I'd like to also add (if it hasn't been said already) that if you're using an I Sword or T. Sword in confrontations, then you could also try only minimally tempering attack (if at all), and instead relying on Phoenix paired with a damaging element such as Vorpal or Fire for your attacking. This way you'll be able to put a lot more attention towards Defense, and therefore will be less likely to retreat as often. The downside of course is that you'll need to be picking flasks up constantly, and always using your advanced skill in order to deal maximum damage.
I've tried using it myself, and of course have had it used against me plenty of times too. If done right, the damage it deals can be enormous. You just have to remember to keep on picking up flasks, because your attacks will be just flea bites without Phoenix.