In Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace near the end, we see Obi-Wan Kenobi fight Darth Maul. Darth Maul has the high ground, but Obi-Wan wins the battle.

Later, in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith when Anakin Skywalker fights Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan is the one who has the high ground. He explicitly states that him having the high ground is a huge advantage and that Anakin has no chance. Anakin tries to jump over him but fails.

Why is the high ground treated differently in these two movies, especially having Obi-Wan be in both situations (having both high and low ground) and winning in both?

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    Well having the high ground is normally considered an advage in general (without Star wars in mind), So my guess is the scene in ROTS is call back to scene(s) in TPM with the point being that Obi-Wan is one of the best Jed in lightsaber combat, since he could do both and be successful. Of course Anakin is in such a rage that he really isn't at his best. Dec 24, 2017 at 0:12
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    In Episode I, although Obi-wan was at a lower ground, he was focused and had a somewhat clever plan. Anakin however, was reckless and predictable.
    – Charles
    Dec 24, 2017 at 3:54
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    In general though, neither of the situations that you bring into question involve principles that come with having high ground during a sword fight. High ground is advantageous during a sword fight because it requires much less energy/effort to block oncoming attacks, and less energy to take the offensive. Conversely, it's much more difficult to bring about powerful attacks if you're aiming upwards, also similar to boxing. Again though, this isn't the case for either Star Wars situation, since both Obi-wan and Anakin tried jumping over their opponent; Daul Maul was simply slower to react.
    – Charles
    Dec 24, 2017 at 18:48
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    I guess the momentum of surprise must be considered here. Obi Wan somewhat knew Anakin would try to jump while Darth Maul was overwhelmed.
    – Skillmon
    Dec 25, 2017 at 0:13
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    I think you're treating Obi Wan as a narrator here rather than a character. He says that to try to get Anakin to give up the fight, since having the high ground is a tactical advantage, even if it's not technically a guaranteed win.
    – komodosp
    Dec 25, 2017 at 22:43

2 Answers 2


There might be a conclusion here, that Obi-Wan knows how someone can jump from the lower ground to kill someone who is at higher ground, so he knows how to protect yourself from that move as well.

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    I definitely think one can take it as a "learned lesson". In a sense Obi-Wan continues to take the metaphorical moral high ground as well, so I think this is an excellent observation. Nov 18, 2019 at 14:25

In real-world combat, having the high ground can give a tactical advantage, particularly in melee combat. Taking a position on the top of a hill has been used historically by armies and castle/fort construction, due in part to this advantage (other less applicable advantages are a greater practical range for bows, and improved visibility).

When attacking uphill, you have the added effort of having to run up a hill at the same time as needing to fight. It also means that (depending on the slope gradient), when you reach striking distance, your opponent's easiest(most comfortable) target would be your head & torso, while your most comfortable target would be less critical, like his feet and legs.

Out of universe, another possible reason for the inclusion of this line could be that several years earlier Hayden Christensen starred in a TV series called "Higher Ground" and this was a little nod to that, as well as being a plausible tactic.

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