The lightsaber duels are a big part of what makes Star Wars so exciting. Watching the characters whirl around and perform backflips while wielding glowing, brightly-colored blades—well, it doesn’t get much better than that!
In this article, we’ll rank the top 15 lightsaber duelists in the Star Wars franchise. These duelists were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including their combat record, training vs. raw talent, and fighting style.
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Table of Contents
15. Barriss Offee
Some Star Wars fans may be surprised by this selection, but there are several reasons why Barriss Offee makes the list.
Consider this: her combat record throughout the Clone Wars is as good as Ahsoka’s, as well as several others who are on this list.
She survived and was successful on many missions as a Jedi padawan during the Clone Wars, and shortly after her promotion to Knighthood she was assigned to be a general during the war.
Though she didn’t like fighting, she was an incredibly talented duelist. This was clearly shown in her fight with Anakin after he confronted her about the Jedi Temple bombing.
Barriss fought this duel while wielding Asajj Ventress’ twin lightsabers. Not only did she hold her own against Anakin, one of the best lightsaber duelists in his own right; but at times, it appeared that she might defeat him.
Though Anakin ultimately won the duel, Barriss’ skill with a lightsaber was clearly on display, and that is why she makes this list.
14. Kit Fisto
Kit Fisto may be another surprising addition to the list, but he has a couple of major points in his favor.
First off, he dueled a notorious Jedi killer, General Grievous, in his own stronghold. Though he ultimately escaped without winning this battle, he displayed some impressive lightsaber skills and acrobatics during the fight, proving himself every bit Grievous’ equal.
Later, he was one of four Jedi who confronted Chancellor Palpatine to arrest him after he revealed himself as Darth Sidious. It is likely that Jedi Grand Master Mace Windu chose some of the best fighters to join him in this confrontation.
During the battle, however, Palpatine cut down two of the Jedi almost immediately. Fisto was the only one, besides Windu himself, to put up a fight against the incredibly powerful Dark Lord of the Sith.
Though he is one of the more minor characters in the Star Wars franchise, Kit Fisto was an excellent duelist who deserves a spot on this list.
13. Kanan Jarrus
Kanan Jarrus frequently showed off his lightsaber skills throughout Star Wars Rebels. He survived multiple encounters with the Grand Inquisitor, whose job was to hunt down and kill all remaining Jedi. He even defeated the Inquisitor in their final meeting.
Jarrus’ skills in lightsaber combat, as well as in using the Force are made more impressive because he didn’t finish his Jedi training. He was a 14-year-old padawan when his Master, Depa Billaba, was killed during Order 66.
For years afterward, he hid his Force sensitivity and, presumably, didn’t have many opportunities to practice his lightsaber skills. And yet, his inner strength, focus on the Force, and natural dueling talent allowed him to prevail when it counted the most.
12. Rey Skywalker
Rey had little training but a whole lot of natural talent and Force sensitivity. This allowed her to use many Force powers that weaker Jedi would have been unable to master even after years of training.
These skills extended to her talent with a lightsaber.
Rey enjoyed many victories against incredibly powerful foes. She defeated Kylo Ren in lightsaber combat despite having no training at the time.
Later, she frequently dueled Ren, fought alongside him to take out Supreme leader Snoke’s guards, and finally confronted Darth Sidious himself. With the help of a redeemed Ben Solo and the strength of all the Jedi behind her, she defeated Sidious once and for all.
It’s true that Rey had help in many of her feats, but her raw Force abilities and impressive combat record ensure her a place on this list.
11. Asajj Ventress
Asajj Ventress was a fearsome assassin throughout the Clone Wars and an apprentice of Count Dooku. Her training combined with a lot of natural talent and Force ability led to her involvement in many intense duels.
Ventress frequently found herself taking on the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and other highly skilled duelists. Though she frequently had to retreat from these duels, it must be remembered that she often fought against two opponents at once.
Even when she had to retreat, she fought well and held her own in these battles. She managed to stay alive and even gain control at times.
Perhaps most impressively, she fought against and bested Count Dooku after he betrayed her, not only winning against one of the most skilled Sith duelists, but proving her worth to him in the process.
10. General Grievous
General Grievous is an interesting addition, as he is the only character on this list who was not Force-sensitive. However, he showed time and time again that Force-sensitivity wasn’t a requirement to wield a lightsaber.
He was originally a Kaleesh warrior but was more machine than organic by the time he became a Separatist general in the Clone wars. Grievous was known for killing Jedi and taking their lightsabers.
A multi-limbed cyborg, he frequently fought with several lightsabers at once, twirling them around his body. Even many of the best Jedi duelists, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, struggled against him (though Kenobi eventually defeated him at the end of the Clone Wars).
9. Darth Maul
Darth Maul may have lost one of his first duels as a young Sith apprentice, but it’s worth noting that he was fighting against Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi at the same time. And, though Obi-Wan cut him in half at the end of the battle, Maul killed Qui-Gon first.
What’s more, even being cut in half didn’t permanently take Maul out of the picture. He returned later to wreak havoc during the Clone Wars.
Among his list of accomplishments, Maul bested Pre Vizsla in a duel for possession of the Darksaber and the right to rule Mandalore. Later, he and his brother, Savage Oppress, even took on Darth Sidious himself.
Ultimately, Maul was killed for good in a later meeting with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
8. Darth Sidious
Some fans may argue that Palpatine/Darth Sidious deserves a higher spot on the list, and they would be right if we were discussing Force-sensitivity or cunning.
But this list is strictly about lightsaber skills, and we only got to see Sidious duel with a lightsaber a couple of times. In these duels, Sidious showed truly impressive lightsaber skills; but ultimately, he was no match for his opponents.
In one-on-one combat, Sidious was clearly bested by Mace Windu; in the end, Sidious only defeated Windu because Anakin Skywalker intervened.
Later, when Yoda confronted Sidious, it was abundantly clear that the Jedi Grand Master’s skills were far superior to the Sith Lord’s. That duel ended in a stalemate—but only after Sidious disregarded his lightsaber to rely on his Force lightning and telekinesis skills.
Still, despite his relatively poor performance in these two duels, it’s worth noting that Sidious was fighting against some of the most skilled Jedi in the Star Wars franchise. With this in mind, it can be concluded that his skills are impressive and he likely would have won against most other foes.
7. Ahsoka Tano
Ahsoka Tano trained under Anakin Skywalker—one of the most talented Jedi duelists at the time. Not only did she learn from the best, but she had plenty of natural talent and athleticism to boot.
During her three years as a padawan learner, she served as a commander during the Clone Wars and learned to duel with two lightsabers.
Her fighting style was a unique blend of two lightsaber forms, Jar’kai and Ataru, but her natural athleticism enabled her to add her own flair and unpredictability.
It was her lightsaber skills that saved her during Order 66, when she was just 17 years old. She successfully fought off many clone troopers before hiding and ultimately escaping her doomed ship.
Elsewhere in her career, she defeated Darth Maul and held her own impressively well against Darth Vader, her former master and friend. Though some fans may point out that she regularly had help in her duels, her raw skills and combat record speak for themselves.
6. Count Dooku
Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus is widely considered one of the best duelists among the Sith. Despite his advanced age, he fought extremely well against a variety of enemies and frequently won his duels.
He was well-versed in all forms of lightsaber combat, allowing him to skillfully take on nearly any opponent.
During the first Battle of Geonosis, Dooku bested both Obi-Wan and Anakin in a two-on-one duel. Three years later, he held his own against them in their second meeting, even managing to knock Obi-Wan out of the fight before being disarmed and killed by Anakin.
Though he ultimately lost that duel, Count Dooku’s lightsaber skills were second to none during his lifetime.
5. Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker developed impressive dueling skills despite having very little training in lightsaber combat and use of the Force.
Many of his duels showcase Luke’s connection to the Force and not necessarily his abilities with a lightsaber. A good example of this is his astral projection duel against his nephew, Kylo Ren.
That said, Luke ultimately defeated Darth Vader in a duel. Even in their first meeting, which he lost, he held his own long enough to garner some unexpected praise from his Sith Lord father.
In addition to his own strong Force-sensitivity, Luke had excellent teachers during his short training periods. He learned from Obi-Wan as well as from Yoda, two of the best duelists and Jedi Masters.
4. Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
During his time as a Jedi padawan and Knight, Anakin Skywalker was one of best. Considered the Chosen One, he lived up to his reputation by becoming a powerful Knight and general during the Clone Wars.
Though he was defeated by Count Dooku as a padawan, he ultimately defeated the Sith Lord three years later. He defeated many foes and held his own against others, including Asajj Ventress, General Grievous, and Darth Maul.
He also fought well against Obi-Wan, his former master, finally killing him in their third meeting. During his years as Darth Vader, there were few who could stand against him. His connection to the Force as well as his talent for dueling made him one of the best duelers of his time.
3. Obi-Wan Kenobi
At first, Obi-Wan Kenobi was not one of the best. His natural skills left a lot to be desired when he was a padawan, but eventually his hard work and study paid off.
Obi-Wan served as a general during the Clone Wars. He defeated and killed General Grievous, then later defeated Darth Vader and Darth Maul, each on two separate occasions.
Obi-Wan had a very methodical, thoughtful approach to fighting and kept his emotions well under control. Even his eventual death at the hands of Darth Vader was part of his plan to allow Luke and company to escape the Death Star.
Earlier, we alluded to Count Dooku’s advanced age, but Yoda had him beat by several centuries. Yoda was perhaps the most powerful Jedi in the Star Wars franchise, and his incredible connection to the Force naturally spilled over into his skills with a lightsaber.
Yoda rarely lost a battle and, though he had to retreat from his duel with Darth Sidious, his lightsaber skills greatly surpassed those of the Sith Lord.
Like all of his Force powers, Yoda wielded his lightsaber with a skill that few others could attain. Not only was he one of the most Force-connected of all time, but he was one of the best duelists the Star Wars galaxy had ever seen.
1. Mace Windu
Mace Windu makes the top of this list because he was arguably the top lightsaber duelist in Star Wars. He was a Jedi Master skilled in both combat and diplomacy, and he made good use of both of these skills throughout the Clone Wars.
Mace was so talented that he actually invented his own lightsaber combat style, which was known as Vaapad. This style used techniques that brought him dangerously close to the dark side of the Force, but he was a strong enough Jedi that the dark side could not gain control of him.
Mace was an excellent duelist who fought well against all of his opponents and rarely lost. He even defeated Darth Sidious with relative ease.
Despite his skill with a blade, he was not as connected to the Force as Yoda was: Mace was unable to sense Anakin’s betrayal in the moments before it happened. Thus, Anakin cut off his hand and lightsaber, allowing Sidious to destroy him with Force lightning.
Despite this mortal failure, in terms of raw talent with a lightsaber, Mace Windu was perhaps the best duelist in Star Wars history.
Sarah Hood is a freelance content writer and editor with a love for all things Star Wars. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, singing, and spending time in the great outdoors.