Over the course of his journey, Roronoa Zoro has been in situations where his techniques have had to adapt for one reason or another. In addition to his primary fighting style, he has several other related fighting styles that form the greater part of his Santoryu fighting abilities. Ittoryu (literally meaning "One Sword Style" or "One Blade Style") is one of them.
These are the attacks he uses with one sword. As Zoro is left-handed, his Ittoryu techniques have nearly always been executed with his left hand. He usually uses Wado Ichimonji for them, but after the timeskip he seems to be proficient in using each of his three swords for his one-sword techniques. He mainly fights with one sword when not fighting seriously or when he is using a specialized cutting technique. Early in the series (when Sham stole two of his swords and Zoro had to fight him and Buchi with just one), Zoro himself claims that he is "not that good at one-sword techniques". However, over time, he seems to have worked on this weakness and becomes proficient with this style. In fact, most of his Ittoryu techniques are very powerful finishing techniques.
Ittoryu Iai: Shishi Sonson (一刀流 ｢居合｣ 獅子歌歌,Ittōryū Iai: Shishi Sonson?, literally meaning "One Sword/Blade Style Re-sheath: Lion's Song"): Placing the sheathed sword upright and listening to the "breath" of his opponent, the attacker rapidly unsheathes, attacks, and resheathes their sword. An interesting note is that Zoro does the technique in reverse grip from beside-and-over his head, as opposed to from the waist with a standard grip on the sword. His very first Ittoryu attack, this was first seen used to finish off Mr. 1. Zoro uses this technique only when he needs to cut metal like Mr. 1's steel body or Kaku's Tekkai technique. This attack is as powerful as Kaku's Rankyaku: Rodan.Shishi Sonson (子子孫孫,Shishi Sonson?) is a four-word proverb meaning "one's offspring" or "prosperity". In the 4Kids dub this is called Single Sword Lion's Strike and in the FUNimation dub, this was called One Sword Style: Lion's Strike, but in Episode 299, this is renamed to One Sword Style Sword Draw: Lion's Song. Also in the FUNimation dub, "breath" is referred to as "rhythm". In some video games, such as in Jump Super/Ultimate Stars and One Piece: Grand Battle! Swan Colosseum, this is used as a reversal/counter instead of as a direct attack.
Sanjuroku Pound Ho (三十六煩悩鳳,Sanjūroku Pondo Hō?, kanji meaning "Feng of 36 Kleshas"; furigana meaning "Pound Phoenix/Cannon"): This attack uses the air itself to slash the target from a distance. To initiate it, Zoro first holds one of his swords horizontally above the shoulder of his sword arm, and then performs a circular swing that launches the air compressed projectile spiraling towards the target. Zoro introduced this technique as a very powerful Flying Slash Attack. This was first seen being used to finish off Braham in Enel's Survival Game. This technique is known as 36 Pound Phoenix in the VIZ manga, 36 Caliber Phoenix in the FUNimation dub (and sometimes the VIZ manga) and Single Sword Rising Phoenix in the 4Kids dub. The attack's name is actually a very heavy pun: it is written out as "Phoenix of 36 Kleshas" in the manga with a skewed reading attached that makes it "36 Pound Ho" when read out:
Hō (ほう,Hō?) can mean "cannon" or "phoenix'; however the attached kanji is for phoenix (鳳,phoenix?), making that the literal translation and the "cannon" reading a pun on that, both of which are correct. Hō also is the Japanese reading of the Chinese term feng.
Pondo (ポンド,Pondo?) is a skewed reading of bonnō (煩悩,bonnō? "klesha"), a Buddhist term for "worldly desires with evil thoughts", and is a reference to the caliber of a cannon (a 36-caliber cannon would fire a 36-pound ball).
Hiryu: Kaen (飛竜火焔,Hiryū: Kaen?, literally meaning "Flying Dragon: Fire Blaze"): Using one sword wielded in his left hand with his right hand gripping his left wrist for support (or vice-versa), Zoro jumps high up into the air and slashes his opponent. After slashing them, Zoro's opponent then bursts into flames (in the anime, the color of the fire is blue instead) from where they were slashed. This was first seen being used against Ryuma. The animal or creature that usually accompanies Zoro in the background when performing powerful techniques is an occidental dragon. The dragon bares an uncanny resemblance to the dragon killed by Ryuma the King from Oda's earlier work, Monsters. The scene where Zoro slashes Ryuma with this technique also resembles the scene from Monsters, in which Ryuma slays the dragon. In the VIZ manga and FUNimation dub, this is called Flying Dragon Blaze, a translation of the original name. The kanji "kaen" can also be written as "火炎" (lit. fire flame) instead.
This is a list showing the attacks Zoro used for his Ittoryu after his two years of training with Dracule Mihawk. The techniques he uses after the two years are mostly enhanced versions of his old ones.
Yakkodori (厄港鳥,Yakkōdori?, literally meaning "Disaster Harbor Bird"): Zoro launches from his sword a crescent moon-like projectile of compressed air to the opponent with great speed, similar to 36 Pound Cannon. "Yakko Odori" is a traditional Japanese dance. It was first seen used against Hody Jones. It was powerful enough to critically injure one of Hody's subordinates whom he used as a shield. In the VIZ manga and FUNimation subs, this is called Bird Dance.
Sanbyakurokuju Pound Ho (三百六十煩悩鳳,Sanbyakurokujū Pondo Hō?, literally meaning "360 Pound Cannon" or "Feng of 360 Kleshas"): Zoro delivers a stronger version of his 36 Pound Cannon, which is presumably 10 times stronger than the original. It was first seen used against a big fish the Straw Hat Pirates caught in their voyage to the New World. In the FUNimation subs, this is called 360-Pound Phoenix. The original naming pun origins apply as with all the variations of this technique.
Ittoryu Iai: Shi Shishi Sonson (一刀流 ｢居合｣ 死・獅子歌歌,Ittōryū Iai: Shi-Shishi Sonson?, literally meaning "One Sword/Blade Style Re-sheath: "Death-Lion's Song""): A stronger version of his original "Ittoryu Iai: Shishi Sonson", where Zoro swings his sword in a very quick and powerful unsheathing move to slice his opponent; the reverse grip is still used, though Zoro no longer draws his sword from beside-and-over his head, and instead draws it normally from one of his hips. This attack is strong enough to easily decapitate a legendary beast like a Dragon. It was first shown to decapitate the Punk Hazard dwelling dragon; the way Zoro does it is mainly through leaping up into the air with either his own strength (or with outside components such as Usopp's assistance), then uses his mouth's sword to slice up his target in a spiraling wind. The version of that said technique was used in midair in that case (where Zoro moves forward a distance through the air). In the VIZ manga and Funimation dub of Film Gold, this is called Iai Death Lion Song but in the FUNimation subs it is called Lion Strike. In the english localization of both One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 and One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3, it is called Death Lion Song; Zoro performs it in a style akin to how he used it against the aforementioned dragon, only the spiraling leap can even conjure up a Tatsu Maki in those two games' cases (when fully charged up). The only instance so far that it's been used on the ground is in Burning Blood as his weak guard break attack (though Zoro spirals through the air in a drilling motion akin to Hyokindama before returning to grounded-stance to re-sheath as he brakes from the momentum).
Daishinkan (大辰撼,Daishinkan?, literally meaning "Great Dragon Shock"): First used as a finisher move against Monet, Daishinkan consists of Zoro running towards his opponent with Shusui held outstretched in one arm. He then executes a two handed overhead swing used to split his opponent into two from the top down. The power of the move is such that even after cutting through Monet's snow body, the attack still resulted in a powerful shockwave that cut through the floor many meters ahead of him. In the Viz manga this is called Dragon Quake and in the FUNimation subs, this is called Great Dragon Shock.Shin/Tatsu (辰) is a Japanese term for the Dragon zodiac sign, while 撼 literally means to "move"; in both those cases, the technique is most likely via its localization is a pun off of the term shinkan (震撼), which means to "shake".
Baki (馬鬼,Baki?, literally meaning "Horse Ogre"): After raising his sword above his head, Zoro delivers a powerful vertical slice to his opponent, usually at an angle along with not being as exaggerated as Daishinkan. This attack can easily slice through solid stone. It was first used to counter Pica's Bitestone.