I was a hardcore saberist in 1.02.
All I did was play on duel servers, and occasionally FFA and TDM. I was also a heavy stance whore. I didn't learn it from anyone else, I just learned to use it very well at the time of release.
I never had a problem with kick. If someone was coming in to kick, you could either slash them, or roll away. Not a big deal at all.