It is of great significance to ascertain the mechanical characteristics and deformation laws of tectonic coal that is under complex stress conditions for safe production, but the targeted research in this area is still insufficient at present. This paper performed triaxial tests under cyclic multi-level loading at different rates by using an MTS-815 Rock Mechanics Testing System. The strain characteristics, elastic modulus and energy evolution were obtained in order to explore the effects of the mechanism of loading rate on the evolution of deformation and energy parameters of tectonic coal. The results showed that the irreversible strain and plastic energy increased exponentially with the increase in the deviatoric stress, but the growth rate decreased with the increase in loading rate. Furthermore, the elastic strain increased linearly and the growth rate was essentially unaffected by the loading rate. During the compaction stage, the variation of each parameter was not sensitive to the loading rate; during the elastic and damage stage, the rate increase inhibited secondary defect propagation and improved rock strength. In addition, the stepwise and cumulative energy ratio was defined in order to describe the energy distribution during cyclic loading and unloading. It was found that the decrease in the loading rate was beneficial to the transformation of the total energy into plastic energy. The elastic modulus was the most sensitive to sample damage, but the energy density evolution was able to be used to describe the deformation damage process of tectonic coal in more detail. These findings provide important theoretical support for the tectonic coal deformation law and action mechanism in the damage process that occurs under complex stress conditions.