Battle Misconceptions - Obi-Wan vs Anakin

(I am not sure where this should go. It is not a battle, but it relates to battles, so I will put it in the battles forum for now, but if it doesn't belong here, would one of the mods kindly move it to wherever it is appropriate?)

Recently, I have been involved in a few discussions regarding this topic; users have misconceived this battle in the past, and users will be bound to misconceive the battle in the future. Therefore, I decided to make a blog addressing this, as I believe it is quite honestly as serious a misconception as Mace Windu vs Palpatine. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Silver2467 made a small misconception regarding this fight as well - when he suggested that Obi-Wan was not being hindered/suffering from CIS. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, which most of you probably won't, just read on (or just stop reading, LOL). And be prepared for humungous slabs of text.

First and foremost - to address the combatants overall feats and generic displays.

Strength - Anakin, easily. Obi-Wan has no feats that approach hitting hard another blade hard enough to shatter stone beneath oneself or tearing apart spider droids.

Speed - Anakin has been portrayed as faster than Obi-Wan, and has better feats, such as moving fast enough to appear in multiple places at once and filling Dooku's entire line of vision with the light of his blade.

Dueling - In short, I should just say that Anakin is listed by Nick Gillard to be a better duelist than Obi-Wan (in Nick Gillard's terms, Anakin was a tier 9 while Obi-Wan was a tier 8).

Power - Anakin is vastly more powerful. In fact, Anakin is more powerful than Dooku, somebody who has humiliated Obi-Wan with the Force before. And Obi-Wan hasn't really done anything to approach hurling boulders the size of huts, manipulating Conqueror-class dreadnaughts, unleashing Force Screams that have shattered large dome facilities, etc.

So in short, Anakin is slightly faster, is easily stronger, is slightly more skilled, and is much more powerful.

So, why did he fail to win decisively? Why was Obi-Wan capable of not only holding his own but even defeating Anakin? This is because of a number of circumstances.

First - Obi-Wan and Anakin had sparred with each other and fought alongside each other so many times that they knew every single nook and cranny of each other's styles; they had memorized each other's favorite moves and techniques and their counters. The RotS novel describes them as "knowing each other better than brothers, more intimately than lovers - they were the complementary halves of a warrior" and the RotS junior novelization states that they had known each other's favorite moves and "hardly had to think to counter them", as well as that "it felt like another practice session, except for the exploding equipment". This is also referenced by sources such as Lightsabers: A Guide to the Weapons of the Force, which claimed they were fighting evenly until Anakin's arrogance led to his defeat.

Blade-to-blade, they were identical. After thousands of hours in lightsaber sparring, they knew each other better than brothers, more intimately than lovers; they were complementary halves of a single warrior.

Source: Revenge of the Sith

His lightsaber came up in an instinctive parry. They had sparred together so often that they knew each other's favorite moves. Obi-Wan hardly had to think to counter Anakin's attack. Lightsabers humming, they battled their way down the hall and into the control center. It felt.... familiar, like another practice session, except for the exploding equipment.

Source: Revenge of the Sith Junior Novelization

Years of fighting side-by-side left these warriors evenly matched, and their exhausting duel crossed the fiery landscape of a Mustafar refinery.

Source: Lightsabers: A Guide to the Weapons of the Force

This is one of the reasons that they were able to fight so closely - Obi-Wan's Soresu is designed to last as long as possible, but Anakin's advantages should have tipped the fight in his favor. However, such minor skill and speed disparities were probably negated on the behalf of having encyclopedic knowledge of each other's fighting styles. Technically, their knowledge of each other's fighting techniques were only equal, but Anakin was also hindered (and I'll get to that later), while a Soresu adept would benefit more from such knowledge than a Djem So master, especially given how straightforward Djem So is in the first place.

Next - Anakin was hindered. He was suffering CIS throughout the entire battle - his lack of self-control allowed his emotions to get in his way and he was thus described in Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader as "vulnerable and between worlds":

Anakin had still been between worlds then, and vulnerable.

Source: Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader

Obi-Wan himself was also hindered in the fight, but as you may expect, he had a much greater deal of self-control and suffered CIS to a lesser degree.

We know Obi-Wan was not hindered as much as Anakin in the fight because of Sidious's mind probings, in which he said Obi-Wan was resolute and firm in his commitment to the fight, even though he didn't really want to kill Anakin:

"Obi-Wan triumphed because he went to Mustafar with a single intention in mind: to kill Darth Vader."

Source: Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader

In fact, he was still able to apply Electronic Manipulation, something that requires concentration and effort:

Obi-Wan had only one trick left, one that wouldn't work twice-But it was a very good trick.

It had, after all, worked rather splendidly on Grievous...

He twitched one finger, reaching through the Force to reverse the polarity of the electrodrivers in Anakin's mechanical hand.

Durasteel fingers sprang open, and a lightsaber tumbled free.

Source: Revenge of the Sith

However, to be fair, the RotS novel does not portray him the same light as the RotS junior novel or other sources - in the RotS novel, he lets go of Anakin and lets go of his despair much earlier in the fight:

With Anakin's grip on his wrists bending his arms near to breaking, forcing both their lightsabers down in a slow but unstoppable arc, Obi Wan let go. Of everything. His hopes. His fears. His obligation to the Jedi, his promise to Qui-Gon, his failure with Anakin. And their lightsabers.

This was not Sith against Jedi. This was not light against dark or good against evil; it had nothing to do with duty or philosophy, religion or morals.

It was Anakin against Obi-Wan.


Just the two of them, and the damage they had done to each other.

Obi-Wan backflipped from the conduit to a coupling nexus of the main collection plant; when Anakin flew in pursuit, Obi-Wan leapt again. They spun and whirled throughout its levels, up its stairs, and across its platforms; they battled out onto the collection panels over which the cascades of lava poured, and Obi-Wan, out on the edge of the collection panel, hunching under a curve of durasteel that splashed aside gouts of lava, deflecting Force blasts and countering strikes from this creature of rage that had been his best friend, suddenly comprehended an unexpectedly profound truth.

The man he faced was everything Obi-Wan had devoted his life to destroying: Murderer. Traitor. Fallen Jedi. Lord of the Sith. And here, and now, despite it all... Obi-Wan still loved him.Yoda had said it, flat-out: Allow such attachments to pass out of one's life, a Jedi must, but Obi-Wan had never let himself understand. He had argued for Anakin, made excuses, covered for him again and again and again; all the while this attachment he denied even feeling had blinded him to the dark path his best friend walked.

Obi-Wan knew there was, in the end, only one answer for attachment...

He let it go.

Source: Revenge of the Sith

Conversely, the equivalent of that scene in the junior novel is shown like this:

Still, the fight continued, even as the collection tower sank slowly into the lava. And still, neither man could gain an advantage.

But that's not really true, Obi-Wan thought as he ducked and wove and parried. Both he and Anakin felt the anguish of their need to kill the other. But Anakin had turned to the dark side, and despair and pain strengthened the dark side. It gave him an advantage Obi-Wan could not match. Unless he let go of his own despair and the let the living Force move him -- the Force that bound all living things together, even Obi-Wan and this new, deadly, evil Anakin.

It was hard. It was perhaps, the hardest thing he had ever tried to do. For in letting go of his anguish, his despair, and his pain, he would have to let go of the Anakin who was his student, his brother, and his dearest friend. He'd have to admit that this time, he could not save the man who had saved his life so many times, whose life he had saved at least as often.

Obi-Wan couldn't do it. As the collection tower sank farther into the lava, he looked for a way to escape.

Source: Revenge of the Sith Junior Novelization

As you can see, in the junior novelization, Obi-Wan at this point is still unable to let go of his despair and his love for Anakin. In fact, in the junior novelization, Obi-Wan does not manage to let go at all until the climax of the fight:

And then, as Anakin came close enough to swing his lightsaber once more, the Jedi in Obi-Wan rose up and at last did the thing he hadn't thought he could do. He let go. Calm, centered, free -- for the moment -- of sorrow and despair, resting in the living Force as he had been trained to do, Obi-Wan Kenobi looked at his former friend and student, and did the unexpected. He made a soaring leap into the air and landed on the high bank of the lava river.

"It's over, Anakin," he said, looking down. "I have the high ground. Don't try it."

Source: Revenge of the Sith Junior Novelization

There is also a reference to this in The Ultimate Visual Guide:

As every step becomes more perilous and Vader's attacks more ferocious, Obi-Wan realizes that he still cares for Anakin, and that the only way he can defeat his opponent is to let go of his feelings for his former friend. When Obi-Wan releases this emotional attachment, the battle turns for the Jedi.

Source: The Ultimate Visual Guide

However, it is unclear whether The Ultimate Visual Guide supports the RotS novel or the RotS junior novel. I am led to believe, however, that it supports the junior novelization, simply because of the fact that it says the battle turns for Obi-Wan the moment he lets go, and the battle most clearly does not turn for Obi-Wan as early as he was said to let go in the RotS novel - but it pretty much does at the end of the fight, which is why I believe it supports the RotS junior novel more than anything.

The point is, however, still the same - Obi-Wan still let go, eventually, while Anakin didn't. Instead, Anakin's arrogance became the catalyst for his defeat:

It was Anakin's overconfidence, fueled by the dark side, which led to his defeat. A mistimed leap over Obi-Wan allowed him to swiftly cut Anakin, leaving him disabled on the shore of a lava river.

Source: Lightsabers: A Guide to the Weapons of the Force

To clear a few other issues - Anakin and Obi-Wan "stalemated" at one point with a Force Push:


At this point, neither Anakin nor Obi-Wan had let go yet, but again, Anakin's emotional hindering was more severe than Kenobi's, which may offer an explanation. It may seem strange they are even, however, on the account of Anakin's feats being vastly better than Obi-Wan's. To be fair, we have seen Anakin strained before, while we haven't really seen Obi-Wan's maximum levels with TK, so there is a chance that it may be a bit more... comparable.

I also referenced Obi-Wan's usage of Electronic Manipulation to control the functions of Anakin's hand, earlier on. This was part of my reasoning that Kenobi was not as hindered by Anakin - but there are a few things to note.

1. Again, this happened in the RotS novel, which doesn't portray Obi-Wan to be as hindered as the RotS junior novel does.

2. In the RotS junior novel, Obi-Wan does not do this at all. The equivalent of that in the junior novel was him just bowling Anakin over and taking control of Anakin's lightsaber for a brief period of time before Anakin recovers it.

So the Electronic Manipulation may not be the best argument for Obi-Wan not being hindered - and he was hindered. Just not to the extent of Anakin, who was literally being manipulated by CIS throughout the whole fight.

I hope this matter has become clearer, and that I have cleared up some misconceptions regarding the fight. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. However, I'd like to not receive angry outbursts or anything of the likes - which I won't respond to. The topic is heated enough without people getting needlessly angry.