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Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

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Darth Maul training under the watchful eye of Darth Sidious.

"Choose someone as a successor and you will inevitably be succeeded.
Choose someone hungrier and you will be devoured.
Choose someone quicker and you won't dodge the blade at your back.
Choose someone with more patience and you won't block the blade at your throat.
Choose someone more devious and you'll hold the blade that kills you.
Choose someone more clever and you'll never know your end.
Despite these cautions, an apprentice is essential. A Master without an apprentice is a Master of nothing.
―Darth Sidious on selecting Sith apprentices[1]

Sith training was the method by which a Force Adept was forged into a full-fledged Sith.

Methods and Specifications[]

"Tell me what you regard as your greatest strength, so I will know how best to undermine you; tell me of your greatest fear, so I will know which I must force you to face; tell me what you cherish most, so I will know what to take from you; and tell me what you crave, so that I might deny you."
―Darth Plagueis[2]

While all methods of Sith training had the same goal of crafting the initiate into a powerful, dark side-fueled weapon, there were many different methods and traditions for doing so, as a result of the frequent reformist actions undertaken by the various Sith regimes. However, many aspects remained constant.

Firstly, as the Sith were possessed of considerably higher standards than the Jedi, their training was a great deal more intensive and much more exclusive. As it was geared towards weeding out the weak, it was quite often potentially lethal.[3] Sith adepts were taught to draw upon their rage and use the Force as a weapon and a tool for personal advancement. Overt displays of power, such as advanced Force techniques and martial prowess, were focused on.[4]


"Choosing an apprentice can be a strenuous endeavor. The most important thing to remember is that the apprentice's purpose is to serve the master."
―Darth Sidious[1]

Entering Sith training depended heavily on which organization was dominant. The Sith Empires relied on academic institutions for teaching prospective Sith, while the Rule of Two Sith Lords relied on a much more exclusive system of scouting out prospective students and recruiting them.[4] The primary difference between the two is that the academy system was applied during periods when the Sith were massed together into a political and military force, which required large numbers,[4] while the Rule of Two system was applied because the Sith limited their numbers to two, so a much higher standard was needed.

Entry into the Sith academies was again dependent on the rules of the dominant organization. Under Darth Revan's empire, prospective students had to be sponsored by one of the academy instructors,[3] while under Lord Kaan, the only requirement appeared to be Force sensitivity, and the rigorous training regimes themselves were relied upon to weed out unfit candidates.[4]

The "Sacrifice"[]

"…Taking the life of an innocent is always harder even than taking your own, if you're sincere. This is the ultimate test of selflessness—whether you're ready to face unending emotional pain, true agony, to gain the power to create peace and order for billions of total strangers. That is the sacrifice. To be vilified by others, by people you know and care for, and for your personal sacrifice to be totally unknown to those billions you save, to do your duty as a Sith. To do your duty for the good of the galaxy. It's easy to be a clean-cut hero slaying monsters. There's always a little bit of vanity in it. There can be no room for vanity or pride in being despised."

Anakin Skywalker's sacrifice: being the accessory to Windu's murder.

An action stressed by such notables as Lumiya, the sacrifice was not so much a training method as a test of the initiate's dedication, and as such consisted of forcing the adept to kill a loved one. The placement of the sacrifice often depended on both the discretion of the teacher and the needs of the acolyte, though it appeared common to place it at the start to ensure commitment, or at the close as a test.[5] For example, Darth Tyranus performed his sacrifice at the start of his training; the subject being his old friend Sifo-Dyas,[6] while Darth Caedus performed his at the end, his sacrifice being his aunt, Mara Jade Skywalker.[7]

Darth Maul's sacrifice was a unique case, differentiated from other cases. As Maul had been trained since a young age by Darth Sidious, his master was the only individual that he retained any attachment to. As such, Sidious was the subject of Maul's sacrifice. However, rather than forcing Maul to actually kill his master, the goal of the test was to force Maul into a situation where he would have to sacrifice his attachment to Sidious, and demonstrate the desire to kill him. Sidious survived, and Maul proved his worth.[8]

It should also be noted that the student didn't actually have to kill or assail his subject himself, but merely facilitate his death. Such was the case with Anakin Skywalker, who cut off Mace Windu's lightsaber hand, leaving him defenseless before Darth Sidious' wrath. While he was simply an accessory to murder rather than the actual killer, Skywalker's action split him from the Jedi, leaving the Sith as his only option.[9]

Training Regimes[]

A number of Sith trainees and their instructor in the academy.

"It is the apprentice's duty to learn all that he can from the Master, and the Master's right to refrain from revealing all of his secrets."
―Darth Sidious[1]

The training regimes under the large scale Sith organizations appeared based around a classroom mentality to keep students competitive and isolated rather than cooperative, with academy instructors teaching several students at a time. During the reign of Darth Revan, the standard class size appeared to be three to four individuals who would learn from a single instructor.[3] During Kaan's reign, the number was increased to well over twenty. Under this system, the training was highly competitive, with all the students vying for recognition. The most talented students were often glorified, while the weak ones were pushed out of training.[4] In addition to the classroom instruction, students were expected to study and practice on their own.[3]

Also, it was not unheard of for Sith masters to take an apprentice under their wing and tutor them individually, as shown when Darth Malak took on Bandon as his student.[3] During Kaan's reign, such activities were against the rules and had to be kept secret from the academy headmaster, though they still took place. This training method became the standard after Darth Bane's reformation, with the Sith becoming based around a single master and apprentice.[4]

According to Darth Sidious, the purpose of Sith training was to force the apprentice to struggle for every scrap of knowledge he/she attained. Conversely, the master withheld as much as possible for as long as possible, the goal being to prolong their own life for as long as possible. Sidious also cautioned that while an apprentice strong enough to serve as an effective agent or enforcer was practically required, one must be careful not to choose an apprentice who was too strong or able.[1]

Combat training[]

"Conflict sharpens one's skills and makes the Sith stronger."
―Darth Bane[10]

Lightsaber training under Revan's Sith Empire.

Combat training in the academies was performed in the classroom. It was conducted by first teaching the students the basics of lightsaber combat, then steering them towards a form that best suited their physical attributes. Under Revan's Sith Empire, the instructor would teach approximately three to four students, tutoring them individually through sparring.[3] Under Kaan's reign, the twenty students would be trained by the resident Sith Blademaster, who would collectively teach them through repetition of sequences.[4]

In addition to the classroom instruction, the students were also provided with facilities for private practice. During Malak's reign, a sparring ring with a number of cages holding Republic prisoners of war was established, and the students would duel them in lethal bouts to the death.[3] In the lieu of Republic P.O.W.s, the cages would also contain beasts captured from the local wilderness, and trainees would be graded on their performance against them.[11]

Ultimately, due to the Sith focus on martial prowess, several Sith academies were actually specialized towards training Sith who focused on physical combat and lightsaber skills.[4] Such combatants were known as Sith warriors and marauders.[11]

Under the Rule of Two, combat training, as with all other forms of instruction, was performed according to the discretion of the reigning master and the needs of the student.[4] For example, Darth Bane trained Darth Zannah through the use of pre-practiced sequences, much as he had been taught.[12] Darth Vader, on the other hand, trained his apprentice only in the basics, then engaged him in frequent, and brutal, sparring matches, encouraging his apprentice to improvise and develop his own combat style rather than formally train him in existing methods.[13]

On occasion, such training was omitted entirely, as the student already possessed ample knowledge of combat techniques. Such was the case with both Darths Tyranus and Vader, as both were former Jedi renowned for their martial prowess.[6][14] However, fully trained Sith duelists were known to continue partaking in combat training in order to keep their skills sharp.[3][15]

Certain academies were known to use the supposedly non-lethal Sith training saber during combat instruction. Training sabers consisted of a metal shaft balanced to imitate a lightsaber with a mock hilt on one end. The shaft was covered with microscopic barbs of the Pelko bug, which caused paralysis on contact with skin, mimicking the effect of losing a limb.[4] However, such sparring swords were not universal, and were eschewed entirely by the Rule of Two Sith.[3][12]

Force application training[]

"Are there techniques to teach me?"
"Not techniques so much as awareness. Technique is for apprentices. You know all you need to know. It's within you. You only have to become aware of it and embrace it."
―Lumiya, and Jacen Solo[src]

Sith trainee Saarai attacking Darth Stryfe with telekinesis.

Like everything else during the reign of the Sith empires, this skill was taught in a classroom environment. A single master would teach the multiple students to draw on their anger and focus on offensive applications of the Force. Training would start with simple skills, such as telekinesis, and advance incrementally, culminating in powerful displays such as telepathy or Force lightning.[3][4]

Under the Rule of Two, while Sith training continued to employ these elements, it also focused on concealment. Abilities such as Force stealth were stressed, as Sith frequently had to move about public places, but needed to remain hidden from Jedi. In fact, Rule of Two Sith Lords refined the technique to the point where they could conceal their Dark side signatures from powerful Jedi, while in the same room, and appear completely benevolent.[6][14]

Interrogation and Assassination[]

Asajj Ventress, a Sith acolyte who specialized in assassination, torturing Alpha-17.

As the Sith empires were often in a state of war against the Republic, these abilities were emphasized. In the Sith academies, interrogation and torture was actively taught to apprentices, often on live subjects, such as prisoners of war or local criminals.[3] Rule of Two Sith made active use of the Drain Knowledge ability for this purpose.[6]

Under the Sith empires, assassination was considered such a vital skill that entire academies were devoted towards training Sith assassins. Such killers were taught to feed off the Force presence of their targets, becoming stronger, and also gearing themselves to confront Jedi targets. They relied on ambush tactics and often wielded more mundane melee weapons, such as Force pikes, as opposed to lightsabers.[11][12]

Under the Rule of Two, most apprentices were taught to become capable assassins, often acting as the Sith master's enforcer and primary agent. The concealment techniques stressed by the organization were geared towards this purpose.[12] However, such training was not universal, as some apprentices, such as Darth Tyranus, had to operate as public figures, and some, such as the cyborg Darth Vader, were simply incapable of such abilities.[2]


There were numerous other branches of Sith knowledge that were not taught in the academies or by the Rule of Two masters, as the apprentice was expected to research such abilities himself.[13] Darth Zannah learned Sith sorcery from several ancient manuscripts in her master's possession, mastering many unique and frightening abilities,[12] which provided her with an edge over Darth Bane when she finally confronted him.[16] Darth Maul learned the ancient skills of Mechu-deru, which he used to modify his personal protocol droid into a capable assassin and create his Dark Eye probe droids.


The Korriban Academy.

Sith Training under the Empires[]

The Korriban academy had been established by the old Sith Empire and had been a training center for prospective Sith for centuries. However, with the defeat and retreat of the Empire, the academy was abandoned.[3]

Under Exar Kun, formalized Sith training was effectively ruled out, as most of his acolytes gained their power through possession by Sith spirits, and he himself had been personally tutored by Freedon Nadd and self-taught with Sith holocrons and manuscripts.[17][18][1]

When Darths Revan and Malak arose, the Sith academy on Korriban was reestablished by the two. Relying on a system of instructors tutoring several students at a time, the academy trained the numerous Jedi and Force-sensitives who flocked to Revan's banner in the ways of the Sith. Under Malak's sole reign, the academy remained active, churning out new Sith warriors to fuel Malak's vicious war effort.[3]

However, when Malak was slain by the redeemed Revan, the Sith were left without a strong leader to unite them. Turning on each other, they sparked off the Sith Civil War, and the Korriban academy became the center of the fighting. It was eventually left deserted as the conflict moved on.[11]

Sith trainees during sparring practice

When the Sith Triumvirate arose to fill the power vacuum, the center of Sith training moved to the Trayus Academy on Malachor V. As these new Sith operated covertly, and only aimed to destroy the Jedi, the Academy focused on training Sith assassins rather than an army of Sith Warriors. When the head of the Triumvirate, Darth Traya, was betrayed by the two other members, Sion and Nihilus, the Sith Order was split between the two remaining leaders. They peacefully went their separate ways, Sion remaining in control of the Trayus Academy, while Nihilus established a mobile facility onboard his ship, the Ravager. Both were destroyed by the Jedi Exile.[11]

When the Sith Empire returned and invaded the Republic, they quickly reconquered Korriban and reestablished the academy. Any individual discovered to be Force-sensitive would be sent, willing or not, to the academy as an acolyte. Groups of acolytes were instructed by a single Overseer and, much like the previous incarnations of the academy before them, would attempt to rise beyond the other acolytes as to be noticed by a visiting Sith Lord in the hopes of becoming their apprentice. Various trials existed, such as judgment of prisoners and tests of endurance. Students would often venture out into the wilderness or explore the ancient Sith tombs as part of their tests.[19] After the final disappearance of the Sith Empire, the Korriban academy would remain abandoned for many centuries.

Sith Training during the Resurgencies[]

When Darth Desolous arose, he reigned as the sole Dark Lord of the Sith, and as far as is known, he trained no apprentices.

When Darth Ruin arose and brought about the Fourth Great Schism, numerous Jedi flocked to his banner. While his training practices remain unknown, he is known to have raised a massive army of Sith. While he was ultimately assassinated by his followers, the new Sith Empire he established would rise many times again to assail the Jedi and the Republic.[1]

When Lord Kaan arose, he led one of the most successful Sith campaigns in history. Reclaiming Korriban, he again reestablished the academy. Installing Lord Qordis as headmaster, Kaan based the academy around a classroom system, with single instructors tutoring as many as twenty students at a time.[4]

Sith Training under the Rule of Two[]

"When your power eclipses mine I will become expendable. This is the Rule of Two: one Master and one apprentice. When you are ready to claim the mantle of Dark Lord as your own, you must do so by eliminating me."
―Darth Bane to Darth Zannah[12]

Darth Bane and his apprentice, Zannah.

When Darth Bane reformed the Sith Order in the wake of the New Sith Empire's destruction, he limited their numbers to only two. The reigning Dark Lord would train only a single apprentice, who would eventually succeed him through assassination. This ensured several things; the Sith would remain a covert organization; and the Sith would grow increasingly stronger with each new master, as weaker apprentices would simply die.[4]

This also left the training of apprentices at the discretion of the master. As things became based on a single teacher tutoring a single student, formalized training regimes were discarded, as masters began crafting their techniques on both personal preference, and the needs of the student.[12]

For example, Bane trained his student, Zannah, much as he himself had been trained, relying on the scheduled and repetitive regimes applied by the Korriban academy during his time there.[12] Darth Vader, on the other hand, trained his student, Galen Marek, through tests. He provided Marek with only the basic skills in any application, then placed him in situations that forced him to improvise and develop on his own, the goal being to allow Marek to grow unaided rather than guide him down a determined path.[13] Vader's master, Sidious, trained one of his previous apprentices, Maul, similarly.[1]

Sith training under the Rule of One[]

When Darth Krayt reformed the Sith Order after the destruction of the Galactic Empire, he reestablished the Korriban academy and returned to the old training methods. He eventually moved the training center to the Temple of the Sith on Coruscant, abandoning the academy again.

Sith training was again based on the old method of instructors teaching multiple students. In addition to this highly competitive system, the teaching institution itself was a dangerous place, with combat droids roaming the halls to keep students on edge and teach constant wariness.[20]


Savage Opress at the mercy of his Sith Master, Dooku


Notes and references[]

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