A Jedi was force sensitive, who studied, served and used the mystical energies of the Force; usually, the light side of the Force. The weapon of the Jedi was the lightsaber, a weapon with a blade made of pure energy. The Jedi fought for peace and justice in the Galaxy, usually against their mortal enemies, the Sith and Dark Jedi, who studied the dark side of the Force. Although the Order was almost destroyed five times, including once by the Sith Empire of Darth Revan, by the Sith Triumvirate under Darth Nihilus during the First Jedi Purge shortly after, 4,000 years after that, by the Great Jedi Purge of Darth Sidious, and a century afterwords by Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire and it's Third Jedi Purge, the order continued to live on, in part due to the Skywalker family who time and time again played important parts in the history of the Jedi.
History of the Jedi
Originally formed as a philosophical study group situated on the planet Tython, the Jedi became revered as guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy. As mystical wielders of the Force and of their signature lightsabers, their powers inspired all citizens in the galaxy. The calm, considered demeanor of the Jedi made them ideal brokers of peace in times of conflict or dispute. Yet, for all their power and diversity, the Jedi were few. Often beset by foes in times of doubt and confusion, undercurrents of evil often challenged their order and the establishment they served, the most notable being the Sith. These dark warriors were the antithesis of the Jedi, their sworn enemies, and the battle between them brought the galaxy to war more than once. In times of crisis, the Sith could even use the dark side of the Force to diminish the powers of the Jedi, and prevent them from sensing the future.
The way of the Jedi had become the way of wisdom and patience, backed by swift and decisive action when necessary. However, the Jedi Council sometimes showed what appeared to be a lack of decisiveness, such as during the Mandalorian Wars, preferring to work with events and patterns over the long term. Their inaction spurred Revan to fight back, and eventually led to the Jedi Civil War. To the rest of the galaxy, the line between Jedi and Sith became blurred during the conflict, and both sides were blamed for the destruction wrought on worlds such as Katarr, Telos IV, and Taris.
Through intricate planning and dazzling adaptability, one Sith Master (Senator Palpatine of Naboo) even rose to the office of Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, engineered the Clone Wars, and undermined the Jedi until he could, in one swift, masterful stroke, destroy the Jedi Order and enslave the galaxy beneath his banner as Emperor of the new Galactic Empire. Yet, even this catastrophe failed to eradicate the Jedi completely, and, within a generation, they had returned to once again protect and nurture the galaxy with their wisdom and guidance in the form of the New Jedi Order. The Jedi would continue to protect and serve the galaxy through the horrors of the Yuuzhan Vong War and downfall of the New Republic and the establishment of the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances.
Path of the Jedi
Becoming a Jedi required the most profound commitment and astute mind; the life of a Jedi was one of sacrifice. To hinder transgression, those who showed an aptitude for the Force were taken directly from birth (or soon afterward) to train in the Jedi Temple headquarters on Coruscant or at smaller Jedi Enclaves as Padawans. From the beginning of their training, a Jedi was expected to adhere to a strict Code that included concepts such as rational thought, patience, and benevolence. Uncomfortable emotions such as hate, anger, and fear were thought to be destructive and lead to the dark side, so such things were banned from Jedi practice.
Training in the Old Jedi Order
The training of students of the Jedi Order changed and evolved over its many millennia of existence. Throughout its history though, the idea of a Master and an Apprentice was consistent; though at times more than one apprentice could be taken by a single Master. Training was harsh and difficult, consisting of nearly two decades of tutelage before an apprentice became a full-fledged Knight. The earliest recorded training methods come from Tython, with the archaic version of the Jedi Trials. Students were tested at their Master's discretion and only achieved Knighthood at their say. Tests such as the ancient Trial of Skill saw students forced to maintain inner peace while enduring stressful challenges, such as balancing upside-down on a post in the midst of a storm.
Combat tests with Force-imbued swords and archaic versions of the lightsaber were extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous. This method of testing was eventually abandoned when it was understood that Masters sometimes pushed their students too far, with the bar set far too high for success to be possible. When a Master chose a student in these early days, their decision was unquestioned and undisputed. Age restriction of later centuries was not observed, with ancient Masters taking on adult apprentices and raising them to full knighthood at varying paces. As Jedi spread out from Tython to the larger galaxy many training facilities were established, often on a Master's homeworld. Taking on more than a single student at a time, these Jedi Masters ran their schools in a loose organization, meeting with other Masters at periodic conclaves. Eventually the world of Ossus became a center for Jedi teaching when Master Odan-Urr founded the Great Jedi Library in the city of Knossa.
As the Jedi cities on the world expanded more and more students were admitted and completed their training in the ways of the Jedi. As the Order began to take form and align with the Galactic Republic, a Jedi High Council was established and a more fluid academy was formed to train students along loose guidelines.
The creation of some new tests began to evolve during this time as the Order took to fighting the Dark Lords of the Sith. The Trials of Courage and of the Flesh, two of the canonized Trials of Knighthood, was once considered complete if a Padawan or apprentice struck down a Sith Lord during periods of war with these dark-siders. War-time promotions were very common during times of war, but were eventually done away with as the Council felt that killing a Sith did not always correlate to being a good Knight. The Pius Dea Era of the Galactic Republic saw a surge in rather cruel tests to become a Knight. Known as the Burning, this version of the Trial of the Flesh involved torturous applications of shock weapons, low-powered blaster fire, or cuts from a blade. Eventually trials like this were banned by the High Council for its violent methods.
The Clan Master Yoda teaches lightsaber combat to younglings. Following the end supposed extinction of the Sith and the passage of the Ruusan Reformation, the Jedi Order completely reformed its academy under the leadership of Grand Master Fae Coven and the Council of First Knowledge. Closing many of the ancient praxeums of the early order in favor of a more centralized academy on Coruscant, those that remained open were overseen by a Council of Masters as opposed to a single administrator. The formation of the Acquisition Division was a necessity with the newly implemented age restriction: all Initiates in the Order were restricted to infants and very young children. In order to help, the Galactic Republic passed a law requiring all member worlds to check for Force-sensitivity upon delivering each child.
The Council also took the time to codify a formal battery of five tests of Knighthood, in addition to restricting apprenticeship to one Master and one apprentice. As the academy flourished, so did the Order. Initiates were placed in clans and learned together for over a decade along a strict, structured regimen of academics. Taught political strategy, galactic law, the sciences, and language, students were also taught the ways of the Force and its three applications: Control, Sense, and Alter. As each student passed through the academy the classes became more difficult. Taught Forms I through Form VI of lightsaber combat by highly qualified instructors, Initiates practiced with training lightsabers until they crafted their own in the caves of Ilum.
Following passage of the graduation tests, Initiates were eligible to be selected by A Master or Knight for one-on-one training. The High Council had little to do with this process, unless a student failed their tests or a Master never chose them; these individuals were placed in the Jedi Service Corps by the Council of Reassignment. Training did not cease after graduation from the academy. Padawans continued to train in the ways of the Jedi with their masters on long journey-missions or on brief assignments from one of the Councils. Some pairs traveled with the Service Corps on specialized missions related to diplomacy or exploration. Praxeum ships were used as academies away from the confines of the Temple for extended study and research. As a Padawan, students set their own schedule to work around assignments and missions. Master-Padawan teams lasted for years, typically over a decade but had no set time period. When the student had learned all they could from their master, they were recommended to the High Council for the Trials of Knighthood. The Trials took place over a period of time and if they were completed successfully the Padawan was knighted.
In the New Republic
JediAcademy Lightsaber practice at the Jedi Praxeum on Yavin 4 The system of Jedi training was looser in the post–Galactic Empire era in that Jedi students often did not begin training until much older than the younger age required in the Galactic Republic. They usually traveled to a Jedi academy to learn combat and Force techniques. Due to the destruction of much of the knowledge and the purge of many masters, lightsaber combat became simplified and many Force techniques were lost. ASP-19s were used for training. During this period, almost every Jedi was at some point trained personally by Master Luke Skywalker, with a few exceptions, such as Kyle Katarn, who would go on to teach at the Jedi academy on Yavin 4. Also, due to the lack of fully trained Jedi, it was common for masters to train multiple apprentices at the same time.
In the Galactic Alliance
Following the Yuuzhan Vong War, the system of training Jedi became more regimented and organized, more closely resembling the setup of training in the Old Republic era. Students were divided into groups based on age, each group having a predetermined set of techniques to be learned, like Force Jump, Telekinesis, Force Persuasion, and centering exercises. Age groups included Woodoos, Rontos, and Banthas. As a student progressed into a new group, the level of training became more complex, calling for greater reliance on the Force. After the students built their own lightsaber, they were simply known as apprentices.
One such program was a game called Skorch, where two teams of older apprentices used acrobatics and Force powers to send balls through the air, though it is the referee of the game who was being trained, his or her job being to discover the secret goals of each team, which was shown through the patterns of their movements.
Way of life
In following the Code, Jedi behavior was rigidly structured to uphold self-discipline, responsibility, and public service. The Jedi conquered emotions and materialism. They honored life, the law, the Order itself and the master-student relationship. Jedi rendered aid to support and defend the weak; compassion was "encouraged." Rules of engagement included such notions as understanding the dark and light in all things, learning to see accurately, opening their eyes to what was not evident and exercising caution, even in trivial matters. Above all, Jedi upheld their duty to the Republic and embraced the Force. The Jedi before the Ruusan Reformation typically had more leeway in their dealings, as the Order was more loosely organized and the individual Knights and Masters granted greater personal freedom. Afterward, the Order was more centrally regulated by the High Council.
Early Jedi were known to utilize shields and armor to protect themselves in battle, and used blaster pistols as well as lightsabers in combat. Later, as the lightsaber became a more self-contained weapon without an external power pack, the Jedi chose to carry it as their sole "tool" of defense and offense. The lightsaber was considered more a tool than a weapon. The lightsaber came to fulfill both a symbolic and pragmatic role for the Jedi; it identified the wielder, had a powerful visual impact, and given the availability of cybernetic replacement limbs might have been seen as a more 'clean' weapon than the blaster, which Obi-Wan regarded as "uncivilized," "clumsy" and "random."
The Jedi of the pre-Reformation era, (Old Jedi Order), also do not seem to have had any formal dress code, and dressed more or less as they saw fit, although traditional robes were favored by most Masters. These included a tunic, a cloak, and sometimes a tabard—usually in varied tones and shades of white and brown, though, gray was also quite common for the overtunic. The left side of the dress was always turned on the right part of the torso. After the Reformation, these robes became the typical Jedi clothing, even in battle. The Jedi also wore trousers, an obi, a leather utility belt, where they carried specialized field gear for their missions, and leather boots. The Jedi colors, which showed harmony with the Force, formed a stark contrast to the antithetical Sith, who were draped primarily in black.
In accordance with their philosophies of non-attachment, clothing was viewed as quite disposable. Indeed, possession itself was seen as forbidden as another form of attachment, and most Jedi lived out lives of material poverty, though the Order's infrastructure and the support of the Republic meant the Jedi did not lack for food, housing, or clothing.
Some time prior to the Great Sith War Jedi were forbidden to hold strong attachments, as they were believed to lead to the emotions of the dark side. For this reason, Jedi were not allowed to marry. Reess Kairn had an attachment, despite this being a violation of the Code. After finding his lover with another man, he killed them both in anger. This led him to the dark side. Anakin Skywalker would become a testament to such Jedi circumspection, as his fear of losing his undisclosed wife, Padmé Amidala, ultimately caused his fall to darkness, but his connection to his son, Luke Skywalker, would later drive him back to the light. Although Jedi were not required to be chaste as well, many Jedi were abstinent if not outright celibate, due to sex being considered self-indulgence and an unnecessary act. At least one special case was recorded in this arrangement: Ki-Adi-Mundi who, due to low Cerean birth-rates, was permitted to have a polygamous marriage, and fathered seven daughters. Ranik Solusar was disciplined by the Council for his marriage and the child it produced, but was not expelled from the Order.
Despite this restriction, Jedi were known to have secret, clandestine relationships, whether with non-Jedi, such as the marriages of Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala, Quinlan Vos and Khaleen Hentz, Nejaa Halcyon and Scerra Halcyon, and Etain Tur-Mukan and Clone commando Darman Skirata; or within the Jedi Order itself—such as the relationships of Kit Fisto and Aayla Secura, Qui-Gon Jinn and Tahl, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Siri Tachi, and Tholme and T'ra Saa. Some were developed even as Padawans, such as Mak Lotor and Kass Tod, who died together, with Tod directly stating there was the Force, death and love. Many of these relationships did not lead to mishap. Further, Revan shared a romantic affection with Bastila Shan, who was redeemed by him after her fall.
Others openly defied the High Council on this matter. This led to particular strife with Jolee Bindo and his wife, Nayama Bindo, during the Great Sith War. Bindo trained his wife in the ways of the Force, but she soon fell to the dark side. He was not expelled from the Order, and instead was to be promoted to the rank of Jedi Knight. He then lost faith in the wisdom of the Council and left the Order.
Up to the Great Sith War, some Jedi did practice marriage and were known to have families of their own. There were even cases of families consisting entirely of Jedi, such as that of Andur Sunrider. The children of Jedi families were often gifted in the Force. Even later in the Order, such families existed—though the continuation of the line was through those family members who did not become Jedi. Famous Jedi families of the late Republic included the Koon family and the Diath family.
However, it appears that some Jedi might have been granted the right to marry, not as a special case, but as a norm. Several Corellian Jedi (Keiran Halcyon during the Old Republic, and Corran Horn in the time of the New Republic) were allowed to marry and raise children without repercussion. Whether this was due to an agreement between the Jedi and the planetary government—Corellia is known for its family-centric culture—or purely personal choices made against the Jedi Code is not known, except in the case of Nejaa Halcyon, who married his wife secretly without the approval of the Council. Corellian Jedi often had many other noticeable differences from the traditional Jedi ways, such as in clothing and a reluctance to take on missions outside of their home system.
By the time of the New Jedi Order, the practice of forbidding or discouraging marriages had been discarded, as many of the Order's members had spouses and children, including the Order's Grand Master himself, whose wife was another Jedi Master.
The way of the Jedi was a life-long path, and a Jedi usually remained part of the Order their entire life—learning more about the Order and the Force and following the will of the Jedi Council. Up until the beginning of the Clone Wars, only twenty Jedi (of rank Master or higher) were said to have ever left the Order (although there is some debate as to whether this means the post-Ruusan Order, the Order after some earlier point in its history, or literally in its entire history), of which the most prominent were Count Dooku and Master Phanius. These were commonly referred to as the Lost Twenty, or simply "The Lost".
The Jedi were unified by their study of the Force: an "energy field" that emanated from every living thing. The force is channeled by microscopic organisms in the bloodstream, midichlorians, sometimes spelled midi-chlorians. They are in every living thing and communicate with the force. The Jedi sought to understand the Force so that they could use its power to protect and aid the people that they served. The Jedi believed that the Force could be harnessed through careful study and contemplation to benefit the user and the universe around them. As they studied the light side of the Force, the Jedi encouraged their members only to use the Force for healing and defense—never in anger or fear. However, several members of the Jedi order throughout history disagreed with this view, believing that darker uses of the Force should be embraced because they offered a quick and easy path to power, while contemplation of the light side of the Force required patience and effort. This disagreement gave rise to the Sith, the constant enemy of the Jedi.
The Jedi focused their lives on understanding and strengthening their connection, or oneness, with the Force to allow them to manipulate it as an extension of themselves (by contrast, Sith merely exercise control over the Force). This connection was increased by rigorous training and meditation to achieve a state of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual harmony, a kind of inner peace. As the path required such great discipline and may have extended a Jedi's life, most Jedi never reach their true potential. Further attempts to achieve this potential may have met with failure and caused frustration in Jedi, resulting in a lesser connection and more frustration in turn. This is the main reason why the Sith considered themselves stronger than the Jedi, for whereas they were trained to use the dark side with maximum effectiveness and power, few Jedi had shown the true limits of the light side's power and those who have seldom used it.
The dark side of the Force brought with it a great temptation for many Jedi; to many the dark side seemed a quicker and easier path. Pursuit of the dark side, however, was a self-destructive endeavor, and many Jedi who tasted dark powers found it harder and harder to turn away. Though some Jedi could be redeemed back to the path of the light, many fell and became Dark Jedi, some of whom became members of the Sith Order. Further, the pall of the dark side could diminish Jedi ability, clouding their insights into important matters. For these reasons, practice of dark Force powers was expressly forbidden by the Jedi Council. Those fallen to the dark side, however, the Jedi tried to save. To the Jedi, killing was a last resort. This quality was at once a strength and a weakness of the Order.
The traditional Jedi weapon was the lightsaber, which, in the hands of a skilled wielder, could be deadly in combat, even against opponents armed with ranged weapons. To attain this level of skill, however, required great focus and training. Students practiced the rubrics of lightsaber combat with a remote, and children used training lightsabers. They also dueled fellow Jedi as a test of their skills.Due to all the weight being in the hilt, the lightsaber was a difficult weapon to handle. Jedi needed heightened awareness to use the weapon well, and such conditioning helped to hone their connection to the Force. Since the binding of a lightsaber's intricate innards and the initial charging of the power cell also required knowledge of the Force to implement, the Padawan was tasked with constructing their own lightsaber as part of their training, using a unique crystal, (such as the type found on the ice planet of Ilum, for example), that focuses the crystal's energy thus creating the lightsaber's blade.
During the Jedi Civil War era, many Cerean Jedi used specially-forged Kasha lightsaber crystals as a meditative tool; by incorporating such crystals into their training regimens, they helped to clear the wielder's mind of distractions, even during tense physical combat. Further, it was a task in itself to find components for the lightsaber. Meditation in a crystal cave on a planet such as Ilum or Dantooine would often produce an image in the Jedi's mind about the lightsaber they were to build. The construction of a lightsaber was considered a milestone on the path to Jedi Knighthood, and took on a heavily symbolic meaning.
During the times of the Old Republic, it was a customary practice for a Jedi Master to present their own personal lightsaber as a gift to their most accomplished student. Jedi apprentice Nomi Sunrider was the recipient of one such lightsaber, receiving the weapon from Master Thon as a testament to the potential for greatness he recognized within her. Though the apprentice was indeed grateful for receiving such an honored gift, their Master would still stress the importance of knowing how to build one, requiring or even demanding that eventually the apprentice learns to construct their own, unique, lightsaber.
As the Jedi instructed their members in the ways of the Jedi Code and the Force, each member progressed through four basic levels of rank. [[File:Younglings.jpg|200px|thumb|right|Jedi younglings]
- Jedi Initiate (or Youngling or "Jedi Hopeful") – The youngest members of the Order, these Force-sensitive children were given the rank of Initiate when they began their communal training in clans. Recruited from worlds throughout the galaxy where blood testing was required upon birth, Initiates were removed from their families and brought to a Jedi academy for formal training.
- Jedi Padawan – After being selected for individual tutelage under a single Jedi Knight or Jedi Master, Initiates were given the title of Padawan. Eligible for this rank following the successful completion of the Initiate Trials, Padawans were typically taken at adolescence and completed their training away from the academy. Per tradition, Padawans of a hair-growing species would wear a long braid of hair behind their ear; non-haired Padawans were encouraged to wear a type of jewelry, a tattoo, or other body modification. A Jedi Knight or Jedi Master could have only one apprentice at a time, and the Padawan had to be promoted to the rank of Jedi Knight before another apprentice could be chosen; a practice that was formalized following the Great Sith War. While in place, the policy could be revoked should the Order see a decline in number, and necessity forces the apprenticeship of several students to a single master. Following several unsuccessful attempts at the Initiate Trials or if a student is not chosen by a Master, the Council of Reconciliation would place the student within the Jedi Service Corps. Depending on where the student's talents lay, this might be the Agricultural Corps, the Medical Corps, the Educational Corps or the Exploration Corps. If this role did not suit a particular student, they could choose to leave the Order entirely.
- Jedi Knight – Following a period of nearly a decade of one-on-one training with a master, a disciplined Padawan was eligible to attempt the Jedi Trials. Upon successfully completing all tests put forth, a Padawan's braid was severed by the High Council and their life as a Knight began. No longer attached to a master, Knights were free to accept missions from the Council, pursue specialized training on one of the three branches of Knighthood, or take their own Padawan.
- Jedi Master – A Knight who showed great understanding of the Force and managed to instruct a Padawan and train them successfully to the level of a Jedi Knight was elevated to the rank of Master by the High Council. Self-declaration of the title was frowned upon and rare practice in the latter days of the Order, but not uncommon during war times or periods of disbandment. Amongst the Order's Masters, only a select few were appointed to one of the Jedi Councils. Made up exclusively of wise, experienced Masters, the Councils of the Order had different levels of membership, ensuring fresh perspectives were expressed as new events occurred. The High Council was made up of 12 masters, five of them holding life terms, four holding long-terms, and three holding short-terms. The elected leader of the Council was known as the Master of the Order and was often bestowed upon the acting Grand Master; the recognized leader of the entire Order.
Military and warfare
In times of war, especially when Sith forces were involved, Jedi would sometimes assume military ranks and govern armies of Republic military units, as was seen in the Mandalorian Wars, the Jedi Civil War, the New Sith Wars, and the Clone Wars. So Jedi indeed became soldiers, not just keepers of the peace. During the New Sith Wars, the Order created the Army of Light, a massive military branch that consisted of the majority of active Jedi.
- Jedi Commander – A Padawan serving as a Commander in the Grand Army of the Republic, the Jedi Commander was assigned to a Jedi General until knighted. Once a full Jedi, the Padawan was then referred to as General.
- Jedi General – Jedi Knights or Masters who had been placed in command of a Republic army were dubbed Generals. Jedi Masters could become Senior Jedi General, leading one of the twenty Sector Armies. Out of the twelve High Council members, some became High Jedi Generals not only commanding their own Systems Army, but also supervising all other ranking Jedi.
- Jedi Lord – a Jedi who served as a commander in the Army of Light during the New Sith Wars. The Jedi Lord assumed this title mainly out of political motivation. The rank was abolished after the war.