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 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.
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. If trying to avoid this attack entirely be sure to run as far as possible as he can cover a lot of distance with this attack. If attempting to deflect do so just as he reaches the player as the swings are to fast to react to.
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.
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, Vertical 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. Unless you are confident in your ability to deflect this attack, retreat. This attack will deal damage through your block.
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 Ishhin'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. The player must become accustom to Isshin's body language and  attack patterns to predict this attack.
Rapid Fire When at distance Isshin will pull out a gun 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 you posture very heavily so it is recommended that you learn how to deflect them. Mikiri counter the following thrust.
 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.



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)



Isshin, The Sword Saint Image Gallery

[images go here]




    • Anonymous

      11 Jul 2019 20:07  

      I beat this guy on my first try without taking any damage it was way too easy this game is for babies git gud you scrubs

      • Anonymous

        29 Jun 2019 04:45  

        Btw, the video you put up is so bad, i was watching him and being sad at the same time, this boss is so easy if you know what to do, but clearly he doesn't, but that is just my opinion. if it helped people, good, but i think that it's way easier to beat

        • Anonymous

          21 Jun 2019 19:44  

          the hard part of this boss is his dmg and the fking super amor move which deal a lot of vitality dmg (this move one shot me on my chamrless run NG+8), and it really hard to reach it cause he's using it radomly

          • Anonymous

            10 Jun 2019 08:58  

            Two things. One, phase 1 was the hardest of the three. Two, Owl (Father) and Demon of Hatred were harder.

            • Anonymous

              31 May 2019 04:13  

              Honestly don't know what all the fuss is about. Took a couple of hours to progress through the fight bit hy bit and learn his patterns but had a blast while doing it. Ultimately a very fair and fun fight, just learn when to heal or you will die. Far less frustrating than the Owl or especially Demon of Hatred IMO.

              • Anonymous

                29 May 2019 20:51  

                A really enjoyable fight. Isshin himself is a really fair opponent : he delegraphs his charged attacks heavily (you have 2sec to run away, and as you know Sekiro is really fast), his sword combo are easy to parry, and he has a lot of Mikiri openings. The second phase can seem intimidating at first, but it's the same stuff really : he has a lot of Mikiri openings, be it after his gun barrage or his spear 5(?) hot combo, and his classic sword+spear combo is slow and quite easy to parry (be sure to parry each blow, because the spear has some insane range, you are not always safe after a backward dash). The final phase is even more easy : lightning is really visible, you jump/deflect it on Isshin and it's a free hit for you.

                • Anonymous

                  29 May 2019 02:21  

                  Isshin is difficult no doubt, but I think his difficulty is way oversold. He doesn't do anything unfair and by the time you reach him, you should be fully aware of how powerful the deflect system is. Demon of Hatred and Owl (Father) are harder bosses in comparison because they have other gimmicks. Isshin however is basically a straight up test of most of the game's standard mechanics. Deflect, Mikiri, Head stomp, etc, it's all the same stuff, you just have to learn his moveset and timings like every other boss. Plus, the arena you fight him in is really generous in size and lets you stay just out of range of his long combos until you Mikiri the final thrust, which is telegraphed from a mile away. Seriously, if you've gotten this far, you can definitely do it.

                  • Anonymous

                    27 May 2019 22:02  

                    There's no consistency to this fight. Sometimes I breeze through Genichiro and other times I die immediately. 4 phases is dumb. Haven't even seen the last phase yet and I'm on try #50.

                    • Anonymous

                      26 May 2019 01:42  

                      you guys know what it feels like to no hit genichiro and isshin 1st phase only to get mowed by 2nd phase?

                      • Anonymous

                        22 May 2019 11:49  

                        This boss made me want to *****ing kill myself. 4 health bars, insanely fast attacks, lighting, a whole bunch of unblockable attacks, a spear with a longer hitbox than the spear itself and having to defeat Genichiro AGAIN. From Software didn't even have the common decency to let you just go strait to Isshin if you manage to kill Genichiro, but die to Isshin. You have to fight Genichiro all over again and potentially loose a bunch of your Healing Items. This game is so *****ing broken and they won't fix it. For some reason instead of fixing all the bugs, glitches, camera weirdness and lag, they think "Nah, it's fine" and just remove nearly all the ways you can defeat a boss easily and make the Block and Deflect mechanic even more glitchy and difficult to pull off. Before you start making the game harder, actually fix the issues that are making it such a*****ty game.

                        • Anonymous

                          21 May 2019 15:02  

                          Phase 1 can be quickly beaten by attacking and deflecting his country attack. Wait for an opening, for example one of his sheathed attacks. Attack until he blocks once then deflect his counter attack and attack right back. This will loop, sometimes he will walk to the side rather than attack, when he does this just attack until he defends once and repeat the loop. Very easy, makes phase one of sword Saint easiest boss in game.

                          • 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.

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