- "That is what the Jedi call their trainees. It means she is not yet a Jedi."
- ―Darth Baras
A Padawan, Padawan learner, Jedi Apprentice in Basic, or Jedi in Training, referred to a Force-sensitive adolescent who had begun one-on-one instruction with a Jedi Knight or Master outside the Jedi academy. Having passed the Initiate Trials and ascended in rank from an Initiate, Padawans were given more responsibilities within the Jedi Order but were subject to the demands of their masters.
Throughout the early history of the Jedi Order, the role of an apprentice changed drastically as war and purges forced the rule of the Jedi High Council to bend or become flexible. During and before the Old Sith Wars, Knights and Masters would take on numerous apprentices, training them at their own praxeums or private residences without any direct oversight by a council. Using the term Apprentice to denote their position as a student, many of these students become great Knights and Masters themselves. However it was noted, specifically with the famous incident of Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma and their disastrous fall to the dark side of the Force, that this style of education may not be as conducive to the Jedi Code as previously thought.
At some point after the Great Sith War, the High Council was first convened and set in place the bylaws of the Order. During this period, Masters were restricted to taking only one student at a time. Over time, as the Order flourished, the High Council decided to enforce even stricter standards such as a cut off age for Initiates to be selected for apprenticeship. At the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, which housed the largest of the academies of the era, an annual Apprentice Tournament was created to not only test the students at the academy, but also to aid in the selection of apprentices by prospective masters. While it set the rules of the Order, the Masters on the High Council typically avoided direct involvement in this selection, preferring instead to allow the Force to bring a Master-Padawan pair together.
It wasn't until the New Sith Wars began that the Padawan stage once more fell into disarray as the Order was scattered and formal training halted. During the crusades of the Army of Light, Jedi Lords would scour the galaxy for young Force-sensitives that were willing to undergo rudimentary teaching before being thrust into battle with the Brotherhood of Darkness. Following the victory at Ruusan and the following Reformations in the Galactic Senate, the academy on Coruscant was reopened and many of the satellite training academies either shut down or served as secondary facilities in the Galactic Rim.
In the ensuing Golden Age, the High Council again became very strict over who was permitted into the Order, with the Council of First Knowledge taking over administration of the academy. However, in rare cases exceptions were made to the age restriction, especially when a well respected Master decided to sponsor a student, as was the case with Master Eeth Koth, who was brought in far past the enforced cut-off. At the end of the Golden Age and the start of the Clone Wars, the Order entered into service with the Grand Army of the Republic and took up military titles. As in past wars, all able-bodied Jedi took to arms, and Padawans were given the rank of Commander over their troops. Standard procedures were ignored to a lesser degree throughout this conflict, but some small allowances were made in the name of expedience.
Many Padawans were promoted faster than was usually viewed as appropriate, and fewer Jedi were being transferred to the Jedi Service Corps than before. The tradition ended abruptly in 19 BBY when the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious, in his guise as Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, ordered the Grand Army to turn on their Jedi comrades and slay them in accordance with Executive Order 66. With the Order largely destroyed, the newly reorganized Stormtrooper Corps of the Galactic Empire were given standing orders to capture any Padawans located during the Great Jedi Purge and turn them over to the Inquisitorius for torture and questioning.
Several decades later, following the defeat of the Sith during the Galactic Civil War, Jedi descendant Luke Skywalker rebuilt the Order using the basic techniques taught him by the ancient Grand Master Yoda. Not knowing the Order's old regulations, Skywalker erected a Praxeum on Yavin 4, and gathered any Force-sensitive he could find, not discriminating by age. As he built up his Order and gathered more records of the Order from the ruins of the Chu'unthor on Dathomir and recovered holocrons and Temple guidebooks, Skywalker began to mirror the Old Order's ways and teachings.
Due to the small number of Jedi Knights, Luke Skywalker loosened the restrictions on the number of apprentices a Jedi could train at once. Training his nephews Jacen and Anakin Solo at the same time, Skywalker saw this technique produce many fine students, but also saw that it took a toll on some of the older students. As the main instructor of several dozen students, Skywalker could not devote as much individual attention to his apprentices, and two succumbed to the pull of the dark side. As the Order grew in size, the restrictions began to be reinforced by the reformed High Council. While the term wasn't used Order wide until sometime after the Second Galactic Civil War, the Jedi Trials were once more part of a Jedi's path to Knighthood.
Throughout the history of the Jedi Order, selection of Padawans has changed based on the state of the academy. While in peacetime, the academy flourished and was maintained by the Council of First Knowledge. The Council placed an age limit on the selection of an Initiate by a master, thus forcing progress amongst students else they join the Service Corps. Encouraging the selection process, the Temple on Coruscant held an annual tournament so that students who had passed the Initiate Trials could demonstrate their skills with a lightsaber or the Force for visiting Jedi who wished to take an apprentice. In addition to the tournament, many masters looked for references among the academy's instructors, hoping to find Jedi proficient in scholarly work and not just skill in combat. On occasion, a master would develop a bond with one of the Temple students and request to become their master; if the apprentice agreed then it was validated by the Council. The Council did not typically get involved in the selection process, yet if a Seer on the Council foresaw a set destiny for a student, they would push them towards fulfilling the prophecy by assigning a student to a master. In accordance with their cultural beliefs, Mirialan Jedi were only permitted to train if their master was of the same species.
When a master selected a student and the Initiate agreed to become an apprentice, the future Padawan would retire to the Coruscant Temple's chapel for meditation. After communing with the Force, the Initiate would report to the Council with their new Master and make a vow to uphold service to the Order, the Force, the Republic, and their master.
A Padawan accompanied their Master everywhere unless seen unfit by the master, from simple tasks to dangerous missions, so that they learned from experience and personal guidance. Continuing their studies outside the Temple where they had previously spent their entire life, the transition was sometimes difficult but was just one more step along the Jedi path. Depending on their master's specialization, a Padawan would receive shared assignments from one of the four Jedi Councils. All Jedi answered to the High Council and could be deployed on a mission at their behest, expected to apply any number of skills to complete their task. However, some missions were too important to send anyone but a specialist. Following a war with the Sith or an alert to the discovery of a dark side artifact, the First Knowledge Council would deploy their agents to recover any dark side imbued talismans or weapons; these agents were responsible for the near annihilation of any mention of the Sith in public documents, practically wiping the memory of the Order's eternal enemies from public mind. Some Jedi worked with the Service Corps, giving their aid to the public or the infirm, or locating and helping new planets enter the Republic.
Padawans typically maintained the Master-Padawan partnership for a decade, though no set time table was put in place by the Council. Padawans would still take classes at the Temple during their apprenticeship, though their schedules were far more flexible and they were not required to spend time at the Temple to complete a course. Masters could also assign their apprentice to the Temple while they took on a solo mission; during this time a Padawan might take up an additional course or take specialized one-on-one classes with a Temple instructor. While Initiates focused on learning the basics of the Control abilities, Padawans began to learn the intricacies of Sense. Using the ideas learned from the discipline of Control, Sense was used to sink deeper into the Living Force and draw upon its energies to use the Force as another "sense".
At some point during an apprenticeship, a Padawan was tasked with forging their first lightsaber: one of their sole possessions. After studying the art of lightsaber crafting, a Master-Padawan team would travel to the secret Jedi world, Ilum, and seek out the Adegan crystals that grew in the Jedi Temple there. Following a ritual passed from generation to generation, Padawans entered into a deep trance in order to bend matter and create the saber's blade. Often times hallucinations and visions plagued the Jedi while deep in their trance, but these things were considered part of the experience on Ilum. Henceforth, the Padawan would carry their lightsaber everywhere they went, a symbol of their status as Jedi.
When a master thought that they had taught everything they could, they contacted the High Council to schedule a time for their Padawan to take the Jedi Trials. Overseen by the Council and the Temple battlemaster, the Trials consisted of several tests that were administered in a specialized chamber deep in the Temple. If the Padawan passed each of the Trials, they would ascend to a private, meditation chamber high in the Tranquillity Spire. Following a night of meditation and reflection, the Padawan was summoned to the Hall of Knighthood where the Grand Master of the Order would raise them to the rank of Knight and sever the Padawan braid. However, if a Padawan failed the test, they were either required to retake them or remain in the Order in the Service Corps. Those Jedi who failed could stay on also as instructors or engineers, maintaining the title of Jedi, while no longer accepting missions from the Council.
Like all Jedi, Padawans were expected to wear standard Jedi robes as representatives of the entire Order. While this standard was flexible, based on cultural views, and sometimes disappeared altogether during times of galactic upheaval, the standard was like that of all other Jedi ranks: brown or gray tunic, pants, and robes, with the addition of a leather utility belt and boots.
The most distinguishing addition to the attire of a Padawan was a small braid. Padawans of hair-growing species were encouraged to grow a single, long, and tight braid of hair (or fur) behind their ear for ease of identifying their rank in the Order, while keeping the rest of their hair short and neat. Often times weaving a ribbon of cloth or special beads into the braid, the lock would be severed upon their ascension to knighthood. For those species that did not grow hair on their head (or at all), alternatives were available. Many bald species such as the Twi'leks or Togruta wore chains or beads that ran between their lekku or montrals respectively. Some species were recorded to have woven their facial hair into a braid (if they could not grow one from their scalp). Other species opted for body modifications such as piercings or markings. Sluissi Jedi wore a simple tattoo across their left cheek, Swokes Swokes could have a medallion implanted below their foreheads, while Iktotchi and Chagrian wore circlets on their cranial horns.
Behind the scenes
The term Padawan first appeared as far back as George Lucas's first story treatments for Star Wars. However, it was not heard before Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace was filmed; in all previous works, the concept was called "Apprentice."
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- Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan
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Notes and references
- The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Yoda: Dark Rendezvous
- Star Wars: Imperial Commando
- Legacy of the Force: Revelation
- The Approaching Storm
- Clone Wars Gambit: Siege
- Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force