In their final fateful duel on Tatooine, Obi-Wan ignited his lightsaber and took opening stance of Soresu, or Form III. Soresu is a defensive form, and Kenobi was master of it, so Maul hesitated with his attack. Maul was a user of Juyo, or Form VII, very aggressive form.

    But then Obi-Wan changed his stance to Ataru, or Form IV. Presumably to trick Maul into overconfidence, because long time ago Maul defeated Kenobi's master Qui-Gon Jinn, and Qui-Gon Jinn was user of Ataru. Maul even attempted same trick (hilt strike in the head) , but Kenobi was ready for that.

    What bothers me is the question: did Obi-Wan actually used Ataru in this final duel ? Ataru is also described as very aggressive and acrobatic form, with somersaults, flips, jumps etc (Yoda was best known Ataru master) and Obi-Wan didn't use any of that. He just waited for Maul's attack, blocked two of his strikes and cut him down in third. Did Obi-Wan switched back to Soresu despite Ataru opening stance, or he used some other form ( Form I Shii-Cho perhaps) ?

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    He didn't need to use any of the acrobatics. The purpose was to bait Maul into using the head-slam move (the one he'd used against Qui-Gon), then to cut him down.
    – Valorum
    Jun 7, 2017 at 17:11
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    @Valorum But without acrobatics, and without attack, is this still Ataru form ?
    – rs.29
    Jun 7, 2017 at 17:24
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    @rs.29: You're contradicting yourself. First, you define a form by the stance that is taken (and nothing else), and then you start questioning whether a form counts if you only use parts of the form. Assuming your question is valid, that means that your initial assumption of the form based on the stance is not correct, thus defeating the premise of your question.
    – Flater
    Nov 8, 2017 at 12:47
  • @Flater Taking opening stance of certain form does not equate with using that form, although it does suggest said form will be used. My question was exactly about that - did Kenobi stayed true to opening stance, or he used opening stance as a trick ( opening stance Ataru, form used Soresu)
    – rs.29
    Nov 8, 2017 at 20:17

3 Answers 3


Yes, Kenobi used Ataru

This is an interesting question. In part because it's difficult to read much into a three-strike duel.

slow-mo duel

To break down the duel, as you mention in the question, Kenobi starts with a Soresu stance and shifts to Ataru (presumably to trick Maul). One of the characteristics of Ataru is broad, sweeping, strikes. And Kenobi's first strike/parry is definitely this as he brings the saber in a full 360 degree rotation to block Maul's strike to his head.

However, Kenobi's second strike is more in keeping with a Soresu defense. You can see that he takes a small hop backwards and brings his saber down to block with the smallest amount of movement necessary. Minimization of motion is one of the characteristics of Soresu, and is in keeping with Kenobi's prefered style.

Finally, the third, and killing blow was another full circle strike from around behind Kenobi's head, through Maul's saber and torso, and following through back to nearly the original position. The sweeping nature of the blow is Ataru, but the choice of action is very much Soresu (capitalizing instantly on mistakes).

We could discuss this duel until the cows come home, talking about motivations and the like, but I think I would break down the fight as follows.

Kenobi opens with Ataru, his stance almost mandates this. Additionally, he chooses to meet the strength of Maul's blow, so for that reason, the sweeping blow was the one he used. His second strike was instinctive, as evidenced by the small hop backwards that is universal for, "I need to move right now without thinking about it", as well as being in the Soresu style. Had he continued focusing in Ataru after Naboo, this instinct would have almost certainly been a flip over Maul's saber. The third and final strike returns to Ataru, his choice for the duel (or at least the beginning), to bring an overhand blow down on Maul.

Ultimately, what we see is a true dueling master. One able to hybridize the forms and adjust as necessary. The second strike betrays Kenobi's love of Soresu, but I think the final answer is that Kenobi chose to open the dual in Ataru, and ended the fight before needing to reevaluate.

To answer the question posed in your comment above: Yes, it is still Ataru without the acrobatics. "Another characteristic of the form was it's fast, powerful strikes from multiple directions", which Kenobi did utilize.

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    I suppose you are quite right, it is almost impossible to discern form from three-strike duel . First and final move by Obi-Wan could be Form V or Form I , but again he didn't practice much those forms. So it is most reasonable to assume he used Ataru, with which he did have experience, mixed with his mastery of Soresu .
    – rs.29
    Jun 8, 2017 at 18:30

He used both. Soresu was his main form for sure but if the situation called for it, he would use Ataru for some of his more advanced attacks. Obi-Wan is no stranger to mixing multiple Forms in combat in terms of both practical applications and their principles. He has used multiple Forms to improve his prowess as a duelist since the start of the Prequel Series.

By the time of RotS, Obi-Wan exercised Forms 1, 3, 4, 5 (Shien) & 6 in battle, Soresu and Ataru being his main focus in their stated order. While a Padawan, he placed his Form focus on 1 & 4 with some technical additions from Shien. Jinn was the reason for Obi-Wan focusing on 1 & 4 but unlike Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan wasn't as advanced with Form 4 so he couldn't use it in a more advanced way to deflect blaster fire with Form 4 like his master. So he added some Form 5 influences to improve his blast deflection skills. You could tell from the way they both deflected blaster bolts in the opening battle against those droids. Kenobi's deflection skills were keen and quick while Jinn's deflections were broad with more kinetic motions behind them.

We all know that Jinn's death is what made Obi-Wan give up Ataru as his main form and take up Soresu. By the time of AotC, he had pretty much mastered Soresu for blast deflection but it wasn't on par where he could use it for saber duels against veterans like Dooku. You could tell from the fact that Obi-Wan placed more emphasis on using Ataru against Dooku. He was confident with Form 3 against blasters no questions asked but against sabers, he wasn't ready. Obi-Wan wanted to make a Hybrid form of Form 3 & 4 after TPM but since he hadn't mastered either of them to their fullest yet, it didn't work out at that time. It's what made him lose out to Dooku so quickly. That and since Dooku pretty much was an expert at destroying Ataru users, the whole thing was just stacked against the poor guy.

He'd come to master Soresu to the fullest throughout the clone wars and even study Form 6 to allow him to improve his overall application of the Force during Saber combat, as well as learn to dual wield. The greatest benefit he got from Form 6 though is it allowed him to hybridize his styles far more effectively than before as he had intended. Form 6 is a jack of all trades type of style. Thus, this allows him to mix styles without issue. Even styles that completely contrast each other could be mixed in without problems. For example, Soresu could be combined with Juyo, two styles which are COMPLETE opposites of each other in both practical application and principle.

Come RotS, he had completely mastered Soresu for combat and as such, Dooku couldn't even pressure him with the Saber anymore, which is why he had to use the Force to even get Kenobi off of him. But the duel with Dooku aside, Kenobi being able to use multiple forms should be a no brainer at this point. The only Jedi alive in Kenobi's era capable of using more than 3 different Forms on an expert to master level is Yoda. Every other Jedi has mastered 1 Form with a complementary form.

As for the discussions regarding the use of Makashi and Djem So, Kenobi never touched either of those styles in his life. While he could add Makashi to his repertoire, it wouldn't fit him. First, Obi-Wan placed heavy emphasis on defence, Makashi, despite being Soresu's direct predecessor and sharing some key traits with it such as the economy of motion, didn't fit his fighting style. Soresu's bladework generates a good degree of kinetic energy through its circular motions which allow Obi-Wan to use that kinetic energy for powerful counterattacks, Ataru being able to make full use of this built up energy. Makashi doesn't generate kinetic energy at all and while its core principle is shared with Soresu, their approach to that goal is completely different. Their foot techniques are also completely different and as such, they will rarely mesh in that regard.

As for Djem So, it won't suit Obi-Wan at all. First, his body isn't built for it nor is it compatible. Obi-Wan isn't a large man. Compared to most of the characters shown in the series, he's height is pretty average. Look at Anakin, he's way taller than his master, he was literally born to wield that form. Not to mention Djem So requires the wielder to be physically strong to boot as well. Kenobi placed emphasis on styles that allowed him to fight for long periods of time in all sorts of scenarios. Djem So would kinda kill that concept. He could learn the first of Form 5: Shien since it placed more emphasis on speed and blast deflection and it probably aided him in mastering Soresu so quickly after all of his years of focusing on Ataru. But Djem So? Nah, he wouldn't use it.

Just in case people are gunna ask what about Form 7, this is a no brainer. Form 7 in general was forbidden for public training and only select individuals were given permission to train and use it. In the case of Vaapad made by Windu, Jinn forbade Obi-Wan from learning it since it is even harder to learn.

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    There are many bold assertion in this answer. Can you back any of them up with evidence? Where, for example are you getting the information about which forms he used?
    – Valorum
    Sep 28, 2018 at 10:08

This duel seems different than either of these styles. Remember that Obi Wan has been waiting in the desert for close to two decades, his only purpose is to protect and guide Luke. During that time he may have mastered a few more styles, and even created his own versions of a few of the styles. While it doesn't look like Dooku's use of it, it sounds more like the base descriptions of Makashi. Either that or the Djem So variant of Form V.

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    Can you provide any sources for this answer?
    – Edlothiad
    Nov 8, 2017 at 11:24
  • The only thing that could be considered Djem So would be the initial defense of meeting Maul's strike with his blade in that position, but since it came out of an Ataru opening stance, it matches more closely with Ataru.
    – Dom Vasta
    Nov 20, 2017 at 11:29
  • Sure, here are my sources, but a lot is also in my own interpretation of lightsaber styles Form II: Makashi starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lightsaber_combat/… Describes Makashi as a style that relies on precision swordplay to counter sweeping movements. Form II emphasized fluid motion and anticipation of a weapon being swung at its target, and required very fluid movements of both the blade and the body. Timing, accuracy, and skill, rather than strength, were relied-upon to defeat one's opponent. This looks exactly, to me at least, like what you see in that duel. Nov 22, 2017 at 11:46
  • Form IV: Ataru starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lightsaber_combat/… Ataru was an aggressive combat form relying on a combination of power, strength, and speed. Practitioners of Ataru were always on the offensive, attacking with wide, fast, and powerful swings, constantly calling upon the Force to aid in their movements and attacks You see none of this in Obi-Wan's actions or intent. Nov 22, 2017 at 11:46
  • Form V: Djem So starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lightsaber_combat/… Whereas Shien specialized in blast-deflection, the more advanced Djem So focused on lightsaber dueling. Utilizing a combination of blocks and parries, a Djem So user maintained a proper foundation in terms of defense against both ranged and melee attacks, but rather than counter only when necessary as per Soresu training regimens, Djem So actively pressed the offense. Nov 22, 2017 at 11:46

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