Isshin, The Sword Saint

Location Ashina Reservoir

Shinobi Firecracker
Loaded Umbrella (First & Second Phase)

Mist Raven (Final Phase)


Sakura Dance (Final Phase)


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

25,000 Exp (NG+)



Isshin, The Sword Saint (剣聖、葦名一心; Kensei Ashina Isshin; Sword Saint, Isshin Ashina) 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



Isshin, The Sword Saint Rewards





Isshin, The Sword Saint Strategies

Video Strategies


Strategy Writeup

Phase 1: He will start as 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.

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. 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
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. It can be interrupted by a full charged strike of praying strikes exorcism.
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. Press deflect twice without pause 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 stomp. Block or attack when coming down as he will counterattack immediately unless forced to defend.
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 or block this attack. The attack can be sidestepped, by doging to one side of Isshin.
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.
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. This will allow you to get 2-4 free hits on him as you descend from the jump and after landing, and his slash will not hit you since you're in the air. Alternatively if you are close, it can be interrupted by a full charged praying strikes exorcism.
Charge 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.
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.
Glock O'Clock When at distance Isshin will pull out a Glock 19 (really a revolver) and shoot at the player several times, he will often then follow up with a large thrust from his spear. If simply blocked, the bullets can damage your posture very heavily. It is recommended that you learn how to deflect them. Mikiri counter the following thrust, or jump attack if it's a sweep.
 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, mist raven, or Sakura Dance to redirect the attack at Isshin, this will stun him.



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), 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).



Isshin, The Sword Saint Image Gallery

[images go here]



Corrupted Monk  ♦  Demon of Hatred  ♦  Divine Dragon  ♦  Emma, the Gentle Blade  ♦  Folding Screen Monkeys  ♦  Genichiro Ashina  ♦  Genichiro, Way of Tomoe  ♦  Great Colored Carp  ♦  Great Serpent  ♦  Great Shinobi Owl  ♦  Guardian Ape  ♦  Gyoubu Oniwa  ♦  Headless Ape  ♦  Inner Father  ♦  Inner Genichiro  ♦  Inner Isshin  ♦  Isshin Ashina (Boss)  ♦  Lady Butterfly  ♦  Owl (Father)


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    • Anonymous

      16 Mar 2021 04:38  

      Healing tips: In phase 1, you can heal any time you want by backing off - Isshin is happy to keep strolling. In phase 2 and 3, he will follow you relentlessly and occasionally shoot at you, but it's still possible to heal safely. 1 - always run at an angle so that his bullets miss, and 2 - block his attacks with terrain. If he's following close, drag him through one of the rocks. He'll usually attack the rock in frustration, letting you add distance and/or heal. If he's far away, you can even hide on the other side of the hill in the middle of the arena. Once you learn how to shake him, you can apply healing/sugars/confetti whenever you want without issue. Just don't run off a cliff.

      Hunting for help on the internet, I found two decent tips if you plan to fight him up close. 1 - Hit twice, parry thrice. Aggressively attacking him establishes the rhythm, and you can almost always attack twice safely (with the exception of when he jumps away, swinging his spear in an arc, during phase 2/3). He usually counters in sets of three, often using a delayed third attack that is nasty if you're not waiting for it. After parrying thrice, you can usually resume attacking. 2 - If he charges up his windy bits, pull out the loaded umbrella and follow with projected force. He does this infrequently enough that you can use the umbrella every time without running out of emblems, and it is a very safe response.

      Lastly, one tip of my own: if you are fighting him up close, but have to run away to heal, it can be hard to find an opening to get back in there. The best one I've seen is to bait his jump attack and try to dodge under it. You can then hit him in the back and resume pressuring him. If you miss the dodge, though, he follows up the jump attack with a sweep that has decent range... so I usually keep running and try again later. A better ninja could probably parry it or jump attack, but dashing sweeps are tough (for me).

      • Anonymous

        12 Mar 2021 10:42  

        Strangely enough, this guy isn't even FromSoft's first "old guy final boss who flies all over the place screeching and shooting a bad-ass gun at you" in their library. In fact, he's the third

        • Anonymous

          10 Mar 2021 04:22  

          Isshin in phase 1, like a lot of guys with swords in this game, can have his attacks severely limited if you stick to a pattern of attacking until he blocks. In his case, after blocking your attack he almost always retaliates with an easily parryable swing. Attack right after parrying, until he blocks again and the cycle can continue until his posture is gone.

          If he does retaliate, right away, pause for a brief moment, and then try attacking again, but the key is to stay on him, never letting him gain the distance he needs to launch a more deadly attack.

          • Anonymous

            01 Mar 2021 03:04  

            I like how even though Isshin warns him against giving in to emotion, the start of this fight where he practically growls at Genichiro is the most emotional we see Sekiro throughout the whole game—fear, sorrow, and anger for Kuro all at once.

            • Anonymous

              27 Feb 2021 19:35  

              Phase 1: aggressive play
              Phase 2: hit once and parry all to keep the posture building
              Phase 3: sakura/mist raven for lightning reversal
              This is is my no damage strat with bell demon and no Kuro's charm. Also interrupt the mortal draw with fire crackers. Donnot use ichimonji double in phase 2 & 3 as he will jump away.

              • Anonymous

                08 Feb 2021 05:33  

                If it wasn't for having to fight Genichiro every reset, this guy would be a near perfect fight in my eyes. The setting, progressive difficulty spikes, and the music really do the final boss justice.

                • Anonymous

                  30 Jan 2021 09:02  

                  This absolute chad of a legend was surprisingly not as terrifying as I had imagined. Fighting through Genichiro and that quick draw swordsman from the castle really felt like they prepared me for this one. Still by far one of the best bosses I've faced and if I wasn't so stunned by the atmosphere and music, I think I might've been able to beat him on my first try.

                  • Anonymous

                    11 Jan 2021 18:07  

                    I adore this boss. I love how it fits the image of the samurai ending their battles swiftly and aggressively. If you stay in his face with constant attacks while parrying all his attacks, his posture bar fills up quickly, vanishing quickly if you don't keep up the pressure. And if you fail with the parries, you will die quickly. While most of the boss battles encourage constant in-your-face engagement, this one especially demands it. I hit his health bar maybe a total of five times.

                    I just don't like Genichiro the God damn speed bump for when I die. It like I die I go "I can't wait to face Isshin", then Genichiro shows up and I'm like "Oh yeah, you again. Alright, get out of my way."

                    • Anonymous

                      05 Jan 2021 06:09  

                      This doesn't seem to be mentioned, but phase 2/3 is made much easier if you're always in his face. To keep up with him whenever he backs off, just throw your best shuriken then chasing slice. It's almost guaranteed he won't block, either, making his posture fill up in no time. Add lightning reversal and you'll have made the fight almost something resembling easy

                      • Anonymous

                        03 Jan 2021 03:20  

                        This boss fight just screams "We can't stop remaking Bloodborne" Oh boy, the somewhat friendly, ex murdering old man is the hyper active, long/short ranged weapon, gun wielding final boss. Having to go through feudal Japan's most disappoining grandson, just to fight Gehrman, Orochimaru, and DMC Dante's love child is a bit excessive.

                        • Anonymous

                          30 Dec 2020 00:10  

                          Its all fun until he unleashes the hiten mitsurugi on you and constantly reminding you “ hesitation is defeat”

                          • Anonymous

                            20 Dec 2020 23:22  

                            If it took you more than 2 tries to beat this boss you completely suck, the game is training you for this fight the whole time lol

                            • Anonymous

                              17 Dec 2020 22:18  

                              I found the shuriken to be the most useful prosthetic for this boss. Its perfect for interrupting and closing ground with the following slash. It makes it easy to stay in his face throughout all phases of the fight.

                              • Anonymous

                                13 Dec 2020 23:06  

                                Genichiro ruins this fight so hard in my opinion. Like genichiro is clearly not meant to be a tough opponent he only exists to make the player think, “ah yes the first boss of the game is also the final boss.” So why do they make it so that I have to fight genichiro every time? Please why couldn’t they have just removed him after the first fight before he summons isshin? Genichiro makes the run back way more tedious then it should be and therefore makes the fight more tedious then it could have been. I don’t mean to sound babyragey. I’m in my fourth play through. Just expressing my opinions :)

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