In the scene between Darth Maul and the two Jedi, multiple times he's faced with fighting just one while the other isn't relevant to the fight: (a) first when Obi-Wan falls down several levels, and (b) again when Qui-Gon is defeated.

My question is, how can he so precisely defend against two Jedi simultaneously but not have a clear advantage over just one of them in head-to-head combat?

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    Fezzik: You use different moves when you're fighting half a dozen people, than when you only have to be worried about one. – phantom42 May 8 '15 at 17:34
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    Also, why did Obi Wan do exactly what he later told Anakin was foolish - continue fighting after his enemy commanded the high ground? – Wad Cheber May 8 '15 at 17:39
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    and my point was he did. – albusseverus potter May 8 '15 at 17:55
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    "Don't try it, Obi-Wan. I have the high ground" – tilley31 May 8 '15 at 17:57
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    I don't suppose Conservation of Ninjutsu is the answer you are looking for? Wait, I did that wrong - it's the answer you are looking for waves hand – BrianH May 8 '15 at 20:09

If we take the official novelisation as gospel, the strict answer is that Maul's initial successes (in holding off the Jedi) were because of his martial prowess, his training regime and his personal hatred of the Jedi, versus an older opponent and a relatively untrained opponent. His ultimate downfall was his overconfidence.

Apologies for the great big lumps of text.

  • At the start of the fight the two Jedi seem quite evenly matched to the single Sith:

But on this day, he [Qui-Gon] had met his match. The Sith Lord he battled with Obi-Wan was more than his equal in weapons training, and he had the advantage of being younger and stronger. Qui-Gon was nearing sixty; his youth was behind him and his strength was beginning to diminish. His edge now, to the extent that he had one, came from his long experience and intuitive grasp of how an adversary might employ a lightsaber against him.

Obi-Wan brought youth and stamina to the combat, but he had fought in only a few contests and was not battle hardened. Together, they were able to hold their own against the Sith Lord, but their efforts at attack, at assuming the offensive against this dangerous adversary, were woefully inadequate.

Darth Maul was a warrior in his prime, never to be any better, his powers at their apex. In addition, he was driven by his messianic hatred for and disdain of the Jedi Knights, the enemies of the Sith for millennia. He had worked and trained all his life for this moment, for a chance to meet a Jedi Knight in combat. It was an added bonus that he was able to engage two. He had no fear for himself, no doubt that he would win. He was focused in a way that Qui-Gon recognized at once—a Jedi’s focus, mindful of the present, locked in on what was needed in the here and now. Qui-Gon saw it in his mad eyes and in the set of his red and black tattooed features. The Sith Lord was a living example of what the Jedi Master was always telling Obi-Wan about how best to hear the will of the Force.

  • As the fight progresses, both sides are largely trying to find a chink in their opponents fighting style while taking as few risks as possible:

His agility and dexterity allowed him to keep them both at bay, constantly attacking while at the same time effectively blunting their counterattacks, relentlessly searching for an opening in their defense.

Qui-Gon pressed hard in the beginning, sensing how dangerous this man was, wanting to put an end to the combat quickly. Long hair flying out behind him, he attacked with ferocity and determination. Obi-Wan came with him, following his lead. They had fought together before, and they knew each other’s moves. Qui-Gon had trained Obi-Wan, and while the younger Jedi was not yet his equal, he believed that one day Obi-Wan would be better than he had ever been.

So they challenged the Sith Lord quickly, and just as quickly discovered that their best efforts were not good enough to achieve an early resolution. They settled into a pattern then, working as a team against their enemy, waiting for an opening. But the Sith Lord was too smart to give them one, and so the battle had gone on.

  • After briefly tussling, Maul takes a heavy fall to the floor that leaves him "visibly stunned".

Down the Sith Lord tumbled, landing hard on a catwalk several levels below Obi-Wan. The force of the fall or perhaps the unexpectedness of it left him visibly stunned, and Qui-Gon leapt down after him, sensing a chance to put an end to things. But the Sith Lord struggled back to his feet quickly and raced away, taking the battle in a new direction.

  • Qui-Gon loses primarily because his opponent is younger and faster:

Stroke for stroke, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul battled about the rim of the melting pit, locked in a combat that seemed endless and forever and could be won by neither. Then the Sith Lord parried a downstroke, whirled swiftly to the right, and with his back to the Jedi Master, made a blind, reverse lunge. Too late, Qui-Gon recognized the danger. The blade of the Sith Lord’s lightsaber caught him directly in the midsection, its brilliant length burning through clothing and flesh and bone.

  • And Obi-Wan secures victory because he attained a new level of connection with the Force. Maul also failed to capitalise on his tactical advantage and was clearly overconfident when fighting an opponent he considered to be essentially disarmed.

Eyes fixed on the Sith Lord, Obi-Wan Kenobi went deep inside himself, connecting with the Force he had worked so hard to understand. Calming himself, stilling the trembling of his heart, and banishing his anger and fear, he called upon the last of his reserves. With clarity of purpose and strength of heart, he launched himself away from the side of the pit and catapulted back toward its lip. Imbued with the power of the Force, he cleared the rim easily, somersaulting behind the Sith Lord in a single smooth, powerful motion. Even as he landed, he was drawing Qui-Gon Jinn’s fallen lightsaber to his outstretched hand.

Darth Maul whirled to confront him, shock and rage twisting his red and black face. But before he could act to save himself, Qui-Gon’s lightsaber slashed through his chest, burning him with killing fire. The stricken Sith Lord howled in pain and disbelief.

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    TL;DR: Maul never saw it coming. – tilley31 May 8 '15 at 18:12
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    I was less than halfway through reading this answer when I became sure that Richard had written it. +1 as always, Richard – Wad Cheber May 8 '15 at 18:35
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    @WadCheber - Is it because the answer started with "well, the novelisation says...."? – Valorum May 8 '15 at 19:13
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    @WadCheber - I'm blushing. – Valorum May 8 '15 at 19:20
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    TL;DR - You think good :) – Wad Cheber May 8 '15 at 19:22

It has to do with his fighting Style

Obviously his light saber is more suited to fighting two enemy's so he would have trained for such an event. And since we mostly see Jedi traveling in pairs that is a smart move if you want to fight them. And so the two blades of his saber staff (the technical name for his lightsaber) would be an asset against two assailants. But as it is said in the Princess Bride "you use different moves when fighting twelve guys than when you are fighting one." And even though its two guys and not twelve the same principle applies. When he fights Qui-Gon on tatooine he only uses one blade and although he is good like this he is much better with two. And here in lies the problem with a Saber-Staff the second blade that helps so much when fighting 2 or more assailants just makes the weapon bulky and awkward when only fighting 1. Also to accommodate the second blade he had to lengthen the hilt quit a bit and when your fighting In close quarters that would make it much harder to defend and atack with that extra material. And that is why he had so much trouble fighting them one at a time but was able to fight them both off with ease.

  • This doesn't make any sense. Surely fighting one opponent is a subset of fighting two. If need be, you could just pretend there is an imaginary second opponent there. – ThePopMachine Dec 17 '15 at 6:05
  • Except for the fact that the enemy will also attack differently different attacks call for different defenses and your back to square one plus if your fighting of an enemy with one blade but swinging your other at thin air not only do you look ridiculous but your wasting energy and concentration that could be put to better use. – The Mandolorian Dec 17 '15 at 6:11
  • This is absolutely true. In real fighting styles there are different techniques even complete styles that specialize and emphasizes fighting against more than one opponent, while others are more balanced or, on the contrary, focus on totally overwhelm an only opponent. I cannot understand the downvotes. "Ni-To-Kenjutsu", for example, developed by Miyamoto Mushashi, was a fencing style that used two swords and focused in facing against several opponents. – Bardo Dec 17 '15 at 10:55
  • +1 -- while there seem to be peculiarities to this response, overall there's at least some plausibility to it. – MrDuk Dec 17 '15 at 17:10

Take into consideration that the more detail there is in technique, the more you yourself should be wary of action/reaction(s) ... Obi wan and jinn fighting a single adversary -- induces more self control with a weapon such as a light saber where they are not to put each other in harms way ...avoiding attacks...counters...and such.... ---the same goes for even 1 opponent vs 2 ....Darth Maul must simultaneously attack & counter while anticipating his own movements.... It's the one time in the prequels where the light saber fighting is truly an art of anticipation and style in respect for the way of the sword...

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    I like where your going but the answer is hard to follow. Could you maybe edit it to be more clear and concise? Otherwise, good job and welcome to the site. – The Mandolorian Apr 12 '16 at 4:30

Well, at the time ...

  1. Qui-Gon was old and past his prime, while Obi-Wan was young and inexperienced.

  2. Maul was more focused on Qui-Gon than Obi-Wan.

  3. Obi-Wan got lucky and destroyed half of Maul's Double-Bladed Lightsaber.

  4. Maul's overconfidence and underestimating Obi-Wan are what proved to be his downfall.


Before Darth Maul's lightsaber was cut in two, he was doing more defending than attacking. Afterwards, he was at a more equal fighting ground. Obi Wan was then driven by anger after Qui-Gon was injured and rallied to kill Darth Maul.

  • Are you sure you added useful info on what was already said? – Bebs V Dec 28 '16 at 19:12

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