A swordsman is a person trained in the art of the sword. In plural, they are referred to as swordsmen.
Due to the prominence of swords in the series, particularly sabres and katanas, nearly every crew and organization has a swordsman in it. A skilled swordsman is a valuable asset to a crew, and swordsmen are often found in positions of high respect, such as a first mate or officer, or even the captain.
Swordsmen from Wano Country are referred to as "Samurai" (侍 samurai?). Participants of Corrida Colosseum are known as Gladiators (剣闘士 kentōshi?), warriors trained in shields and swords. However, this only applies to participants who are actually trained as gladiators, as any other participants do not necessarily require a sword and shield to be referred to as "gladiators".
- †: the character is deceased.
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- ≠: the character is non-canon.
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Abilities and Powers
There are two known different types of swordsmen, the Strong Blade (豪剣 Gōken?, literally meaning "Strong Sword") type swordsmen which emphasis strength and the Gentle Blade (柔剣 Jūken?, literally meaning "Gentle Sword") type swordsmen which emphasis speed. Dracule "Hawk-Eye" Mihawk, the greatest swordsman in the world uses swordsmanship that is a perfect balance between the Strong and Gentle Blade styles, being able to slice through battleships with supreme power and deflect bullets with graceful speed.
A number of swordsmen in One Piece are capable of using more than two swords at once, like Roronoa Zoro (3 swords), Kaku (4 swords), Hatchan (6 swords), or Onigumo and Hyouzou (8 swords). In normal situations, it can be an indication of how powerful a swordsman is, there are exceptions. For example, Dracule Mihawk, the current strongest swordsman, uses one sword. On the other hand, Fish-man Island's two strongest swordsmen, Hatchan and Hyouzou, are capable of using a large number of swords (six and eight respectively) at once due to being an octopus fish-man/merman respectively. Zoro seems to be the most extraordinary case, as he is the only user of more than two swords who can do so without the aid of any extra limbs or auxiliary techniques.
Certain swordsmen possess the ability to channel their energy through their swords, with a number of applications:
|— Hyogoro on the principles of the advanced application of Busoushoku Haki into swordsmanship|
- Imbuing their swords with Busoshoku Haki can increase slicing power, as well as protect the blade from chipping. As confirmed by Hyogoro, advanced skill in Busoshoku Haki can allow swordsmen to cut only what they want and not everything their swords are swung towards to. With the Wano Country Haki principles of Ryuo being that "A true master swordsman can perfectly wield their sword as extensions of their will, able to have enough force to cut through steel if they wished while retaining delicate precision and control enough to refrain from cutting even a piece of paper". If the Haki is strong enough, they can cut through materials harder than their swords themselves and with enough skill, the Haki-infused blade can push objects away without the sword directly touching it, thus prevent it from even getting scratched/nicked.
- Flying Slash Attack (飛ぶ斬撃 Tobu Zangeki?), performed by swinging the sword with enough force and speed to create a powerful pressure in the form of a compressed air blade, allowing the swordsman to cut at long distance. Zoro has shown that he can even turn these air projectiles in spiraling fashions, as opposed to a straightforward slash, while Ryuma demonstrated that the compressed air can be launched like a piercing blast via a sword thrust. In the anime, the color of these "air blades" resemble more like waves of light, displayed in several colors depending on the user, most to visual effects. Flying Slash attacks which are powerful enough allow swordsmen to cut through objects that are larger and thicker than the length of the sword, such as buildings or ships as demonstrated by Mihawk and Zoro after the timeskip.
- Iai (居合 Iai?) attacks, performed by sheathing and resheathing the swords with speed enough to be unseen by the human eye.
- Channeling elemental power into sword slashes, such as fire or electricity. Certain Devil Fruit abilities can also be channeled through a blade, such as the Yomi Yomi no Mi or the Wara Wara no Mi.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Swordsmen have many advantages that most martial artists do not have. While a martial artist may try to break a wall with brute force, a swordsman can cut an opening with much less effort. When deftly used, swords can be invaluable for blocking projectiles like cannonballs and spears without getting hurt in the process. Advanced swordsmen can cut the very air to make powerful projectile attacks. It should also be noted that advanced swordsmen can use their swords to block flying cutting attacks as well as produce them. Powerful slicing attacks, physical and flying, can also be very effective at altering the terrain by destroying or breaking obstacles. This gives swordsmen an advantage both in hunting down fleeing or hiding foes and in evading or escaping tough situations, such as when Zoro got himself stuck in a chimney.
As for their weaknesses, offensively, swordsmen have problems with opponents that are resilient against cutting attacks. The offensive limitations of swordsmen are seen most often when dealing with certain Devil Fruit powers. Notably, the user of the Bara Bara no Mi is completely immune to all cutting attacks, as Buggy effortlessly pieced himself together even after being shredded by Dracule Mihawk, the strongest swordsman in the world. Defensively, swordsmen have to be wary of attacks that lack solid form, as well as weapon breaking abilities. A swordsman's power relies greatly on his or her swords, so weapon breaking attacks, are a problem. Notably, the Sabi Sabi no Mi, which can reduce any metal to rust, is a natural enemy of swordsmen. While less common, stealing a swordsman's swords (by force or by stealth), can also work. This technique would be most effectively used by Eustass Kid, whose Devil Fruit powers attract all metal objects due to magnetism.
- While Sanji has currently eschewed the usage of swords due to his profession demands the preservation of his hands and kitchen knives solely for cooking, he was trained in swordsmanship during his childhood. Nevertheless, he retains the honing of his skills in using blades, and made the exception to his refusal to wield blades in combat when his enemy was wearing an armor of ramen, demonstrating tremendous swordsmanship precision in cutting up the ramen without harming the wearer.
- Wano Country's propaganda expresses Kurozumi Orochi is a swordsman of extreme skills who defeated Kozuki Oden and his retainers. However, this is falsified, as Orochi neither took part in the decisive battle nor show said skills.