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Sekiro Skills explained - Skill tree, best Skills and how to grind Skill Points and find Esoteric Texts

A list of Sekiro Skills plus our picks for the best, and how to grind out Skill Points.

Skills in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice are an essential part of playing the game, they will allow you to unlock new Combat Arts, Shinobi Martial Arts and Latent Abilities to help you power through the game.

Pretty standard on the surface, but there's a catch: in Sekiro, some Skills are actually missable, as to unlock the respective Sekiro Skill Tree you'll need to also find the corresponding Esoteric Text, and some of those are easy to miss entirely.

We'll detail that Skill Tree list and those Esoteric Text locations below, as well as explaining our choices for the best Skills in Sekiro and how to grind Skill Points effectively, too.

On this page:

Cover image for YouTube videoLet's Play Sekiro Shadows Die Twice: THIS IS GONNA HURT
Let's Play Sekiro Shadows Die Twice: This Is Gonna Hurt

Sekiro Skills, Esoteric Texts and the best way to grind Skill Points explained

As we mentioned above, Skills are an essential part of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and will very often be the difference between life or death in the game. There's a surprisingly large number of them, but let's start with the basics first.

New moves can be equipped in the menu, and you'll be able to practice them on Hanbei the Undying at the Dilapidated Temple pretty early on. However, to access most of these Skills, you're first going to need to unlock their respective Skill Trees using hard-to-find Esoteric Texts. Once you've gained these, you will have access in the menu to unlock these skills, provided you have enough Skill Points.

To earn Skill Points, you are going to need to just grind against enemies in the game. Thankfully, at least, in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice you won't lose all of your skill points upon death. Instead, you will lose 50% of your Sen (money) and any experience that's not yet accumulated into the next "banked" skill point.

How to Grind Skill Points in Sekrio - the best early Skill Point grinding location

After you defeat Gyoubu at the Ashina Castle Gate, you'll want to push ahead, take out a rifleman and then grapple on top of the building, then head right and towards an outcrop. Here, you'll notice two enemies by a tree, with a third hiding behind a tree just further beyond. Head to the far tree, stealth kill the "rat" as Tengu of Ashina so kindly calls them, and then push forward, stealth kill the other, and use your Loaded Axe to break the shield of the third.

This little route alone will net you 210 experience towards the next Skill Point, and can be done in under a minute. Happy hunting!

A final thing to bear in mind on the topic of Skill Point grinding, too: because you lose all of your Skill Point experience progress to the next point upon death, it's often worth grinding a bit of experience somewhere before boss fights if you're relatively close to the next one. If a few kills will tip you over the edge to a new point, and you're about to go and get torn a new one by a big boss, maybe just take a second to grind a little and "bank" that point before you press on!

Looking for more Sekiro pages like this? First up, the first main Sekiro patch notes for update 1.03 are live. Otherwise, our Sekiro boss guide, boss list and walkthrough hub has everything in one place, including pages on Lady Butterfly, Genichiro Ashina Way of Tomoe, Folding Screen Monkeys, Corrupted Monk, Guardian Ape, Great Shinobi Owl, Emma and Isshin Ashina, True Corrupted Monk, and Divine Dragon. We also have in-depth pages like Sekiro tips and tricks to get you started, Sekiro Skills, skill tree and Esoteric Text locations explained, our deep dive on the Sekiro combat system, Posture, and Perilous Attacks, or details on all Sekiro Prosthetic Tool locations, how to cure Dragonrot and Rot Essence in Sekiro, Gourd Seed locations, a Divine Confetti farm route method, all Treasure Carp Scale locations, all, Prayer Beads locations and all Snap Seed locations, too. And when you're ready - the how to beat Isshin Sword Saint and an Isshin Sword Saint cheese, plus the many Sekiro endings.

Cover image for YouTube video8 Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice tips to get you started

Sekiro Esoteric Text Locations - how to unlock new Skill Trees

Esoteric TextLocationNotes
Shinobi Esoteric TextDilapidated Temple - Obtained from the Sculptor after gaining a Skill PointThis one's earned automatically.
Prosthetic Esoteric TextDilapidated Temple - Obtained from the Sculptor after obtaining 3 Prosthetic ToolsA good way to get 3 early on is to take the Young Lord's Bell Charm given to you by a blind old lady in Ashina Outskirts to the gold Buddha at the Dilapidated Temple, and tackle some of the Hirate Estate memories section where you can find several more Prosthetics and get to 3 quickly.
Ashina Esoteric TextAshina Outskirts - Obtained from Tengu after fulfilling his request to kill rats in Ashina Castle Gate.You'll be able to find him up a flight of stairs in a building after defeating Gyoubu Masataka Oniwa. He will give you a description of the “Rats” that you can find early on at Ashina Castle gate before facing the Blazing Bull.
Senpou Esoteric TextSenpou Temple, Mt. Kongo - Located in a hidden Shrine.Fight your way through Mt Kongo and drop down into a chasm after ducking to find a slight opening. Make your way past the enemies and grapple upwards in order to come back outside and find the temple that houses the Senpou Esoteric Text.
Mushin Shinobi TextGreat Serpent Shrine - Given by Tengu after mastering the Final Skill of any TreeThis is incredibly hard to find, as you will need to find Tengu at the entrance to the entrance of the Sunken Valley after getting the Ashina Esoteric Text. If you do not find and speak to him at this point it's possible that he will not appear at the Great Serpent Shrine. It seems he only disappears from the Sunken Valley once you defeat Genichiro, so if you missed him you should be able to backtrack!

Sekiro Skill Tree and skills list

We're still working on the Mushin Shinobi Skill tree at the moment - we'll update this page once we have those confirmed, but for now here are all the skills from the main, first four Skill Trees!

Sekiro Shinobi Arts Skill Tree:

Skill NameSkill TypeDescription
Whirlwind SlashCombat ArtsA Spinning attack with wide range that will hit foes in an arcing motion
Midair DeflectionShinobi Martial ArtsDeflect attacks while grappling or while jumping
A Shinobi's Karma: BodyLatent SkillA Passive skill that will increase the amount of Spirit Emblems that you can hold
A Shinobi's Karma: MindLatent SkillA Passive skill that further increases the amount of Spirit Emblems that you can hold
Midair Combat ArtsShinobi Martial ArtsA Skill that will allow you to perform combat arts whilst grappling or Jumping
Breath of Life: LightLatent SkillA Skill that will allow you to recover health after performing a deathblow to an enemy
Vault OverShinobi Martial ArtsA Skill that will allow you to Vault over enemies after you've broken their posture
Mikiri CounterShinobi Martial ArtsAllows you to deflect thrust attacks and perform a high posture damage blow
Shinobi EyesLatent SkillAn upgrade for Mikiri Counter, allowing it to deal more posture damage to the enemy
Run and SlideShinobi Martial ArtsAllows you to slide after sprinting, is good for running into tall grass for stealth
Suppress PresenceLatent SkillMakes it more difficult for enemies to detect you while in hidden
Suppress SoundLatent SkillMakes it more difficult for enemies to hear you
ShadowrushCombat ArtsA ranged thrust that also allows you to vault upon the enemy

Sekiro Prosthetic Arts Arts Skill Tree:

Skill NameSkill TypeDescription
Chasing SliceShinobi Martial ArtsDash forward with a followup slash after using the Loaded Shuriken, Spear or Shinobi Firecracker
Fang and BladeShinobi Martial ArtsAllows you to use Prosthetics alongside a normal attack
Projected ForceShinobi Martial ArtsAllows you to charge an attack with Loaded Axe or Spear
Living ForceShinobi Martial ArtsAllows you to charge and release a followup attack with the Flame Vent and other tools.
Midair Prosthetic ToolShinobi Martial ArtsAllows you to use Prosthetic tools in midair
Sculptors Karma: ScarsLatent SkillA passive skll that will increase the amount of Spirit Emblems that you can hold
Sculptors Karma: BloodLatent SkillA passive skll that will increase the amount of Spirit Emblems that you can hold
Grappling Hook AttackShinobi Martial ArtsAllows you to use the grappling hook to offensively thrust yourself towards an enemy.
Nightjar SlashCombat ArtsA spinning leap attack with a long wind-up
Nightjar Slash: ReversalCombat ArtsAllows you to direct the Nightjar slash in any direction
Emma's Medicine: PotencyLatent SkillIncreases effectiveness of the healing items
Emma's Medicine: AromaLatent SkillIncreases effectiveness of the healing items

Sekiro Ashina Arts Skill Tree:

Skill NameSkill TypeDescription
IchimonjiCombat ArtsA slower, overhead strike that deals high posture damage
Ichimonji: DoubleCombat ArtsAdds another followup slash to Ichimonji, can prevent counterattacks
Ascending CarpLatent SkillPassively increases the posture damage dealt while deflecting enemy attacks
Descending CarpLatent SkillIncreases posture damage after a successful deflection
Breath of Nature: LightLatent SkillRecovers your Posture Damage after a succesful Deathblow
Flowing WaterLatent SkillReduces Posture Damage Taken when attacked with a sword
Ashina CrossCombat ArtsA swift skill that draws your sword while sheathed and follows up with a flurry attack that you can time to intercept attacks

Sekiro Temple Arts Skill Tree:

Skill NameSkill TypeDescription
Praying StrikesCombat ArtsAn arm strike that will interrupt an enemy counterattack
Praying Strikes - ExorcismCombat ArtsAdds a finishing blow to Praying Strikes
Virtuous DeedLatent SkillIncreases Sen picked up from enemies and boosts item drop rates
Most Virtuous DeedLatent SkillAn upgrade of Virtuous Deed.
Senpou Leaping KicksCombat ArtsA kick that will leap you into the air and allow you to deal posture damage to enemy
DevotionLatent SkillIncreases amount of time that a Buddist Candy is effective
High MonkCombat ArtsAdds slashes and kicks to Senpou Leaping Kick

Sekiro Mushin Arts Arts Skill Tree:

Coming soon!

Sekiro best skills detailed - the best skills to pick up as soon as possible

As is always the case with these games, there are going to be skills that fit your own playstyle particularly well - but there are still some that stand out above the rest as just about essential. A Mikiri Counter, for instance, makes short work of mini-bosses and even full bosses that would otherwise be enormously difficult to beat with quick reactions alone. Here are our picks for the best ones to pick up as soon as possible.

The best Skills in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

  • Mikiri Counter: The Mikiri counter is the first essential skill that you'll want to unlock, it allows you to counter against thrust attacks and deal some damage to the enemy, this is incredibly useful for a particular early miniboss.
  • Emma's Medicine: Potency: This skill will let you get more out of your healing items, and in a pinch can be the difference between life and death, this one is a must have in order to balance out the game's difficulty.
  • Grappling Hook Attack: Sekiro is all about mastery of your space, and this skill will let you cover a significant amount of ground in a short amount of time in an offensive manner, it's great for dipping in and out alongside a normal grapple in hairy situations.
  • Breath of Life - Light: This skill will recover health upon dealing a deathblow, and it's a great way to consolidate any damage taken while out on the offensive in a group of enemies, or against a boss.
  • Praying Strikes: These strikes are great for interrupting enemies, and for setting up a larger offensive string of attacks, it's so versatile and essential to adding to your arsenal as early as possible.