At Wookieepedia I found the following:

Dooku was a respected instructor in the Jedi Temple and one of the most renowned swordsmen in the galaxy. Only Masters Yoda and Mace Windu were considered his equals.

When it comes to lightsaber combat mastery one finds regularly these three names, sometimes alongside Darth Sidious, but not that of Anakin Skywalker or Darth Vader. Examples:

Mace Windu was a formidable warrior and generally considered one of the greatest swordsmen ever produced by the Jedi Order [...]. Even without his unique fighting style, it is said that only his one-time friend, Dooku, and the venerable Grand Master Yoda could outspar him.

Yoda was a master of lightsaber combat, one of the greatest duelists of all time. It was said that only Mace Windu, Count Dooku and Palpatine were able to fight with him on equal terms.

So how could Anakin defeat Count Dooku so easily at the beginning of The Revenge of the Sith?

This Question contains some good points but I guess it can't be only a matter of fighting styles as Dooku's "Makashi" is a special dueling style and he had good knowledge of the other styles too.

Maybe Dooku's age played a role but then again when the force is your ally this shouldn't matter too much (see Yoda).

  • Yoda was stronger and more powerful then the emperor it shows in their fight Even with the higher ground the emperor struggled
    – Ross
    Oct 17, 2016 at 5:19

11 Answers 11


According to the novel, Sidious had told Dooku to hold back, because he wanted to use Anakin to murder Obi-Wan. (Which also partly explains Dooku's shocked face when Sidious tells Anakin to kill Dooku. While he might have expected a Sith master to stand back and let the strongest man win, he would not have expected his master to change the plan on him in that way.)

Also, Sidious was there and he was watching. He was also quite capable of using the Force in whatever small ways he wanted to if it would influence the outcome by either helping Anakin or by hindering Dooku.

Also stated in the book, Dooku's pride got in his way. Anakin and Obi-Wan's opening stances were from different "styles" than they proceeded to fight in. Dooku was put on an unbalanced defensive by preparing for their fighting style based on these opening stances, and then not fighting as he expected them to.

  • 20
    In the novel you find: "[Dooku thought]: These clowns might—just possibly—actually be able to beat him. No sense taking chances; even his Master would agree with that. Lord Sidious could come up with a new plan more easily than a new apprentice." This sounds to me like he decided to take them on with full strength so as not to risk his own life.
    – Philipp
    Jan 25, 2012 at 16:23
  • 8
    Furthermore: "Then Sidious, for some reason, decided to intervene. "Don't fear what you're feeling, Anakin, use it!" he barked in Palpatine's voice. "Call upon your fury. Focus it, and he cannot stand against you. Rage is your weapon. Strike now! Strike! Kill him!" Dooku thought blankly, Kill me? [...] Dooku found himself wondering in bewildered astonishment if Sidious had suddenly lost his mind. [...] and he felt a sickening presentiment that he already knew the answer to that question. Treachery is the way of the Sith." So he knew that his master had betrayed him and his life was at risk.
    – Philipp
    Jan 25, 2012 at 16:28
  • 27
    @Jared: A plot hole? In Star Wars? Surely you jest!
    – Tango
    Jan 25, 2012 at 21:17
  • 59
    @Jared: Luke and Anakin both gave in to anger at some point, but Luke didn't fall because he stopped himself at the edge - when told to kill Vader, he refused. When Anakin was told to kill Dooku, he... refused less.
    – Tynam
    Feb 13, 2012 at 15:00
  • 19
    @Tynam - Refused Less - LOL, I love it!
    – Chuck Dee
    Jan 3, 2013 at 15:38

The loss of Count Dooku to Anakin is aptly explained by looking at the Jedi Lightsaber Forms that the two used. Count Dooku was one of the premier duelists in the order before becoming a Sith. His mastery of Form II (Makashi) was legendary.

"He is a fencer. Leverage, position, advantage—they are as natural to him as breathing."

Qui-Gon Jinn's Spirit to Yoda in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous

One of the advantages of Form II is its level of control and one-on-one domination. It does have its flaws, the most telling in this engagement being the lack of the ability to generate momentum in both its offensive and defensive maneuvers. Against Anakin in the first encounter, this was not a problem; though Skywalker used Form V (Shien) against Dooku, he was not at this time, extraordinarily proficient, and wasn't as practiced in Jar'Kai when he tried to use his fury against Dooku after saving Kenobi from Dooku's blade, resulting in the loss of his arm.

However, in the battle where he defeated Dooku, two things were in play. At first, Dooku was attempting to hold back, in deference to Sidious' wishes. When he began to defend in earnest, he found that he couldn't generate the necessary energy to ward off Skywalker's newfound proficiency in the Form V variant Djem So, which is characterized by power attacks and defense immediately followed by a counter-strike. Djem So is the counterpart of Shien, and encourages aggression and domination, to not only counterattack, but also to press the assault, combining Force-enhanced strength with powerful blade combinations to overpower and overwhelm an opponent's defenses. Skywalker was a natural at the style which was the reason for his change from Shien to Djem So, and the defenses of Form II were not up to warding off such, to Dooku's lament.

  • 8
    I just want to say that the movies fail all the more epicly by not conveying any of this stuff. The prequel trilogy, that is.
    – FoxMan2099
    Jul 27, 2013 at 2:51
  • 1
    @FoxMan2099 how would a motion picture tell us all that info, without an out-of-place narration that would simply bore most people?
    – Petersaber
    Jul 30, 2015 at 7:57
  • 6
    @Petersaber - Sparring? Practice? With relevant dialog woven in? You could replace the whole Naboo romance storyline part with this if you wanted. I surely wouldn't mind. Couldn't be more out-of-place than those particular scenes.
    – Chuck Dee
    Sep 17, 2015 at 0:00
  • 3
    @wraith808 it'd have to be dialogue. Sparring/practice is no different from actual fights in this context, and we've had a lot of that - and it doesn't evolve past what was already shown. So dialogue. And let's be frank, two Jedis talking about fighting techniques would be very boring to 95% of people who watched those movies, let's not kid ourselves
    – Petersaber
    Sep 17, 2015 at 8:50
  • 1
    @Petersaber - They've had sparring where they've talked. But this isn't a place for conversation, so I guess we'll just agree to disagree.
    – Chuck Dee
    Sep 17, 2015 at 12:51

Although the answers above offer a comprehensive insight into some of the major factors at play that stand in Anakin's favour...

  • The differences in fighting styles between Dooku & Anakin.
  • Anakin's greater connection to the Force.
  • The fact that Dooku had been told to hold back and wait for Sidious to step in.
  • Anakin using his anger to increase his Force abilities.

...the Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary offers two additional advantages that haven't already been covered:

Anakin's Mechano-Arm.

Image of mechanical arm

This arm is described in the The Visual Dictionary as being much stronger and dextrous than a normal human arm. In the fight we frequently see Dooku thrown backwards by surprisingly heavy blows from Anakin's lightsaber.

Advanced planning

The Visual Dictionary describes the fight as characterised by a ruse, initially they...

"attack Count Dooku in concert aboard the Separatist command cruiser, lulling him into a false sense of confidence by using standard lightsaber tactics, only to shift to advanced forms, forcing a confused Dooku to retreat"

It seems clear that Anakin and Obi-Wan have discussed their fight strategy extensively knowing that they'll have to face Dooku again. They've also had the opportunity to discuss Dooku's strengths and weaknesses with Yoda, the person who taught Dooku to fight in the first place and who'd recently fought him on Geonosis.

  • I am aware this is an old answer.. I still don't understand how the mechanical arm could be stronger than the biological stump/shoulder it is attached to. Mar 5, 2020 at 17:35
  • @EikePierstorff - If your fist was made of metal, you could punch through a wall without injury.
    – Valorum
    Mar 5, 2020 at 18:16
  • @EikePierstorff The weak point of the arm when using a weapon is the wrist, followed by your grip, as any martial artist can tell you. That is where you lose most of the possible strength of a hit. Apr 14, 2021 at 5:13
  • @PhilipKlöcking sounds okay. My gripe with mechanical limbs is that they cannot be stronger than the skeleton that supports them (punching the wall with my metal fist would not break the wall, it would dislocate my shoulder), but saying that there isn't just that much force transferred upwards in a sword fight works for me. Apr 17, 2021 at 13:51

Count Dooku lost to Anakin because Anakin was a lot better. Through more training, missions in the Clone Wars, and perhaps his midi-chlorian count, he was almost at his peak.

People get shocked though because the prequel trilogy and didn't really show his progressions and didn't show how powerful he was. They just continued to say, "he's the chosen one" and have him cry all the time.

In Revenge of the Sith Anakin is easily one of the most powerful Jedi and his swordsman skills are on par with others such as Windu.

Palpatine even says to General Grievous that he's going to have a stronger apprentice soon. He loses to Obi-wan at the end because he is not focused.

  • 4
    I think it's fair to say he lost to Obi-wan also because of arrogance. Though probably the better fighter, he thought he he could get away with attacking Obi-wan while he had the "high ground."
    – FoxMan2099
    Jul 27, 2013 at 2:52
  • @stardestroyer I wouldn't say Anakin was not focused. Obi-Wan used the defensive Lightsaber form Soresu to keep the battle going and eventually wear down Anakin who used the aggressive form V. The following answer gives a much better explanation scifi.stackexchange.com/a/7000/101896
    – Sandun
    Jun 17, 2021 at 6:06

I didn't read every comment, but from what I read, everyone seems to be missing one critical thing, at least from the novel. In the movie, Anakin's power seems to be completely nerfed and it looked like he won with a simple trick. In the book, however, after Obi-Wan got knocked out, Anakin got angry and started tapping into his TRUE power. He was angry enough not to hold back anymore and not worry about the dark side, but not so angry that he lost control. It was the perfect balance of power and focus, and Anakin started to move so fast that Dooku had to rely on the force to know where he was because he could no longer see him, and Anakin's strikes were so hard he literally made Dooku hit himself with his own saber when he tried to block. Such overwhelming speed and strength, combined with Anakin's considerable skill, is what resulted in Anakin's victory (in the novel).

  • 1
    I haven't read the novel yet, but I came across the issue of the misrepresentation of Anakin's power in the movies rather often on this site. Thanks for bringing up this point in the discussion here.
    – Philipp
    Aug 30, 2014 at 15:25

Other than the above answers, which are almost all correct, Dooku also encouraged Anakin to use his anger. That's when Anakin started to really pour it on. Dooku was a fencer, but Anakin was a Form V (Djem So) stylist, and as Dooku said, the best one he had ever seen.

Dooku's Makashi simply could not properly deflect such attacks coming with that level of ferocity, strength, youghful vigor and raw force power. Dooku got Anakin to unleash the dark side in a way he probably hadn't done since cutting down all the Tusken Raiders back on Tatooine after his mother died.

Dooku was also expecting Palpatine to intercede for him, as Dooku even asked him along the lines of "What if Anakin should best me?" Palpatine reassured him that he would step in.

Only when Palpatine told Anakin to kill him did Dooku realize that he'd been a fool. That he was never the real apprentice or heir to the Sith; that Anakin had been Palpatine's goal all along.


I think Dooku lost because he was just toying with Anakin at the start of the duel. Look how easy he defeated Obi -Wan by knocking him out. But at the same time people forget just how arrogant and cocky Dooku was and he no doubt underestimated Anakin he also didn't think Sidious would just let him be killed. So in a way, he had a false sense of security


I would say that Dooku thought Anakin could be caged by the more predictable methods of the dark side. Even Palpatine didn't use this. His primary weapon against Anakin was using Amadala's life against him. As such Dooku made a mistake in toying with him during the second battle. He fought and realized a little too late that Anakin was way too strong to be simply toyed with. Mind you, Dooku is probably the strongest Sith with a Light Saber to ever have lived. He almost won two complete battles with Obi Wan and Anakin combined. I know no other that would be able to do this. Even Anakin lost against Obi Wan by himself and was pretty much the same par with an old Obi Wan until he let himself get killed.


He was simply toying with Anakin otherwise he would have won; he tried to lure Anakin to the dark side by bringing out his rage- the plan was to turn Anakin to the dark side and rule the Empire (from Wookieepedia).


After their first encounter Dooku is visibly shaken after the fight with Anakin so clearly he was tested even then. Anakin was able to beat him because he became angry and used a side of the force (dark through his anger amplified by Sidious who was urging him on) which was more powerful and could overcome Dooku who was overly confident, probably not expecting to lose this time around either and ultimately caught of guard.

  • 2
    What fight were you watching? Dooku beat Anakin twice (knocking him out briefly and then cutting his arm off), and Obi-Wan once and still had enough stamina and skill to hold his own against Yoda.
    – phantom42
    Jan 17, 2014 at 19:20
  • Yeah OK I take your point but he did leg it after Yoda was dancing around him. I suggest that Christopher Lee being the amazing actor he is showed that he was tested quite a bit (panting and sweating dare i suggest?) by Anakin who perhaps had never fought anyone as accomplished as Dooku before and fared much better after saving Obi Wan. Maybe he learned not to be as impulsive which meant the fight did last much longer. Dooku was clearly the superior except for when Yoda finally turned up but i think it was an indication that Anakin was a quick learner?
    – Pompom78
    Jan 18, 2014 at 13:31

Anakin was not as accomplished in the light side and always deep down drew more form the dark side deep with in, so the first fight he tried to rely more his light side and tried to use two lightsaber form he wasn't proficient at. And in the second fight when he gave fully into the dark side which he was more natural with and the amount of midichlorians at his disposal he was too much to handle and Dooku's offensive form was no match. And Anakin lost to Obi-wan for the same reason he did with Luke, because deep down he cares and loved both of them and even though he wanted to destroy them his heart under minded him and his passion gives him focus which was not there due to being conflicted.

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