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Why Obi-Wan Is Much Stronger Than We Think

Jeremy hopes the Force is with him as he pursues a forensics career in the swamps of Louisiana.

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi's History

"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope." —Princess Leia

In a galaxy far far away, wise mentor Obi-Wan sets Luke Skywalker on the path to becoming a Jedi after, periodically aiding the Rebel throughout the original trilogy. In the three prequels, we further explore Obi-Wan's rise from Padawan to Jedi Master and experiences in the Clone Wars. Though Anakin Skywalker receives the focus of these movies, Obi-Wan demonstrates an ever-increasing level of skill to rival the strongest of Jedi.

Don't believe Obi-Wan can hold his own on the battlefont? Let's review Obi-Wan's encounters through each film to discover why he's the most underrated character in Star Wars!

Obi-Wan Vs. Darth Maul

Obi-Wan Vs. Darth Maul

Versus Darth Maul

Darth Maul is best remembered as one of the redeeming factors of the often-ridiculed Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Stoic yet furious, Maul viciously duels against Jedi Master Qui-Gon and Padawan Obi-Wan at the same time—and won. Maul separates the two Jedi, impales Qui-Gon, then battles and disarms Kenobi, who escapes only through Maul's arrogance exposing an opening.

Obi-Wan was outdueled, true. But he held his own against the much more experienced Darth Maul—heck, he did better than Qui-Gon (who was widely regarded as one of the strongest Jedi Masters). Obi-Wan at least managed to slice off half of Maul's saber and land a kick before being disarmed.

The bottom line is that despite being a mere Padawan of 25, Obi-Wan performed better than a veteran Jedi against a skilled Sith, even defeating his foe with a stroke of ingenuity.

Obi-Wan Vs. Count Dooku

Obi-Wan Vs. Count Dooku

Versus Count Dooku

Count Dooku was regarded as one of the best Jedi Masters (and was once Yoda's Padawan and Qui-Gon's Master) before leaving the Order and secretly becoming a Sith Lord. Obi-Wan ends up battling his Master's Master twice. These are Kenobi's worst performances, as he loses both contests, but even so he still impresses with his swordsmanship:

In Episode 2:
In second movie Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan has the sense to realize he'll need help against a seasoned blademaster like Dooku, and attempts to flank Dooku with apprentice Anakin. Ignoring Obi-Wan's strategy, Anakin foolishly rushes Dooku, who incapacitates him, leaving Obi-Wan to duel alone. Dooku overcomes Obi-Wan without much trouble, but consider several redeeming factors for the Jedi Knight:

  • Obi-Wan's blade style Soresu (Form 3) matches very poorly against Dooku's Makashi (Form 2), giving him a substantial disadvantage.
  • Obi-Wan held Dooku off long enough for Anakin to recover, saving them both.
  • Even when wounded, Obi-Wan aids Anakin by tossing him his blade, allowing the younger Jedi to temporarily put Dooku on the defensive.

In Episode 3:
I won't lie, this is Obi-Wan's worst showing. In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan (now a Jedi Master) and Anakin again challenge Dooku, this time wisely attacking together. Dooku narrowly manages to incapacitate Obi-Wan before being slain by Anakin. Not Kenobi's best battle, but here are more atoning factors to consider:

  • Again, Obi-Wan's Soresu is a bad matchup against Dooku's Makashi; Anakin's Djem So (Form 5) works much better against it.
  • Obi-Wan eliminates the two Super Battle Droids Dooku used as backup.
  • Arguably, plot convenience is what really topples Obi-Wan. The battle becomes more tense when he falls, and paves the path for Palpatine to convince Anakin to execute Dooku.
  • Speaking of Palpatine (secretly the Sith Lord Darth Sidious), you could argue he subtly influenced the battle to hinder Kenobi and remove him from the fight.

While a good swordsman can potentially overcome a style disadvantage, some forms simply trump others. Nevertheless, Obi-Wan still manages to test the experienced Dooku and provide support through saber-giving or droid destruction.

Obi-Wan Vs. General Grievous

Obi-Wan Vs. General Grievous

Versus General Grievous

Later in Episode 3, Obi-Wan faces the Separatist warrior General Grievous, renowned for killing Jedi and taking their swords as trophies. Despite his foe's mechanically-enhanced prowess, Obi-Wan quickly outduels Grievous, then ends up incinerating him with a blaster. Here are further reasons Obi-Wan impresses during this scenario:

  • The Jedi Council specifically chose Obi-Wan to battle Grievous, selecting him over other fierce Jedi like Mace Windu. They also trusted Kenobi to succeed without needing Anakin as backup.
  • Obi-Wan ends the contest surprisingly quickly, rapidly severing many of his foe's limbs.
  • After realizing he's losing, Grievous flees the battle, only for Obi-Wan to pursue him. During the chase, Obi-Wan loses his lightsaber, but still manages to overcome Grievous when he catches him.
Darth Vader Vs. Obi-Wan (Episode 3)

Darth Vader Vs. Obi-Wan (Episode 3)

Versus Darth Vader

Obi-Wan faces his fallen apprentice Darth Vader twice, first in Revenge of the Sith and 19 years later in A New Hope.

In Episode 3:
Here Anakin Skywalker is only 22, but his incredible Force abilities provide the strength of a Jedi Master, proven when he overcomes Count Dooku. In a titanic clash over the fiery planet of Mustafar, Obi-Wan barely defeats the Chosen One, badly maiming Skywalker and leaving him for dead.

Not much else to say about this impressive win. Neither Soresu nor Djem So holds an advantage against the other, leaving this contest to be decided purely on skill. Obi-Wan successfully wears down his aggressive opponent, exploiting a weakness Skywalker exposes during a risky attack.

In Episode 4:
Now an elderly man, Obi-Wan battles Darth Vader aboard the Empire's Death Star. Despite facing a skilled Sith aboard an enemy stronghold, Obi-Wan demonstrates an impressive level of tranquility and confidence. Eventually, he lets Vader cut him in half, believing himself to be of more use to Luke from beyond the grave.

Considering Obi-Wan allows Vader to finish him, it's difficult to say who would have won had the match continued. Vader likely has more physical strength, but his connection to the Force is reduced thanks to being nearly half-machine. Obi-Wan is aging, but fights craftily. I'd love to hear your thoughts on who would have emerged victorious!

Darth Vader Vs. Obi-Wan (Episode 4)

Darth Vader Vs. Obi-Wan (Episode 4)

Obi-Wan's Intuition

Even as a young Jedi, Obi-Wan displayed incredible intuitive abilities:

  • Early in Episode 1, he senses an "elusive" presence, likely referring to the hitherto unrevealed Sith Lords looming in the shadows. He also (correctly) cites the danger in Anakin's training.
  • In Episode 2, he and Anakin have a brief discussion on Chancelleor Palpatine (secretly Darth Sidious), where Obi-Wan notes Palpatine's manipulative abilities.
  • In Episode 3, Obi-Wan opposes his fellow Jedi Council members' suggestion of using Anakin to spy on Palpatine, knowing the deed will make Anakin lose trust in the Jedi. Unfortunately, the Council didn't listen.
  • In Episode 4, Obi-Wan selects Han Solo and Chewbacca as their pilots, both of whom would prove crucial to the Alliance's cause. He also helps Luke free his mind from distractions by blindfolding him against the training probe.
Obi-Wan on Tatooine

Obi-Wan on Tatooine

Obi-Wan's Triumphs

In an era where darkness is spreading and Jedi are hunted, Obi-Wan duels every single Sith except Sidious, as well as General Grievous, and manages to perish in a manner of his choosing. He never faltered in his stalwart pursuit of justice, earned a spot on the Jedi Council at a remarkably young age, and can be shown to dwell in the league of elite warriors like Yoda:

  • Count Dooku is said to be on par with Yoda and Mace Windu
  • Anakin defeats Dooku
  • Obi-Wan defeats Anakin
  • Therefore, Obi-Wan is also on par with Yoda and Windu

Admittedly, we're simplifying matters, and there are more factors to consider, like his match against Jango Fett (who was aided by Boba) or his impressive duel against Maul in the show Star Wars Rebels. But for brevity's sake, I'll end things here, hopefully convincing you that the Force is indeed with Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Questions & Answers

Question: Could Obi-Wan beat Yoda or Mace Windu?

Answer: Many fans would outright say "no", but as the articles discusses, Obi-Wan's an underestimated character in several areas. Given a few more years of training (Mace and especially Yoda both have the advantage of time), it's definitely possible Obi-Wan could have taken them.

© 2017 Jeremy Gill

Comments

as140 on August 27, 2020:

Most of what you said is true but Count Dooku can´t be on par with Mace or Yoda since they are about as strong as Sidious. If Dooku was as strong as Sidious he wouldn´t serve him.

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on August 17, 2020:

@unnamed

The reason they sent Obi-Wan to fight Grievous is because he's the most powerful they could afford to lose? Where are you getting that from? We have more evidence that the Council simply feels Obi-Wan is the best match-up.

What you call cheating some might call ingenuity. Maul was raised and trained by a much stronger mentor to specifically fight Jedi; Obi-Wan (and other Jedi) dedicate more time to negotiation skills and fighting blaster-wielding opponents. I'm not saying Maul didn't do well, but the fact that Obi-Wan at all kept up with a renowned Jedi Master and defeated a Sith, even with a trick, is pretty impressive at his padawan stage. Your point that Qui-Gon lasted longer can countered by the fact that Obi-Wan did more damage, even without his technicality finisher.

Using the Force in place of stamina is effectively spending stamina, because you're devoting energy you could have otherwise used for other Force powers. And Obi-Wan's few minutes of standing on the clone ship in a war zone is a brief respite at best, nowhere near enough to make him fresh.

Anakin's style is counterattack? Maybe at times, but I'd say it's more blunt aggression.

The Star Wars wiki cites its articles with canon sources, meaning it's pretty accurate.

Plus, the point of this article isn't necessarily Obi-Wan is better than Dooku, it's that Obi-Wan is better than he often gets credit for. I think Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Dooku are pretty similar at their prime and each would be superior in different circumstances. But we might just have to agree to disagree on this one.

unnamed on August 17, 2020:

In TPM Obi Wan was 25 and Maul was 22, and despite getting help from a legendary Jedi master, Obi Wan still couldn’t defeat Maul without cheating. Maul killed Qui Gon in 3 minutes, and disarmed Obi Wan in 40 seconds, so Qui Gon performed far better against Maul and Maul was not more experienced than Obi Wan.

As for Obi Wan expending stamina, the Jedi use the force for energy, which is why biologically, Yoda can’t even walk without a cane, but with the force he’s the best acrobat in the entire galaxy. So what would remove a tonne of stamina from a normal human wouldn’t remove much from a Jedi. Also Obi Wan had rest when he was on the aircraft that took him to the Counts room in Attack Of The Clones.

So what you’re saying is that Obi Wan beat Anakin because he tires out aggressive opponents, so Obi Wans beat Anakin because of his form. Anakins style is a counterattack form. Obi Wans form doesn’t attack, giving Anakin nothing to counterattack, so therefore counters it.

But the lightsaber forms give small advantages, which are even meaningless in some cases, and skill plays a far greater role, in almost every if not every duel in Star Wars.

The reason why I think character opinions are irrelevant is because of a few statements from the movies:

1.”And you(Anakin) have become a far greater Jedi than I(Obi Wan) could ever hope to be”

2.”Darth Vader will become more powerful than either of us.”

3.”I am more powerful than the chancellor, I(Anakin) overthrow him.”

4.”Much to learn, you still have.”

5.”As you see my Jedi powers are far beyond yours, now, back down.”

While some of these statements could be considered true, they are mostly biased. I’m not saying Mace was lying, I’m say he was biased because he probably overestimates Jedi compared to someone like grievous. Mace also said in the novel:”Anakin is arguably the most powerful Jedi alive, and he’s still getting stronger.” Dooku considered Obi Wan far below him, and considering he actually fought him, it seems legit, but he might be biased. Yoda said Dooku was powerful(“Powerful you have become Dooku”) and then says he had much to learn(“Much to learn, you still have.”), and later said Dooku fought well(“Fought well you have, my old padawan.”). Maces statement contradicts his other statements, and actual feats, so is irrelevant. What Mace says is his opinion, not fact.

The Star Wars wiki has no affiliation with Disney or Lucasfilm, nor is it official or canon. A better website to cite would be StarWars.com, which is actually run by Disney and Lucasfilm.

You claim makashi counters soresu, so Dookus defeat of Obi was unfair yet you also claim djem so counters makashi, therefore Anakins defeat of the Count was unfair, therefore your argument that Obi Wans defeat of Anakin makes him equal or superior to Dooku(who Anakin beat) falls apart.

And again, the lightsaber forms are NOT huge factors in fights.

Dooku is greater than Obi Wan.

unnamed on August 17, 2020:

The reason they sent Obi Wan to fight grievous is because Obi Wan is the most powerful Jedi that they can afford to lose.

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on August 17, 2020:

@unnamed

I respect your opinions but disagree with much of your analysis. Obi-Wan did well against Maul, holding his own against a far more-experienced Sith, cutting his blade in half, and using his ingenuity to bounce back from a losing position. Part of the reason Obi-Wan was separated for so long was Qui-Gon's strategy of trying to drive Maul into a corner, which ultimately backfired, but that's more on Qui-Gon than Obi-Wan.

Dooku soundly bests Kenobi, but again, Obi-Wan does pretty decent (especially in the AotC novel, if you count it) considering his disadvantageous saber style, comparative inexperience, and prior battles (in Ep. 3 and especially Ep. 2, he engages Dooku after expending lots of stamina).

As for him and Anakin, getting driven back doesn't necessarily mean losing. Obi-Wan knows his strength lies in tiring out more aggressive opponents, waiting for a good chance to counterattack, and that's exactly what happens.

I wouldn't dismiss Mace's opinions as irrelevant; it's one thing to offer an ally support, it's another to outright lie to them about your perspective on their abilities. I definitely believe Mace meant what he said.

According to the Star Wars wiki, we know that Makashi is designed to excel at lightsaber combat (it's worse against blasters), so by proxy, it counters Soresu. However, Djem So (Anakin's style) is an exception, as Makashi sometimes fails to defend against the kinetic energy Djem So generates.

unnamed on August 17, 2020:

I’ve been looking forward to this.

I understand your rejection of my long comments.

I now understand what you mean by underrated, but I still stand by my point that Obi Wan is generally thought to be as powerful as he is compared to Count Dooku, Mace Windu, and Yoda.

I am talking about canon only, and especially the movies.

Obi Wan did not perform well against Maul, Anakin, or Dooku.

Against Maul:

Maul was able to separate Obi Wan from Qui Gon for half the fight in a single kick. Qui Gon was the one driving Maul back, not Obi Wan. I understand that Kenobi was still a padawan, but your article states he performed very well against Maul, it even states he did better than Qui Gon.

Against Dooku:

Dooku easily defeats Obi Wan easily every time they fight. While subtle factors influenced those fights, they only gave slight advantages and disadvantages while skill and mastery was the most important factor. Obi Wan could replicate none of Dookus feats from the movies

Against Anakin:

Anakin was driving Obi Wan back the whole time. Obi Wan can also replicate none of Anakins feats from the movies.

Maces opinion is irrelevant as he obviously complements his allies, if you ask some of Obi Wans enemies like Dooku they’ll tell you that Obi Wan is weak because of bias. Mace and Dooku and Yoda and Palpatine are biased when it comes to statements that directly contradict feats.

Both the novel(which you yourself cite) and the script(which should display George’s intent as he wrote it) and the junior novel all agree that Anakin used the dark side of the force against Dooku. Second of all, if the dark side can’t amp someone, then how did Luke defeat Darth Vader. Luke was clearly angry when he charged at Vader before defeating him in Return Of The Jedi.

Just because soresu performs badly against makashi doesn’t mean it’s countered, it could just mean the makashi user was more powerful in the 2 makashi vs soresu battles that happened, each of which was between the same 2 people. Until we pit a different soresu user against a different makashi user and see the results, we will never know if makashi counters it, and even if it did it would only give a slight advantage at most.

So I believe that Obi Wan is equal to or less than half as powerful as Dooku, with a lightsaber, let alone with the force,

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on August 16, 2020:

@unnamed

I'll try to address your comments as best I can (please understand I'm rejecting some due to length; it might help to focus on one or two points at a time). When I say I Obi-Wan is underrated, I don't mean in popularity (he's certainly one of the most featured Jedi), I mean in power ranking. He does remarkably well against several dark-siders, with his only real beatings administered by Dooku, which can partially be explained by a bad form match-up and arguably plot armor. Makashi is known to excel against Soresu, but fairs worse against Djem So (and is neutral-ish against Ataru).

In the ROTS novel, Mace directly tells Obi-Wan that Mace considers Obi-Wan to have the best chance of defeating Grievous among all living Jedi. Obi-Wan questions this, asking wouldn't Mace's Vaapad be better, which Mace rejects (makes sense, as Vaapad powers up against dark-siders, and Grievous doesn't use the Force). This showcases Mace's firm belief in Obi-Wan's abilities, implying that (at least in that particular pairing), Obi-Wan might do better than even Yoda.

From my understanding of the series, the dark side can enhance the *speed* at which you attain power, but it isn't actually stronger, especially after Luke's new Jedi Order (in the Expanded Universe) begin to embrace a degree of emotion rather than rejecting it like the old Order.

To clarify, I don't necessarily believe Obi-Wan could take Yoda or Mace, but he's certainly in their league, and might have equaled them (well, at least Mace) with a few more years of experience.

unnamed on August 13, 2020:

I like Kenobi, but Yoda and Mace outclass him in every single way.

unnamed on August 13, 2020:

As for your argument that makashi countered soresu, I could argue makashi countered Ataru yet Master Yoda force the Count to retreat. I could also argue soresu counters Djem So so therefore Obi Wan didn’t beat Anakin fairly. But in the end all these things give slight advantages only and most fights depend heavily, but not entirely, on skill.

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on August 10, 2020:

@unnamed

You make some fair points, but the fight wasn't as simple as Anakin and Obi-Wan vs Dooku. For one, Dooku had the (admittedly minor) backup of a few super battle droids. More than that, Anakin and Obi-Wan had expended some energy fighting to get to the Chancellor, where Dooku begins the fight fresh.

Additionally, I don't know if I'd say Anakin got a "dark side amp". Yoda states that the dark doesn't increase one's power, and I'm not sure how much (if at all) Anakin even tapped into it; his style is naturally aggressive, so his onslaught doesn't necessarily mean he was submitting to anger.

unnamed on August 09, 2020:

“Count Dooku is said to be on par with Yoda and Mace Windu

Anakin defeats Dooku

Obi-Wan defeats Anakin

Therefore, Obi-Wan is also on par with Yoda and Windu”

I think you mean:

Count Dooku is on par with Yoda and Windu.

Anakin defeats Dooku with a dark side amp and Obi Wans help.

Anakins defeat of the Count made him even more arrogant and overconfident than he already was.

This made Obi Wan defeat him.

Therefore, Obi Wan and Anakin are no match for Yoda, Dooku, or Windu.

I mean come on, you can’t just outright dismiss the fact that Anakin had Obi Wans help killing Dooku.

unnamed on August 08, 2020:

So how do you know that soresu is a bad matchup for makashi? If Dooku used another form would he still have been able to beat Obi Wan? How could you argue that palpatine helped Dooku?

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on October 03, 2019:

@Channing

Great point! Obi-Wan also beat Maul (admittedly with more trouble) in the non-canon comic "Old Wounds".

Channing on October 03, 2019:

If you have watched any of the cannon outside of the movies, it reinforces this as well. Star Wars: Clone Wars is full of many examples of his skill and ingenuity. Most recently, in Star Wars: Rebels, older Obi very quickly and efficiently dispatches a revenge seeking Darth Maul with impressive skill. Showing he hasnt been slacking while watching over Luke on Tatooine

Star Wars boi on September 04, 2019:

I agree

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on June 18, 2017:

@Fullerman

Thanks man! As someone who has dissected almost every ounce of Star Wars available, I wish I could say I had a strong idea of Rey's lineage, but currently it could go in multiple directions. She could be a Skywalker, Solo, or even Kenobi. Regardless, here's hoping the next film lives up to the series!

Ryan from Louisiana, USA on June 17, 2017:

This is why I think Rey is the daughter of Obi-Wan. Well, it is one theory I have. These are great examples of his power and skills. This was definitely a fun and entertaining hub. I really enjoyed it. I love the Star Wars saga and I cannot wait until the next film comes out.