Obi-Wan had the upper hand against Anakin in Star Wars. But in reality, that wasn’t really an advantage for the type of combat they were in.
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s comment on “high ground” in Revenge of the Sith is one of the most emblematic moments of the Star Wars prequels, but it’s actually just as silly as Anakin Skywalker’s “I don’t like sand” monologue. Although high ground definitely has its advantages in ranged battles, its superiority in melee attacks tends to diminish depending on the opponent’s strategy. Looking at the high ground strategy, it is clear that Skywalker could have won, and Kenobi’s comment was not entirely legitimate.
Military strategists prefer high ground because it gives a better point of view, allowing a fighter to see his opponents move and attack accordingly. In a melee fight, an opponent in the low ground you need to exert more energy and strength while swinging upward, in addition to the energy needed to climb a hill. In Kenobi’s fight against Skywalker, this is seen when Skywalker uses his momentum in a Force jump, which has the added downside of landing only in a singular direction. As Skywalker needed to find a place to land, Kenobi was able to attack just before landing.
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If Skywalker had moved to another area on his hill, jumping out of the direction of Kenobi’s attack range, he could have avoided his Master’s swift counterattack and prolonged the battle even further. This would have forced Kenobi to move to another area of the hill, giving him much less cover than his original position. Hits from high ground also occur closer to a combatant’s position, making them deadly when someone is close enough to range. An opponent on low ground is at a disadvantage due to his shorter reach to the other’s torso; however, a fighter in low ground also has a range closer to the lower half of his enemy. This would have allowed Skywalker to hit Kenobi’s legs, which would have been left unprotected.
Another possibility Skywalker could have taken was to devote all his strength and momentum to a deadly final shot at Kenobi. While this strategy is definitely risky, the more aggressive Skywalker would have a chance to break through Kenobi’s defense, dominating the Jedi. While Kenobi would have had a chance to block this attack, it would have been better than Skywalker’s risky strategy of trying to land and attack him from behind.
This high ground strategy also ignores the possibility of using long-range Force powers, which would have been a disadvantage for Kenobi, who is a defensive fighter and therefore more capable at close range. Skywalker could have easily thrown his lightsaber using Force telekinesis, which would have hit Kenobi’s legs or forced him to deflect the blade with his own weapon. This would have given Skywalker enough time to refocus his energy and find a good place to land before Kenobi attacked. Due to the immense strength of the fallen Jedi in the Force, he had the ability to move a series of objects telekinetically, which would have given him a better chance in this fight.
High ground is not always an advantage in the Star Wars universe either, as evidenced when Kenobi defeated Darth Maul, who had high ground during the climax of The Phantom Menace. The Jedi was able to defeat the Sith by summoning his mentor’s lightsaber out of the air and striking him from behind, but only because Darth Maul foolishly didn’t turn around. If Maul had simply hit Kenobi from behind without looking, he would have won the battle. According to Reddit user SainttecWalker, Kenobi probably replayed this scenario in his head, meaning that he understood that Skywalker would try to recreate the attack.
While Kenobi was ultimately correct about the benefits of high ground in this particular duel, Skywalker could have launched an attack had he implemented one more strategy. Kenobi knew an opponent with high ground could lose, but he counted on Anakin to act rashly.
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