Isshin, The Sword Saint

Location Ashina Reservoir

Shinobi Firecracker (Any Phases)
Loaded Umbrella (except during lightning)

Fire (Any Phases)


Memory: Saint Isshin
Dragon Flash
20,000 Exp (NG)

25,000 Exp (NG+)



Isshin, The Sword Saint (剣聖、葦名一心, Sword Saint Isshin) is a Boss in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Bosses are special 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. This page contains endgame spoilers.


Isshin, The Sword Saint Location

  • Endgame Ashina Reservoir: Found down the tunnel at the Near the Secret Passage Sculptor's Idol.
  • You have to fight Genichiro, Way of Tomoe first. If killed by either Genichiro or Isshin you have to fight Genichiro again.
  • This boss is not optional if you choose to serve Kuro when talking to Owl. See Endings for details
  • See Isshin Ashina for the NPC version and Isshin Ashina (Boss) for another ending fight.



Isshin, The Sword Saint Rewards





Isshin, The Sword Saint Strategies

Video Strategies


Strategy Writeup

Phase 1: He will start at Genichiro, Way of Tomoe. The fight will be pretty standard as the 3rd phase near Kuro’s room on the rooftops. Aside from the big, black Mortal blade swings he starts with. You can dodge behind him during the first swing and get easy hits in, staggering his second set of swings. He will lunge, and with enough distance, Mikiri counter makes this fight simple. He only has one Vitality bar, and once you deathblow him, a cutscene will play as Isshin steps out of him.

Isshin Phase 1: He will start a decent distance away from you. His main attacks will be a rather quick. One of his main ones being 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. 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. Deathblowing Isshin in the first phase very quickly can result in him forgetting to change to the second phase. If you keep attacking and deflecting him, it is possible to prevent him from switching to his phase 2 moveset entirely, and even perform the deathblow for his phase 2. This strategy can also be repeated for his 3rd healthbar, fighting him while he is still using his 1st phase moveset. It is, however, impossible to kill him using this method, as Isshin will eventually force his way into his 3rd phase (even if you have depleted all of his healthbars, his remaining one simply regenerates).

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 to large of a gap, firing the pistol if the gap gets to large. Making a large gap, you may be able to bait him into using a thrust that can easily be Mikiri countered. 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.


Attacks & Counters

Attack Indicator Counter
Phase 1
Unsheath (Quickdraw) Attack He puts his sword back into the sheath and readies a stance. A glint will show on the hilt. Deflect after a delay
Unsheath Attack Feint Starts the same as the Unsheathe Attack but does not do the attack. A danger indicator and sound will show. Jump and stomp. Block when coming down as he will counterattack immediately.
Slam into mixup He will jump into the air and follow up with an attack. There will be dust on the ground covering some of his posture. Deflect the slam attack. Watch the direction of the glint for followup reactions.
Thrust Attack Follow-up A danger indicator and sound will show. A glint will show in the middle. Mikiri Counter
Sweep Attack Follow-up A danger indicator and sound will show. A glint will show circling around him. Jump and stomp.

Wind Slash

Wind will form around him. His posture indicates a vertical attack. Dodge to the side and counterattack.

Wind Sweep

Wind will form around him. His posture indicates a horizontal attack.

Deflect or jump on his head. Blocking will incur chip damage.
Phase 2
Double Wind Sweep Wind will form around him. His posture indicates a horizontal attack. Double Deflect
Anti-Healing Slam Used when you heal if he's not currently doing an attack. Deflect and counter.
 Phase 3

Lightning Bow, Lightning Slash

He will jump into the air and lightning will converge on him.

Jump deflect discharging before landing. Use the stun to charge up a weapon art or heavy attack.



Isshin, The Sword Saint 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.


Isshin, The Sword Saint Notes & Trivia

  • Voice Actor: Andre Sogliuzzo (English), Tatsuo Kanao (Japanese)
  • The spear Isshin pulls out of the ground is General Tamura's spear, as seen in the intro cutscene, Isshin was the one to take down General Tamura, so it makes sense that he knows where the spear is buried.



Isshin, The Sword Saint Image Gallery

[images go here]



    • Anonymous

      18 May 2019 22:14  

      It's gotten to the point where I can beat genichiro without taking damage, but still die instantly to isshin

      • Anonymous

        17 May 2019 17:25  

        Today i fought him and i think the "Perfect Kill" by which you skip the 2nd and 3rd phase has been patched. Can anyone confirm?

        • Anonymous

          17 May 2019 11:22  

          I like From Software, i love Bloodborne, and i really enjoyed Dark Souls 3. But this asshole right here? This guy's a little much.

          • Anonymous

            16 May 2019 05:52  

            I thought I wouldn't never kill him, but yesterday I did it. Immediately I lost my passion and goal, I wish there is one more phrase that he can pick up another weapon to fight with me.

            • Anonymous

              15 May 2019 08:09  

              Quick tip for anyone struggling, just be really aggressive, and once you hear him deflect your attack (the brighter spark and dinging noise) stop attacking and prepare to deflect his next combo which should either be multi spear hit combo or the backwards leap. This deflect thing works with every other enemy in the game as well, once you hear the enemy deflect your attack that means they will attack you immediately after. They will also have hyper armor meaning they wont flinch from you attacking them. Finally, deflecting all of the hits from his multi spear swing attack rewards you with an unblockable spear stab. This stab happens 100% of the time if you deflect all of the hits, so know that you just have to mikiri counter every time you see the symbol appear. Also, if you dont deflect the whole combo, your posture will break and youll be killed.

              • Anonymous

                08 May 2019 16:19  

                I'm not sure why it says that it makes sense that Isshin knows where Tamuras spear is buried when in fact Gyoubu was the last one to wield it. Tho we can act like it has something to do with him coming back in his prime ( Isshin, I mean ).

                • Anonymous

                  08 May 2019 06:52  

                  I just noticed that he has 4 phases if you continuously attack and don't let him take the spear.. at the end of phase 3 he will take the spear no matter what! I'm on NG+, demon's bell/no kuro's charm and I can go pretty much without a hit for Genichiro and Isshin 1st phase but from the 2nd on it's a nightmare, 1 mistake and you're dead.

                  • Anonymous

                    07 May 2019 18:45  

                    So not only do I gotta deal with Owl (Father) beaming down left right and centre like it’s stardate 2317-45, but now this guy can somehow wield a sword, halberd and semiautomatic pistol at the same time. Smh

                    • Anonymous

                      06 May 2019 16:56  

                      A really great and difficult fight, but personally not the hardest to me I feel like demon of hatred was the hardest to fight naturally because I just suck at fighting creatures that use hands instead of weapons idk why, but it always be like that for me.

                      • Anonymous

                        06 May 2019 11:56  

                        took me a while before I could beat this guy... nut really, it's just about learning his patterns and having the right relexes. Of course, getting used to his last phase is a bit harder, since you'll need to reach it a few times unless you get lucky. Here are a few tricks I gathered : 1. Genichiro can be easily double-ichimonjied at the begining of the fight 2. He can also be baited into a very easy to read lunge (-> mikiri) when he's at a distance. Watch out for the arrows though. 3. His deadly horizontal attack can happen after he starts running to the side, you can interrupt it with a hit. 3. Phase one Isshin : remember to be very agressive in this phase, it can be quite fast that way. 4. Phase one Isshin : when his sword is down, he's gonna hit again after a short delay, you can't sneak a hit in there. I you can't grasp the timing for a deflect or dodge, just block. 5. Phase one Isshin : his ichimonji as a very bad tracking, you can get behind him easily even with a far-too-early dodge. 6. Phase one Isshin : one annoying thing : sometimes, if you jump too early, you can't land on his head correclty when you dodge his horizontal deadly attack ; just hit him normaly a few times. 7. Phase one Isshin : another annoying thing : his dragon slash (the one that shoots twice) has an aera of effect hit around him, and it's quite big. He likes to chain this right after hitting you... then you're probably screwed. You can deflect it to minimize damage, if you can get back up on time, but running is probably out of the question. 8. Phase one Isshin : his horizontal dragon slash is VERY large in effect, the best way to avoid it is to hit him once (or wait a bit) then jump on his head. If you try and run from it, it'll hit you even if you jump. 9. Phase one Isshin : after you combo him and he deflects, he'll pretty often push you back with a kick and chain it with a very easy to read thrust attack that you can mikiri for maximal posture dammage. Chain it with one hit after as usual. 10. Phase one and two Isshin : if you want to pop a gourd sip, you need to be far away... like real far OR behind the big rock. Don't keep him out of your sight for too long though, as you may loose targetting, which can be annoying. 11. Phase two Isshin : you can sneak a hit when he switches to a second phase. The initial knock back wont do any damage. 12. Phase two Isshin : you can easily hit him three (!) times in the back when he's just pulled the spear. 13. Phase two Isshin : he has very long combos with irregular timings, if you can't deflect everything, it's ok. When the combos is complete, he'll finish with a thrust attack, that you can mikiri. Don't dodge too early though : it will mess up the counter and you'll be hit instead. 14. Phase two Isshin : running from him won't work. Instead, bait him into his huge overhead jumping spear attack, it's easy to deflect and you can hit him right after when he does it. You can't run from this attack unless you're really far away, and he'll chain it with another one if he misses so... deflecting is the best option. 15. Phase two Isshin : the tracking of his ichimonji is much better in this phase, deflect it or dodge it at the last second. 16. Phase two Isshin : he has a nice conditionnal combo which you can turn to your advantage : retreat with a swipe spear attack while jumping, then shoot his gun three times. If you just block his bullets, he'll then thrust with his spear -> easy mikiri. Again, it has a slow wind-up, so be careful not to dodge to early. 17. Phase three Isshin : when switching to phase three, there will be no staggering or specific animation. If you run from him, he'll do an hirizontal electric attack, which is not useful to have him do as sending back the jolt to him is pretty difficult. Instead, hit him to chip his posture as usual. But don't try to sneak a long wind-up attack like ichimonji. 18. Phase three Isshin : baiting the overhead attack won't work too well anymore, because he can shoot you while running instead. So you need to stay close and pressure him instead. 19. Phase three Isshin : you can still heal behind the rock if needed. 20. Phase three Isshin : in this phase, you'll need to learn how to jump instead of blocking. One of his reaction after deflecting a strike is a jumping overhead electric attack. If you block then jump, you'll be too late, so watch out for the backward jump after the sparkles. Sending the electricity back to him makes the fight much easier though, as it deals a lot of dammage and allows a free hit if you run to him while he's shocked. That's all I can remember! Good luck and enjoy the fight! It's a very good one.

                        • Anonymous

                          05 May 2019 17:13  

                          Apparrently he glitches if you pull him with the spear instead of finishing him with the mortal blade... Resulting in him falling on the ground, but the fogwall stays there. Porting out resets the bossfight so you can start from the beginning.

                          • Anonymous

                            05 May 2019 04:55  

                            Mind the edges and don’t fall off. One of my better attempts was lost to this of all things. As if it’s not hard enough already.

                            • Anonymous

                              03 May 2019 23:49  

                              This was a tough fight but believe it or not, once you get the rhythm down, it's quite doable. The problem is the safe way to beat them is also the slow way, and like most bosses, their attacks do huge vitality damage. I used every single healing potion and resurrection statue(this includes the rice, divine grass etc). The key to phase 1 is just bait him into doing the 3 slash attack, do a charged thrust attack, and repeat. Phase 2 and 3 are near identical to each other if you follow my strategy., The only difference is in phase 3, he will immediately do a lightning attack with you in range, jump and reflect this. It seams to take about 20-25% of his health. For phase 2/3, the only two attacks you need to worry about are the 4 gun shots and the overhead slam. You want the latter. Keep long distance from him and let him close and he will ALWAYS either jump or shoot. He always jumps after shooting. When he jumps, deflect the attack, and do 1 normal attack. Literally that's it. The key to the phase 2/3 is getting the timing right and recognizing when he shoots vs jumps. Luckily the shots don't do too much health damage. Occasionally, if you block the overhead attack rather than deflect, after you hit him, he'll hit you back. Luckily, the jump attack s extremely telegraphed, and as long as you get the timing down, you should always be able to deflect. After you hit him, run away and get him to chase you to reset. If you do this, he'll occasionally do a lightning attack but you'll be way out of range. He also does the dragon flash occasionally, but since you're keeping your distance, is easy to just run to the side from it. Basically, you are either running or waiting for him to jump attack you. It takes a while because your single attacks don't do much damage. If you are nearing the end of the fight and have a good amount of healing items left(and more importantly a resurrection available), feel free to try and get closer but I found this method quite doable without getting into cheese territory.

                              • Anonymous

                                03 May 2019 06:41  

                                Using phantom kunai against Isshin during his first phase will bring his health down to almost half which will make it much easier to build his posture gauge. This allows you to be more defensive so you can focus on deflecting and chipping away at him slowly until the first deathblow. His perilous attacks can be tricky to read in the grass so try to lure him to the open path area so you can see clearly his thrusts and sweeps. Phase 2 and 3 is actually easier since you have a few ways to cheese him if you want. The easiest way is to just run circles around him at medium range and bait his jump spear slam. As soon as you see him jump run directly at him and he will overshoot and land directly behind you for a couple of free hits. Just keep moving and you should be safe the whole time.

                                • Anonymous

                                  03 May 2019 02:50  

                                  Honestly the first time I feel as though the final boss of a FromSoftware game truly holds up to the hype. You could argue Bloodborne but imo the Moon Presence is the true final boss and it’s.... not bad but certainly not final boss material. Even as a lover of DS2 all the final bosses are very underwhelming, Gwynn is far too easy IMO and so is Soul of Cinder. Sword Saint Isshin is the first time I genuinely feel like they made a perfectly balanced end game fight that still holds great life significance. Favourite fight from any bloulskiro game. (You heard that new nickname here First Ladies and gents)

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