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) ?

  • 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 '17 at 17:11
  • @Valorum But without acrobatics, and without attack, is this still Ataru form ? – rs.29 Jun 7 '17 at 17:24
  • @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 '17 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 '17 at 20:17
up vote 15 down vote accepted

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.

  • 1
    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 '17 at 18:30

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 '17 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 '17 at 11:29
  • Sure, here are my sources, but a lot is also in my own interpretation of lightsaber styles Form II: Makashi… 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. – Alis_Morningstar Nov 22 '17 at 11:46
  • Form IV: Ataru… 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. – Alis_Morningstar Nov 22 '17 at 11:46
  • Form V: Djem So… 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. – Alis_Morningstar Nov 22 '17 at 11:46

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