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"Every army needs warriors whose specialty is victory. Kensei-sword saints: the guardians of our people. Every great ruler since the fall has trained as a sword saint... every one. And they are formidable. The nodachi was long thought too long too large for use in real war. They proved them wrong. Their armor is the strongest of our people... as is their will."


Kensei are a playable hero class in For Honor.

Overview

The living incarnations of Bushidō, the samurai way of the warrior, or as close as one can get. Masters of multiple martial arts, they are trained from infancy to fight and die for their emperor or their fellow samurai without asking why. Kensei wear heavy armor and fight with the nodachi, a longer version of the katana that cleaves enemies in a few elegant and powerful strikes. Kensei spend their lives fighting and training as they strive to attain a level of perfection few other warriors can ever hope to achieve.[1]

Armor

Over the hakama, the cloth clothing they wear under all their armor, the Kensei wears a lacquered wooden cuirass and a gray sleeveless coat on top of this. A katana and wakizashi can be seen sheathed at his waist under his obi sash, although they are not used in combat in-game.

The Kensei can always be easily identified thanks to their massive sode that hang off their shoulders. Their kabuto has a crescent crest at its forehead. Their face mask is known as Mempo. It is constructed from iron and/or leather, and covers the face from the nose to the chin. The Kensei's Mempo, in particular, is red with a lacquered finish, featuring a mustache, a soul patch and fierce teeth, meant to serve as both protection and an effective method of intimidation against foes.

Weapon

Nodachi - The nodachi is longer than the classic katana. It was initially designed to be used by a foot soldier to kill the horse of cavalry. Kensei samurai of the Dawn Empire have the strength and necessary skills to use them as effectively as the katana.

Nodachi

Trivia

  • "Kensei" (剣聖) literally translates to "sword saint" or "sword master."
    • Compared to other Japanese terms used for swordmasters, such as "Kengou" (剣豪; lit. "excellent (with the) sword"), the term "Kensei" is meant to imply a higher perfection of sword mastery, encompassing a heightened moral and spiritual dimension to their mastery. Treated as an honorary title, it was a title given to legendary swordsmen such as Miyamoto Musashi, along with founders of a sword school.
  • The Kensei's armor hails from the earlier Samurai periods, wearing a kozane curiass and massive sode.
    • Though the Kensei's armor is made of wood, historical Samurai never wore wood armor. All accounts of Japanese wood armor predated the Samurai, as by the time of the Samurai, they were using lamellar and plate armor.
    • It is good to note thought that in the universe of For Honor, metal is scarce for the Samurai who reside in the Myre, therefore wood had become a substitute.
  • As battlefield weapons, the nodachi could not be carried on one's waist like normal swords as they were too long to be drawn or sheathed. As a result, they often had to simply be carried by hand.
    • This can be seen with the Kensei when sprinting, as they have no sheath with them and hold their nodachi to the side. This is opposed to the Orochi, who sprints with their swords at his hip as if sheathed.
    • In real life, the nodachi is more often used as anti-cavalry weapons as was the case with many Japanese swords sporting long handles.
  • While the game lists Kensei as an easy character, the website lists him as a medium. This is possibly due to the Kensei being listed as medium during testing, changed for the final game, and the website hasn't been updated.
  • In-game, the Kensei's side guards take the form of Kendo's "hassō-no-kamae" (八相の構え; lit. "eight aspect stance") where the sword is held close to the chest and point up into the air, modified when performed on the left guard. This offensive stance is known for being able to react to a situation from any direction (its name "eight aspect" comes from how the stance can react from "all eight sides").
    • The Kensei's top guard may be a modified version of either the "kasumi-no-kamae" (霞の構え; lit. "hazy stance") or the "jōdan-no-kamae" (上段の構え; lit. "upper posture stance"). However, it is more likely that this top guard takes inspiration from the German Longsword Fencing guard Zornhut (lit. "Wrath Guard").

Signatures

  • The "Yossha!" Signature is a Japanese shout of victory (よっしゃー!), akin to the English celebratory phrase "Alright!"
  • The "Shori" (勝利; shōri) Signature translates into "victory."
  • The "Dokkodo" (獨行道; dokkōdō) Signature translates into "path of the lone one" or "way to go alone," and is a short work written by Japanese swordsman Musashi Miyamoto. It includes 21 precepts which express an honest and ascetic view of life.

Executions

  • "Zutsu" is derived from "headache" (頭痛; zutsū), referring to the headbutt the Kensei performs to finish off their opponent.
  • "Lose Something?" may be a reference to a scene from the film Monty Python and The Holy GrailThe protagonist, King Arthur, encounters a warrior known only as the Black Knight. During this encounter, King Arthur removes his opponent's arm in one stroke. The Black Knight casually denies his injury to be anything more than a flesh wound, seemingly nonplussed by his lack of a limb.
  • Currently, "No Look Kill" and "Quick Kill" possibly have swapped names. "No Look Kill" originally was called "From Ear to Ear" when first released, a few months later renamed as "Quick Kill." Later on, in May 2018, the actual "No Look Kill" and the current "No Look Kill" had their names swapped.
    • A possibility for the name swap may be because the current "No Look Kill" Execution did not fulfill the title of "Quick Kill," while the original "No Look Kill" was quick. Also, according to the patch notes, the names were not correct, thus a bug that needed to be resolved.
  • "Kikashi" may refer to a strategy play-term in the Japanese board game Go. This term, known as "Forcing Move" (利かし), evidently means a move that corners the opponent or forces them to make a move usually in favour of whoever performed the Kikashi.
    • This may be represented in how the Kensei systematically cuts their victim in a sequence that progressively leads to their final victim's execution: the Kensei first cuts at the knee to cause the victim to kneel with one hand on the ground. This is followed by a cut to that arm, causing the victim to kneel further with their head bowed. The last cut aligns to cut at the head, launching the victim away.
  • "Yasuraka" refers to the adjective-phrase "with ease" (安らかに; yasuraka ni) which is commonly used together with either "sleep" (寝なさい) or more bluntly "die" (死なさい). It usually denotes when the user of the phrase is putting their victim to sleep, literally or permanently.
    • Much like the Yasuraka execution, "Shizuka ni Nemure" is an execution around the idea of sleeping/resting being synonymous to dying. Translating to "rest quietly," this execution puts more emphasis on the Kensei gently letting their victim "sleep" before performing a respectful bow.
  • The "Umisen Yamasen" execution's title, "海千山千" is an idiom in Japanese taken from "A thousand years at sea, a thousand in the mountains" (海に千年、山に千年) which refers to a wise individual who has received so much experience over the years that they know all the ins-and-outs.
    • It also said that the longer phrase the idiom was contracted from is "A snake who spends a thousand years at sea and a thousand in the mountains will become a dragon" (海に千年、山に千年棲みついた蛇は竜になる), fortifying the idiom's meaning.
  • The "Kyudoka" execution's title (弓道家; lit. "house of Japanese archery") refers to a practitioner of the art of Japanese Archery (Kyūdō). This is represented in how the Kensei draws the bow in a manner that a Kyūdō practitioner does.
  • "Osoto Gari" (大外刈; Ōsotogari, lit. "Great Outer Reaping") is one of the 40 original throwing techniques in Judo, and is one of the current 67 Throws of Kodokan Judo. Classical right-hand Osoto Gari has the user step next to opponent with their left leg and reaps opponent's right leg (at the back of the thigh) with their right leg.
    • In this execution, the Kensei performs a left-hand Osoto Gari.
  • "En no Atari" (縁のあたり) translates to either "Strike of Fate" or "Strike of Opportunity."
    • The name of this execution is in reference to a technique from Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings where, when attempting to strike someone who goes on the defense, you should try to redirect your strike to somewhere open so as not to waste the force of your strike.

Quotes

  • Japanese: 尋常に勝負 (Jinjou ni shoubu) - English: "Let's have an honourable showdown!"
    • Male Kensei, Top heavy unblockable finisher
  • Japanese: これで終いだ (Kore de shimai da) - English: "This will be the end!"
    • Male Kensei, Side heavy finisher
    • Female Kensei, Top heavy unblockable finisher
  • Japanese: 死ね (Shine) - English: "Die!"
    • Female Kensei, Side heavy finisher
  • Japanese: まだまだ (Mada mada) - English: "Not good enough!"
    • Male Kensei, Blocking or Parrying
  • Japanese: 甘い (Amai) - English: "Naive!"
    • Male Kensei, Blocking or Parrying
  • Japanese: 望みはないぞ (Nozomi wa nai zo) - English: "There isn't any hope (for you)!"
    • Yasuraka Execution
  • Japanese: もっと真剣に戦え (Motto shinken ni tatakae) - English: "Take this fight more seriously!"
    • Male Kensei, Kyudoka Execution
  • Japanese: 身の程知るべきであったな (Minohodo shirubeki de atta na) - English: "You should've known your place!"
    • Female Kensei, Kyudoka Execution
  • Japanese: 分をわきまえぬは無礼であろう (Bun wo wakimaenu wa burei de arou) - English: "It's rude to not understand your place."
    • Male Kensei, the Daimyo's Verdict Execution
  • Japanese: つまらぬ者を斬る気はない (Tsumaranu mono wo kiru ki wa nai) - English: "I have no interest in killing worthless people."
    • Female Kensei, the Daimyo's Verdict Execution

Fighting Style

Kensei are balanced Samurai warriors armed with the nodachi. They are slower than other units but have longer melee range. They provide interesting defensive abilities and deliver devastating attacks through their Top Heavy mix-ups.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Adaptable Fighting Style
  • Good Melee Range

Special Capabilities

  • All Top Heavy Attacks are soft-feint mix-ups
  • Special Finishers in the form of Uninterruptible Lights and Side Heavies, or an Unblockable Top Heavy
  • Dodge Attacks and Guardbreak moves lead into chain or finisher attacks

Perks

Available Perks for the Kensei can be viewed on the Perks page.

Feats

Tier 1st 2nd 3rd
1 Fast Recovery

Passive | Stamina regenerates faster.

Unlocked at level 1

1 - Fast recovery.png

Body Count

Passive | Killing soldier grants you health and stamina.

Unlocked at level 5

1 - Body Count.png

Iron Lungs

Passive | You can still sprint when out of stamina.

Unlocked at level 13

1 - Iron Lungs-0.png

2 Inspire

Allies deal more Damage, soldiers fight faster.

Unlocked at level 1

2 - Inspire-0.png

Smoke Bomb

Throw down a bomb that stuns enemies for a moderate duration of time.

Unlocked at level 7

2 - Smoke Bomb.png

Chilling Stare

Nearby enemies have lower attack and defense.

Unlocked at level 15

2 - Chilling Stare.png

3 Second Wind

Recover some of your health.

Unlocked at level 1

3 - Second Wind-0.png

Long Bow

Fire a long bow for moderate damage.

Unlocked at level 9

3 - Long Bow-0.png

Steadfast

Gain immunity from throw attempts for a short duration.

Unlocked at level 17

3 - Steadfast.png

4 Arrow Storm

Aerial attack that deals medium damage in multiple areas.

Unlocked at level 1

4 - Arrow Storm-0.png

Stalwart Banner

Nearby allies continuously regain health.

Unlocked at level 11

4 - Stalwart Banner.png

Unblockable

Your attacks can not be blocked for a short duration.

Unlocked at level 19

4 - Unblockable.png

Moveset

General

  • Renown: Vanguard - Earn more Renown when controlling objectives, either by capturing or defending them, to unlock your feats in a match.
  • Revenge Mode - Boosts Damage and Health. All Attacks are Uninterruptible. Parry and Throws knock enemies down. Attacks are Auto-Parried on activation.
  • Defense: Static - Your Guard Stance remains active in the direction you designate. Unlike most other Static Guard Heroes, Kensei also has Superior Block Dodges.

Hero Specific

  • Chain Starters - A successful Guardbreak (including Grasping Pounce) counts as a Chain Starter, and can be followed into the second Light or Heavy attack in the Chain.
    • Mid-Chain Starters - Helm Splitter, Swift Strike, Nature's Wrath and Guardbreak Throws count as the second attack in a Chain, therefore can be followed with any Chain Finisher.
  • Top Heavy Mix-ups - Kensei's Top Heavy Attacks in Chains all have soft feint properties to provide mix-up opportunities. As a result, all of them have extended start-up time compared to Side Heavy Attacks.
    • Top Heavy Opener Cancel - Top Heavy Opener can be cancelled during its Startup by: A Side Light Opener, a Side Heavy Opener, a Dodge Move, or an Unblockable Pommel Strike (use Guardbreak).
    • Second Top Heavy Cancel - Top Heavy Chain can be cancelled during its Startup by: A Side Light Chain, a Side Heavy Chain, a Dodge Move, or a Guardbreak.
    • Top Heavy Finisher Cancel - Top Heavy Finisher can be cancelled during its Startup by: A Side Light Finisher, a Side Heavy Finisher, a Dodge Move, or a Guardbreak.
  • Special Finishers - Top Heavy Finisher is Unblockable. Side Heavy Finishers and all Light Finishers have Uninterruptible Stance, which starts up earlier into the attack than most instances of Uninterruptible.
  • Superior Block Dodge - Forward, Left, and Right Dodges have Superior Block property in the direction of the Dodge.
    • Superior Block Dodge Attacks - Kensei can still perform his Dodge Attacks even when they successfully block an attack with their Superior Block property. Forward Dodge Superior Block guarantees Helm Splitter (Forward Dodge Light).
    • Evasive Swift Strike - Hits at the opposite of the direction of the Dodge, and has an extended dodge property, allowing the Kensei to avoid attacks more easily.
  • Zone Attack - Cancel Zone Attack after the first Attack with B (XB1), E (PC) or 〇 (PS4).
  • Stunning Throws - Throws briefly stun enemies.

Moves

(From Guard Mode)

Icon Legend

Type Name PC XB1 PS4
Chain Attack icon.png Dawn of the Steel Sun LMB, LMB, LMB RB, RB, RB R1, R1, R1
Chain Attack icon.png Spirit of the Inevitability LMB, LMB, RMB RB, RB, RT R1, R1, R2
Chain Attack icon.png Form of the Dragon LMB, RMB, RMB RB, RT, RT R1, R2, R2
Chain Attack icon.png Doom of the Kensei RMB, RMB, RMB RT, RT, RT R2, R2, R2
Chain Attack icon.png Rising Sun RMB, RMB, LMB RT, RT, RB R2, R2, R1
Chain Attack icon.png River's Flow RMB, LMB, LMB RT, RB, RB R2, R1, R1
Chain Attack icon.png Crashing Plates RMB, LMB, RMB RT, RB, RT R2, R1, R2
Chain Attack icon.png Shifting Ground LMB, RMB, LMB RB, RT, RB R1, R2, R1
Rushing Sweep (Not in Guard Mode) ↑ + RMB LS↑ + RT LS↑+ R2
Helm Splitter W + Space, LMB LS↑ + A, RB LS↑ + X, R1
Nature's Wrath W + Space, RMB LS↑ + A, RT LS↑ + X, R2
Swift Strike A or D + Space, RMB LS← or LS→ + A, RT LS← or LS→ + X, R2
Unblockable icon.png Pommel Strike (during Heavy Opener Start up) ↑ + RMB, MMB RS↑ + RT, X RS↑ + R2, ⬜
Grasping Pounce W + Space, MMB LS↑ + A, X LS↑ + X, ⬜

Executions

Requiescat_In_Pace

Requiescat In Pace

Rampage_Of_Ragnarok

Rampage Of Ragnarok

Cheaty_Flute

Cheaty Flute

Blow_Your_Own_Horn

Blow Your Own Horn

Harpy_Hey_Joe

Harpy Hey Joe

Lute_Not

Lute Not

Sylvan_Vaporization

Sylvan Vaporization

Horkos_Pharmakos

Horkos Pharmakos

Sylvan_Metamorphasis

Sylvan Metamorphasis

Revenant_Slayer

Revenant Slayer

Ulfhednar_Killer

Ulfhednar Killer

Shiryo_Avenger

Shiryo Avenger

Jiangshi_Banisher

Jiangshi Banisher

Minified_And_Put_Aside

Minified And Put Aside

Minified_And_Magnified

Minified And Magnified

Minified_And_Stomped

Minified And Stomped

Minified_And_Kicked_Away

Minified And Kicked Away

Wolf_Among_Sheep

Wolf Among Sheep

Ilma's_Scythe

Ilma's Scythe

Cane_You_Feel_It

Cane You Feel It

Brought_You_A_Gift

Brought You A Gift

Chimera_Salvation

Chimera Salvation

Blades_of_the_Vanguards

Blades of the Vanguards

Resounding_Defeat

Resounding Defeat

Deadly_Hare

Deadly Hare

Sylvan_Detachment

Sylvan Detachment

To_The_Great_Beyond

To The Great Beyond

Feast_Upon_The_Weak

Feast Upon The Weak

The_Masquerade_Is_Over

The Masquerade Is Over

Unquenchable_Wolf

Unquenchable Wolf


Farewell,_Chimera_Music_Box

Farewell, Chimera Music Box

Farewell,_Chimera_Zither

Farewell, Chimera Zither

Farewell,_Horkos_Bagpipe

Farewell, Horkos Bagpipe


Farewell,_Horkos_Violin

Farewell, Horkos Violin

Wrathful_Concision

Wrathful Concision

Willful_Concision

Willful Concision

Sorrowful_Concision

Sorrowful Concision

Artful_Concision

Artful Concision

Aegir's_Reach

Aegir's Reach

Anchors_Down

Anchors Down

Chill_Out

Chill Out

Death_Metal_Triangle

Death Metal Triangle

Fish_In_A_Barrel

Fish In A Barrel

Get_Whale_Soon

Get Whale Soon

Off_The_Hook

Off The Hook

File:Huntress' Prey

200px

Ran's_Bestowment

Ran's Bestowment

What_Goes_Around

What Goes Around

Emotes

Passive Stance

The_Bard's_Instrument

The Bard's Instrument

Sword_In_The_Stone

Sword In The Stone

Ready_To_Rumble

Ready To Rumble

Volcanic_Destruction_Blast

Volcanic Destruction Blast

Jack_O_Lantern

Jack O Lantern

Leap_Of_Faith

Leap Of Faith

Penguin_Walk

Penguin Walk

Vortiger's_Ascent

Vortiger's Ascent

Shadows_of_the_Hitokiri

Shadows of the Hitokiri

Zhanhu's_Fire

Zhanhu's Fire

Dubious_Assessment

Dubious Assessment

One_Of_Your_Shrugs

One Of Your Shrugs

Howl_At_The_Moon

Howl At The Moon

Confused_Warrior

Confused Warrior

Skeptically_Swaying

Skeptically Swaying

Horkos_Grimoire

Horkos Grimoire

Sylvan_Book

Sylvan Book

Sylvan_Meditation

Sylvan Meditation

In_ChaRAHcter

In ChaRAHcter

Muscular_Archer

Muscular Archer

Muscular_Biceps

Muscular Biceps

Message_Board

Message Board

Sylvan_Panacea

Sylvan Panacea

Selfish_Drinker

Selfish Drinker

Chimera_Bagpipe

Chimera Bagpipe

Chimera_Music_Box

Chimera Music Box

Chimera_Violin

Chimera Violin

Chimera_Zither

Chimera Zither

Horkos_Bagpipe

Horkos Bagpipe

Horkos_Music_Box

Horkos Music Box

Horkos_Violin

Horkos Violin

Horkos_Zither

Horkos Zither

Odaiko

Odaiko

Raising_Glasses

Raising Glasses

Suspended_Gong

Suspended Gong

The_Bodhran

The Bodhran

The_Field_Drum

The Field Drum

Suspicious_Tumbleweed

Suspicious Tumbleweed

Elegant_Dance

Elegant Dance

The_Bard's_Triangle

The Bard's Triangle

Gryphon's_Fireside

Gryphon's Fireside

Fighting Stance

Snowball_Fight!

Snowball Fight!

Executions

Futsunomitama

Futsunomitama

Ware_Shinaba

Ware Shinaba

Death_By_Arrows

Death By Arrows

Emotes

Passive Stance

Down_The_Hatch!_(Samurai)

Down The Hatch! (Samurai)

Rub_Salt_In_The_Wound_(Samurai)

Rub Salt In The Wound (Samurai)

Banner_Of_Arms_(Samurai)

Banner Of Arms (Samurai)

Media

Images

Model

Stills

Videos

External links

References

Heroes
Knights Warden - Conqueror - Peacekeeper - Lawbringer -Centurion
Gladiator - Black Prior - Warmonger - Gryphon
Samurai Kensei - Shugoki - Orochi - Nobushi
Shinobi - Aramusha - Hitokiri - Kyoshin
Vikings Raider - Warlord - Berserker - Valkyrie
Highlander - Shaman - Jormungandr
Wu Lin Tiandi - Jiang Jun - Nuxia - Shaolin - Zhanhu
The Outlanders Pirate - ??? - ???
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