"The sword is a simple tool, but in the hands of a master it becomes the most versatile of weapons. And just as the imagination is limitless, so too are the possibilities of the sword."
A character noted for his or her mastery of the sword
. Might be a deadly duelist, a skillful swordsman, or just someone who is notably better at putting holes in other people. They may or may not posses Implausible Fencing Powers
depending on the level of realism within the work. Their weapon of choice might be a Cool Sword
or something completely mundane. Some might be undefeated and renowned as the best swordsman in the world, while others might be an anonymous badass trying to stay alive.
Often a Badass Normal
and a Mentor, often helping other characters Take a Level in Badass
. Occasionally an Old Master
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Anime and Manga
- Sesshomaru in InuYasha. He masters any sword the second that he gets it in his hands and sometimes even before he gets his hand on it, a level of skill that's especially notable when Inuyasha gains and struggles to master Dragon-Scale Tessaiga. Sesshoumaru hears one single comment on how Inuyasha was trying to use the power and instantly understands how the power should be used and what Inuyasha is doing wrong, offering help in the form of cryptic advice. He can fight equally well with any hand, useful considering he's one-armed for much of the manga, and his official character profile states that he's able to use any type of weapon to full potential, as shown in the final battle when he handles Sango's Hiraikotsu with ease. The only weapon he ever struggles to master is the one, single weapon that requires mastering a compassionate heart instead of physical strength or skill.
- Balgus, Allen Schezar and Van Fanel from The Vision of Escaflowne.
- Future Trunks from Dragon Ball, to date the only main character to use a weapon in a world where someone's finger poke could topple a mountain. Mind you it's not as much of a gimmick as it could have been. Trunks has proven to use it effectively in battle, even getting several techniques utilising his sword in his video game skillsets.
- One Piece:
- Dracule "Hawkeye" Mihawk is the best swordsman in-universe. He could, upon introduction, effortlessly hold off the previously unstoppable tri-wielding Zoro with a three-inch dagger, or use his main sword to chop an entire fleet of at least fifty galleons in half from a distance. His main sword is a large cross-shaped affair that's longer than he is tall (he's 6'6"!), that he uses on whatever he feels like. He's skilled enough to deflect bullets with it, playing into his iconic line, "A sword without subtlety is but an iron bar."
- Zoro himself also qualifies. While his main specialty is three swords, he is proficient at two swords and one sword as well, able to cut down a man made of steel, a legendary samurai, and bring down a government assassin. Despite having the second-lowest supernova bounty, even the other supernova are wary of him. His only major loss was against Mihawk, whereas even the main character has lost more times. While he was initially very power based, Zoro has honed his skills. After the time-skip, during which Mihawk personally trained him, Zoro has taken a few pages from Mihawk's book by casually slicing a ship in half while half asleep.
- Star Saber from Transformers Victory.
- From Katekyo Hitman Reborn!:
- Sword Emperor Tyr, Superbi Squalo, Genshiki, Ugetsu Asari, and arguably Yamamoto Takeshi. Sword Emperor Tyr was the original boss of the Varia before Squalo managed to kill him in two-day straight duel when he was fourteen. Squalo was thought to be the presumptive leader if he didn't step down for Xanxus. Yamamoto is also a Child Prodigy learning his father's "Shigure Soen Ryu", a style known to be invincible because it's forms branch out to be either be weak or strong depending on the master and student's contribution. Yamamoto learned the style in a week, and defeated Squalo by learning it's secret. Later, he was mentored by Squalo to further expand the style in the Future Arc.
- Mifune from Soul Eater. Bonus points for having a set of literally dozens of katanas he carries around in over-sized holsters. Bonus bonus points for being the only full-blooded human to be able to go toe-to-toe with people and creatures with supernatural powers. Arguably the best swordsman in the show/manga.
- Hiei from YuYu Hakusho cut Seiryu 16 times before his enemy knew what hit him. Keep in mind said guy could throw 100 punches in a split second! There's also the time Hiei cut Makintaro's arm off, and held said arm in the air, because Makintaro had no idea what was going on. Or the time Hiei stabbed Sniper in the abdomen, intentionally missing every vital organ and muscle, making the stab just enough to put him down.
- Just about everyone in Rurouni Kenshin, with Implausible Fencing Powers out the wazoo. Special mention goes to the hero, Himura Kenshin, Shinomori Aoshi, Hiko Seijuro, Saitou Hajime, Makoto Shishio, Seta Soujirou and Yukishiro Enishi.
- Guts and Griffith of Berserk fame. Guts especially stands out for his ability to wield his giant Dragon Slayer with as much speed and skill as someone who mastered the use of an ordinary sword.
- Master Tiellagory of Le Chevalier D Eon.
- Eishun Konoe and Kurt Godel in Mahou Sensei Negima!.
- Master Yupa of Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind is yet another very old swordmaster who manages to hold his own against small armies. His swordsmanship is an Informed Ability for at least half of the movie, until he finally lashes out and sweeps down an army full of enemy soldiers.
- Many characters from Blade of the Immortal at least claim to be examples of this trope.
- Fuhrer Bradley in Fullmetal Alchemist. The man can take on a tank and win with nothing but his saber, and it wasn't even an Absurdly Sharp Blade. He's later shown slicing bullets in half - and when Scar cuts off his arms, he holds the blade of the broken saber in his teeth and still keeps fighting!
- Jintetsu of Kurogane, despite being Just a Kid, is an extremely capable swordsman and renowned assassin.
- Cowboy Bebop: Vicious is so skilled with his katana that he can hold his own in a future setting with a whole lot of guns, and is a match for Spike's shooting ability.
- Samurai Champloo:
- The two heroes are master swordsmen, Jin, and Mugen. Jin is a traditional swordsman, while Murgen relies more on his incredible speed, unique and unpredictable fighting style, and killer instinct rather than any traditional martial arts. This is largely why Jin's hardest battles are usually classic sword duels, whereas Mugen is conversely pitted against unconventional foes who don't rely on swords.
- Various antagonists also qualify. Chief among them are jovial mercenary swordmaster Inuyaka, the deadly Shaolin Tsujigiri Ukon and Kariya Kagetoki - a peerless swordsman of such great talent that he is known widely as the 'Hand of God'!
- During Episode 21, Jin meets an old hermit called Matagi. Later, when the hermit is asked about his real name he quietly mutters that he is actually Miyamoto Mushashi - perhaps the most legendary Japanese swordsman in history! When Jin asks him to repeat himself more loudly the old hermit dismisses the topic.
- Killer Bee can fight with seven swords at once by holding them in every possible place on his body, except for his hands.
- Mifune is a master Iaijutsu Practitioner capable of holding his own against high level shinobi despite having no ninjutsu or genjutsu.
- Anyone who becomes one of the 7 Swordsmen of the Mist is this by default as well, particularly Zabuza, who probably has the most relatively normal sword out of the group, and was able to give Kakashi a run for his money even after his resurrection by Edo Tensei.
- Yaiba is full of powerful swordsman, including the eponymous hero by the end, Takeshi Onimaru, Miyamoto Musashi, Sasaki Kojiro, Yagyu Jubei, Soshi Okita, and Kenjuro Kurogane.
- Lone Wolf and Cub:
- Ogami Itto. Being the former Executioner of the Shogun, he was expected to fight for the right to get such a cushy job, presumably besting every other swordsman in Japan for the right to be "the Shogun's right hand". Consequently, when he goes rogue, no man/woman/ninja hit squad can stand against him. At one point in the series he literally fights off an entire crowd of female assassins while drugged unconscious. Despite this, the series is fantastic for trying to find new, creative ways for the bad guys to provide some challenge worthy of him. His enemies, acknowledging him as the greatest swordsman in Japan, will attempt to send, say, the greatest rifleman in Japan against him, or some such.
- Yagyu Retsudo, the series main antagonist, is also a master swordsman and Ninja.
- Yamada Asaemon is the Shogun's sword-tester, and is thought to be the only swordsman in Japan who can match Ogami. He goes up against Ogami, and is only defeated because Retsudo secretly tampered with his sword. The creators later made a spin-off starring Asaemon, Samurai Executioner.
- Oyuki from Lady Snowblood, is a Master Swordswoman who uses a short sword concealed in a parasol.
- Hattori Hanzo in Path Of The Assassin, in addition to his Ninjutsu skills.
- Goemon Ishikawa of Lupin III. His demonstrations of Implausible Fencing Powers pretty much fit into every category, and it would actually be shorter to list the things he hasn't managed to cut in half. His fighting skills without the sword are nothing to sneeze at either.
- Nanashi and Luo-Lang from Sword of the Stranger.
- Bleach: According to the Character Book of Souls and the Official Bootleg, Captain Unohana is touted as a master swordsman. It is eventually revealed in the manga that the name Yachiru was a name given to the one shinigami that was capable of mastering all known sword styles and forms that exist and whose identity is none other than Captain Yachiru Unohana, First Kenpachi of the 11th division.
- Kyo Kara Maoh:
- Conrad is the 'best swordsman in Shin Makoku' and turns out to have an international reputation; he takes after his father, Dan Hiri, who was a widely known master in his day. Gunter, who is easily taken for a Squishy Wizard, turns out to be amazing with a blade as well. (Yuuri has still never seen him fight.)
- In season three we learn Gunter trained Conrad—in his adolescence (i.e. maybe fifty years old?) he was getting to be cocky and bitter due to his social isolation and genius, and Gunter, who was still teaching back then, handed him his ass to show how much he still had to learn. Their only battle during show-time (probably best fight in the series) was inconclusive, since Conrad had a separate agenda and ran away at the first opportunity he could make.
- Hube is also pretty damn good, and prone to cutting improbable things; he fixated on Conrad in his first appearance because he knew only a master-level fighter could defeat him.
- Kuno, from Ranma Ĺ, is a Kendo Team Captain and is capable of doing tremendous damage with a bokken. He is a scarily skilled fighter, despite his many personality flaws and general idiocy.
- Kamika from Shikabane Hime. Her sword skills earned her the in-universe title "Sword Princess" and she's even been shown capable of creating massive explosions just by drawing her twin katana's.
- Kara no Kyoukai:
- Shiki Ryougi is mainly known for being a Knife Nut, but her skill with a sword was enough to surprise and eventually kill an immortal Buddhist mage who had basically set up an alternate reality to capture her.
- Shiki's father is also implied to be one, since he trained her in the first place. We only see him in flashbacks and in one practice match with her that he wins handily, though.
- Lyrical Nanoha
- In Fairy Tail, there's Erza Scarlet, one of the strongest characters in the series, has lot and lots of swords. She usually Dual Wields two BFSes.
- Practically every Jedi character with a real role in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Qui-Gon Jinn displays quite a lot of skill, but even he's defeated by Darth Maul, who fights him and Obi-Wan Kenobi to a standstill at the same time. Obi-Wan later defeats General Grievous (who notably wields four lightsabers against Obi's one), as well as the newly minted Darth Vader. Yoda also reveals himself to be an incredible swordsman despite appearing to be decrepit in the original trilogy. However, Darth Sidious (who earlier in the film defeated four Jedi Masters single-handed) manages to best him in their duel. In episode II, Dooku easily handles both Obi-Wan and Anakin; in episode III, after Dooku incapacitates Obi-Wan, Anakin easily bests him.
- The Princess Bride features two master swordsmen in the Man in Black and Inigo Montoya. Neither of whom are left handed. The film also name-drops a number of historical fencing masters during their duel.
- The vast majority of Wuxia characters, even relatively minor ones. Even if they are masters of arcane barehanded martial arts forms, it is rare for them not to be equally skilled with blades.
- Many characters from Kill Bill, especially the Bride, Bill, and O-Ren Ishi. The Bride uses her Hattori Hanzo sword, and of course every swordsman uses a katana.
- Archibald Cunningham in Rob Roy is a master swordsman with sadistic tendencies. He spends most of the final Sword Fight toying with Rob Roy, dancing around him and bleeding him slowly until he's collapsing from fatigue.
- Kyuuzou and Kambei from Seven Samurai, though not the other samurai.
- Sanjuro from Yojimbo and Sanjuro.
- Madmartigan in Willow.
- Hirayama Kujuro, Shimada Shinzaemon, Kuranaga Saheita, and Kitou Hanbei from 13 Assassins.
- Ichi, from Zatoichi, is one of the Trope Codifiers for Blind Weaponmaster and Handicapped Badass.
- Zorro is a master swordsman in all his incarnations and movies. It's helped in both the 1922 and 1940 versions of The Mark Of Zorro, where he's played by Douglas Fairbanks and Tyrone Power, respectively, both of whom were expert fencers.
- Nameless and Broken Sword in Hero.
- Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- Lancelot in Excalibur.
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children: Cloud, who expertly uses a composite BFS composed of six component swords, either individually or in Dual Wielding combos.
- Braveheart: William Wallace occasionally uses other weapons, but he always goes into war with his signature claymore and never loses a fight with it in his hand.
- Maximus in Gladiator uses his gladius to good effect.
- Most of the immortals in Highlander.
- Masters of the Universe: He-Man and the antagonist Blade.
- By The Sword is centered on a conflict between two fencing masters.
- Most of the characters in Pirates of the Caribbean are pretty good with a sword, but Will is noted to be the most skilled (at least in terms of technique). Pity that he's usually fighting pirates and rarely has the Combat Pragmatist qualities required to take them on.
- Both Ryunosuke Tsukue and Toranosuke Shimada in The Sword Of Doom are the best swordsmen around, easily cutting down scores of other swordsmen.
- In Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, Kronos himself and Lord Hagen Durward (whose tombstone proclaims him the finest swordsman of his day). Unsurprisingly, the film ends with a duel between the two.
- Blade in the Blade film series.
- Conan the Barbarian (1982).
- Many knights and some other characters are noted as such in A Song of Ice and Fire.
- Ser Arthur Dayne is generally remembered as the quintessential "greatest swordsman," aided no doubt by his Thunderbolt Iron sword Dawn. Jaime Lannister tells Ser Loras Tyrell, "I served with Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, who could have slain [all six of the other current Kingsguard] with his left hand while taking a piss with his right."
- Jaime is famed as possibly the best swordsman in Westeros in his prime.
- Syrio Forel is the former First Sword of Braavos, a culture that takes its fencing very seriously. He kills several armed and armored guardsmen with his wooden practice stick.
- Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of Robert Baratheon's Kingsguard, is near the age of 60 and generally held as the last representative of a bygone age of chivalry and heroes. He's quick enough to kill two guardsmen without a weapon and is also no slouch with a quarterstaff. According to Word of God, Selmy in his youth could have fought even Dayne to a standstill, if the latter was armed with a normal sword instead of Dawn.
- Qhorin Halfhand is a legendary ranger of the Night's Watch, famed for his skill with a sword. He's got his nickname when the fingers of his right hand were cut off by a wildling; he sprayed the blood into the wildling's eyes and killed him. He then spent years training his left hand with the sword, and became as good with his left hand as he had with his right.
- The Wheel of Time: Blademaster is an actual title within the setting, earned either by being recognized as such by a group of pre-existing blademasters or by killing one in a duel. The Heron-mark sword is the symbol of a blademaster, and you're only supposed to carry one if you've earned it.
- Rand earns his position as a blademaster after killing a Seanchan High Blood at the climax of the second book. At this point in the series, he's still not very far removed from a being a simple sheepherder, so it's quite an accomplishment.
- Lan is the stand out in the series—in the prequel to the series, seven men come to kill him. He muses to himself as he faces them that only in stories does one man face seven and come out unharmed...or alive. He doesn't do the former, but obviously manages the latter. There are many others, too, and having a 'Heron Marked' blade is the sign of a true master swordsman.
- Other significant ones include Galad, Gawyn, and a couple of the Forsaken, notably Be'lal (who helped invent swordsmanship, or at least rediscover it as a form of combat, apparently) and Demandred, who proves himself in the last book to be quite possibly the greatest swordsman in the entire series. Commonly-taught Warder history is that a Warder named Jeroam was the greatest swordsman in history; in his lifetime he supposedly fought in ten thousand battles and duels, at one time defeating ten men at once, and lost only one of those fights (to a farmer with a quarterstaff).
- Notably averted by the Aiel, who are some of the most badass people in the world, but refuse to use swords.
- Dune: Duncan Idaho. Also anyone else trained on Ginaz, the most famous of these being Jool Noret, the first true Swordmaster. His skill with a blade was so great that no man or machine could kill him. Only a massive tidal wave finally ended him. At a number of points it is indicated that by most standards, Gurney Halleck is this. It just looks less like it because he served alongside Duncan.
- Benedict in The Chronicles of Amber. Most of the male members of the Royal Family of Amber are expert with a sword, but Benedict is universally acknowledged as being the greatest among them.
- There is an ancient order of Mantids in Shadows of the Apt known as the Weaponsmasters. While many of them prefer the Claw (an Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age), there're a good number of rapier specialists - including Tynisa, by the end of the second book.
- In the Tortall Universe we have Gareth the Elder of Naxen, who Alanna says is the best swordsman in the kingdom. Alanna herself becomes one later- the Protector of the Small series mentions that she's never lost a fight as King's Champion.
- Codex Alera has several characters noted for their sword skills. It's unusual in that much of this skill comes from metalcrafting, magical abilities that increase their mental focus and pain resistance, and allow them to sense metal.
- The best of them is generally held to be Araris Valerian, whose abilities are advanced enough that he can transform his skin into metal. Since most of the high lords are excellent metalcrafters stone knives are favored for assassination attempts.
- Aldrick ex Gladius and Phrygiar Navaris are both only just below Araris in terms of skill, and are similarly famous for their abilities.
- Sir Miles is also up there, before his leg got crippled, he was just below Aldrick his crippled leg is thanks to his brother Araris pushing him in front of cart so that Miles wouldn't be killed by Aldrick, Tavi is also pretty good after training fromAraris, he also kills Phrygiar Navaris. The epicness of the duel that took place between Aldrick ex Gladius and Araris Valerian prior to the first novel is such that many characters continuously cite it as the greatest contest of skill ever seen in Alera, Aldrick does not share that sentiment.
- Princeps Gaius Septimus may in fact be the only person to equal Araris Valerian, its ambiguous whether Septimus is the most skilled swordsman to have lived or that Araris deliberately underplayed his abilities when sparring with the Princeps to give this illusion.
- Alan Breck Stewart in Stevenson's Kidnapped.
- Zorro, of course. In The Curse of Capistrano, he easily is the best swordsman in the area, and later works only cement his status as a Master Swordsman.
- Hiro in Snow Crash. Says so right on his business card. The claim seems dubious at first. His success in VR seems to come from the fact that he wrote the swordfighting code himself. In the real world, however, he proves to be just about as good as he claims he is.
- In David Weber's Flag in Exile, Steadholder Burdette was ranked among the top fifty swordsmen on Grayson. Unfortunately for him, he discovers the hard way that tournament rankings don't translate to skills in life-or-death battles, as it doesn't really engage the "kill or be killed" mindset.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- Luke Skywalker has become such a god with a lightsaber that one Villain Sue who thinks of himself as a God-Mode Sue admits to himself that Luke is better with a lightsaber than he is. In Fate of the Jedi: Abyss, Luke is able to pick apart a Sith teacher in one opening while facing two highly skilled attackers simultaneously, despite having been weakened for several weeks (and near death!) by performing the Jedi equivalent of astral projection. And when lightsaber sparring with his own son Ben, no slouch despite his youth, he defeats him without taking out his lightsaber for a very long time, and at the start doesn't even have to take a step.
- In the Revenge of the Sith novelization, author Matt Stover's own knowledge of martial arts comes into play in terms of stylistic matches. Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku) is the unparalleled master of Makashi, the lightsaber form that is more or less fencing, good enough to match none other than Yoda to a draw and edge out Mace Windu back in the days when they dueled regularly. However, Anakin's preferred form of Djem So, which involves inexorable advancement and pure kinetic power, proves to be the weakness of Makashi (in combination with Anakin's significant physical strength and Count Dooku being an older man). Mace Windu, for his part, outshines Yoda and Darth Sidious. Furthermore, due to his use of the shatterpoint Force ability, Mace can see the weaknesses of nearly anything in life. Those two things are what allowed him to defeat Sidious. Only Anakin's intervention prevented him from achieving victory (although it's never been quite clear if Sidious allowed Windu to win, anticipating Anakin's arrival and intending to use it to turn him to the dark side). Earlier, Windu acknowledged Obi-Wan as the master of Soresu, the ultimate defensive saber form. He also notes that despite his own terrific skill with a blade in having invented his own lightsaber technique, and Master Yoda's mastery of Ataru (the most nimble and acrobatic form), they were styles chosen to overcome deficiencies, whereas Obi-Wan refined his mastery of Soresu to the point he did almost entirely out of tactical considerations and because it fit best with his personality, making him the best choice to take on General Grievous, who fights with four lightsabers at once.
- In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Brys Beddict, Anomander Rake and Kallor, amongst others, would all qualify. The Seguleh are a whole race of these; their culture focuses on swordsmanship to the exclusion of all else, to the extent that they're ranked according to their sword skill, and as such are regarded as some of the deadliest hand-to-hand combatants in the whole World of Badass.
- In The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, we have Shiro, Knight of the Cross. He is only around for a single book, but in that book we see him as being a swordsman without mortal peer. In the space of a second and a half, he kills two mooks and holds a fallen angel hostage. He is so skilled that a two-thousand year old Nigh Invulnerable villain possessed by a Fallen Angel, who has killed over a hundred Knights of the Cross, is scared of him. As Michael put it, "Shiro knew fencing like Mozart knew music".
- In The Princess Bride, Inigo spends many years trying to become a Master Swordsman. When he's finished his training, he's actually graduated to the even higher level of "Wizard." Even still, the Man in Black defeats him.
- In RA Salvatore's The Dark Elf Trilogy, the drow ranger Drizzt Do'Urden is one of the greatest swordsmen in the Forgotten Realms. His primary disadvantage is that he is small and, while in excellent shape, not as strong as, say, an orc king or an ogre warrior. He starts training at sixteen; in most of the novels, he's around seventy or eighty, but for a dark elf that's still young.
- Many characters in S.M. Stirling's Emberverse, notably Mike Havel, Norman Arminger, Pam Arnstein, Astrid Larsson, Tiphaine d'Ath, Rudi Mackenzie, and Mathilda Arminger.
- The Three Musketeers, especially D'Artagnan and Athos. Porthos must have been also a competent fencer, since he taught a young Aramis a few good moves. However, Porthos is most often depicted using not-so-gentlemanly weapons such as his fists.
- John Carter of Mars, the greatest swordsman of two worlds, at least. He's not the only one, though, what with swordsmanship being an incredibly prized skill among the Martian races, almost all of whom are varying degrees of Proud Warrior Race. In particular, Carter complements the Therns for their swordsmanship (though it's the only thing he finds praiseworthy about them), and the Okar (Yellow Martian) elite guard Solan gives Carter a serious run for his money in the third book.
- This is one of the things about Commissar Ciaphas Cain that makes one stop and wonder just how fair he's being to himself in insisting he's no hero. He's explicitly said to be very good at it, and all kinds of inhuman monstrosities and Super Soldiers have found their rampage stopped by one (usually secretly terrified) human officer wielding a chain sword who just won't die.
- Richard of the Sword of Truth becomes this due to the memories magically imbued in the titular sword, accrued from every single former user of the blade. He unlocks the knowledge in battle with thirty blademasters. Each one is also an example of this trope, coming from a culture that has been training for 3,000 years just to help Richard unlock the sword's power. Richard also becomes an expert with all sorts of bladed implements. His skill with the symbolic language of magic is ultimately explained by it being analogous to swordsmanship.
- Lancelot from Arthurian myth, including literature such as Le Morte Darthur and The Once and Future King, is the greatest knight in the realm.
- Gilbert of The Witch Watch appears to be this. He talks about swords frequently and trained with them from a young age. Being able to disarm someone by letting them stab you and just turning away is useful, but Prince Leopold is clearly in another class.
- Lyonesse: Aillas doesn't come across as someone who's even interested in fighting, but when he encounters a legendary outlaw and swordsman sent to murder him, he suddenly reveals that he's just about the best swordsman in the land. A character who witnesses the duel warns her family that "he's a demon with a sword!"
- Trapped on Draconica: In terms of skill Taurok outclasses everyone else in the setting.
- In The Inheritance Cycle, Eragon apparently becomes one of these. It's hard to tell, sometimes, although after he loses his special Rider sword, he gets himself a falchion without losing any level of proficiency.
- Adolin Kholin of The Way Of Kings is generally agreed to be the single best swordsman on the planet, to the point where his central purpose in life is dueling.
Live Action TV
- Nasir in Robin of Sherwood. Usually uses two swords at once, but is just as deadly with only one.
- Super Sentai and Power Rangers have their share:
- From GARO, we have the protagonist Kouga Saejima, his father Taiga Saejima, and his rival-turned-best friend Rei Suzumura. Later, the second season introduced The Man in The Red Mask the one-off character Igari Juzo in episode 8, Kouga's mentor Wataru Shijima and Makai Priest Reo Fudou.
- In Game of Thrones, Syrio Forel, Jaime Lannister and Ned Stark all display high skill at swordsmanship. For his part, Jaime Lannister describes the swordsmanship of Barristan Selmy with awe, calling him "a painter who only uses red".
- Every Immortal in Highlander, since they depend on their swordsmanship to stay alive for centuries.
- Richard in Legend of the Seeker can defeat pretty much anyone with the Sword of Truth, in large part thanks to the sword's abilities. The Big Bad Darken Rahl is also pretty good with a sword, although he is known to use magic to trick his opponents.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- The kensai/weapons master class kit is a subclass of fighter who forfeits all armor in favor of sword mastery. He can take five skill levels in a single weapon (other fighter classes can take up to two) and do, indeed, crazy things with swords. For example, a level 16 Weapons Master Dual Wielding katanas (which he is fully proficient with) with Haste buff can land as much as 24 successful hits in one round.
- Any fighter that specializes in a sword will get a bonus to attack and damage while using a sword, turning him or her into, essentially, a master swordsman.
- The Duelist prestige class from 3rd Edition is a master fencer. The class focuses on combat with a light weapon (usually a rapier), with the off-hand kept free.
- The Player's Option Guide for 2nd Edition introduced Weapon Mastery, High Mastery and Grand Mastery for Fighters opening the door for Grand-Master swordsmen.
- Warhammer Fantasy
- High Elf Swordmasters, an order of warrior-ascetics who wield massive two-handed swords with enough speed and dexterity to deflect arrows.
- Sword wielding Champions of Khorne are similar, but don't fight in a particularly graceful manner. They can still easily match Swordmasters blow for blow.
- Chaos Chosen in general fit fairly well with this trope, and have the advantage of superior durability over most examples.
- Wood Elf Wardancers are some of the only infantry in the game up to par with the Swordmasters, though since they focus on Dual Wielding they tend to be more durable and hit with more attacks than the Swordmasters at the expense of some stopping power.
- Many examples from Warhammer 40,000.
- The Dark Eldar Incubi. Unlike most Dark Eldar who fight for pleasure, souls or riches, the Incubi are a warrior sect who believe the fight is the reason. Their Weapon of Choice is a BFS which can cleave clean through Terminator power armour, and the Incubi wield this weapon with the grace of a cheerleader wielding a baton.
- The Craftworld Eldar Howling Banshees. Armed with similar weapons and similarly skilled as the Incubi, these ladies are utterly deadly.
- Interestingly, Tyranid Hive Tyrants, armed with razor-sharp bone blades on arms. The Swarmlord takes this to an even greater degree, wielding FOUR swords at once and creating an impenetrable wall of whirling blades to anything that tries to engage it in melee.
- The Space Marines often wield swords of various kinds and are extremely proficient at wielding them. Even among the Space Marines, Lucius the Eternal is considered a supremely powerful swordsman, capable of cutting down several times his number of elite Space Marines with little difficulty.
- The advantage Weapon Master in GURPS is designed for this exact purpose. Not only can you do more damage with your chosen weapon, but you're also proficient with anything similar to it.
- Feng Shui, with the right Schticks, can create a character like this. The Leaping Storm fu path in particular is based on Wuxia and specializes in high-flying swordplay.
- According to Ed Greenwood, the creator of Forgotten Realms, the top swordsmen in the Realms are in order: the human Harmel Artru of Sembia, the half-elf and son of Alustriel Maethrammar Aerasume of Silverymoon, the human Loaros Hammarandar of Narubel, the human Ember Tsartaera from Aglarond, the human Skoalam Marlgrask from Chessenta, and the dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden. Artemis Entreri, Drizzt's nemesis, ranks around ninth. Greenwood also clarified that the rankings can change very quickly given that all of them are so close to each other in skill level.
- In all incarnations of the Legend of the Five Rings, the Kakita and Mirumoto are entire families of master swordsmen.
- In The Dresden Files, skills worth mentioning are usually rated from Average (+1) to Superb (+5), a one-point difference in modifiers is significant, and a two-point difference is a pretty good indication of who will usually win a straight dice-off.
- According to his Our World writeup, Shiro Yoshimo has a baseline Weapons skill of Fantastic (+6)...plus easily 2-3 aspects invokable in combat for another +2 or a reroll each, assuming sufficient fate points...plus another couple of combat stunts and the usual holy powers of a Knight of the Cross on top of that, and none of this is really figuring in the innate powers of his Sword yet.
- The other two Knights as well as experienced Wardens like Morgan are also sword masters, though not as great as Shiro.
- Solar and Abyssal Exalted who favour Melee can do things with a sword that would make Miyamoto Musashi swear to be a better person for the rest of his life in exchange for just one lesson. Titan-slaying power is nice like that.
- Several from the Kingdom Hearts series, which shares many characters with Final Fantasy. Though the main characters wield giant Keys, they are functionally magic swords. In that vein, Mickey Mouse and Riku are Master Swordsman, as well as Terra, Xehanort, and Eraqus from the prequel (Aqua and Ven from the prequel probably don't count as one specializes in magic while the other is just generally inexperienced). You also have Auron, Mulan eventually, Cloud and Leon, and Jack Sparrow and Hector Barbossa. However, the main character, Sora, comes to eclipse them all due to the sheer amount of experience he has whacking Eldritch Abominations and Disney Villains with his Keyblade.
- The Final Fantasy series has plenty of them:
- Tricolour in the second Freedom Force can take on the Nazi Army and keep up with Freedom Force's super powered heroes with just Olympic level fencing.
- The Elder Scrolls games all had several examples in the in-game literature.
- Alix Lencolia in Oblivion is acknowledged as the best sword fighter (with the exception of the PC if you max out the Blade skill) and the only Master Blade Trainer (who can train Blade to the highest level of 100) in the game.
- Frandar Hunding was a Redguard hero known as an "Ansei": swordsmen that could create weapons with their minds. Says Allena Benoch, another Master Swordsman, of Hunding and swordsmanship in general:
"Frandar Hunding lists thirty-eight grips, seven hundred and fifty offensive and eighteen hundred defensive positions, and nearly nine thousand moves essential to sword mastery. The average hack-and-slasher knows one grip, which he uses primarily to keep from dropping his blade. He knows one offensive position, facing his target, and one defensive position, fleeing. Of the multitudinous rhythms and inflections of combat, he knows less than one."
- An in-universe short story states that there were some Redguard masters so skilled that their blades could be used to cut atoms, causing the massive explosion that destroyed their home continent of Yokuda. Cyrus the Restless (the protagonist of the spin-off game Redguard) bluffs out Vivec, an archetypal God-Mode Sue, with the very idea of it and forces the god to flee.
- Most characters belonging to the Myrmidon class and its ascended class Swordmaster in the Fire Emblem series are portrayed this way. Ayra and her daughter from the fourth episode are the most "emblematic" example. If she falls in love and fights alongside her mate, Lakche, Ayra's daughter, can attack up to forty times per turn with a 99% chance of doing a critical hit each time.
- The old Tales character cameo Bonus Boss in the Tales Series coliseums will invariably be billed as either a stupendously skilled foreigner or the greatest swordsman in the world. There are also these in actual canon, and often they will berate the Book Dumb main character for their crude self-taught technique instead of a "real" style. Early examples: Ras to Rid in Tales of Eternia, Kratos to Lloyd in Tales of Symphonia.
- Royal Guards and Elvish Champions from Battle for Wesnoth.
- Suikoden V.
- Georg Prime. He has nations across two continents calling him "Deathblow" like it's his first name. There's a good reason that, in one of these games, you don't get him until pretty close to the end, and in the other, he spends about 2/3 of it unavailable to your party because he's on some 'secret mission'...
- Karel from Fire Emblem 6 and 7. In 7 (the prequel), he's reviled and admired as the infamous 'Sword Demon', but, after the death of his sister, he becomes Older and Wiser by the time the events of 6 occur, and changes his title to 'Saint of Swords'.
- The various Links in The Legend of Zelda series all become master swordsmen sooner or later (depending on the game). After all, they do wield the Master Sword at one point or another.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, there is a sword school in West Clock Town run by an Old Master Swordsman, who can teach Link sword techniques for a fee.
- In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Orca is an old man living on Outset Island who spent his life studying swordsmanship. He teaches swordsmanship to Link and gives him the Hero's Sword. He grades Link's ability until Link surpasses him.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link's mentor is Rusl, who is another master swordsman. There's also the Hero's Shade, who passes up to seven secret sword skills to Link. He's a previous incarnation of Link, having been the Hero of Time himself.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Eagus has the role of teaching the students of the Knight Academy everything about swordfights. As expected, Link is one of those students.
- Ezio Auditore from Assassin's Creed II. Certainly, one who can consistently strike the weak points of plate-clad opponents in a stand-up fight is no slouch.
- Edward Kenway in Assassins Creed IV is skilled enough to Dual Wield swords.
- Tykebomb Ramirez from Skies of Arcadia. Coupled with his magic sword, Fina claims he is able to cut photons in half. His special ability involves him cutting a hole in time and using the moment of timelessness to beat up your entire party.
- Several of the units in Disgaea start off with swords as their most effective weapons and definitely become this by the time you've learned all their moves.
- Meta Knight from Kirby, although this characteristic is developed further in the anime adaptation.
- From the Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero series, Zero's primary weapon is his signature Z-Saber, with which he is able to do many advanced techniques like a Three Point Combo and a Rolling Slash. By comparison, when X attempts to use it in X6, he swings it much slower and is much weaker with it.
- Metal Gear Rising has Sam, who comes from a long line of Brazilian sword martial artists. Raiden has shown in previous games he's not adverse to firearms in addition to his preferred swordplay. Sam, on the other hand, is never seen using another weapon aside from his sword. Among other other impressive displays of skill, his most notable technique is a super fast draw with a gun-like mechanism built into his scabbard. Allowing him to draw and slash his weapon with insane speed and force. Despite all this, he's actually something of a deconstruction of this trope. He's so good at sword fighting because he's trained all his life and feels no purpose beyond it. It's implied by Doktor that Raiden won their final bout, not because he was the better swordsman but because he had more reason to win.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior player characters are reputed as the best in their faction for the entire galaxy by the end of their storylines. This is partly helped by the defeat or death of many of the other greatest swordsmen in the progression of the game's story.
- Three characters in the Fate/stay night-verse are explicitly referred to as master swordsmen, and all three are different.
- Saber uses a heavy western sword and is, of course, of the actual Saber class, which by definition comprises nothing but Master Swordsmen.
- The standout example, however, is Assassin - actually some nobody who only got summoned because he was a master swordsman. He was the only person who ever really learned Tsubame Gaeshi - this being a technique which uses 'dimensional refraction' aka the Second freaking Magic to let him deliver three simultaneous strikes. Assassin achieved this not through some magical artefact or hidden superpower; he just trained really hard for a really long time, and was rewarded with this beast of a technique, on par with a Noble Phantasm all by itself. Further, while basically only fighting on the level of a human, he scares Lancer and would have beaten Saber (who uses bursts of mana to stand toe-to-toe with Lightning Bruiser Berserker), only his sword bent. In Unlimited Blade Works it's mentioned he successfully saw off Lancer, Rider, and Berserker himself, again using nothing but his own ludicrous sword skill.
- The prequel novels Fate/Zero add another to the roster, specifically Berserker aka The Black Knight aka Lancelot. He has a skill called 'Immortal Arms Mastery', only awarded to the most masterful Master Swordsperson in his or her era, which means his skill with a sword (or indeed anything else) is so great that the insanity that comes with the Berserker Class, which would usually rob him of all tactical and combat skill, doesn't affect it. How good is he? His first appearance has him fight his way through the Storm of Blades coming from Gilgamesh's Gate of Babylon without a scratch, using only weapons stolen from the Gate while they were flying at him. This is with random weapons he's picked up - using his own personal weapon, Arondight, he's even better - good enough to completely overwhelm Saber within ten seconds.
- Taiga Fujimura, of all people, is noted to be extremely skilled with a blade. She's nowhere near the level of a Servant (she challenges Saber at one point and is almost instantly defeated), but she is recognized as a world-class swordswoman despite her rambunctious personality.
- CHEVALIER in this romantic fantasy adventure Chevalier is a master swords-mouse. Here
- Julio Scoundrel, Elan's mentor in the ways of the Dashing Swordsman, in The Order of the Stick. Roy's grandfather is even better than he is.
- Bro Strider, Dirk Strider and Jack Noir of Homestuck. Bro's feats include slicing a meteor in half with a katana. Dirk's proven to be no slouch as well holding his own against HB and an army of imperial drones. Jack Noir however takes the cake. Duelling Bro to a stand still and later defeating him out right.
- Master Piandao of Avatar: The Last Airbender . Backstory has him retiring from the Fire Nation Army when he grew sick of war. The Firelord sent a hundred soldiers to force him to rejoin, or kill him. He sent them all back.
- Jack from Samurai Jack definitely qualifies. He's a master of just about every weapon and martial art known to man, but his primary weapon is a sword.
- The Duelist in the Thundercats 2011 episode "The Duelist and the Drifter," a man who goads less experienced swordsmen into duels, and uses his skill to divest them of their swords, which he keeps as trophies.
- Miyamoto Musashi. He is most legendary for perfecting the Niten Ichi-Ryu, or Dual Wielding a katana and wakizashi or two katana style. He wrote Book of the Five Rings on swordsmanship and was quite the Combat Pragmatist.
- Sasaki Kojiro was renowned for inventing several sword techniques, most famous of which being the Tsubame Gaeshi, or the "Swallow's Tail."
- Johannes Liechtenauer is often described as the grandmaster of western swordsmanship, though his mastery included a variety of weapons. Said to have been born in Liechtenau or Liechtenstein, Germany in the 13th or 14th century, he toured Europe to study various armed combat techniques under a variety of masters. The puzzle poem he wrote unified all these concepts and techniques and provides us with the earliest example of such an efficient sword art in the West. Many later fencing masters would go on to directly reference Liechtenauer, and many that didn't clearly retain elements of his art.
- Hans Talhoffer was a German fencing master who was probably a student of Liechtenauer. He wrote a fencing manual that clarified many of Liechtenauer's concepts, and may have been a founding member of the Brotherhood of St. Mark, one of the most prominent and influential fencing schools in Europe.
- Sigmund Ringeck was a student of Liechtenauer whose own fechtbuch is one of the earliest known to translate the poems into a form that can be used for practical teaching, and therefore is the foundation of the modern understanding of German martial arts.
- William Marshal is widely considered the most skilled knight in history. He earned fame and fortune fighting in tournaments, where he claimed to have defeated 500 knights, and even killed the horse from under the future King Richard the Lionheart. He prosecuted a number of wars for various lords and kings, and was still leading from the front lines at the age of 70.
- Don Jeronimo Sanchez de Carranza is often called the Father of Spanish fencing, Destreza.
- Gerard Thibault d'Anvers was a Dutch fencer who wrote a highly detailed fechtbuch about his unorthodox style of swordsmanship. He was also a brilliant mathematician, and wrote that a knowledge of geometry is essential for true fencing mastery. Oh, and he wrote books on ritual magic too.
- Salvator Fabris was a storied Italian fencer who served as the instructor of Christian IV. He also produced a very popular fencing manual.
- Luis Pacheco de NarvŠez was the fencing master of Philip IV of Spain, as well as one of the most prolific fencing authors in history.
- Vincentio Saviolo, though an Italian, produced the first fencing manual written in English.
- Fiore dei Liberi was a Medieval fencing master who wrote Flower of Battle, one of the oldest and most comprehensive fighting manuals in existence. New research suggests that Fiore may even have been a student of Johannes von Liechtenauer, further spreading the latter's influence into the Italian school.
- Ridolfo Capo Ferro was an Italian fencing master probably best known today for getting name-dropped in The Princess Bride.
- Achille Marozzo was an Italian fencing master of the Dardi school, whose style was extremely influential in the 16th century.
- Giacomo di Grassi was one of the foremost masters of the Elizabethan age, whose style was highly influential for its use of the smallsword, the use of a dagger as a defensive weapon, and the emphasis of defense in general.
- Francois Vivonne, a celebrated swordsman of his day, is best known for being on the receiving end of the original "coup de jarnac." He was defeated in a duel by the Baron of Jarnac, a far inferior swordsman who learned a tricky cut to the leg from an Italian dueling instructor. Today, "coup de jarnac" is a French idiom for a deceptive or underhanded action.
- During the end of the Bakumatsu era, the samurai Kawakami Gensai, Kirino Toshiyaki, Tanaka Shinbei and Okaa Izo became known as "the Four Hitokiri of the Bakumatsu", hitokiri translating into "manslayer" or "assassin." They were considered more or less impossible to defeat by normal swordsmen.
- Supporting the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu era were Okita Souji, Nagakura Shinpachi and Saito Hajime, who were all captains of The Shinsengumi and the three best swordsmen in that group. Nagakura is said to have later described Okita as a "sword of valor" and Saito as a "sword of invincibility."
- Aladar Gerevich, a Hungarian fencer, is the only Olympian to win gold in the same event six times, and one of only two athletes to medal in six different Olympic Games. This is all in spite of missing two Olympics due to World War 2.
- Fencing master Nedo Nadi won five gold medals in the 1920 Olympics. No athelete won more gold medals in a single Olympic games for 68 years. He won gold in every event he entered.
- An unlikely example is Josip Broz Tito, before he became the communist leader of former Yugoslavia. In his youth, during World War I, he won the silver medal at an Austro-Hungarian army sword-fighting championship.
- The Yagyu Clan produced many of these in the Japanese feudal era, and were the official katana instructors for the Tokugawa Shoguns. Their most famous member is Yagyu Jubei, but his father Yagyu Munenori, grandfather Yagyu Munetoshi, and cousin Yagyu Hyogonosuke were all master swordsmen.
- Julie d'Aubigny, AKA La Maupin, is a rare example of a master swordswoman. She was trained in fencing by her father and supported herself while on the run by singing and giving demonstrations of her skills for audiences. She was a professional duelist and opera singer. On two separate occasions, she defeated three men at once.
- Yamaoka Tesshu was a swordsman who lived at the end of the Edo era, and was briefly a supervisor to the Shinsengumi. After the end of the Edo period, he taught a style of swordsmanship in which purity and mastery of technique is everything, since there were no swordsmen left to fight.
- Robert Roy Mac Gregor was a well-known swordsman and fought in a number of sword duels even before he got into his famous dispute with the Marquis of Montrose. At the time, it was often claimed he was invincible with a sword. Some attributed his skill to his long arms.
- Sir William Hope was a famous Scottish fencing master who published many fencing manuals dealing with different kinds of swords.
- The Chevalier de Saint-George was a mixed-race musician and conductor in 18th century Paris as well as one of the finest swordsmen of his day. He beat a fencing master who had insulted his race while still a student.
- The Chevalier d'Eon was a famous 18th century soldier, spy and crossdresser who spent the second half of his life as a woman. He was also quite a swordsman, defeating the much younger Chevalier de Saint-George in an exhibition match while wearing a dress.
- Explorer, soldier and all-around Renaissance Man Sir Richard Francis Burton studied swordfighting with the same enthusiasm he pursued his many other areas of expertise. He wrote A New System of Sword Exercise for Infantry as well as his uncompleted The Book of the Sword.
- George S Patton is the Army's youngest ever Master of the Sword. In 1912, he sought out Europe's greatest swordsman of the time, the French Cavalry's Adjutant M. ClŤry, and returned to America to redesign the Army's saber, giving us the Patton Saber.
- Hollywood swordmaster Bob Anderson. Chances are, if there was a swordfight in a film within the past 50 years, Bob Anderson choreographed it. Star Wars, Highlander, The Princess Bride, The Lord of the Rings, that's all him. He recently passed away at the age of 89, while teaching fencing to actors for The Hobbit.
- Jean Baptiste le Perche Du Coudray was a French fencing master of the 1600s. He was considered the first "modern" fencer, emphasizing the importance of the riposte.
- Isao Machii holds world records for a number of iaido stunts, including "most martial arts sword cuts to one mat (suegiri)," "fastest 1,000 martial arts sword cuts," "most sword cuts to straw mats in three minutes," and "fastest tennis ball (708 km/h) cut by sword." He can also cut airsoft BBs out of the air.
- The tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh is remembered as a master of śastravidyā, the Sikh "knowledge of the sword." He was the Guru who introduced the mandate that all Sikhs carry a Kirpan, a curved sword, on their person at all times.
- Alasdair Mac Colla was a Scottish master swordsman who is thought to have invented the Highland charge, the Scottish tactic of sprinting into English musket lines to hack the soldiers apart with broadswords before they could affix their bayonets.
- William Machrie was known as "Judge and Arbitrator of all who make any publick Trial of Skill in the Noble Art of the Sword, within the Kingdom of Scotland" in the 17th and early 18th centuries.
- As a very credible crossover with Badass Bookworm, Rene Descartes was a noted duelist, as well as the first dualist.
- George Silver was a 17th century gentleman and fencing master who championed the English system of swordsmanship. He heavily criticized Italian rapier fencing and wrote his own system focusing on the backsword, Brief Instructions on my Paradoxes of Defence, that was used centuries later to train soldiers in the Boer War.
- Alfred Hutton was a Victorian military officer who was regarded as the best fencer in the British military from a young age. He helped improve fencing techniques in the army and popularize the revival of historical fencing.