I have been playing the awesome new FromSoftware game Sekiro, Shadows Die Twice. They have a really cool (IMO) fighting mechanic whereby the enemies have both vitality (traditional health bar), but also a posture bar. You can defeat an enemy by depleting their vitality (traditional video game style), but also, if you can fill their posture bar, you make them vulnerable to a one-hit kill called a deathblow. In order to do the latter against the tougher enemies, it creates an interesting risk/reward mechanic, whereby one has to aggressively attack and defend/counter in order to fill the posture bar (as it decreases over time if one doesn’t keep increasing it). This makes for the best video game sword fights I have ever experienced. I am trying to brainstorm if something analogous could be applied to Blades. Certainly not for your rank/file opponents that are dealt with in a 1-2 rolls. However, for tougher opponents, I wonder if you could have some kind of linked clocks for vitality and posture, with the ability to focus on one or the other. Perhaps, the vitality clock is bigger, and trying to deplete it is usually less risky (i.e. better position), but has lesser effect. While the posture clock is smaller, but more risky, but with generally greater effect.
As you can see, I don’t have much in the way of concrete ideas. Just throwing it out there for discussion.