After fighting outnumbered multiple times and hitting everyone with my slash i was occasionally getting hit by a guy spamming stab. I first assumed it was because i didnt hit him, but when i fought another guy alone 1v1 he managed to stab me even though i just hit him. So i went to the tutorial to test, and sure enough. You can stab people before they hit you with their second combo strike. Landing a hit is supposed to give you the timing advantage so that you can land your hit before they can and i feel like stabs windup should be a bit longer or reworked as this is most likely not intended.
I havent tested it yet but i think its possible to land the second combo strike as long as you accel your strike, but since the npc doesnt accel i dont know