In the galaxy-spanning Star Wars franchise, we see a lot of conflict. From incredibly high stakes duels between good and evil in the main films through to more casual fights between criminal gangs and bounty hunting in TV shows like The Mandalorian, it's clear that knowing how to battle is a critical survival skill if you're in the Star Wars universe.
However, we do see a lot of fighting - which perhaps trivializes the skills on display from some of the duellists. For example, we constantly see Jedi in the films because let's face it: they're cool. But for the average human or alien living in the Star Wars universe, seeing a Jedi fight would be a once-in-a-lifetime, awe-inspiring occasion.
Now imagine instead that you're a Jedi - the hero everyone else looks up to. Every fight you have with 'normal' people is almost trivial and can largely be solved with the force or with your lightsaber. Instead, it's the good vs evil, saber-on-saber duels that really get your heart racing. For Jedi, that means training specifically to duel other saber wielders - one of the main things that led to the evolution from Shii-cho to other forms.
This resulted in skilled combatants who were excellent at duelling other saber wielders. But who were the best? Could any 'normal' people rival them in one on one combat? Here's our list of the best 8 duellists ever depicted in Star Wars...
8. General Grievous
Trained by the master duellist Count Dooku, the cybernetic warlord known as General Grievous has quite the reputation. Having killed and claimed the sabers of a number of Jedi, Grievous had fearsome abilities despite being the only non Force user on this list.
However, as we all know, the general's overconfidence and misunderstanding of the Jedi order would lead to his downfall. Like any great duellist in real life will tell you, never underestimate your opponent. Especially one as crafty as Obi-Wan.
7. Darth Sidious
There's an argument to be made for Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious to be considered one of the best fighters in Star Wars. He quickly dispatches Kit Fisto and the rest of Mace Windu's retinue when they arrive to capture him. Trained by Darth Plagueis before slaying his master, Sidious preferred to utilise the Force in combat to great effect. While he wasn't as good with a saber as the likes of Windu, he was arguably a better fighter because he could incorporate the force. Remember...UNLIMITED POWERRRR!
6. Anakin Skywalker
Before his fall to the dark side, Anakin is proven to be a skilled but flawed duellist. His anger and rage get him into trouble on numerous occasions, a fact made worse when he succumbs to full Sith-hood and is left for dead by Obi-Wan.
However, despite this, we do see Anakin's fearsome abilities come into play when he kills the superior duellist, Count Dooku - beheading him after slicing off his hands.
Unfortunately, Anakin's anger and recklessness lead to his undoing and ultimately, his downfall. After being entombed in the Darth Vader suit, Anakin's swordsmanship is limited by the slower movements and must instead be enhanced by strength and usage of Force powers.
5. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan, though it might surprise you if you are fond of Episode IV, is actually one of the most skilled duellists we ever see in the franchise. Master of the Soresu form, Obi-Wan Kenobi's style was built around solid defence and command over basic movements such as dodging and deflection.
In the Star Wars film franchise, Obi-Wan battles and defeats a number of skilled foes. His 'list' includes Darth Maul, General Grievous (though he might have cheated a bit there), Anakin Skywalker and in the Clone Wars, Asajj Ventress.
Kenobi's downfall at the hands of Darth Vader is also another sign of his abilities. He seems to be fending the dark lord of the Sith off with ease - then suddenly 'chooses' to surrender to him. He is never actually defeated by Vader - something that tortures the dark lord.
4. Master Yoda
For years following the original trilogy, fans of Star Wars wondered whether the old creature from Dagobah was ever able to wield a lightsaber. It seemed almost comical to imagine - but the prequels made it a reality. Everything from Yoda's short saber through to his acrobatic style seems to have been designed around his stature. While it seemed amusing at first, fans now recognise that Yoda's 'flippy' style makes sense for his character. After all, his command of the force makes it easy.
Plus, who can ever forgot that first moment of surprise when the diminutive Jedi first reveals he can actually fight. Yoda is so highly rated in this list because not only does he duel and almost defeat Dooku, he also equals Palpatine in their senate chamber fight. While Yoda lacks the physical presence of some duellists, he makes up for it with knowledge and force power.
3. Count Dooku
Count Dooku, played on screen by the legendary Christopher Lee, has a refined combat style that is noticeably different to other Jedi and Sith portrayed on screen. His choice of style, Form 2/Makashi, uses lots of feints, dashes and jabs - similar to real-life fencing. This is accentuated by Dooku's unique lightsaber, with a curved hilt that allows him to use more elegant flicking motions with his wrist to create effortless cuts.
In the films, we see Dooku disarm both Obi-Wan and Anakin and even hold his own against Master Yoda. Unfortunately, his elegance is undone by a furious Anakin Skywalker as he falls to the dark side. All of the skill in the world is no true match for the aggression of the future Darth Vader.
2. Luke Skywalker
Readers, allow the author of this article a moment to indulge. For me, Luke Skywalker is the ultimate Jedi. He's a childhood hero who was handed a troubled destiny but did not flinch. Instead, Luke seeks to understand who he is and what he can become.
While at first Luke is simply a farmhand who learns to use the Force, by the end of the OT we see him as a true Jedi - trained by Master Yoda and crafting his own lightsaber.
Despite Luke's lack of training partners and formal training, he manages to best Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel and bring an end to the empire. George Lucas himself stated that Luke is 'the best there ever was' when it comes to Jedi.
1. Mace Windu
Master Windu is a fan favourite and the strongest duellist in the list. Portrayed by Samuel L Jackson and wielding a purple lightsaber, Mace Windu's entire character is iconic. It comes as little surprise that Windu was also written to be an amazing duellist - one of the best the Jedi order have ever seen.
Even the colour of his saber is reflective of his combat abilities - said to be purple to represent the fusion of traditional blue sabers with Sith red, a clue to some of the 'dark side' wildness kept at bay by Mace.
Master Windu became a council member at just 28 and co-invented the Vaapad form. Vaapad is a highly aggressive saber form meant to kill opponents - again giving us clues as to how formidable a duellist Mace Windu really was.
But ultimately it's the scene where Windu is dispatched to subdue Senator Palpatine when his treachery is revealed that showcases the master's true duelling abilities. Even with Palpatine's power and easy destruction of the other Jedi sent for him, Windu manages to quickly overcome and disarm Palpatine. If not for Anakin's intervention, the Emperor may have never risen to prominence and Windu would have remained the most powerful fighter ever witnessed in Star Wars.
What do you think of our list? Where would you rank duellists in Star Wars? If you think your own skills could rival these legendary fighters, why not grab a duelling saber of your own and get training!