Inner Isshin

sword saint
Location Ashina Reservoir

Shinobi Firecracker
Loaded Umbrella (First & Second Phase)

Mist Raven (First and final Phase)



Memory: Inner Isshin
Another's Memory: Tengu

Inner Isshin (心中の一心, Shinjū no Isshin) is a Boss in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This Complete Inner Isshin Boss Guide gives you strategies on how to beat Inner Isshin easily, as well as tips, tricks and lore notes. This boss is a variation of Isshin, The Sword Saint (剣聖、葦名一心; Kensei Ashina Isshin; Sword Saint, Isshin Ashinaand is added to the Sekiro Free Update, Patch 1.05. This boss can only be encountered in the new feature, Gauntlets of Strength.

Bosses like Isshin are special, dangerous Enemies that feature a special display on-screen when defeated, such as "Immortality Severed" or "Shinobi Execution". You will need to perform multiple Deathblows on them in order to defeat them, and filling their Posture Gauge is the only way to accomplish this. However, decreasing their health will make it so their Posture Gauge depletes more slowly, assisting you in accomplishing this feat. See Isshin Ashina for the NPC version.


Inner Isshin Location

Where to find Inner Isshin in Sekiro?

Inner Isshin is the boss you'll encounter in the following Gauntlets:



Inner Isshin Rewards

What do you get from defeating Inner Isshin in Sekiro?

Completing the Gauntlet of Strength: Severance rewards the following:





Inner Isshin Boss Guide Strategies

Sekiro Inner Isshin Video Strategies



Sekiro Inner Isshin Strategy Writeup

Unlike Isshin Sword Saint, you do not have to fight Genichiro Way of Tomoe directly before Inner Isshin. Because you always fight this boss either in as a Reflection or in a Gauntlet of Strength, it is a good idea to liberally use even very rare consumables, because they return to your inventory after the fight. Ungo's Sugar is useful in the second phase on high difficulties, as the combos there are very dangerous and can easily kill you.

Isshin Phase 1: He will start a decent distance away from you. One of his first attacks will be his new huge AoE with the Black Mortal Blade. Shortly after he sheathes his blade, he will unleash a large sweeping attack around himself (this has tracking and will hit you even if you are in the air). A few moments later, another attack hits on the edges of the first one, possibly hitting you once more. One of his main attacks is a double slash with considerable distance. He will sheath his sword and it will flash white, then he will dash and double slash. Deflecting both attacks is an option however, you can run backwards and sprint to the side. Once he slashes he is open for a quick two hits. If you stand close to him as he sheathes his blade, he will instead slash at you and follow it up with a perilous sweeping attack. Unlike his basic form, he uses the sweeping attack regularly during the fight. His main slashes are a three to four hit combo, delaying between each hit. A thrust for an easy Mikiri counter, which will be telegraphed as he will end up in the thrust position before committing. Along with these attacks, he will do a long range wind attack, which can be dodge by running sideways as you can get a couple free hits on him this way as well. And a close range, full screen sweep, giving you just enough time to sprint backwards before it goes off. Once you get the deathblow in phase 1, he may continue to attack for a second before stomping the ground to begin phase 2.

Isshin Phase 2: Phase 2 is a massive difficulty increase from phase 1. Once he stomps the ground, he will do knockback damage, but not Vitality damage. Pulling a spear and swiping it in a tight circle around himself. If timed correctly, you maybe be able to get a hit or two in before he begins his assault. Along with the spear, he will have a short sword with him, along with a rapid fire gun. During this phase, he will keep the wind sweep attack, using it randomly throughout the fight. He will be consistently more aggressive, moving towards you if you make too large of a gap, firing the pistol if the gap gets too large. Making a large gap, you may be able to bait him into using a thrust that can easily be Mikiri countered. His new attack for this phase is a combo consisting of a perilous sweeping attack, immidiately followed by a slash that will hit you if you are in the air (but can still be deflected). He will follow up with either a thrust attack with huge range or a circular force attack that can be easily dodged. He will do large, heavy hitting overheads, usually one after another that can be deflected at the cost of heavy posture damage. Dodging sideways as he descends from the overhead, you can easily dodge the hit and get a few hits in yourself. After Isshin deflects one of your blows, sometimes he will jump backwards and make a sweep at you with his spear. Right as he does this, dodging into the attack (towards him) will allow you to get several hits on him as well. Be careful doing this, as he may do another overhead directly after. Dodging can keep distance, as much as he may spam the gun, is the easiest way to bait him into thrusting, easy overhead dodges, and breaking his posture overall. NOTE: Using the Loaded Umbrella will save you from taking ANY vitality or posture damage if you are struggling to dodge/deflect some of the perilous attacks (unless he is using lightning, which doesn't come until phase 3) AND Isshin will take considerable posture damage if you are using the umbrella to deflect!! You can use the umbrella to help cheese your way through if other means are not working for you. Deathblow on this phase will move him into phase 3.

Isshin Phase 3: Almost the same as phase 2, except he has three new attacks. One being a large swing, in which he covers his spear in lightening and swings it at you. You will want to get close when he does this and jump, as to deflect it directly back at him for big Vitality and posture damage, along with a flurry of free hits. His second attack will be similar to his phase 1 long range wind attack, the main difference is instead of it being vertical, it will be more of a distance slash attack. Third new attack will be adding lightning damage to his large overhead attacks. You can deflect the lightning, although the timing can be difficult. Strategy will be the same as his phase 2 fight. Bait out the Mikiri counter along with his lightning attack, and this phase should go smoother than phase 2. Upon giving him the final deathblow, do not miss the Mortal Blade deathblow, or you will have to go at his third phase again.

If you defeat the boss you will see the writing "IMMORTALITY SEVERED" upon the screen.


Sekiro Inner Isshin Attacks & Counters

Attack Indicator Counter
Phase 1
Charged Attack, Vertical Force Wave Isshin puts his sword back into the sheath and readies a stance. A glint will show on the hilt. After a delay he will strike downward with his sword, launching a wave of force infront of him. After another short delay a second wave of force will be launched forward following the same path. Deflect, then dodge second force wave.  Waves can be deflected fully but will leak damage if blocked.
Ashina Cross Isshin puts his sword into its sheath and after a short delay steps forward towards the player and makes two very quick slashes with his sword. Dodge left as soon as you see a flash of light at his hand. If trying to avoid this attack entirely, be sure to run as far as possible.
Ashina Cross Cancel If the player is very close to Isshin when he is readying "Ashina Cross" he will cancel the attack by quickly smacking the player with his sword, then following up with a perilous sweeping attack. He will also do this after the player repeatedly deflects his attacks.  Deflect the initial hit then jump and immediately start slashing, this gives you 2 or 3 hits. Do not stomp him, otherwise you lose this opportunity.
Ichimonji Double Isshin will raise his blade in a ready stance and perform an Ichimonni double. If the player deflects the first hit Isshin will stagger, then immediately transition into "Charged Attack, Vertical Force Wave". Since "Charged Attack,  Vertical Force Wave" is far more difficult to deal with, it is best to simply dodge. Look carefully at his posture, he leans slightly forward before striking. Dodge to your right when you see this.
Distance Slash If the player is far away from Isshin and/or uses an item Isshin quickly dash at the player and slash them. Make sure that you are far enough away that you have time to react or that it simply cannot reach you.
Black Mortal Blade Disk Isshin puts his sword back into the sheath and readies a stance. Black and white particles start drawing towards him. After this follows an undeflectable sweeping attack with tracking. Another attack hits on the outer edges of the first one. Quickly sprint away to dodge the first disk, then sprint towards him to avoid the second, you can get 1 hit.
Phase 2
Charged Attack, Horizontal Force Wave Isshin will sheath his sword and charge an attack. After a short delay he will quickly swing his sword in a spinning motion causing a large force wave in a circle around him. Wait for a moment, then deflect as soon as Isshin begins to move his arm. Alternatively, you can instead sprint and then jump toward him, then jump again on his head. The Sakura Dance combat art can also be used.
Charged Attack, Double Projected Force. Isshin will sheath his sword and charge an attack. After a short delay he will make two slashes in the player direction launching discs of force with each slash. The discs will deal damage through your block in not deflected properly. The attack is easy to dodge and it is recommended you do so as deflecting the discs will not affect Isshin's posture.
Sweeping Attack Combo, Vertical Force Wave The combo begins with a perilous sweeping attack, followed by a mid-air slash and a vertical force wave. Jump over the sweep, deflect the slash and deflect or dodge through the force wave.
Sweeping Attack Combo, Thrust The combo begins with a perilous sweeping attack, followed by a mid-air slash and a far-reaching thrust. Jump over the sweep, deflect the slash and Mikiri counter the thrust attack.
Leaping Slam When far away from Isshin and/or using an item Isshin will leap into the air and slam down with his spear. He will then follow up this attack with either a sword strike or he will pull out his gun and shoot at you. Deflect the slam then counter attack. Regardless of what he does after the slam he will either get hit or block your attack.
Retreating Sweep Isshin will leap backwards into the air and sweep in front of him with his spear. He usually does this after blocking/deflecting several of the player's attacks. This attack comes out very quickly and is difficult to deflect. Deflect, or quickly dodge forward for a free hit.
 Phase 3

All attacks from phase 2

Same description

Same counter

Lightning Slash

He will jump into the air and lightning will converge on him. He will then launch the lighting at the player with a sword swing.

Jump into the air and use lighting reversal to redirect the attack at Isshin, this will stun him. Sakura Dance is also very useful here.



Inner Isshin Lore

  • The reason why this younger version of Isshin appears is due to Genichiro using the Black Mortal Blade on himself, as a sacrifice, to bring his grandfather back from the underworld. As described by the Black Scroll key item, the Black Mortal Blade: "is said to hold the power to open a gate to the underworld. It is through this power that it creates life."

  • Why this younger version of Isshin chooses to fight you, rather than let you go, can be surmised in the dialogue right before the fight: Genichiro has used the blade to bind Isshin to his final wish, which is to bring glory to the Ashina Clan and win the war (by getting the blood of the Heir) where he could not.


Inner Isshin Notes & Trivia

  • Voice Actor: Andre Sogliuzzo (English), Tetsuo Kanao (Japanese)
  • The Japanese honorary title of Kensei (剣聖) is only given to a warrior of legendary skill in swordsmanship. The literal translation of kensei is "sword saint", which implies a higher degree of perfection and moral dimension than the more commonly used "sword master" (剣豪, kengo). The title is not to be confused with the term "swordsman" (剣士, kenshi).



Inner Isshin Image Gallery

[images go here]




Tired of anon posting? Register!
    • Anonymous

      I honestly think he is a downgrade to sword saint. While inner Genichrio got more aggresive and got 3 new moves all of which were fun to play around, this guy feel like he is a lot more passive, and he extends the fight, also his new moves are cool, apart from the one where he punches and instantly unblock sweeps, would be fine if he couldn't do it in the middle of your attack without even deflecting you.

      • Anonymous

        Fun fight, but words cannot describe how **** this arena is; uneven ground and grass blocking half your vision.

        • Anonymous

          For phase 1, if he charges his Mortal Blade attack, just use the Aged Feather tool to absorb the hit the punish him. Also, I usually attack him once then deflect, and repeat and that sometime gets him stuck in the loop. The Aged Feather tool trick got me through phase 1 pretty consistently.

          • Anonymous

            an important tip:
            if you are not able to damage him in the 2nd and 3rd stages, equip shuriken and as soon as he jumps with the spear, throw him.
            the first few times he will take damage and fall to the ground, but after a few tries he will still continue his attack in the air, but he will still take damage, so whenever he jumps, throw the shuriken at him and then immediately block for a perfect charge. , giving maybe a chance for +1 free hit

            • Anonymous

              Got him after a bunch of tries. I just ran away from his black whirl of death in phase 1. Phase 2 was mostly a matter of not trying to mikiri sweeps or jump on thrusts, and the usual deflect+hit. Phase 3 Sakura dance made short work of him. Phase 3 was definitely the easiest.

              • Anonymous

                He who need'th help, seek'th below.

                By this point there are some concepts you should have in your brain. Such as don't spam. And be aggressive. So go in and attack aggressively but steadily. When you hear your attack get parried, parry his next attack then resume your attacks. If you keep this up you can prevent him from doing several possible attacks including close range pistol shot and a quick stab. But do not spam and be on your toes for certain attack or parry animations.

                If he raises his sword for ichimonji, stop your attack and walk diagonally toward him. I play on pc so I just held W and D. His double ichimonji missed me entirely.

                He has two perilous attacks. If he puts his sword away, he can do an elbow into a quick draw then a sweep you need to jump. Be warned that is just one possible action he may take. He can cancel his quick draw and start doing normal attacks again. Or he can perform the ashina cross which has chip damage.

                He also has his stabs. One is done after walking sideways a few steps then into stab. Another is he will parry you with his hand then palm strike you with his blade back and pointed forward. That's his stab. That is why you don't just spam. If you see this particular attack, get ready to makiri him.

                Phase 2&3. And he brings out the spear and pistol. I combine these because the only difference between 2&3 is that he has lightning and we should know how to handle lightning by this point. He doesn't even redirect it like inner geichiro which makes me sad.

                If he drops his spear and spins it around him, obviously that's a sweep so jump. You'll also notice a trail of plants and dirt being tossed up.

                There is an attack combo where he'll do a running slice and dash past you. Then he'll stop and raise his sword. His first attack is a sweep that you have to jump. While you're in the air, he'll do an upward spear slash. So parry while you're in the air. The final attack is where it gets tricky. He'll either stab or do an air slice. If you see the perilosu warning, spam dodge forwards and you'll makiri him. The air slice takes slightly longer. it's marked by a wind particle effect. Wait for the wind to disappera then dash sideways and the air slice will miss. Otherwise it'll track and hit you.

                Another reason not to spam. He has an attack where he leaps back with a wide spear attack. Not a sweep so don't jump. He will often do this after getting parried so this is why you don't spam. If you go for a single coutner attack, you'll have time to whiff your attack then parry the spear. If you spam then you'll be in your second attack animation and get hit. Regardless, be ready. There si a chance he'll pull out a pistol. When that happens, runs sideways. I've seen ppl parry. Me? Why bother filling your posture bar? After the pistol, he might go for a spear sweep so jump.

                One more reason not to spam. He could lead in with a spear attack. After that he can go into a spear chain with hyperarmor or go into pistol blast. If you counter attack after parrying the spear, you'll interrupt his pistol. If he is going for a chain, you'll have time to land one attack then parry the following spear attacks. If you had spammed and he goes for a spear chain, you'll get his by one of his spear attacks.

                I recommend ichimonji for this boss to reduce your posture. Do ichimonji after makiri countering him or after dodging his ichimonji. Be warned. While most of the time he won't respond with a quick attack and you can parry his follow ups, I have seen on occassion a quick follow up attack which will hit you while you're in recovery.

                Good luck.

                • Anonymous

                  I expected him to do a lightning reversal to my lightning reversal. A bit disappointed that he didn't.
                  BTW if you want to dodge his Mortal Blade sweep attack. Step back 2 times for the first shockwave and step towards him on the second.
                  You also have enough time to step back 2 times if he charges for the sweep attack after you deflected his Ichimonji.

                  • Anonymous

                    Phase one: I just hit and deflect him normally, an umbrella is need, though.
                    Phase 2 & 3: RUN! Run around and and dodge and block all the time and wait for his leaping attack. Deflect, or dodge it and its next attack, then hit him with a charged thrust attack. Run again. It's really time consuming, but safe. I named it: The P$#sy way...

                    • Anonymous

                      If anyone comes back to this like I have, the three things that helped me the most was lilac umbrella, senpou leaping kicks for phase one, and praying strikes for phase 2 and 3. Stay as close to him as possible in phase one, learning when to deflect. Lilac umbrella blocks all damage and does good damage to him with projected force. senpou leaping kicks cancels a lot of his attacks even if he isn't doing the sweep. Don't run away when he sheathes his sword, attack, immediately block, then get ready to dodge forward for the thrust, leaping kick for the sweep, or keep attacking if he cancels. If you need to heal, run very far away before healing, he can cover a lot more ground than you first think he can. For second and third phase, I deflect any big attacks with lilac umbrella, use projected force, and follow up with praying strikes. Tap block in case he attacks right after, then jump away, running can get you hit. Any other tips have already been covered by this guide or other comments, so tuck this in your brain, stay on it, and inner isshin will eventually go down

                      • Anonymous

                        I spent an entire night practicing for the Gauntlet of Severance after I’d unlocked it.
                        I didn’t start until I beat each of the Gauntlet bosses three times in a row.
                        I was focused.
                        I was ready.
                        I was confident that I could complete it then and there.
                        Then, after easily dispatching Genichiro, I found out that I’d be fighting a tougher version of the Sword Saint than I’d practiced for.
                        He shredded me with his sweep/thrust combo as soon as phase two started.
                        I almost wept.

                        • The "Ashina Cross Cancel" is sometimes pretty unfair. He will randomly pull this off when you hit him and since you're already at point blank range he instantly does the cancel and it just goes out so fast that you can't react and it deals around 70% hp with max hp :)

                          • Anonymous

                            you can't see what the **** he's going to do in tall grass and 90% of his attacks are perilous, bullshit boss.

                            • What helped me a lot is NOT always using the left Stick while attacking him! Just Run towards him if he backs up to restore posture. That will help you deflecting and avoiding his attacks a lot!

                              • Anonymous

                                I play charmless and with demon bells, with One Mind and Phoenix's Lilac Umbrella mailny, and Inner Isshin is the easiest of the 3 Inner bosses in my opinion. Because he is not as aggressive as Genichiro and Father. And he has very few new movesets (the mortal blade, some cancel attacks, his very slow attack with the big air sweap too). While Genichiro became way more difficult than his normal version, can reverse his lightning and do sweaps to always pressure you. And Inner Father is clearly the worst, very damaging, with a lot of new movesets, particularly in the second phase, he is teleporting as crazy, the camera can not keep up. Defnitely the most difficult fight I ever played in an action game.

                                • Anonymous

                                  So I have literally tested all methods and basically if you fail to deflect after the sweep and he goes for thrust then there is no way to counter.

                                  • Anonymous

                                    Sakura Dance is a GOD SEND for phase 3. Please get it if you haven't already (Gauntlet of Strength: Divine Heir). Whenever he does his lightning attacks, don't try to Lightning Reversal, just to Sakura Dance. Saves you the trouble of timing it. Also feels like you don't take as much lightning damage.

                                    • Anonymous

                                      Finally won but I will not lie this guide and comments here helped me a lot. Especially with the ashina cross and and the swipe combo in phase 2.

                                      • Anonymous

                                        Is this for real? Or is this not updated?
                                        Additional attacks:
                                        Phase 1-
                                        1) mortal blade disk attack: makes a massive black mortal blade disk followed up by an even bigger disk. You can't run away as the aoe is massive. Deflecting will kill you.
                                        2) ashina cross followup: if you try to run away from ashina cross he will take a big step and ashina cross you(kill you) so unless you deflect the cross you're fkd.
                                        3) ichimonji mortal disk follow up: if you successfully deflect his ichimonjies he will sometimes does the mortal blade disk attack with no way I know to counter it.
                                        Phase 2:
                                        1) mortal blade disk attack: same as phase 1
                                        2) running swipe: he will shoot bullets with his glock then run towards you doing a sweep then if you jump he immediately do a upward spear attack followed by a mid air thrust. A completely devastating combo still figuring out how to deal with it.
                                        Phase 3: he will obtain horizontal wave sword attack and lightning attack

                                        If it was that easy as this guide describes I would've never came searching for tips.

                                        • Anonymous

                                          this boss will suck every single healing item out of you. However I’m third phase you can lightning reversal which helps out a lot

                                          • For phase 1, purple umbrella can deflect the mortal draw's attacks when timed right, there are two hit detection for the first draw, so you might fail to parry the second hit if you umbrella too early. You can also dodge it by first running away from the range of the first hit, and then quickly run into the "eye of the storm" to avoid the second hit.
                                            He is also smarter with his pommel-sweep attack in phase 1, he used to only do this when you get close while he's preparing for Ashina cross, but now he'll occasionally use it as a counter move after blocking one of your hits, the initial pommel hit comes out very fast and is guaranteed to interrupt any of your following attacks, and if you're not careful and you got hit with the following perilous sweep, it will one-shot you without charm. Therefore it is recommended that you stop attacking after he blocks your first hit, so that you can react to his potential pommel counterattack in time and not get caught off-guard.

                                            Nothing special with phase 2 other than his new move, which you can safely dodge by jumping backward, timing the parry of the second hit in time, and either mikiri or parry the last move depending on which one he uses. You'll have to tank some hits to get the timing right, but once you figure out the timing it becomes trivial. If you jumped away fast enough, you won't even have to bother with parrying the second hit as you'll be out of it's range, but it's a good practice to always anticipate that it'll hit you.

                                            umbrellas are also just an amazing utility tool overall, it parries projectiles wonderfully and can send them back for more damage, you can use it to parry some heavy-hitting moves that will knock you back / temporarily lock you in post-parry animation and you would be able to recover instantly and deliver more hits afterward than if you parried with your sword. The fire and purple variance provide extra status affect protection, and the follow up attack after using umbrella has hyperarmor, deals a lot of damage, and can interrupt most hyperarmor attacks. Also, in case you don't know, you can hit parry button while holding up the umbrella to spin it to parry attacks, the spin also have a much bigger parry window.

                                            • Anonymous

                                              I'm confused on how to dodge that new attack he always uses in phase 2 immediately, where he charges a shockwave in the air. It's basically an instant kill. He starts it with some sword combos. Driving me nuts

                                              • Anonymous

                                                Firecrackers make this fight easier (free hits)
                                                For some reason I find his first phase the hardest (for Inner Isshin), I feel like the spear is easier to avoid.

                                                The new mortal blade sword sweep and the new charging spear and sword attack (where it goes through blocks) are the hardest to avoid.

                                                • Anonymous

                                                  he has two variants of a new unblockable attack during phases 2 and 3. they both start off with an unblockable sweep, immediately followed by a mid-air slash, and finally followed up with either a vertical force slash OR an unblockable thrust.

                                                  to counter: jump + immediately mid-air deflect + deflect if you see him gathering wind for his slash attack OR mikiri if you see the kanji.

                                                Load more
                                                ⇈ ⇈