Arguably one of the most underrated Jedi Masters in the history of Star Wars is Obi-Wan Kenobi, who didn’t have the flashiness and the incredible potential that the other Jedi have but was a very proficient duelist. In fact, Obi-Wan was so skilled as a lightsaber combatant that he was sent out on several dangerous missions because the Jedi Council trusted his judgment and fighting abilities. But what fighting style or lightsaber combat form did Obi-Wan Kenobi use?
Obi-Wan Kenobi prefers to use Form III: Soresu, which is the most defensive lightsaber combat form. Soresu relies on the user staying on the defensive throughout an entire duel while conserving energy and tiring out the enemy. It is only when the opponent is tired that the user creates openings.
Even though Soresu was never the most visually appealing and flashy lightsaber form, it has always been one of the most effective on the part of Jedi who are up against aggressive and powerful opponents. In Kenobi’s case, he was never the strongest fighter among the Jedi but was able to defeat stronger opponents due to his defensive abilities. Now, let’s learn more about Soresu.
Obi-Wan’s Form III Explained
Throughout the entire events of Star Wars, there has always been one Jedi Master that has defied the odds when facing stronger opponents and is much more gifted with the Force. We are talking about Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who has always been one of the most underrated Jedi in the history of Star Wars because he doesn’t have the coolness factor that comes with the Sith Lords or the flashiness and potential that the Skywalkers have.
Nevertheless, Obi-Wan has always been one of the most successful Jedi during the era of the Clone Wars and was trusted well enough by the Jedi Council to put him on the frontlines in many different battles fought during that timeline. And even though he was never the most gifted Jedi, Kenobi defied the odds and defeated stronger opponents with his skills as a lightsaber combatant.
The Jedi Knights are taught the basic lightsaber forms useful in many situations. However, most Jedi use different forms that fit their combat style and preferences. And Kenobi was one of the many Jedi Knights that changed how he fought due to his experiences.
Back in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan Kenobi was introduced as a young but talented Jedi Padawan learning under the guidance of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, a renegade Jedi with different ideals in life. Qui-Gon was a master of Form IV: Ataru, an aggressive lightsaber combat form that specialized in demanding attacks and the Force to deliver powerful blows. As such, Kenobi also used the same lightsaber form during his time learning under Qui-Gon.
Some would say Kenobi was lucky to defeat Darth Maul in Episode I. But he did lose Qui-Gon to the Sith assassin, who found an opening in Obi-Wan’s master’s defense (or lack thereof). That was when Obi-Wan contemplated his experience with Darth Maul and realized that Qui-Gon’s Ataru was powerful but was more of an aggressive and offensive style that left too many openings. After all, Maul used Qui-Gon’s own style against him to create an opening that allowed him to kill the Jedi Master.
As such, Kenobi shifted his proficiency from the more aggressive Ataru to the best defensive lightsaber combat because he understood that the Sith could still be a threat. That was when he decided to use Form III: Soresu.
Soresu focuses around 90% defense because the users need to focus on defending themselves throughout an entire duel using tight and efficient movements. This allows the user to create a defensive stance that is almost impenetrable. In Kenobi’s case, he uses his defense to tire out his opponents while waiting for the perfect chance to strike. And because Form III uses efficient moves, Kenobi can conserve his stamina while his opponent gets tired.
One of the best instances of Obi-Wan Kenobi utilizing Form III to its fullest extent was his duel against General Grievous, who wasn’t a Sith or a Force user but was a cyborg that was trained in the use of the lightsaber by Count Dooku and had four arms that could all wield lightsabers. Grievous killed plenty of Jedi during his time as the general of the Separatist clone army. But Kenobi could block all of his attacks in their duel while destroying some of his arms in the process because he focused on defending himself rather than trying to match Grievous’ aggressive style.
In the duel against Anakin on Mustafar, it was clear that Obi-Wan was on the defensive the entire time. Fueled by rage and anger, Anakin was still at his physical peak as a lightsaber duelist. However, Kenobi dragged the duel out for a very long time while staying on the defensive. When he found the high ground, he got the opening he needed to deliver the final blow against a hubris-fueled Anakin, who forgot the basics of lightsaber combat due to his overconfidence.
Obi-Wan used this form rather efficiently in his final duel with Darth Maul. In that fight, he lured the former Sith into a defensive trap by using Qui-Gon’s Ataru stance to trick Maul into using the same tactic he used to kill Kenobi’s master. But Obi-Wan blocked Maul’s first two attacks before attacking using the opening the former Sith gave him. Kenobi only needed to block twice and strike once to defeat and kill Maul due to his mastery over his defensive form.
Essentially, Soresu is the application of the saying, “A good defense is a good offense.” While Anakin’s Form V relied on cycles of defense and counterattacks that were physically taxing, Kenobi’s Form III allowed him to focus on keeping his defense sharp the entire time while waiting for the perfect opening. The style perfectly fit Obi-Wan’s nature as a disciplined and patient combatant that was never overconfident in his abilities.
Who Else Uses Form III?
Even though Obi-Wan was arguably the greatest of his time when it came to Form III, other Jedi Knights preferred this combat style. And most of them also had the personality and patience to use Soresu.
Jedi Master Depa Billaba was a known practitioner of Form III. She taught the same form to her student Caleb Dune, who we know as Kanan Jarrus, during the events of Star Wars: Rebels. Jedi Master Luminara Unduli, a wise and patient Jedi, was a Soresu master as well.
Is Form III the Best Form?
Even though a lot of the different Jedi Masters used Form III, it isn’t necessarily the best form of combat when it comes to lightsaber duels. We know that the advantage of Soresu is its economy and defense. But its focus on defense also gives it significant disadvantages over other combat styles.
Throughout the Star Wars storyline, the one duelist that Obi-Wan Kenobi couldn’t figure out was Count Dooku, a master of Form II: Makashi. Unlike the other forms of lightsaber combat, Makashi is more like fencing because it doesn’t focus on powerful hacks and slashes. Instead, it uses economic movements that employ small but precise attacks much quicker than other strikes.
The fact that Makashi is just as economical as Soresu gave Dooku an advantage over Kenobi. Dooku’s accurate, quick, and pinpoint strikes allowed him to find openings in Obi-Wan’s defense. It is also worth mentioning that Dooku was always one of the greatest duelists of his era. And because Form II also uses efficient attacks that don’t tire the user out, Kenobi’s Form III didn’t have the usual advantage that it has against other forms.
Another important fact is that Form III has always been a lightsaber combat form equated to harmony, discipline and a peaceful mind. Most of the practitioners of this lightsaber form tend to be the wisest and most patient Jedi we’ve seen in Star Wars. As such, a Jedi or Sith that lacks patience wouldn’t be able to use Soresu well enough because this form relies on the user’s discipline and control over their actions.