The tactic is to dodge and use light hits till stunned, then hammer with a powerful attack for massive damage.
- Using rank 1, you can easily get critical on armoured (sweeps & throws) and un-armoured (strikes) targets.
- Once one of the above yields a "stun" effect, you can hit the opponent with rank 2 or 3 attacks. Use rank 3 or 4 for "stunned and unable to parry".
- At higher levels, you can use weapons as part of your martial art attack -- I cannot remember the name of it. This opens up much more powerful attacks. This is where martial artists really shine. The extra critical inflicted here make all the difference.
- The skill "adrenal defence" is cheap and the most powerful way not to get hit. Thus the martial artist does not need to split his OB much to get a really good defence. Note that normally one cannot use adrenal defence with weapons but for the above special weapons, you can making it very powerful indeed.
However, a martial artist facing a swordsman of equal or better skill will get cut to pieces. That's life. ☺
A martial artist should always start with rank 1 attacks -- depending on what the opponent is wearing -- as that almost guarantees a B critical -- If memory serves right. Once the target is stunned, they can "risk" high rank attacks. If the martial artist clearly outclasses the opponent, then rank 2 (or maybe 3) are worth doing. Bottom line, the martial artist will never kill in one blow but as a string of attacks.
The split into four ranks is to model the difference between a lot of fast light attacks and a few powerful devastating ones as is seen in (say) boxing matches. All other weapons user must split their weapons skill score in OB/DB -- with a shield adding a flat bonus. The martial artist does not thanks to adrenal defence but can! Splitting rank 1 gives them the ability to have a massive DB and still do critical hits.
Note that martial artists are terribly weak at low level, good at medium level, and grotesquely powerful at high level. At level 10, you can easily get a base DB of +100 and a rank 1 attack score of +130. The equivalent is an weapon skill of +200 and a massive shield.
Note that the number could be somewhat off but should be in a good bulk part.