Despite being one of the most popular parts of Star Wars lore, much of the Jedi Order’s history and inner workings are still shrouded in secrecy. This is all the more surprising when you consider that the Jedi have played a central role in all seven saga films released so far (with the upcoming eighth film literally titled The Last Jedi) and were the guardians of peace and justice throughout the galaxy for thousands of years. Part of the reason for this may be that the movies don’t actually go very in-depth with the Jedi and their history, as they tend to be more concerned with depicting cool-looking lightsaber battles (not that we’re complaining!). As such, there’s probably quite a few things you don’t know about the Jedi and hopefully this list demystifies these legendary warriors a little bit!
Here are 12 things you didn’t know about the Jedi
12. Jedi Are Surprisingly Rare
It kind of goes without saying that Jedi were rare during Luke Skywalker’s time, since he ends up being the only Jedi left after Yoda passes away in Return of the Jedi, but even before Order 66 wiped out nearly all of its members, the Jedi Order was a relatively exclusive club. At its height during the Clone Wars, the Jedi numbered 10,000 strong, which seems like a lot until you factor in that the population of the entire galaxy was approximately 100 quadrillion (according to the Star Wars: The Essential Atlas guide). This means that Jedi made up an incredibly small portion of the population and also helps explain why they transitioned into myth in just a few decades’ time, as the majority of people likely never even met a Jedi, let alone knew they existed.
11. Luke Actually Trained For Years Before Meeting Yoda
Seeing as how the movies don’t really touch on the events that took place between the end of A New Hope and the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back, it’s understandable that the average Star Wars fan probably hasn’t contemplated too heavily Luke Skywalker’s development between the two films. We see in the Wampa’s ice cave that Luke has learned how to summon his lightsaber using the Force, but beyond that, it’s difficult to gauge how much he really knows before travelling to Dagobah to train with Yoda.
When Empire begins, three years have passed since Luke took down the Death Star and in that time, he trained daily in the ways of the Force. The recent Marvel Star Wars comics have helped fill in some of the gaps, detailing how Luke discovered a number of holocrons containing information about the Jedi Order, meaning that he trained both his body and mind in the teachings of the Jedi Order before meeting Yoda.
10. The Jedi Took Historical Preservation Very Seriously
The Jedi were the guardians of the galaxy (no, not those ones), as well as highly-skilled warriors, but their true power was arguably their knowledge. It doesn’t get acknowledged enough, but the Jedi Order was essentially the greatest historical preservation society in the galaxy, as the Jedi Archives held the most extensive records in the galaxy. Maps, zoological and botanical information, as well as technological advancements were all housed there and of course, an extensive history of the Jedi, Sith, and the Force. What’s interesting is that some of this information was only entrusted to Jedi Masters, with the most sensitive information housed on devices known as holocrons, which are cubes that can display holographic projections.
Sadly, much of this information came into Emperor Palpatine’s possession after the destruction of the Jedi Order, although some of it ended up on the black market, with Grakkus the Hutt being an avid collector of holocrons and other Jedi memorabilia.
9. Jedism is a Real Religion (Well, Sort of)
The Force may not be real, but that hasn’t stopped some devoted Star Wars fans from adopting Jedism and its tenets as their actual religion. Jedism started receiving public attention in 2001 when a number of people recorded it as their religion on the UK census, spurred on by a worldwide email campaign. While it’s assumed that the majority of respondents did this as a joke, some people evidently took it seriously, to the point where an official Church of Jedism was established in 2007 by Daniel Jones and his brother Barney. Many of its members wear hooded robes and according to Temple of the Jedi Order, Jedism follows the Jedi code, consisting of 21 maxims, as the starting point for a “real Jedi” belief system. It’s really too bad lightsabers aren’t real or these guys and gals could be the real deal!
8. Jedi Used To Use Protosabers Instead of Lightsabers
Lighsabers and Jedi go hand-in-hand (I’m not even going to acknowledge that terrible pun … nevermind, I just did), but there was a time when the Jedi had to use a much more archaic version known as a protosaber. The main reason for this is that the original lightsabers, known as Forcesabers, could not be wielded without its user being turned to the dark side, so early followers of the Jedi Order developed the protosaber. Protosabers were similar to lightsabers in terms of form and function, but they were inferior in that they relied on a bulky external power supply to function. Eventually, the Sith developed a way to use internal power cells, and the Jedi adopted this practice, leading to the creation of the lightsaber that we all know and love.
7. The Real Reason Luke’s Lightsaber is Green
This has nothing to do with actual Star Wars canon, but is still an interesting bit of trivia that led to the creation of different lightsaber colors outside of the traditional blue and red. Between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Luke manages to construct a new lightsaber with a different hilt (which is actually based on schematics Luke found in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s home), and a green-colored blade. The interesting thing is that Luke’s new lightsaber was supposed to be blue just like his last one, which is why it appears as such on some of the film’s posters.
So why the switch to green? Well, it all had to do with the desert scenes set on Tatooine, as the blue lightsaber ended up blending in with the sky and becoming difficult to see, prompting Lucasfilm to change the color to green so that it would stand out more. Not exactly the riveting explanation we were hoping for, but still interesting all the same!
6. Lighsabers Originally Required Two Hands To Wield
Here’s another bit of behind-the-scenes trivia that ended up becoming important to Jedi lore. George Lucas’ original vision for Star Wars included, among other things, that lightsabers should be really heavy. According to Mark Hamill, this was something Lucas felt strongly about and he “was adamant that these things were really, really heavy, that we couldn’t take a hand off. We always had to have two — like Excalibur.” Apparently, this was because Lucas wanted lightsabers to feel “very powerful.”
However, as the movies progressed and lightsaber dueling started to be developed more, Lucas began diverging from his original vision and allowing a mix of two and one-handed combat. By the time the prequels rolled around, Lucas was fully on board with an “anything goes” approach to combat, arguing that since the Jedi seen in these films were better trained than Luke, their fights would naturally be much “faster, sophisticated, and aggressive.”
5. There Are Many Different Lightsaber Combat Styles
The prequel trilogy evolved lightsaber combat to a significant degree, introducing a lot more technique and acrobatics in comparison to the relatively simplistic styles employed by Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in the original saga. This probably has something to do with the fact that there are actually seven different forms of lightsaber combat; each with its own unique characteristics.
Form I is called Shii-Cho and is pretty basic, to the point where it isn’t really compatible with lightsaber-to-lightsaber combat. Form II (Makashi) is designed for dueling and is the style favored by the Sith. Form III (Soresu) is all about close-quarter combat and is used by Kannan Jarrus from Star Wars Rebels. Form IV is called Ataru and is based around swift, aggressive attacks. Both Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn favored this form. Form V (Shien) is based around deflection, and is what you see Jedi use when they deflect baster shots back towards enemies. Form VI (Niman) is based around double-bladed lightsaber combat and was used by Darth Maul. Finally, Form VII (Juyo) is the most offensive style of lightsaber combat and was most famously used by badass motherf***er Mace Windu.
4. There Were Actually Four Jedi Councils
Most people are familiar with the Jedi High Council that counted the likes of Yoda and Mace Windu among its ranks, but there were actually three more councils within the organization. The Jedi High Council is the first and most famous one. It was composed of 12 members (five permanent, four long-term and three limited-term) and was the primary governing body of the Jedi Order. The Council of First Knowledge, composed of five members and led by the Caretaker of First Knowledge, oversaw (as you might expect) the academy and its curriculum, and also maintained the Temple Archives.
The Council of Reconciliation had five members and handled diplomatic relations with the Galactic Senate and Diplomatic Corps. Finally, the Council of Reassignment was in charge of the Jedi Service Corps and also oversaw the placement of Jedi Initiates who failed as Padawans.
3. Being On The Light Side Doesn’t Automatically Make You A Jedi
The light side of the Force is often thought to be synonymous with the Jedi since all its members align with it, but being a Force user on the light side does not automatically make one a Jedi. To be fair, most Force users are divided into being a Jedi or Sith depending on whether they follow the light or dark side, so it’s easy to just assume that everyone on the light side follows the teachings of the Jedi, but there have been a few Force users who do not belong to the Jedi Order. Anakin Skywalker’s former Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, was a Jedi but eventually left the order, and Maz Kanata is certainly not a Jedi (she literally says as much in The Force Awakens), but has a strong connection to the Force all the same. Even Rey, the lead protagonist of the new Star Wars saga, isn’t a Jedi yet and may end up never becoming one.
Additionally, there are many Force users who train to become a Jedi but don’t end up passing the trials, as only the top of the class get to to attend the Gathering and attain a kyber crystal to create their very own lightsaber, meaning that there are likely more Force users in the galaxy who don’t belong to the Jedi Order than there are actual Jedi.
2. Yoda’s Species is Still Shrouded in Mystery
Pretty much every species in the Star Wars universe has a pretty informative entry over on Wookiepedia, but for whatever reason, not much is known about Yoda’s species, which is literally still referred to as “Yoda’s species.” This all goes back to a mandate from George Lucas himself, who for reasons unknown has maintained a strict policy of keeping Yoda’s origins a secret, to the point where various Star Wars publications have had to be outright cancelled. When asked what species Yoda is, Lucas has jokingly replied, “He’s a frog,” and even that he’s the illegitimate child of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.
Naturally, a number of fan theories have attempted to explain the origins of Yoda’s species over the years, with one popular one speculating that he is actually one of the Whills, a legendary species of unknown origin who were deeply connected with the Force. What’s interesting is that we know Yoda isn’t the only one of his kind, as The Phantom Menace features another Jedi Master named Yaddle who is a member of the same species, so it’s surprising that a proper name has never been given to these little aliens with a knack for speaking in broken sentences.
1. Becoming A Force Ghost
With the rate at which Jedi seem to become Force spirits in the movies, you would think that this is a pretty common Jedi ability, but it’s actually a relatively new skill, at least in the new canon. In fact, Qui-Gon Jinn is the first known Jedi to return as a Force ghost and he learned this from Force priestesses on an unnamed planet that doesn’t actually exist on any maps of the galaxy (talk about mysterious).
As we know, Jinn taught this skill to both Yoda and Obi-Wan, but it’s unclear whether Anakin learned it on his own, or is just so strong in the Force that he was able to figure it out. So far, only Jedi with a very deep connection to the light side have been able to manifest themselves as Force spirits, which is kind of ironic when you consider that the Sith are the ones who long for immortality.