Spoilers ahead for the season 3 episode of Star Wars: Rebels, “Twin Suns.”
By and large, I don’t follow a lot of social media, so I don’t really yet know how the internet is reacting to last night’s “rematch of the rematch.” All I know is that I was rather impressed by the restraint of it. Star Wars introduced me to the concept of swordfighting, and now years later, I watch these duels with the eye of experience.
Mostly I just wanted to comment on this fight based on my experience. Usually lightsaber combat is a drawn out, ballet-like affair. If it does get truly brutal, it’s still drawn out enough that you can see the brutality. Compare this with Fiore dei Liberi’s 15th century combat system. The way I was trained from the beginning is that the ideal fight consists of two parts: I hit you, you hit the floor. Failing that, the next ideal is I block your strike, I hit you, you hit the floor. If a fight goes more than four strikes / counterstrikes, the two combatants are masters who need to prove nothing to one another. Based on this, you can readily see the difference between reality and the Star Wars screen spectacles.
This fight between Kenobi and Maul was straight out of the classic texts. They sized up one another, took position, and then Maul struck a two-pronged attack, one for each blade of his double-bladed lightsaber. Kenobi parried each of the two strikes in quick succession, then went for a clean strike down the center, cleaving Maul’s saber in two, and delivering the killing blow to his chest in the process. The entire fight took less time than it did to read this description.
I feel like some would call that lame, that they spent all this time building up the episode for something that quick. If you’re in that camp, then I would suggest looking at it from the perspective of Kenobi having attained true mastery over himself during his years of exile on Tatooine. He’s come a long way. Maul… not so much. This duel is elegant proof of that. Thought I’d share.
EDIT: The fight sequence is now on YouTube for your enjoyment.
EDIT EDIT: I can’t believe I missed this before. The fight that Maul’s fighting — the moves he makes — it’s the identical setup he used against Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. He’s been waiting all these years to take out Kenobi with the same mindset. After all that back there, for all he’s seen, and for all he’s learned, he really hasn’t grown at all. Meanwhile, if you watch Kenobi, his ready positions are 3-fold: first he adopts his standard ready position he uses against Vader on the Death Star later briefly, then assuming his Clone Wars era en garde. Then he moves back to the Old Ben ready position as a transition to… Qui-Gon’s ready position. It’s as if he’s telegraphing to Maul exactly what he wants Maul to see so that Maul will run through that old battle all over again on purpose. It’s not only winning the battle in the mind first, which is incredible, but it honors his old master in the process. Well done, Obi-Wan. Well done.