- "What distinguished the Matukai from other organizations was the way by which they made their own bodies the primary focus of their abilities."
- ―New Jedi Order compilation on the Matukai
The Matukai were an organization of Force adepts who used the physical body to channel the Force. They were established in the days of the Galactic Republic, years before the Old Sith Wars, and records compiled by the Galactic Alliance indicated that the Matukai were founded by a Human female from Karvoss II who discovered her sensitivity to the Force while practicing a meditative form of martial arts. After she developed her own method of studying the Force, she began to expand the tradition, teaching others what she had learned.
Initially, the Matukai were unchecked in growth by the Jedi Council and developed into a nomadic order of about fifty to sixty members. Though the Council eventually attempted to integrate the Matukai into the Jedi Order in 580 BBY, they were unsuccessful in doing so, as the Matukai were uninterested in the ways of the Jedi. The Matukai experienced persecution by the Empire during the Great Jedi Purge. They were one of the first other organizations besides the Jedi to feel the Emperor's wrath, but a few of their number managed to survive and pass on their knowledge. Later, some of the surviving Matukai joined Luke Skywalker's Jedi Praxeum, feeling that the New Jedi Order was less stringent than the Jedi had been in the Old Republic. However, the arrival of the Yuuzhan Vong invaders brought the Matukai into the conflict and several of them fell in the ensuing war.
Matukai philosophy was centered around creating a balance and harmony between the spiritual Force and the physical body, using exercise as a form of meditation. Their training involved meditative martial arts, physical training, and somatic rituals, and they were noted for being able to develop a Force-sensitivity in many beings who were not inherently gifted with the Force. Using their bodies as a focus, they emphasized keeping oneself clean and strong, purifying oneself through physical activity, and avoiding the dark side. Unlike the Jedi Order, they did not use lightsabers, instead wielding a polearm weapon known as a wan-shen.
The Matukai Force tradition originated some time before the Old Sith Wars. The founding individual was a Human female from Karvoss II who realized she was Force-sensitive while practicing meditative martial arts. In that period, the Jedi Order was not in the practice of collecting and isolating Force-sensitive children shortly after birth—the Ruusan Reformation which instituted that practice had yet to occur. Since the Jedi Order was large in number, they felt secure enough to allow other Force-using organizations to exist independently, provided that the other Force-using groups did not fall to the dark side. As such, the woman was able to develop her own skills in the Force and began teaching other Force-sensitive students. Her students would then hand down her lessons to the next generation of Matukai. Their tradition was generally not located in one place, but instead its members became nomadic and spacefaring, and there were never more than fifty to sixty Matukai at one time. Matukai robes could be encountered at various locations around the galaxy, and the Matukai were said to be found virtually anywhere spacefaring beings were.
Eventually, the Jedi recognized the Matukai tradition as worthy of attention and sent a delegation to discuss affiliation with the Matukai in 580 BBY. This delegation was led by Jedi Master Bodo Baas and occurred shortly after a failed Jedi attempt to create a relationship with another organization of Force users, the Zeison Sha. Having heard that a Matukai named Mendor Typhoons and two of his apprentices had fended off several pirates near Ord Radama, a meeting was arranged between the Matukai and Jedi in orbit over that world. Though Bodo Baas was optimistic about the outcome upon entering the discussion, Typhoons indicated to the Jedi that the Matukai warriors found Jedi training elitist and ineffectual. Thus repulsed, Bodo Baas realized the Matukai had no interest in allying with the Jedi, but recommended to his superiors that they be allowed to exist autonomously, as most of their members were individuals who would not have been picked for Jedi training in the first place.
The Matukai were allowed to exist separately from the Jedi, and did so for hundreds of years. At one point, Jedi Master Thame Cerulian engaged one in hand-to-hand combat and afterward commented that he never wished to do so again. The Matukai were hunted down by Imperial Inquisitors during the Great Jedi Purge. They were one of the first organizations that the Empire attacked and most of them were slain. A few escaped the Empire and went into hiding. Some of the Matukai survived the purge, and those survivors continued the tradition, passing it down to their apprentices. Later, with the birth of the New Jedi Order, some of the remaining Matukai chose to join the new Jedi Praxeum organized by Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, deeming it less strict than the previous incarnation of the Jedi Order, and those that did distinguished themselves with a facial tattoo. Years later, when the Yuuzhan Vong entered the galaxy, some Matukai fell at the hands of the alien invaders and their Peace Brigade allies, but their membership was widespread enough that their organization endured.
The Matukai had no fixed organizational headquarters. Instead, they wandered the galaxy in groups of three to five, never having more than fifty to sixty members overall in their order. They had at least two ranks, that of apprentice and adept, each with their own type of robe signifying their rank. Instructors were also permitted to have more than one apprentice in the Matukai tradition, though some chose not to take an apprentice at all.
The balance of the physical and spiritual was the cornerstone of Matukai philosophy. Their robes, which were similar to Jedi robes apart from their green and white coloring, were designed to help achieve this balance. The general tenets of the Matukai included keeping the body clean and strong, purifying themselves through physical activity, focusing on the Force through exercise and ceremony, and avoiding the taint of the dark side. To promote these tenets, a meditation band was sometimes worn by the Matukai as a possible deterrent from the influence of the dark side. Another Matukai teaching emphasized a flexibility of spirit that avoided becoming flustered or upset in order to maintain a stress-free and relaxed state. The purpose of this teaching was to allow the body to focus the Force with greater efficiency. Matukai philosophy encouraged the use of meditative martial arts, physical exercises, and somatic rituals in hopes of developing an inherently weak connection to the Force into something stronger.
During training, a Matukai instructor had leeway in deciding exactly how to proceed, but trainees were frequently required to push the limits of their physical stamina while using the Force to gain strength. Lessons typically combined a physical component with a spiritual component related to the nature of the Force. Another common exercise for a Matukai was to stand in one stance for hours or even days at a time, sometimes in harsh weather conditions or other physical strain, in hopes of allowing the Force to flow through them in the process. As such, graduates of Matukai training were generally in good health due to their rigorous training and their newly enhanced connection to the Force. Upon completion of their training, Matukai received a distinctive tattoo covering their foreheads and the sides of their faces near the eyes.
Distinguished as among the best martial artists in the galaxy, the Matukai made their own bodies the focus of their abilities, and were capable of using physical exercise and discipline as a form of meditation. Keeping their focus inward, Matukai philosophy differed from that of the Jedi Order in that the Jedi saw physical exercise and meditation as separate; however, this inward focus allowed Matukai adherents such a degree of control over their bodies as to develop an otherwise negligible connection to the Force into a far more significant source of strength.
Considered to be masters of their physical bodies, the Matukai were capable of drawing on the Force to strengthen and augment their bodies to unnatural limits. In doing this, they could refresh their spirits with a tireless energy that allowed them to exert their bodies far past their unaided physical limits for hours at a time without tiring. Because of this stamina, Matukai were capable of executing physical feats such as tumbling, running, leaping, and complex martial sequences with an astonishing speed described as a "whirlwind" blur of limbs and movement, additionally, this refreshing of spirit augmented the strength and resolve of a Matukai's blows, allowing them feats of strength and power exceeding what their bodies were capable of. In addition to this outward physical mastery, Matukai were known for their inward mastery and self-awareness of their own bodies, and were able to discern wounds, injuries, and sickness with ease. The Matukai learned to purge illness and poison from their bodies, and even become immune to them altogether, to the point where a fully-trained Matukai could shrug off the effects of a normally-fatal sting from a poisonous kouhun. Trained Matukai could also raise or lower their body temperature to survive in hot or cold environments, or even cause their skin to become so hot as to burn anything they touched. More experienced Matukai adepts could also give normally soft parts of their body unnatural rigidity to help drastically reduce physical damage.
The signature weapon of the Matukai was a polearm weapon called the wan-shen, which was tipped on one end with a short-singled edged blade. Each wan-shen was unique and bore patterns etched into the blade to symbolize things important to its creator. Most wan-shens could be broken down into easily-stored pieces, and trained users could whirl it around their bodies in combat, using themselves as a central axis of rotation. Due to their own physical control, Matukai were capable of wielding the blade with a speed that sometimes astonished onlookers, which was described as a virtual whirlwind of metal and blades. As such, they were considered excellent combatants with weapons in addition to hand-to-hand combat. Matukai saw the weapon as an external focus for the Force, as well as a means of self-defense. The Matukai were agile to the point of being able to dodge or deflect a sizable portion of incoming strikes or shots aimed at them, and enjoyed greatly increased balance and stamina due to their connection to the Force. They were also known for their adaptability to any situation.
Behind the scenes
The Matukai first appeared in the role-playing game book Hero's Guide, which introduced a number of Force-using organizations into canon besides the Jedi and Sith. They were later mentioned in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and received a section in Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force. The Essential Guide was the first source to actually provide a name for any member of the Matukai, Mendor Typhoons. They were also mentioned in the 2010 book The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force.
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (Mentioned only)
- The Old Republic—The Lost Suns 3 (Mentioned only)
- Hero's Guide (First mentioned)
- Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Prima Official Game Guide
- Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force
- Jedi Academy Training Manual
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force