To preface this: I cannot claim ownership over all of these tips as mine, but regardless I have picked up these tricks; I tend to forget where I get them from (though most of the things I have learned come from Damian and Kane).
Before utilizing and trying the things in this article you need to understand what range is to you, as well as knowing and feeling where your center of gravity is. If you need help understanding range in an offensive setting I have written an article for that.
With range our lessons teach 3 levels of range: out of range, in range, and past range. While these are correct they can be broken down further: out of range, unfeasible range, feasible range, and close range. By utilizing your offensive range there doesn’t necessarily need to be a “past range”. There are people who are a lot better in close range as well there are those who aren’t as skilled in that area.
With out of range, it is the same as what you are taught in the lessons. Even if you are against Kane and he is all the way across the field, there is no way he is going to kill you until he comes into a different range. For him to kill you he would need to cross the field and come into unfeasible or feasible range to kill you at a minimum.
Unfeasible range is just a little out of where they normally throw their shots. They may be able to hit you in this range if they add range using one of the tricks I mentioned in my other range article, or they may have their own way of adding that extra inch to hit you. This is where I like to be; just barely out of their comfortable striking zone. This forces them to over extend themselves to try and get that extra inch, which gives me openings to return an attack.
Feasible range is where most people like to be when attacking an opponent. If you are newer and have a hard time telling what the opponent’s range is, let them come up to you and watch where they stop. The distance between you and your opponent is usually where the opponent’s feasible range is as well as that is where they are most comfortable to kill you.
For close range I consider the distance to be anywhere closer than your sword point if you were standing in a basic stance. This is considered past range from the lessons in the manual. I say this is now the range for refuse stance (if you want to stab) or draw cuts. This is a range where your offhand becomes super important to keep their blade off you while you get yours in position.
Going between these ranges each has its opportunities. When going from out of range into unfeasible range allows for a quick snipe shot before your opponent sets up their defense. If you miss this opportunity, you can let them get into their feasible range and you take 1/2 step back. This 1/2 step can be with one foot or both and forces the opponent to keep up a defense while keeping them not quite in range to take a shot. If they charge into you coming into close range there is a stab or a draw possibility if you can clear their sword and keep yours on-line. For coming out of close range, especially when you are in refuse, you can do a swoop step or a slip step to follow them coming out with a lunge attack of your own while they are dropping their guard coming out.
Voids are another way to force your opponent to over extend themselves to gain that extra inch. How a void is performed is you move the body part they are aiming for back out of their range, or out of the way of where they are shooting. These voids you can do with your head, shoulder(s), arms, hands, chest, stomach, legs, and feet. Most people already know how to void their offhand when the opponent is striking for it. The same principle that is used for your offhand can be used for your body. Though to start voiding more with your body you really need to understand your center of gravity and be able to feel where that is and how to keep your feet below it.
When you force your opponent to throw shots out of their feasible range, or their comfortable range, you are forcing them to overextend, or fully commit to each shot they take. This gives you more opportunities to return with an attack as well as slows their reaction time. Though you have to be very careful to know the ranges so you don’t die, especially since they can get lucky or do a range change to get the kill on you. Void’s help against this drawback, but sometimes they aren’t enough. You shouldn’t just rely on this range change for your defense. The range change can be an added level of defense for you, but should never be your whole defense.