(last updated: 03/22/18)
The ability representing the strength of steel, BRACE is the core of all true defense strategies. Whether it be a powerful energy attack or a fierce punch, characters using BRACE know how to shift into a braced position, hardening themselves to take a hit. This ability can represent the complex "Iron Skin" techniques of monks, the ability to create chi or psi barriers with which to defend, or even something as simple as just being particularly hard to significantly damage when you're ready to take a punch. Burly characters such as Zangief and Seth are standard examples of those who might have this ability, but BRACE can even be found on characters with slight builds, such as Kula with her use of ice barriers, or Hinako with her sumo experience teaching her how to BRACE for impact.
The +brace Active Ability can be used any time during your turn when you have attacks to react to. Like all Active Abilities, it will prevent the use of any other Active Abilities this turn. It consumes reserve to +brace, but the effect lasts through your entire turn, even if there are multiple attacks to react to. Any attacks that deal damage to you will do so at [1.5] power levels lower. In exchange, an attack thrown the same turn will deal [0.6] power levels less in damage if it connects.
Note that +brace can be used before interrupting attacks, and that the power level reduction takes place after the power level reduction for succeeding the interrupt.
In TOP: Reserve cost of +brace is reduced to %.
D Rank:  use of +brace. Costs % reserve.
C Rank:  uses of +brace. Each use costs % reserve.
B Rank: Unlimited use of +brace. Each use costs % reserve.
A Rank: If you get hit while BRACE is active, % reserve is refunded.
S Rank: [STURDY] You now have a passive [0.4] PL reduction against incoming
damage when BRACE is not active. +brace costs % reserve.
SIG ABIL: Access to  charge of +bulwark.
When a character is in TOP, they can use +brace without spending reserve. All other details stay the same.
D Rank - At this rank, the fighter is first learning this concept of actively bracing for damage. It is a dramatic effort for them, and not something they can accomplish at-will.
C Rank - As the fighter's skill progresses, bracing becomes slightly easier to accomplish, and the fighter can use it twice in a fight.
B Rank - At this rank, bracing is now commonplace for the fighter and can be done at-will. The fighter can now execute this technique as often as they feel the need to.
A Rank - The fighter gains an understanding of just how much effort it takes to apply these defensive techniques and when enough is enough. When it becomes clear that damage is inevitable, the fighter can shift their stance to still mitigate the impact without having to put quite so much strength into it.
S Rank (Sturdy) - At this point, the fighter is so used to mitigating damage without having to consciously think about it. Now, even if they aren't actively bracing against their opponent's attacks, they are still mitigating damage in less dramatic but still effective ways. This can take the form of smaller energy barriers or even just active, aggressive blocking that reduce the force of a punch just enough to make a difference; it all depends on the character. Note that this passive power level reduction does not stack with those of traits such as DIEHARD; the greater reduction will take precedence.
Signature Ability -- BULWARK
Some characters can not only weather attacks far better than others, they can also become completely impervious to the pain inflicted. While not immune to the damage itself, these characters will still ICly suffer injuries from attacks while Bulwark is active, but they will be able to ignore the pain and keep fighting as if they hadn't even been hit. Eventually, the pain will catch up.
- Access to  charge of the +bulwark Free Action, which triggers the
BULWARK state for three rounds.
- All incoming attack damage becomes a  round DOT instead. This means
that you will take  damage initially from attacks, but the damage
from the attack will be distributed over your next three turns.
When you get hit by a DEADLY attack while Bulwark is active, the DEADLY damage gets rolled into the 3-round damage-over-time that all damage becomes while benefitting from Bulwark. This slightly benefits the player using DEADLY against Bulwark, because it means all of their DEADLY damage is done in 3 rounds instead of 4, but this really is a very marginal benefit. Unlike DEADLY, if you interrupt with Bulwark, the dots will tick for the full 3 rounds instead of half the rounds that happens with DEADLY. If you interrupt a DEADLY attack with Bulwark active, the reduced DEADLY damage is factored into the 3 round DOT you take. To sum it up, you will take the normal damage you would always take from DEADLY attacks and it will be rolled into the 3 round Bulwark DOT in all cases.