolutely necessary.
D+: While still unlikely to engage in hand-to-hand combat, Practitioners at this level have learned all the basics and can confidently apply them, with occasional variation. They have trained enough to be able to think on their feet to an extent. Outside of what they have learned and practiced, however, they should still be cautious or risk getting themselves in a bad situation.
(C) Combatant: Average users of this art that have proven that they are well versed in not only the basics, but numerous variations. They can see and exploit openings, consciously cover most of their own, draw the opponent in, and usually resist falling for gambits. Application of what they have learned is confident and spontaneous. Use of hand-to-hand techniques becomes viable in almost any situation.
C+: At this level, users begin to step beyond what they have learned and into how they can adapt it, using imagination and what they can grasp of the underlying theory of the art. Practicing the adaptations before using them is still advised. Users at this level begin to learn advanced techniques.
(B) Expert: Experts are among most skilled individuals in this field. While not a master, an expert is more than capable of handling themselves in a physical altercation. Their deeper knowledge of the theory behind the art and the capabilities of their own body allows imaginative variations of basic techniques on the fly. Their knowledge of anatomy allows them to selectively disable parts of their opponent's body. If an expert leaves an opening, it is most likely a gambit to draw the opponent in. They have learned several advanced techniques.
B+: The variations that an Expert conceives have been perfected and added to this Expert's repertoire, to be used as spontaneously and effectively as the most basic of techniques. They have learned many advanced techniques.
(A) Master: Masters are the best-trained in Hakuda. In fact, masters are so well versed in hand-to-hand combat that most moves can be executed to devastating effect, leaving little option for defense to any who are not at least equal in skill. All of the basics and variations are applied with reflex-level spontaneity. Their understanding of force and balance allows them to attempt and recover from techniques that would leave a lesser artist on their face. The opponent's anatomy and movements are an open book, and the Master has complete control over how much force is used. At average strength, even a miss can have enough power behind it to cause area damage. They know all of the art's theory and all of the advanced techniques, and begin to experiment with concepts to advance both.
A+: With greater understanding of the underlying theory comes the beginning of surpassing simple knowledge. Masters at this level have developed variants of the advanced techniques and have a good chance of effectively doing so in the midst of combat.
(S) Grandmaster: Grandmasters have gone beyond mere training and techniques. Their full understanding of the art's theory allows insights that no lesser artist could conceive. Their body reacts as needed or desired with little, if any, thought required for any situation. This is not to say that they cannot be surprised by a clever tactic, but it is unlikely to be as effective, if at all, a second time. In terms of power, at average strength, a touch can have the force of a bomb or merely sever a certain nerve.
S+: One might say that a Grandmaster at this level has ascended to a different plane. Their grasp of the art's theory and its application is as instinctive as breathing. Their body moves as needed or desired without thought, leaving the full power of their mind to plot a course of action ... or consider what to have for dinner, if the opponent is sufficiently below their level. Every apparent opening is a gambit. Every technique leads to a branching variety of others as if leading the opponent in a dance.