The Training of a Padawan, or Jedi Apprentice

'Padawan' means 'learner' in Sanskrit

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker

Lisa Tomasetti/Lucasfilm Ltd.

According to Star Wars lore, a padawan, or Jedi apprentice, is a trainee who is apprenticed to a Jedi knight or master. Padawans receive one-on-one instruction in the ways of the Jedi. When a Padawan's training is completed, he must pass the Trials to become a Jedi knight.

Padawan means "learner" in Sanskrit. The term made its first appearance in "Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace," with Obi-Wan Kenobi as the padawan to Master Qui-Gon Jinn. In turn, Anakin Skywalker became padawan to Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.

During the timeframe of the Star Wars movies, padawans usually had short hair but wore single braids on the right side, which were cut off with a lightsaber when they passed their Trials and became Jedi Knights. Padawans wore typical Jedi robes.

Who Can Be a Jedi Padawan

In the Star Wars universe, some individuals are more sensitive to the Force than others. Force-sensitive individuals can be identified by the number of midi-chlorians in their blood and by certain talents such as faster reflexes (caused by an ability to foresee the immediate future). Jedi younglings are selected on the basis of their midi-chlorian levels and talents; not all younglings, however, become padawans.

History of Jedi Padawans

In the early history of the Jedi, Jedi masters could teach more than one apprentice at once. After the Jedi Order became more unified and centralized, around 4,000 BBY, the High Council established rules for training apprentices, who became known as padawans. A Jedi master could not take more than one padawan at a time, and potential padawans had to be under a certain age to be trained. At that time, the annual Apprentice Tournament was held at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, which was an opportunity for the Force to direct the choice of a padawan by a master.

The rules and structure of Jedi training became even stricter and more centralized after the Battle of Ruusan, around 1,000 BBY. The Jedi Order began to seek out infants with Force potential and raise them in the Jedi Temple, cut off from family and other emotional attachments. These younglings were trained in the basic tenets of the Force ​and had to pass the Initiate Trials to get chosen as padawans. Some were not chosen and instead joined the Jedi Service Corps.

Jedi Training

Padawans typically wore single braids (or equivalent jewelry, for species without hair) to identify themselves as apprentices. They trained with their masters for about a decade and were expected to obey their masters in everything as they learned and grew in the Force. They could still take courses at the Temple as they desired if their master was agreeable.

During their apprenticeship, padawans learned to use the Force as a sense. They also studied how to construct a lightsaber and traveled to Ilum to enter a trance and build their lightsabers, which became one of their few possessions as Jedis. If they passed the Jedi Trials, they became Jedi Knights. Generally, training an apprentice to knighthood was a requirement for becoming a Jedi master.

When Luke Skywalker re-established the Jedi Order after the Jedi Purge, there were not fully enough trained Jedi for the master-padawan system. Instead, Luke set up a Jedi Academy and trained many students, much like the Jedi of old. One-on-one apprenticeships existed but were generally informal and impermanent. Later on, Luke's son Ben began to restore some of the padawan traditions to the New Jedi Order, such as the padawan braid.