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Sekiro final boss fight guide: Genichiro, Way of Tomoe and Isshin, the Sword Saint

Our gigantic guide to defeating Sekiro’s final boss(es)

Sekiro Genichiro, Way of Tomoe and Isshin, the Sword Saint final boss fight FromSoftware/Activision via Polygon

Sekiro’s final boss fight is a lengthy and brutal battle that starts with one final showdown with Genichiro, Way of Tomoe, then continues into a three-Deathblow duel with Isshin, the Sword Saint. Every phase of the fight has very little room for error, and each hit you take will eat about half of your health.

It’s an infuriatingly difficult fight is what we’re saying. But we’re here to help you through it. It’s going to take lots of practice and failure, but you can beat them. This guide will break down every move of every phase and give you ways to respond. We’ll include our advice for items and Prosthetic Tools to bring to each phase.

Genichiro, Way of Tomoe

Before you get to Isshin, the Sword Saint, you have to go through Genichiro. Again. He’s stronger this time, and he’s got a few new tricks.

Don’t worry about items or Prosthetics

Spoiler: This fight is a one-Deathblow prologue to a much harder, much longer fight. Save your items and Spirit Emblems for what comes next. If you’re careful and read our advice below, you’ll be able to get through this fight (mostly) unharmed and pretty quickly.

The only special move we consider a requirement is the Mikiri Counter. It’s invaluable both in this fight and the one that follows.

Genichiro, Way of Tomoe Deathblow

This may be a teaser fight for a much larger fight to follow, but it’s still deadly. Genichiro will drain your health completely with only a couple hits. And that means you have to be ready for everything he throws at you.

General strategies

Both this fight and the one that follows pit you against enemies with a repertoire nearly as vast as yours. The best way to make sure Genichiro doesn’t get to use his moves on you is to kill him before he gets the chance.

This fight is all about Posture. Genichiro’s Posture doesn’t drain quickly, so your job is to just keep pounding away until you break him.

That doesn’t mean attacking indiscriminately, though. His attacks are brutal and will obliterate your Vitality and Posture if you’re not careful. We’ll break down his attacks below so you know what to avoid and can spot your chances to attack.

Genichiro, Way of Tomoe attacks

Let’s talk about Genichiro’s attacks, how to identify them, and what you should do about them.

Starting the fight

As you walk toward Genichiro after his cutscene, he’ll start with his Mortal Draw attack. Every time. Don’t rush, and don’t bother trying to deal any damage. Just get ready for the Mortal Draw, and then move on.

Mortal Draw

Genichiro has his own Mortal Blade now. The good news: This replaces his lightning attacks. The bad news: If he hits you with it — even if you block it — it’ll take a huge chunk off your health.

Genichiro will growl-shout as he winds up this attack, and that’s your cue. When you see him pull his Mortal Blade and you see the black energy around it, start blocking — just in case — and inch to the right slowly. When his shout reaches its crescendo — just as he starts his swing — dodge to the right. (It’s possible to dodge left, but we had more luck with the right.) Follow it with a counterattack, but be prepared to dodge again. He won’t swing twice every time, but you don’t want to get caught unawares.

He’ll also draw his Mortal Blade occasionally mid-fight — but it won’t happen often, and it might not happen at all. You’ll know it’s coming when he fires two arrows at you. Handle it the same way.

Perilous Attack 1: Leaping thrust

If you get some distance from Genichiro — say, to back off and heal — he’ll leap toward you with a thrusting Perilous Attack. It’s easy enough to Mikiri Counter the thrust.

Perilous Attack 2: Circle and sweep

During a fight — basically when Genichiro gets frustrated — he’ll start running to your right. He’ll run a lot, then hit you with a sweeping Perilous Attack. You have two options here:

  1. You can keep attacking and interrupt him — he’ll switch to defense instead of following through with the Perilous Attack.
  2. Jump over the sweep and use it as a chance to land a Jump Kick.

Perilous Attack 3: Thrust

Genichiro’s next Perilous Attack is hard to spot (it was for us, at least). He’ll hold his sword up on your left at chin level, pointing straight at you. He’ll follow that with a thrust. It’s possible to block or even Deflect this attack, but a Mikiri Counter is even better.

Perilous Attack 4: Grab

He’ll use it rarely, but Genichiro has a fourth Perilous Attack. He almost always does his grab attack after you miss a counter of his leaping Perilous attack. He’ll put his sword away and hold out his right hand as he rushes toward you. Distance won’t save you here because he’ll cover a lot of ground before he gives up.

Jump or dodge to the side to avoid him. If you’re really lucky, you can outrun him if you sprint, but there are enough obstacles in the arena that this is not a safe option.


Genichiro’s other move when he’s frustrated is to leap straight up in the air and crash back down with an overhand swing. Your best move is to dodge to the side, then follow up with an attack or two. It’s oddly a slow attack — even if you’re close and attacking, you’ll likely still have time to dodge.

Other attacks

We’re going to just lump every other minor attack he has into “other.” He swings his regular sword and fires (surprisingly strong) arrows. The answer to these attacks is to Deflect what you can, and block (absorb) everything else.

We’re not dismissing his attacks, but there’s a way to basically make them moot. Let’s talk about offense.

Sekiro’s attacks

Most of this fight is about responding to Genichiro, Way of Tomoe’s attacks, but we should also point out what to do when you’re on offense.

The short answer here is: Always be on offense.

Aside from the Perilous Attacks we talked above, you can disrupt most of his other attacks by just attacking. He might block sometimes, but (nearly) every swing you take will drive up his Posture damage. Add in your counterattacks after his Perilous Attacks and jumps, and this fight isn’t nearly as complicated as it first seems.

The video above shows the entire fight in about 45 seconds.

General tips Do these four things to beat Isshin, the Sword Saint

We’ll break down each phase below, but we wanted to distill our advice for dealing with Isshin, the Sword Saint first. These are our four easy-to-remember rules that will help you survive, no matter what phase you’re in.

Block more than you think you need to

Our biggest gripe about Sekiro is that it demands precision, but it isn’t as responsive as we want it to be. We swear we’ve hit the block button approximately 14 billion times, only to watch ourselves watch a sword fly at our unguarded face.

Every hit you take from Isshin inflicts an incredible amount of Vitality damage. Just go ahead and assume that taking a hit will donate half of your health to your enemy. No, that’s not always true, but that’s not the point. It’s a useful mental model to make you (and us!) fear getting hit above all else — and make you behave smarter.

Take those two things together, and you’ve got a plan. If you don’t know what to do, block. If you think you’re probably OK to attack but you’re not quite sure, block. Stop getting hit. Block as a default, which probably means you should block more than you think you need to.

The rule of two

The single most annoying way to take damage in Sekiro goes like this: You attack when it’s clearly safe, and then your enemy ignores that, attacks, and you watch a huge chunk of your health bar evaporate.

There’s a simple way to counteract this: Limit yourself to attacking twice in a row. Then see the previous rule and block immediately after your second attack.

Attack twice, and then block. You’ll get your hits in, and you won’t take damage. Watch it happen over and over above.

This also applies if you’re using the Ichimonji: Double Combat Art. One swing is good. Take that second overhand swing, and you’ll also take damage because you won’t be able to block his next attack. So really just switch to the Ichimonji (not double) so that the second attack doesn’t tempt you.

The rule of three

This is another brain hack, but it’s useful because it stops you from getting cocky, attacking needlessly, and taking damage. (See the rule of two above.)

Just assume that Isshin is going to attack in bursts of three — which means you should block for an assumed minimum of three attacks.

Sometimes he attacks more. Sometimes less. Sometimes, he’s right on the money. It doesn’t matter. Assume that he’s going to attack three times in quick succession, and block or Deflect your way though his attacks. Do not attack before you count to three.

Then respond with (two) attacks of your own. If you miss an opportunity to attack, that’s fine. One hit isn’t going to make or break your run. You’ll get him next time, and it’s far better to play conservatively than attack before he’s through and forfeit some of your Vitality.

The umbrella principle

Whenever Isshin uses one of his wind or charge-based attacks, just hit the button to deploy your Loaded Umbrella Prosthetic Tool. It’s a get out of jail free card.

We spent a lot of time trying to figure out which flavor of attack he was going to use and then trying to respond in the moment. Turns out that’s as bad as it is difficult. Get it wrong, and you’ll be in serious trouble.

So just use your umbrella, absorb the attack, and then hit the attack button when he finishes to use the Projected Force skill and unleash an attack of your own. You don’t even have to worry about timing — the umbrella will let you ride out Isshin’s wind attacks no matter how early you deploy it.

Isshin, the Sword Saint Phase 1

Each of Isshin, the Sword Saint’s phases are, in effect, boss fights on their own. We’ll deal with them one at a time.

The best Prosthetic Tools, items, and skills for Isshin, the Sword Saint

There are always items and attacks that work well against Sekiro bosses. These are our recommendations for the best items to bring to your fight with Isshin, the Sword Saint.

  • Shinobi Firecracker. We have recommended this Prosthetic Tool for nearly every boss fight in the game, and this one is no different. Using the Shinobi Firecracker will let you interrupt Isshin’s most dangerous attacks. You can use any of the upgrades you’d like, but we’d recommend against using the Purple Fume Spark — the final upgrade to this tool. You need to be quick when you use it and the delay of the Purple Fume Spark will hurt you.

And that’s it, actually. The first phase of this fight is manageable without getting too fancy.

If you’re having trouble, feel free to pop a Gokan’s Sugar to give yourself some breathing room on your Posture gauge.

Isshin, the Sword Saint Phase 1

General strategies

Isshin is fast and brutally strong. His attacks will cut through your Posture fast and your Vitality faster. And you won’t be able to interrupt his attacks just by swinging your sword.

Your first priority in this fight is to learn avoid his attacks. That might sound like silly advice, but finding ways to not get hit — even if you’re blocking or Deflecting — is more important than ever with Isshin and his devastating attacks.

Your second priority is get comfortable with Deflecting. Just like Genichiro before him, you can drive up Isshin’s Posture quickly with some well-timed Deflects. The trick is to know when to Deflect and when to just get out of the way. First, we’ll talk about his attacks, then we’ll talk about offense, and then we’ll show you how to bring them both together.

Isshin, the Sword Saint’s attacks

Let’s talk about the Sword Saint’s attacks, how to identify them, and what you should do about them. One of your biggest challenges in this fight is dealing with the sheer number of different attacks Isshin has. And he’ll throw most of them at you during this fight.


The most basic move Isshin has is just a sprint straight at you followed by an attack or three. (He’ll usually do this just as you take a swig from your Healing Gourd.) You’ll have enough time to block as he approaches and even Deflect (if you’re feeling confident).

Loop right plus three

This is Isshin’s most obvious attack, and he’ll do it often. It usually starts from a middle distance. Isshin will run to your right, then close the gap and slash at you three times. His attacks always follow the same pattern: down, up, then down.

These hits pack a punch, but you can absorb all three if you’re blocking.

Better yet, Step Dodge to the left between the second and the third swing to sneak in a Dodge Counterattack for some extra damage.

Lazy three

We’re describing this move as three lazy swings. That’s not to say that you can ignore or even easily dodge them. We call them lazy because he looks so deceptively casual while he does them.

These three attacks work a lot like the looping three above. Block or (try to) Deflect the first two attacks, then Step Dodge to the left before the third.

Right step, Perilous thrust

Isshin’s next attack is extremely dangerous, but also really useful. He’ll start by taking three steps to your right, then follow that up with a thrust Perilous Attack. Those three steps give you plenty of time to prepare to Mikiri Counter the thrust.

Dash slash

This attack is simple, and Isshin usually uses it as a setup for another attack. There’s not much to do in response, but it’s worth learning to recognize. He’ll hold his sword out to his right (your left) with a bit of a step, then dash to your right with a big slash.

You can block, Deflect, or avoid this attack, and then prepare for whatever comes next.

Two swings

Isshin will usually use this attack when you’re too close for too long. It’s a simple enough two-swing combo that you can block easily.

We’re including it here, though, because you can turn this attack to your advantage. If you Deflect the first of these two swings and follow it with a swing, you’ll interrupt the attack. Many times, Isshin will follow the interruption with another two-swing attack letting you trap him in a brief loop while racking up a lot of Posture damage quickly.


Isshin has an Ichimonji attack just like Sekiro does. It’s got a huge wave of energy that comes off the front, and he can often turn it into a Double Ichimonji.

Whenever you see him raise his sword above his head with both hands, get ready to dodge — we prefer left here, but direction doesn’t really matter. Your only goal should be to get behind him. After the first dodge, dodge again. Try to keep circling if you can, but you’re mostly just making sure you’re out of the way of any followup swings.

He pauses for long time after this attack, so you have a second to close any distance you created and land a hit or two.

Sheathed Ashina Cross

Isshin has a move that is mostly identical to Sekiro’s Ashina Cross. He’ll sheath his sword, pause, then attack. Much like the Ashina Elite from early in the game, there’s a glint of light at his scabbard. This time, though, there are two glints just before he attacks.

You have a few options:

  • Run away. Isshin can cover a shocking amount of ground with this attack, but you can get away if you run.
  • Dodge. Wait for a moment after the first glint, then start dodging. It’s possible to dodge only once if you’re really close to Isshin, but we prefer dodging twice to be safe(r). You’ll end up behind him with time to land a couple attacks before he recovers.
  • Block. It’ll take a huge chunk off your Vitality and damage your Posture, but it’s (mostly) survivable. This should be your last option, though.

Sheathed Perilous sweep

This attack starts out the same as the Ashina Cross, with Isshin’s sword sheathed. Instead of spotting a glint, though, you’ll get the Perilous Attack red kanji over Sekiro’s head.

As soon as you see that kanji, you can react to the Perilous Swing normally — by jumping. If you’re already dodging, you can probably keep dodging to stay out of the way, but the timing is tough — he’ll home in on you much more than you’d probably expect.

Don’t worry too much about landing a Jump Kick here. It’s hard to time when you’re already sprinting and dodging for your life. Just focus on jumping over the sweep — if you land a Jump Kick, that’s great, but it shouldn’t be your priority.

Overhand wind wall

Isshin will draw back a little and start drawing in wind(?) to charge up an attack. He’s got two attacks this way and it’s really hard to differentiate them.

In this attack, he’ll follow his charging by unleashing two waves of wind. Luckily, they both follow the same line.

If you’re close to him, you can dodge past to end up behind him. You have a great chance to land a few free hits here.

The problem is if he uses his spiral attack (below) instead — it’s possible to dodge through it, but the timing is much, much more difficult.

If you’ve got a little distance, you can just run left or right to avoid the wall. We prefer this, since it means you’re already running and can get away in the cases were he does the spiral attack instead.

Better yet, as we’ll discuss further below, dodge toward him as soon as you see him gathering wind, and hit him with some Shinobi Firecrackers. This will stop the attack completely, meaning it doesn’t matter what he was going to follow up with.

Wind spiral (area attack)

Instead of the wind walls above, sometimes Isshin turns that wind energy into a brutal spiraling area attack.

It’s possible to dodge through the attack if you’re close enough. It’s tempting, but the timing is extremely difficult. That’s why we recommended running away.

This attack is why we recommend bringing Shinobi Firecrackers to this fight. Being able to interrupt this attack and prevent it from happening in the first place means you can focus on more important, less deadly things.

Sekiro’s attacks

Most of this fight is about responding to Isshin, the Sword Saint’s attacks, but we should also point out what to do when you’re on offense.

Shinobi Firecracker

The Shinobi Firecracker lets you interrupt his two wind-based attacks, the sheathed Perilous sweep, and his Ashina Cross. There are other ways to avoid these attacks, but it’s better to just not let them happen in the first place.

You don’t want to use your firecrackers — and those precious Spirit Emblems — haphazardly in this phase of the fight — you’ve got two more phases to go, after all. Instead, save your Shinobi Firecrackers for his most obnoxious attacks.

Deflect loop

We mentioned this above, but we cannot stress it enough. Any time Isshin pauses his onslaught and stands, get in close and take a swing. He’ll block your first attack easily and then follow up with one of his own. The attack starts on your right and comes across his body — which makes it easy to spot and time. Deflect this attack, then attack again right after. He’ll block, then the cycle repeats.

Just keep doing this until he doesn’t want to play any more and moves off, or you break his Posture.

Bringing defense and offense together

This video shows the entire first phase of this fight in just under 40 seconds. We’ve had a lot of painful practice with this fight, mind you, but it shows all of our advice in practice.

The focus is on Deflecting the attacks we can and interrupting the attacks we can’t. We stay close to Isshin both to use firecrackers to stop his deadlier attacks, but also to bait him into the Deflect loop that we use to end the phase.

Isshin, the Sword Saint Phase 2

Sekiro’s Isshin, the Sword Saint boss fight continues. Unlike other bosses who only add one or two moves after the first Deathblow, Isshin, the Sword Saint becomes basically a whole new boss. He summons a halberd and has a host of new moves.

You’ve already been through a couple phases of this final fight, but you still need a plan to take on Isshin. And that plan looks a little different than the first phase.

The best Prosthetic Tools, items, and skills for Isshin, the Sword Saint

There are always items and attacks that work well against Sekiro bosses. These are our recommendations for the best items to bring to your fight with Isshin, the Sword Saint.

  • Suzaku’s Lotus Umbrella. If you haven’t unlocked this final upgrade to the Loaded Umbrella Prosthetic Tool, the other versions will (probably) work, but, really, what are you waiting for? Isshin’s new weapon has a long reach, so it’s a lot harder to get in close enough to use the Shinobi Firecrackers to interrupt his attacks. Instead, the umbrella lets you just absorb those attacks (and keep fighting).

Isshin, the Sword Saint Phase 2

General strategies

At the beginning of this phase, Isshin draws a large halberd/spear. This changes the fight dramatically. Not only does he have two weapons, but the range of the fight changes as well.

While it feels like a whole new fight, one thing carries over from the first phase: Deflecting. You can Deflect nearly all of Isshin’s attacks — and doing so deals respectable Posture damage. Deflecting can even interrupt some (but not all) of his attack combos.

Deflecting is a pretty daunting task, though, so you have to know when it makes sense to try. For example, Isshin has several attacks that end in a Perilous thrust. Instead of Deflecting during those attacks, the Mikiri Counter is a lot safer.

It’s important to note here that Mikiri Countering his Perilous thrusts works from about two miles away. No matter how far away you are, try to Mikiri Counter — you’ll be surprised by how much you can draw him in.

Let’s break down his moves — all 11(ish) of them — and how to react to them, then we’ll discuss how to bring it all together.

Isshin, the Sword Saint’s attacks

Let’s talk about Isshin’s attacks, how to identify them, and what you should do about them. And Isshin has a lot new.

We’re going to start with Perilous Attacks. These are where you’re going to do most of your Posture damage in this phase. After that, all of Isshin’s attacks are things to avoid or attempt to Deflect.

Perilous Attack 1: Gun and Perilous Thrust

This attack is where things start getting interesting. After a series of gunshots, he’ll follow up with a Perilous spear thrust. Mikiri Counter it to deal some Posture damage. You’ll even have time to land one free hit before his guard is back up.

Perilous Attack 2: Sweep

We don’t have much to say about Isshin’s Perilous sweep attack. We’re pretty sure he only ever did it once in our week of fighting him. It’s got an elaborate windup, and it’s his only other Perilous attack. Jump and land a Jump Kick, or just get out of the way.

This is his only Perilous Attack that comes without prelude — the others start with gunshots or spear flurries. So, if you see the kanji appear after something else, prepare to Mikiri Counter. If it appears without a lead-in attack, get ready to jump.

Perilous Attack 3: Dash, sweep, and thrust

The first several (thousand) times you see this attack, it might be a little intimidating. Isshin winds up, dashes from left to right with a sword slash, spins around with a spear sweep, then finishes up with a Perilous thrust.

The best way to handle it is to dodge backward or block his sword attack, then dodge back away from his spear sweep. That puts you out of range, so you can prepare to Mikiri Counter the Perilous thrust. (In the video above, you can see how far away you can be and still land the Mikiri Counter.)

Perilous Attack 4: Spear flurry and thrust

Let’s start with the good news about this attack: It ends with a Mikiri Counter-able thrus. The bad news is that it starts with a series of five (or so) brutal spear attacks. It’s much harder to dodge out of the way because he moves toward you throughout the attacks.

It’s much better to Deflect as many as you can, absorb the rest, then make sure you’re prepared for the Perilous thrust.


This is a simple leap attack along with an overhand swing of his spear (glaive?). It’s easy to see coming, and a quick side step will get you out of the way.

The only trick is to wait a moment longer than you’re used to before you dodge. If you dodge too early, he’ll still hit you and deal a lot of damage.

Slash, sweep

Isshin’s basic attack is a swipe of his sword followed by a huge sweep of his spear. You can block or Deflect both of these swings, but be careful trying to dodge — his spear has a huge reach and will catch you.

Overhand spear, followthrough sword

Another of Isshin’s basic attacks — though he seems to use it a lot less frequently — is a heavy overhand spear swing followed by a dashing slash of his sword.

You can absorb both of these hits, but it’ll take a huge chunk out of your Posture. Deflecting is best, but dodging away works as well.


This is Isshin’s repositioning move, but we’re including it because of that sneaky sword strike he does right at the beginning. He always dashes to the left, so watch for his windup, then block. You’ll have plenty of time to prepare for whatever he does next.


Isshin has an Ichimonji attack in this phase as well. You can dodge to the side to avoid it, but we had a lot of trouble with the timing of it (as you can see in the video above). Be prepared for a Double Ichimonji, as he’ll almost always swing twice.

Wind spiral

Isshin’s wind-based attack is similar to one of his wind attacks in the first phase. The difference is he leads this attack with a series of swings with his spear that will drive you backward — right into the danger zone of the wind spiral attack.

It’s (hypothetically) possible to dodge through the attack, but it’s better to just sprint away when you see him drawing in wind. Even better is to pull our your Loaded Umbrella and hunker down through the attack.

Gun, jump back

Surprise! Isshin also has a gun now! He’ll usually draw it when he’s at range. It’s easy enough to spot, and you can block his shots. He has a few options after the gunshots, though, so it’s important to recognize it and prepare.

His first option is a series of between zero and two sword slashes, followed by leaping backward with a spear sweep. It’s all blockable and Deflect-able. Just make sure you don’t get caught by the spear sweep when he backs off.

Combining defense and offense

Most of this fight is about responding to Isshin’s attacks, but we should also point out what to do when you’re on offense.

The short version is: Focus on reacting, but don’t only react. Your job is to put yourself in positions that keep you out of harm’s way and give you time to react, but still keep you close enough to Deflect, dodge, and sneak in some hits. You want to stay about a spear’s length away from Isshin as often as you can.

Landing attacks that actually hit Isshin and damage his Vitality is very rare in this fight — and the opportunities are few and far between. Usually, you’re only going to sneak in one hit after one of Isshin’s attacks.

Recommending that you just get better at Deflecting is not actually helpful advice, but since this is the last boss fight, we’re going to say it. Deflecting is the way to turn this fight to your advantage. Isshin is unrelenting in his attacks, and Deflecting lets you use those attacks to drive up his Posture damage. The mistakes you make will be costly, but the rewards make trying worth it — even if it means this fight is just practice. Trust us: It’s worth it.

Above, you’ll find our video of a successful Phase 2 — warts and all. We make plenty of mistakes, but you’ll also see us putting into practice all of our advice.

Isshin, the Sword Saint Phase 3

It’s (finally) time for the third and final phase of Sekiro’s Isshin, the Sword Saint boss fight. Luckily, it’s not a huge change from Phase 2. Unluckily, he throws lightning now.

You’ve already been through two phases of this fight (three, if you include Genichiro), but there’s still a lot of fight to go. In this guide, we’ll show you how to defeat Isshin.

The best Prosthetic Tools and items Isshin, the Sword Saint

There are always items and attacks that work well against Sekiro bosses. These are our recommendations for the best items to bring to your fight with Isshin, the Sword Saint.

  • Suzaku’s Lotus Umbrella. We’re recommending this Prosthetic again since Isshin’s spear attacks still have a long reach, and his wind-based attacks are extra deadly. Instead of interrupting them, use the Loaded Umbrella to ride them out.

You’re not going to have a lot of time (or room) to use items in this phase of the fight. If you really want to use one, go for some Eel Liver for the Shock defense — but if you follow our advice below, you shouldn’t need it.

Isshin, the Sword Saint Phase 3

General strategies

Once again, your goal is to drive up his Posture rather than deal much Vitality damage. Sure, Isshin mixes in some lightning and a new wind attack, but you’ve seen the majority of this fight before. And that means that you’re going to spend most of this fight doing the things you’ve already doing — dodging and Mikiri Countering as much as you can.

The trick in this phase of the fight is to use Isshin’s new attacks against him as well — specifically by using Lightning Reversals. It’s possible to dodge or avoid these shocking attacks, but using them to deal Posture damage will cut the length of this fight dramatically.

Isshin, the Sword Saint’s attacks

Let’s talk about Isshin, the Sword Saint’s attacks, how to identify them, and what you should do about them.

Perilous Attack 1: Lightning sweep

For Isshin’s two lightning attacks, he’ll lean back — you’ll see the light hit his crown — and leap into the air. The red kanji will appear over Wolf’s head, then Isshin will follow up with a lightning-charged attack. It’s hard to spot in the middle of the battle, but if he’s holding his spear across his body — to his right, your left — he’ll sweep it in a huge lateral arc. If you’re sprinting away, you can avoid it. It’s possible to dodge through it, but the timing is very difficult.

Isshin’s two lightning attacks are your chance to perform a Lightning Reversal. We’ll discuss that in more detail below in the Sekiro’s attacks section.

Perilous Attack 2: Lightning overhand

Similar to his sweep attack above, Isshin will leap into the air to start this attack. He’ll be holding his spear above his head and behind his back. He’ll bring it down in a dramatic overhand swing. It’s possible to dodge this attack by running under Isshin (and to one side for safety).

Isshin’s two lightning attacks are your chance to perform a Lightning Reversal. We’ll discuss that in more detail below in the Sekiro’s attacks section.

Wind spiral

This wind spiral is the same as the attack in Phase 2, and we’re including it here because it’s such a damaging attack. Once again, we recommend just riding it out with the Loaded Umbrella since it has such a long reach (something we managed to not do in the video above).

Wind slashes

Isshin’s new wind-based attack starts the same way as his spiral attack above. There’s very subtle difference in how he holds his spear, though. For the spiral attack, the spear will be tilted at about a 45 degree angle. For this slashing attack, the spear will be far closer to horizontal.

After gathering in the wind, Isshin will unleash a pair of slashes that cover a ton of ground. You can use the Loaded Umbrella to block them, or run (or dodge) sideways to get out of the way.

Sekiro’s attacks

Most of this fight is about responding to Isshin, the Sword Saint’s attacks, but we should also point out what to do when you’re on offense.

Lightning Reversals

Mikiri Counters are great, but the real secret to this phase is Lightning Reversals. Landing a Lightning Reversal will shock Isshin and make him freeze for a moment, but more importantly, it’ll fill a chunk of his Posture gauge. You’ve only had a chance to use these a couple of times before, so you might not have a ton of practice with them. Yes, practicing against the final boss is going to get you killed (and you have a long fight to get back to this phase), but that practice will pay off.

First, practice the timing. Jump into the air at about the same point you’d start a Deflect — just as he begins his swing. If you jump earlier, you run the risk of hitting the ground before you get a chance to reverse the lightning.

The second part of a Lightning Reversal requires less practice — mashing the absolute hell out of the attack button. Once you get hit by Isshin’s lightning, you have to get rid of it as soon as you can. In our experience, this is inexplicably trickier than it should be. Don’t lose heart, just keep at it.

We’ve included a successful Lightning Reversal above, slowed down a lot so you can see each step of the process. The biggest thing to note is how uncomfortably late in the process the jump starts. (You can also see we started swinging to reverse it before we even got hit with the lightning — it worked for us, but only because we were mashing like crazy.)

Our advice in practice

Once again, we’ve included a video of our entire Phase 3 fight. There are a couple of (big) mistakes, but we were still successful. You can see us pull off two (out of three) Lightning Reversals, along with a Mikiri Counter, and a few really satisfying Deflects.

Just be careful of pressing the attack toward the end. Isshin’s attacks are deadly, and dropping your guard to attack relentlessly is a mistake (you can see at the end of the video above that we took a big hit before finishing).

Isshin, the Sword Saint drops, items, and rewards

Defeat Isshin, the Sword Saint, and you’ll receive the Memory: Saint Isshin and the Dragon Flash skill.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.