In the climactic scene, where Obi-Wan and Anakin are dueling with their light-sabres across a wide range of platforms (moving rafts, on precarious ledges etc) without the slightest awkwardness - why is it that when Obi-Wan got a slightly higher ground than Anakin (and even explicitly pointed this out), did Anakin lose the fight so spectacularly?

Anakin could have

  • Walked/run up the incline
  • Used his Jedi powers to engage Obi-Wan at a distance
  • Do a host of other things, instead of leaping in a way that would make him a sitting duck

I'm just curious: having a "high ground" generally makes for an advantage for "normal" battles involving projectiles (an arrow fired with the same force would cover more distance from a higher position to a lower position, than vice-versa), where participants are subject to laws of physics. Is this not the same with Jedi battles?

It'd be nice to know if there is an explanation that fits within the scope of the story.

  • 28
    My impression was that Anakin was enraged, and, furthermore, blinded by his fury. That, added to his thinking himself invincible and unstoppable (because of his new powers and his newly-committed crimes), would have probably led him to make some pretty stupid mistakes. Now add his undeniable arrogance to that... Commented Sep 25, 2011 at 8:02
  • 50
    Oh was that fury? The awesome acting and dialogue made it hard to tell.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 2:11
  • 4
    I'm not an expert, but I did take fencing for a while in college. If there were a hill, I'd rather be on lower ground. It's easier to parry a blow coming down than one coming up. The lower person will find it easier to hit the feet or lower legs of the higher up person. Picture a sword duel with a man on a horse and the other one is knocked off his horse -- the one on the ground parries blows that he can easily reach and block, but the mounted one has to reach down and parry blows toward his legs or lower feet with the end of his blade more than the part closer to the hilt.
    – Tango
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 7:22
  • 6
    Because if he'd won, that would be the weirdest ending ever.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 22:49
  • 3
    Focused, Anakin was not.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 1:00

15 Answers 15


First, Obi-wan’s lightsaber style was a highly defensive one, Soresu (Form III).

Form III focused on strong defensive technique to essentially outlast an opponent, waiting until he began making mistakes due to frustration or fatigue, before taking advantage of these lapses and countering. A master of Soresu was considered invincible, and the focus on long-term survival allowed such duelists to take stock of and control of their situation, choosing to kill, disarm, or even reason with enemies.

And he not only used it, he mastered it :

Even masters such as Mace Windu acknowledged Kenobi’s prowess with this form; indeed Windu once claimed that Kenobi was not a master of Soresu but the master of Soresu.

That is exactly what happened in the Duel on Mustafar. Kenobi was trying to reason with his old friend. He used the terrain to put himself in a situation where he could negotiate with him, but Vader was too angry to even think about it. All he wanted was to kill him and show him the extent and superiority of his new powers. He threatened Kenobi’s life with his last move, so Obi-Wan chose to use this mistake to disarm him completely:

Perched on a rise above the lava river, Kenobi warned Vader not to attack, but the Sith Lord ignored him, blinded by arrogance and rage. As Vader leapt at Kenobi, blade angled for the kill, he left himself open, allowing Kenobi to execute a vicious Mou kei finishing move, dismembering Vader with one swift strike. Vader’s left arm and both of his legs were severed. Dropping his lightsaber, Vader rolled to the brink of the lava river.

  • 8
    I think Anakin's line was "You Underestimate my Powers" or something like that. He honestly thought he could jump that high/far.
    – Anthony
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 0:35
  • I used to think that Obi-Wan was goading him into making a mistake, but this is an excellent explanation. Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 16:16
  • 30
    none of this is apparent in the movie at all. The fighting style isn't mentioned, and it's not like Obi-Wan was ever depicted as a "tire them down and win" fighter. it doesn't even make sense - just one minute earlier anakin had jumped over obi-wan when they were on the lave-love-boat thing, and nobody ended up dead. anakin could have just ridden the lava-love-boat down a bit and taken up a similarly high ground himself.
    – bharal
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 21:48
  • I keep forgetting his legs got taken off too..
    – EricSSH
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 22:22
  • @anthony-arnold To be fair, a less-powerful (I'm assuming Anakin during the duel of Episode III is more powerful in the Force than Obi-wan was during the duel of Episode I) Obi-wan Kenobi jumped farther (higher) in The Phantom Menace when he and Qui-Gon were fighting Darth Maul.
    – TylerH
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 20:06

I think Anakin truly thought he could make the jump and be so high as not to be within range of Obi-Wan's strike. Then when Obi-Wan told Anakin that he couldn't make the jump, it angered Anakin.

To him it was yet another thing that Obi-Wan was telling him that he shouldn't do. So in a combination of rage, rebellion and arrogant belief in his own power Anakin attempted a jump that he wasn't able to make.

I think Lucas was trying show that Jedi always say not to give into anger, but Anakin always did and that was his downfall.

  • 5
    I don't know that he always did, but that when he did, it led to his downfall
    – The Fallen
    Commented Jun 5, 2013 at 20:02

Vader was blinded by his rage and recently-indulged bloodlust. He was enraged at both Padme and Obi-Wan, believing that she'd betrayed him to his former master. Also, Vader may have feared that Padme and Obi-Wan were having an adulterous affair (it'd be no surprise for Palpatine to plant THAT fear in his apprentice's mind!) and would be ever-so blind. This, along with his being drunk with power, and also exhausted by all that slaughtering (it didn't seem that he faced serious opposition in both the Jedi temple or the meeting room at Mustafar), Vader was overconfident and blind to his own vulnerability. And sometimes, just dumb luck comes into play. Obi-Wan would be wise enough to not let an open target go to waste when presented.

  • At this point he's still Anakin, not Darth Vader.
    – oɔɯǝɹ
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 19:07
  • 15
    That's not true. He was named Vader before this fight.
    – Xaltar
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 7:24

I think it was about the way he kill Darth Maul. In star war episode 1, Darth Maul had the high ground advantage but he jump behind Darth Maul then chop chop chop and killed him, remember? Then Anakin seemed to have learned a lot from him. He used the "jump behind enemy strategy" multiple times in the fight with Obi Wan, too (maybe that is the most popular jumping posture for Jedi lol). I think "I have the high ground, don't try it." is like "I know how you would attack me, I killed a high ground fella once, don't try it it is not going to work on me."


This Duel is a Direct contrast to Maul and OBI-WAN. Obi was famous for slaying the only known Sith and the move he made would have been the talk of the Saber-Town. Obi briefly turned to the Dark-Side after his Masters Death to Leap over Maul and Slice him (once and only once). When he said "do not Try it" he was referring to Vader to not try my own move on me. Maul did not see it coming but Obi certainly did. Vader was trying that move and was going to slice OBI WAN in half. He knew Obi Wan went to the Dark-Side that one time and thought he could pull it off. Obi-Wan was not goading him he truly meant "do not try my Move". So the Irony is OBI-WANs duel with Maul caused Vader to try something he was to blind to avoid. His destiny.

  • 1
    This seems more like opinion / commentary than an answer. Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 22:40

Most answers here claim Obi Wan did not want to kill Anakin so he warned him about not jumping. I believe the opposite. Let's look at the fight in my low quality screenshots. High Ground!

In the first and third scenes, Obi Wan clearly has the high ground, but it does not magically grant you the victory. Similarly, in the second one, Anakin easily relinquishes his high ground to pursue Obi Wan. A more careful eye might see even more ground difference during the fight.

Even more, Obi Wan actually tried to outmaneuver Anakin in the lava fall. His strategy was obviously let him take the fall and burn. Even at that scene Anakin fell to the trap and grabbed the other cable and chased Obi Wan.

Obi wan, clearly understood he can manipulate Anakin came up with this strategy. Let me break down the choice of words.

It's over Anakin: Playing his ego.

I have the high ground: "If you are as powerful as you claim, get even a higher ground."

You underestimate my power: Proof that it works. Now, as the question clearly mentions, he could have run or walk the climb and be in a relatively bad position. We all know that even with today's technology higher ground is quite important, and I suppose it might matter in Jedi fight, but still he won't get his limbs chopped off instantly. Or he could simply not risk it and run back to the first clonetrooper division and kill Obi Wan with their support. But he feels that he has to prove his powers to his former master.

Don't try it: Still playing for Anakin's ego. These words pave the easiest way to play with a drunk and Anakin was drunk with his powers.

Long story short, Obi Wan, realizing that if the fight goes longer he would be in a disadvantage, goaded Anakin to jump over him. That's why Anakin did the most useless jump in Star Wars universe.

A final addendum to the topic. When Yoda told him "The boy you trained, gone he is, consumed by Darth Vader." Obi Wan did not protest any further. He knew his task and he reluctantly accepted. Killing Anakin was his only intention in this fight and he tricked Anakin into a trap to do so.


Obi-Wan said to Anakin prior to leaving Coruscant for Utapau "I have trained you since you were a young boy. I have taught you everything I know. You have become a far greater Jedi than I could ever hope to be." He is acknowledging that Anakin is powerful. Let us not forget though, if it hadnt been for Qui-Gin's taciturn defiance of the Jedi Council Anakin would not have been trained by Obi-Wan. If at all. Remember even Obi-Wan said to Qui-Gon in Episode one "They all sense the boy is dangerous. Why can't you?" Obi-Wan even thought he was dangerous. He only trained Anakin because Qui-Gon told him to. So really who is Hamlet and who is Macbeth here?. Even Yoda said "Size matters not." In my opinion Power didn't matter on Mustafar. Control of ones emotions did.


It was said by Lucas himself that Anakin was more powerful, but Obi-wan was more experienced. He tells Anakin "Don't try it" because he knows what Anakin would attempt to do, and knows how to counter it. Anakin's pride and hubris take over and with a defiant jab "You under estimate my power" he leaps at Obi-wan and since Obi-wan has experienced and performed in this exact scenario, he is able to counter and disarm Anakin. It's shown moments before this that Anakin indeed has the power to perform such moves and to be fair he did have the power to jump over Obi-wan from the floating thing on the river, but like I said Obi-wan had done this exact thing to dispatch Darth Maul so he was ready with the crippling counter. Anakin's power did not exceed Obi-wan's experience.

  • 1
    Are you planning to edit the caps? You can click the "edit" button in the lower left corner of the answer to do so. Also, this answer could be improved by a citation of what Lucas said.
    – Null
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 22:36

I think the thing everyone is forgetting is anakin didn't reaxh his full sith potential until he is rebuilt and asks the emperor where is padme? Is she safe is she alright? When he tells him in your anger it appears you killed Her. That is the point when anakins anger is fully complete. If he had fought obi wan at that point he'd of lost in my opinion just based on how powerful he was. Why wouldn't obi wan seek him out sooner. Also the emperor has this smile on his face when the room is shaking like he created the perfect sith monster


I think if the fight went on a little further that Anakin would have taken Obi-Wan. They barely really locked blades and kept on parrying each other's attacks. I think it should be noted though that I don't think Obi-Wan was truely trying to fight Anakin; he was trying more to get through to him and stayed on the defence even when he had Anakin on the table because he took way too long to try and cut him. Also, it should be noted that even after Vader asked where Padme was that he never went fully to the dark side and through all his misdeeds as Vader that he never fully turned to the dark side and embraced it and was said to be unable to want to do this because of the nightmares and grief he felt from Padme being by his side. Vader was never really Vader.


The problem with the movies. Is the way they portray obi as being incompetent so often. They neglect to really find a device to explain how things work. The books obviously go into better detail.
The times obi wan lost were to some of the greatest duellists. Count douku is most probably the most skilled bladesman who ever lived. Obi wan is a jedi knight in every sense of the word. He goes into a fight planning on disarming or reasoning and putting a fight to a peaceful end. Hence his style. If you look at his duel with maul. A sith more experienced, more aggressive, a killer. Yet maul just could not break his gaurd with his lightsaber. A double blade I might add

So obi wan is a master at defence and counter. also known for being very wise and alot more powerful than is often displayed. When vader was fighting tiring himself down physically and enraging himself further mentally, at that point he had no clarity of thought. He wanted to destroy obi wan. Obi wanted to find the opportunity to reason with anakin. The entire fight keeping it going and keeping himself alive rather than looking to murder his opponent. When he got the high ground he could talk, try to make him see sense. He was trying to tell anakin, you attack me, I will be forced to kill you. I have the high ground I have the advantage, anakin planned to obviously get to obi wan and end it. Obi wan had no way to defend his life without putting him down. Anakin takes the bold risk (again) thinking himself too powerful for even obi wan to which he gets himself dismembered. The reason obi didn't do it earlier was because he didn't want to. Both men were blinded, anakin by rage, obi wan by his brotherly attattachment to his padawan. But obi had knew he couldn't defend anakin any longer, he was too powerful so he chose to end it.


If you read the book Revenge of the Sith, Obi-wan actually mistimes a block and accidentally takes off Anakin's limbs. Not taking anything away from Kenobi, he's one of my favorite jedis of all time, possibly favorite, but he won because of his fault.


It is said that Anakin never practiced his force abilities during the clone wars, therefore staying stagnant in his force abilities. That is why Obi wan was able to surpass Anakin in force abilities. Also, Obi wan is a efficient fighter.


Obi-wan was simply a better Jedi than Skywalker, he was more in-tune with the force. Obi- wan was under rated and if things had gone differently for the Jedi, my guess is that, Obi-wan would have taken over for Yoda as the Jedi Master and Keeper of the Faith.

  • The outcome of the match indicates that Obi-Wan indeed was the better Jedi. But besides: Anakin was flooded with midi-chlorians - the source of all force. How can you be more in sync with the force than that?
    – Einer
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 12:05
  • Canon source??? Commented May 18, 2014 at 14:51

Anakin was more powerful but couldn't finish Obi-Wan off for two reasons. One was Obi-Wan's knowledge of Anakin's style and the other was Anakin's rage. This is proved when Anakin takes Dooku...

Anakin had Obi-Wan beaten right at the death nail and had Obi-Wan not found high ground, Anakin would have won. That's why Obi-Wan jumped to high ground in the first place.

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