Ewan McGregor photographed by Jason Bell for Rhapsody (May 2016)
can we please talk about obi wan fighting savage AND maul at the same time and WINNING i’m???
soresu might not be offensive but holy hell that doesn’t seem to stop obi wan. THAT FANCY FOOTWORK ON SAVAGE’S KNEE THO.
Obi-Wan is all about restraint, partly because if he were ever to jump in and fight all out, he’d completely destroy his opponents. He keeps it all bottled up, partly because he doesn’t want to see himself as this destructive warrior–it’s a part of himself he’s not very comfortable with. I don’t think Maul expected any of that–to be completely honest, he might realize consciously that Obi-Wan’s a Jedi Master now, but emotionally he still thinks of Obi-Wan as a Padawan. This is the moment when Obi-Wan establishes himself not as a lucky freak occurrence, but a very real threat.
(I think that might actually be a hybrid between Ataru, Soresu and Jar’Kai. It doesn’t even have to be Jar’Kai, though–according to Wookieepedia, Ataru has a double-blade variant, which Obi-Wan might be expected to be familiar with. It doesn’t look very much like Ventress’ Jar’Kai, so it’s probably Ataru, which was Obi-Wan’s preferred style as a Padawan. This is where Obi-Wan varies from Ventress–she can’t put an awful lot of force behind her strikes, so she relies on speed and acrobatics. Obi-Wan is just as acrobatic and agile as Ventress, but there’s a lot more power behind his strikes, which, again, looks more like Ataru than Jar’Kai to me. Ataru is a bit more specialized than Niman, which is the discipline from which Jar’Kai is derived from. Ataru is also, primarily, a martial art; it relies on acrobatics, a bit like parkuor, and could easily be adapted for hand-to-hand combat, and with the complicated leaps and turns it involves a lot of legwork. Not to limit this to a certain series of disciplines, because Obi-Wan is experienced in more than just Soresu, Ataru, and Jar’Kai/Niman. I’m just remarking on how this looks like mostly Ataru to me.)
Bottom line: Obi-Wan is much better prepared for a conflict like the Clone Wars than Ventress is.
(Footnote: My sister remarked while I was reading this out, looking for errors, that it sounded like Obi-Wan’s doing some kind of strange ballet. Ummmmmm… sorta? It is a bit like ballet, yes. There’s definitely a series of stances you have to master to prepare your muscles to learn the actual style… yes, it’s a lot like ballet.)
Do you ever think about Obi-Wan learning Ataru from Qui-Gon though?
Like… Qui-Gon’s a pretty big person, tall and muscular, someone you’d expect to practice Djem So with its focus on strength and power instead of Ataru which is primarily speed and agility. Like someone with a height and size advantage against most opponents would probably benefit from the heavy swings in Form V.
… You know what he probably learned Ataru just to fuck with his opponents. Let’s be honest here. It would be a classic Qui-Gon Jinn move.
Qui-Gon’s specialty in Ataru just pleases me to no end. Because the man is so massive, a form like Ataru is not what you’d expect. But on the other hand, when someone his size actually masters the form, can you imagine the sheer momentum behind his blade? He’s going to be landing power strikes that don’t look like power strikes, which is just going to further confuse his opponent.
Also let’s be real, besides the fact that this would seriously fuck with an adversary’s ability to predict him, I can only imagine that a refined Makashi master like Dooku would find a form as kinetic and flashy as Ataru downright distasteful. Imagine how frustrated he would have been once he realized his padawan was dead set on fighting like a damn circus performer. And imagine how often Qui-Gon just delighted in pushing that button whenever he could.
(okay this has also got me thinking about young Qui-Gon and why he might have gravitated to this form in the first place. Qui-Gon probably had a super awkward adolescence, growing into that kind of size can leave you all arms and legs of varying confusing proportions for a few years. He might have initially practiced Ataru just to force himself to maintain precise control of his body, to know exactly where his hands and feet are, to know exactly where his center of balance is, and to be perpetually refining his reflexes as his body grows. But, once he hits his full adult size, yeah he could switch to a more ‘appropriate’ form, or he could keep doing what he’s doing. Yeah he’s a giant bear man, but he’s a bear man who managed to practice Ataru during his awkward colt phase, like “Yeah I’m kinda big for this, but I’m gonna be the same big forever now? this is easy” because while Ataru might not normally be designed for someone of his body type, he spent years making it work for his body type, and now he’s created something extremely effective that’s also going to have the bonus of always giving him an element of surprise in battle.)
and then imagine him training poor Obi-Wan and having absolutely no sympathy for the difficulty of the form: “But Master I’m jumping just as high as you are, and I actually hit the platform before you did – Yeah but I’m twice your size, so you better be jumping twice as high and hitting the platform in half the time – D8″
Which brings us back to sheer lethality Obi-Wan can whip out when he wants to. The saber heritage he’s coming from is perfect for the battles he later fights. He’s got all the kinetic energy and athleticism from practicing Ataru for over ten years, but it’s going to be a very refined form of Ataru. Dooku is still going to have insisted that Qui-Gon study some Makashi, which is all about refinement, but Qui-Gon’s particular brand of Ataru (because I am keeping this headcanon) also requires complete awareness of your own body and utter precision in your movements.** And precision is what Soresu is all about.
So, ten years later and Obi-Wan has switched styles and become the master (not a master, the master, as Mace Windu very strongly insisted) of Soresu, a form with an impenetrably tight defense that essentially makes its user untouchable while they wait for the perfect moment to counter-strike. And once Obi-wan does see his moment, BAM out comes these perfectly executed Ataru moves with a surprising amount of force behind them. It also starts showing against opponents that he knows he has to press the offensive with, or when he starts losing some of his perfected self-control. You can see that in his fight with Maul and Savage. I mean, for fuck’s sake look at these gifs [x] His style is radically different in that fight than it normally is, he’s jumping, flipping, twisting all over the place. And a momentum-driven power strike is exactly what he delivers to Savage’s knee there at the end. He’s using Soresu principles to successfully fend off two opponents at once, but this duel is otherwise almost pure Ataru, and it’s vicious.
and it’s this kind of precise body awareness that lets Obi-wan take one look at an embankment, his opponent’s size and strength, and immediately conclude exactly how high any potential jump or flip will take him, and also allows him to dismember a man mid-spin without touching the rest of him
I forget if this is canon or otherwise but didn’t Obi-Wan learn Soresu because of Ataru’s lack of defensive capabilities?
My personal headcanon aligns with yours perfectly in that Obi’s tactical mindset uses Soresu’s breathing space to analyze the fight and attack the opponent"s weak point!
Like I’ve always seen Obi as not particularly physically strong (not to say that he isn’t strong, just that it’s not something that goes beyond the pale for a Jedi Master e.g. Pong Krell) but someone who waits like a viper for the perfect moment to strike. Couple that with Qui-Gon’s unorthodox training methods and combat styles handed down to him through years of experience and you have an extremely versatile Jedi who adapts perfectly to fights!
(Well. Almost perfectly. Shoutout to Dooku’s absolutely SICK Makashi. Honestly that style just… *fans self*)
Yup that’s canon! (or well, “used to be” technically, but all the EU stuff’s still canon to me so idaf lol) Stover *really* dug into saber forms a lot in his novelization of Revenge of the Sith, and one of the things he talks about is Obi-Wan switching to studying Soresu after Qui-Gon’s death. In general tho, Ataru has very strong offensive capabilities, but all that movement and those big sweeping gestures it uses can leave openings. Openings that against most opponents won’t be a problem, but against another Force sensitive saber duelist? Suddenly those openings can become deadly. I imagine that’s also part of why Obi-Wan switched, not just because he’d seen one of the form’s weaknesses exploited, but because if the Sith really are back, the Jedi aren’t only going to be fighting criminals and warlords with blasters anymore; they need to prepare to be fighting other lightsabers, and the defensive nature of Soresu was how Obi-Wan responded to that. And it’s also in Stover’s book that Windu calls him the master of the style and quite stridently argues that Obi-Wan might be the only Jedi in the Order who can defeat Grievous.
And I totally agree! Obi-Wan is going to be very strong for his size, but he’s still….his size lol. So he makes up for it in other ways, by making sure nobody can touch him until he suddenly strikes, but also by engaging their mind. Obi-Wan turns fights into mental battles as much as physical battles, which is why he talks so damn much when fighting haha. And in that arena, Obi-Wan is without equal, so he can really tip a fight in his favor by coming at his opponent from multiple angles.
And hnnnng Makashi. I really liked that they pushed the dueling/fencing angle of Dooku’s style in the show
Okay okay, but here me out…
After reading all this I want a canon comic/novel/whatever to focus on Dooku training Qui-Gon. All this stuff from lightsaber combat differences (I particularly liked the comment about Dooku wishing his apprentice wouldn’t be jumping around like a circus performer) to the canon fact that both Dooku and Qui-Gon were seen as idealists who butted heads with the Jedi Council.
I’d like something like that. Maybe even get more info on what a Yoda/Dooku apprenticeship was like.
Anakin reached out and pushed Obi-Wan’s hair off his forehead. It wasn’t often that he got the chance to see Obi-Wan like this. Soft, unguarded. HIs perpetual frown gone, replaced with the openness of sleep that made Anakin’s chest hurt, just a little.
He should have expected Obi-Wan’s quiet rebellion. While he occasionally offered up a retort – Obi-Wan wouldn’t be Obi-Wan if he completely refrained from sarcasm – he often refused Anakin’s bait and the banter that had previously dominated their relationship was gone.
Anakin had known the transition from proud Jedi to cosseted war prisoner would be difficult for Obi-Wan. In the beginning, Anakin had been glad for it. He’d wanted Obi-Wan to suffer, if not pain than humiliation. But as time passed, as they began to spend time together, as he watched Obi-Wan dote on his children, Anakin’s hatred began to evolve back into the adoration he’d once felt for his former master.
Palpatine was beginning to notice. He began needling Anakin in the most obnoxious ways. The rebellion, a constant source of conflict, was growing stronger and Palpatine blamed Anakin’s perceived weakness for it. That day, after the bombing of an important trade route, Palpatine had suggested a public execution to strike despair in the heart of the rebellion.
That was what had sent Anakin to these rooms; to his small family; to his solace. Rage slithered low in his stomach and he carefully pet Obi-Wan’s hair. While Obi-Wan’s death was unacceptable, an execution might still be on the table. Palpatine was beginning to wear out his welcome and more importantly, his usefulness.
“That he would dare deny me this,” Anakin muttered, leaning down and brushing a kiss against Obi-Wan’s forehead, reaching down to carefully run his fingers first through Luke’s hair, and then Leia’s. “That he would dare suggest I give this up.”