Isshin Ashina

Location Ashina Castle
Weakness Shinobi Firecracker
Reward Memory: Isshin Ashina
Combat Art: One Mind

Isshin Ashina (葦名一心, Ashina Isshin) is a Boss in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This Complete Isshin Ashina Boss Guide gives you strategies on how to beat Isshin easily, as well as tips, tricks and lore notes. 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.


Isshin Ashina Location

Where to find Isshin Ashina in Sekiro?



Isshin Ashina Rewards

What do you get from defeating Isshin Ashina in Sekiro?



Isshin Ashina Boss Guide Strategies

Sekiro Isshin Ashina Video Strategies



Sekiro Isshin Ashina Strategy Writeup

Phase 1: Deflect Isshin's standard attacks and follow up with your own attack. Most of his attacks are slower than Emma's so be sure to adjust to the slower pace of this fight. He likes to use Ichimonji and Ichimonji Double often so be ready to deflect it to gain a window to counter attack him or dodge to the side and punish (the second strike is interruptible). Since the Ichimonji Double has such a long windup phase it is possible to get one or two hits in before dodging/countering. When Isshin puts away his sword and it gleams he will do Ashina Cross, so run away and counter attack him near the end of the attack. Alternatively, if the player is somewhat close he will do a slice attack followed by a sweep. To counter, parry as soon as he draws his sword from its sheath and then jump over the subsequent sweep attack. There's a loop players can get Isshin in by swinging at him once, he will avoid and spin slash you. Players should swing watch for his counter then dodge backwards and counter attack. He will follow up with a dash swing and players can repeat this semi regularly. Be careful as he likes to grab and thrust often. Occasionally, Isshin may do a sweeping attack after a slash dodge backwards or jump over it and attack his posture.

Phase 2: In this phase the same tactics of Phase 1 will work but we must adapt to the new fire attacks and the onslaught of slashes. After the deathblow to enter phase 2, players have a moment which they can use Ichimonji double to damage Isshin's posture. When Isshin brings his sword up vertically with a raised leg he will step create fire and slash sending a firewave outwards. Pick a direction and rotate around him rushing to get a counter attack in once the attack is over. At times, if you are early you may get nipped by the sword. When Isshin sword is parallel to the floor he will engulf the whole room in fire. There are a few safe spots scattered about. Usually run to a corner and avoid the glowing spots. Prepare yourself to deflect a 1 swing, series of slashes, and a final slash. They all can be deflected which will grant players a window to attack if done right. Players can prevent his attack by using Shinobi Firecrackers as he starting the attack. If you see Isshin stomp the ground quickly pick a direction and run as he will send a vertical firewave to your location. Players can circle back and attack him once safely.

If you defeat the boss you will see the writing "SHINOBI EXECUTION" upon the screen.


Sekiro Isshin Ashina Strategy 2 (Mist Raven)

Phase 1: Treat it like a normal sword fight, similar to Emma. There's a few moves in particular to watch out for

  1. If you start an attack and he dodges it, get ready to deflect, otherwise he will immediately hit you. Because of this, it's unwise to start a skirmish with him with a combo, stick with a single attack.
  2. When his sword gleams preparing for the Ashina Cross attack, sprint far away from him in a wide arc. The moment it finishes, continue your sprint towards him and punish him. This move is very difficult to deflect correctly.
  3. When he prepares to do the Ichimonji chop, wait a moment and then use the Mist Raven to teleport behind him for 1-3 free hits. Because of it's delayed onset, this might be tricky. Running directly away from it is also an option, as is dodging to the side.
  4. If you need to heal, run around him until he opens a combo or the Ashina Cross. When it finishes, you have time to heal without being punished.
  5. His grab is similar to Emma's and can be difficult. It has a slow onset but a huge range. You could jump over it and slash him, but the timing is tricky. You need to jump straight up and then press forward slightly so that Sekiro lands right behind Isshin. It's much safer to run/jump away from it as soon as you can, but jumping over the grab allows for a couple of free hits so it's worth it to get the timing down. If it does hit you, roll towards him when you get up so you can punish him from behind if he follows up with a slice (this also applies to Emma)

Phase 2: Just like phase one only now you have to counter the fire moves

  1. When he does the vertical chop that sends flames outwards, immedately sprint/jump to the right or left. This attack has unlimited horizontal range so never run directly away from it.
  2. When he fills the whole arena up with fire, run to a spot with no fire. He will then send flames upwards and prepare to attack you. Wait until the moment before he dashes towards you and use the Mist Raven to teleport near him (try to teleport to a spot without fire). Wait for him to finish his ball of swords move, then punish him.

If you use Mist Raven correctly, phase 2 is actually easier because many of the fire attacks can be easily punished.




Sekiro Isshin Ashina Attacks & Counters

Attack Counter
Phase 1
Example Attack Example Counter
Example Attack Example Counter
Phase 2
Example Attack Example Counter
Example Attack Example Counter



Isshin Ashina Dialogue

“Sekiro... You were a most unkind and inauspicious man... but for some reason I could not bring myself to hate you. It seems... I must cut you down before you fall to Shura.” Upon defeating Emma, the Gentle Blade.

”Shura... I never did think... I’d have to kill your kind again!” At the beginning of the fight.

”......... Sekiro... It was not... to be...” Upon his defeat.



Isshin Ashina Notes & Trivia

  • The samurai facing the general with the spear in the opening cutscene of the game is actually Isshin twenty years earlier.
  • While the One Mind skill is not required for the "Height of Technique" trophy/achievement, Isshin Ashina must still be fought if you wish to acquire all trophies; namely for the "Shura" ending trophy and the "Man Without Equal" trophy for beating every boss in the game.   





Isshin Ashina Image Gallery

[images go here]



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    • Anonymous

      02 Jul 2021 08:30  

      If you’re going for Shura Ending, my advice is to progress through the game until you acquire 2 rice and the sweet rice ball (see Dragon's Homecoming Ending).

      Then make a backup save right BEFORE talking to Owl. You have just one chance to use the rice items.

      For Emma: Ako candy, Red Lump and Rice (let the sweet rice ball for Isshin). Combat Art: Whirlwind Slash.

      Put the items in the quick menu for fast usage and use them in that order. Start attacking with Whirlwind Slash asap. Don’t give her a break. Ako candy will give you an attack boost, red lump allow you to keep attacking when you get hit (and you will), and rice will continually heal you.

      If you die, quit the game and load the backup save.

      Now, for Isshin: Red Lump and Rice (I suggest let Sweet rice ball for second phase). I tried to use an Ako candy, but Isshin never gave me time. Combat Art: Empowered Mortal Draw.

      Spank him, for good. Old man hits hard, but he's also slow and most of his attacks will be interrupted by Mortal Draw. His first phase is easy (imo), and for the second phase, use the rice or sweet rice ball left. Don’t let him go away, keep on tracking him and spank him.

      It took me 3 attempts to finally beat him. I hope it could help someone.

      • Anonymous

        08 May 2021 17:43  

        The attack that fills the arena with flames, I found it's best to interrupt with firecrackers. Otherwise you have to dodge the fire, and his followup attacks. That strategy got me through the fight.

        • Anonymous

          12 Apr 2021 21:41  

          This is my favorite boss in the game. The music is awesome, the first phase eases you into the fight, then you start the hard part after the first phase. He's fast, fun, and challenging.

          • Anonymous

            01 Mar 2021 07:54  

            You can dodge his One Mind attack reliably by finding a safe zone in the fire, waiting for him to approach (the attack never strikes early no matter how near or far you are from his starting point), then dodging forward and left behind him just as the fire dies down. Keep a distance behind him, as the invisible sword slashes actually cover a small area behind him, and stay away from his sides because his follow-through has wide range and decent tracking. THEN you can punish him with an axe to the skull.

            • Anonymous

              07 Feb 2021 01:37  

              The shinobi axe does great damage to him on the first playthrough, I couldn't have beat him without it. After deflecting Ichimonji is a good time to hit him with the full axe combo, as well as at the start of each phase. In phase 2 you can hit him with the axe after dodging his fire blast or dodging the hit after his new flaming Ichimonji.

              • Anonymous

                09 Dec 2020 14:27  

                Just finished the boss fight with Isshin Ashina in NG+.
                Emma was pretty straightforward, just basically deflect most of what she throws at you and you can posture break her after like a minute or two.
                Isshin phase 1 was a bit trickier, since the timing of his attacks is very different compared to other bosses in the game. But once i got the timing down i could perfect parry most of what he does.
                Isshin phase 2 took the most time. It felt similarly as annoying as the Demon of Hatred, because it felt like i could only block or parry like 50% of his attacks. For all the big fire attacks I had to run around pretty much all of them, because blocking or even slightly mis-timing the dodge meant that i'd get hit with a burn status. The firecracker trick helped a lot to avoid his most damaging fire attack.
                Overall, I agree with some of the other commenters here that phase 2 of this boss is harder than sword saint or owl (father).

                • Anonymous

                  01 Dec 2020 19:31  

                  Wtf is happening with me. Currently on ng+3 and looking for Shura ending but I have died to this old bastard more than geni or sword Saint on first try. Hell I didn't even died to a single boss in ng+1 and 2 other than enemy mobs. Even Inner isshin and inner geni didn't took me more than 3 attempts. Wtf is going on is it just me or the second phase is wiping the floor with someone else. Emma sucked on first two tries
                  but her only bs move was that modified ashina cross which has no indication of deflection timing(like the second blink in case of normal ashina cross) but I use umbrella and it was fine overall. Isshin phase 1 is literally sword Saint phase 1 pretty easy I have no hits on that but phase 2 man is it bs or what? Ichimonji followed by a fire slash and one mind is just wiping me down. I will win it soon I know but I feel like **** dying so many times without knowing the proper way to counter these piercing attacks.

                  • Anonymous

                    26 Nov 2020 12:27  

                    His second phase has the most difficulty increase of any bosses. Phase 1 is like no brainer only thing that can punish you badly is failed ichimonji deflect. Second phase however is when real fun begins. Can't even imagine deflecting his entire one mind. And that ichimonji with flames it's somewhat hard too. But in my case fire umbrella does the trick just make sure your posture is not half full. Shadow rush is also very effective to the point it's cheesing. As per Emma floating passage takes her down in no time.

                    • Anonymous

                      12 Nov 2020 20:32  

                      I'd like something adding to the trivia:
                      One of Isshin's attacks is a reference/homage to a manga named "Shigurui". A character named Irako Seigen develops a technique named "Mumyou Sakanagare", which is the same stance and techique Isshin uses.

                      • Anonymous

                        02 Aug 2020 18:16  

                        I really like how different Isshin Ashina is from Sword Saint. He old and sick, so he has to maximize his energy and make very deliberate precise movements, like his uber sidestep dodge. Sword Saint is Isshin in his prime, young god running loose with the Blade mortal blade going buck wild and jumping all over the place with a belly full of Monkey Booze.

                        • Anonymous

                          01 Jul 2020 19:05  

                          When he's charging up for the big flame-plume attack, hit him with fireworks and it will halt the whole thing and leave him vulnerable

                          • Anonymous

                            20 Apr 2020 04:24  

                            If you're in second or third play through for Shura Ending.. Use Dragon Flash with Yashariku Sugar or Ako Sugar (Dont do spiritfalls because in need of spirit emblems) with Divine Confetti.. Which will deplete his Vitality in no time.. And stunlock him most part.. Just run around and dragonflash him.. Before the battle use ceremonial tanto for extra spirit emblem buff...

                            • Anonymous

                              01 Apr 2020 16:01  

                              Good job, guys. We murdered the talented, hot doctor, and her terminally ill war hero patient. [slow clap.]

                              • Anonymous

                                01 Mar 2020 18:04  

                                During Ishhin’s second phase, as the flames are rising if you throw phantom shurikens at him he won’t do the rush attack. Other shurikens probably work as well, but I didn’t test it

                                • Anonymous

                                  06 Feb 2020 17:50  

                                  Just finished beating him, he was the last boss I needed to kill towards to playinum trophy on PS4. Even though the game lags as***** took me about 3 hours to do this. On Emma, it's all about staying close, dodging left side and using the Ichimonji: Double. First phase: Bait him with R1 (he will dodge it) then dodge left and use whirlwind slash followed by another R1 baiting him, repeated that the whole phase. Second phase: firecrackers + Mortal draw 3-4 times and then kept running around the area waiting for him to use the fire attacks and randomly hitting him.

                                  • Anonymous

                                    03 Feb 2020 18:44  

                                    I just beat him with 14 attack power in NG+3 charmless/demon bell. Some things I learned. Emma? Way more a threat than Genichiro in my opinion. Be defensive but close to her, aim the perfect deflects, jump and mikiri counters then hit back twice or thrice to damage her posture, hit her vitality during her grab or after her ashina cross. Be careful, make distance before a heal, she will often break it with a distant thrust attack. Isshin? Be very patient, and almost never hit back after a deflect (or just once), conversely to his first phase saint version. Be prepared to deflect after attacking first, because he will block it or even dodge it with a wonderful step on the side! Unlike his saint version too, let him do his ashina cross to hit him in the back because he seems to have way more posture than the saint version. So you should favor decreasing his vitality over posture. In consequence, prefer to dodge his Ichimonji (true also for his fire version), even if it is tempting to deflect it. He is wide open after this move, the best Opportunity among his combos to hit his vitality. Finally when he triggers his final phase, he is without defense, at all! So this is a good time to charge (maintain L1+R1) your empowered mortal blade twice! He will take the hits, then continue with 4 uncharged mortal blade, and that's it, almost 1/3 of his vitality gone (even with only 14 attack power in NG+3, so probably OP with 50 attack!)! He seems to be very sensitive to the mortal blade, he loses his balance each time, and you can interrupt all his big moves with it. Best boss in the game for me, the music is my favorite one, and this is the most "samurai" of all boss fights. You will need your full concentration and deflects on point. Be careful with the grab attack of Isshin, very difficult to predict and dodge! Step back or run away, jumping didn't get me far enough! Good luck on your way of Shura!

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