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In The Phantom Menace Qui-gon and Obi-wan engage in a two-on-one battle against Darth Maul. Together Qui-gon and Obi-wan seem evenly matched to Darth Maul, with both sides getting in an occasional punch or kick against the other party. Darth Maul gains an upper hand by knocking Obi-wan temporarily out of the fight, causing him to fall several levels beneath himself and Qui-gon. Then Darth Maul begins to fight in a more defensive manner, giving ground and luring Qui-gon away from Obi-wan and towards the laser-walls.
It was pretty clear that Darth Maul outclassed both of the Jedi and intended to kill them separately, presumably because it would be easier. Qui-gon seemed happy to oblige Darth Maul's wishes and followed him to his death.
Why didn't Qui-gon stand his ground and wait for Obi-wan to rejoin him? Especially since he already knew from his encounter with Darth Maul on Tatooine that he was not a match against him one-on-one.

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Becasue Lucas is a crappy storyteller. –  Jakob Jan 23 at 9:03
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6 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Qui-Gon couldn't stay back because the point of his and Obi-Wan's encounter with Darth Maul was to keep Maul occupied so he could not help defend the Viceroy. Similarly, Maul didn't leave when he had Qui-Gon trapped, because he saw his role as taking the two Jedi out of the battle.

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I thought Maul couldn't leave that chamber because there was no other way out. –  Bobby Apr 14 '12 at 20:26
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I think it all came down to "lightsaber styles". Qui-Gon was a master of Ataru: it's supposedly a very offensive-minded and acrobatic fighting style.

Wookieepedia has a description on it:

Form IV, also called Ataru, is the most acrobatic Form, filled with numerous elaborate moves, and relies heavily upon a Jedi's ability to run, jump, and spin using the Force.

Therefore, the writers may have demonstrated Qui-Gon to be less proficient in defensive strategies, since his style of choice is an aggressive one. Also, the narrow bridges they were fighting on hindered his acrobatic Ataru style against Maul. I'm guessing that he tried doing his best by doing what he does best. It is Maul.

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Pretty sure I have read it favours open or wide spaces, in the ray-shield tunnel area plus the room with the pit, it was less spacious, which worked against Qui-gons form. –  Jared Nov 22 '12 at 23:38
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By the time it became apparent that Obi-Wan couldn't catch up in time, Maul and Qui-Gon were separated by just one forcefield. Had Qui-Gon not pushed forward into the vent shaft area, he, Maul AND Obi-Wan would probably have ended up trapped within a single cell of that forcefield array.

The question really is, why didn't Obi-Wan use the super-speed he and Qui-Gon displayed at the beginning of the movie when outmatched by the Droid Destroyers? He would have gotten into the shaft with time to spare, and been able to keep Maul from focusing solely on Qui-Gon.

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Here is why Obi-Wan couldn't use super-speed: youtu.be/t3dI-ghYimg –  Treborcram Nov 21 '12 at 19:14
    
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I think it's for the story line. Quigon had to die so he could teach obiwan the secret to living as a spirit. You had to die in battle for this. That is why obi let vader strike him down without resistance. He even indicated, "if you strike me down you will make me more powerful than ever before".

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If death in battle is a condition on being able to live as a spirit, how does this explain Yoda (who died in bed) at the and of Return of the Jedi? –  bazz Jun 23 '13 at 12:21
    
@bazz oda was a force ghost the entire time. He was just so freaking powerful that he was able to still use the force to impact the physical world (making luke "feel" his weight while carrying him, lifting the x-wing, etc) –  acolyte Jul 17 '13 at 20:49
    
@acolyte I've never heard that fan theory before. Now try to explain how artoo can suddenly fly... –  Richard Jan 28 at 19:50
    
@Richard he always "could". But keep in mind that R2 is, as of episode 4 a very old droid who has been through a lot of stuff. Perhaps the rockets have broken over the years and were removed at some point. –  acolyte Jan 28 at 23:24
    
Maybe they were made of purest Retconium –  Richard Jan 29 at 0:07
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In my humble opinion, Maul was trying to take them apart one at a time. The two on one fighting was at first a disadvantage to Maul, that's why he led them to those narrow passages. He was trying to keep them at the length of his lightsabers. And of course, that blow that knocked Obb-wan away, resulted in Qui-gon getting more aggressive. And I think he was trying to draw them apart. Those force fields were a pretty good idea there. Then inside that room, Maul had more room o use his full fighting capability without having to watch his back. You know how that ended for Qui-Gon as Maul was faster, and and even managed to get under Qui-gon's attack. Of course when Obi-wan got back into the fray, he matched Maul's speed, and he used the same pattern of attack multiple times. So Obi-wan used that to cut the lightsaber in half, making Maul have to adapt. That's just my opinion.

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Qui-gon threw the fight, he knew Obi-wan was okay with living in his shadow, he knew the only way Obi-wan would become a master is if he wasn't around

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And what are you basing this on? Nothing in the movie or the novelization support this. –  phantom42 Jan 23 at 14:21
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