The Deifintiion of Padawan, the Jedi Apprentice

Training with a Master to Become a Jedi Knight

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Hayden Christensen as padawan Anakin Skywalker (with braid) in Attack of the Clones. Lucasfilm Ltd./Lisa Tomasetti

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 a single hair braid on the right side, which was then cut off with a lightsaber when they passed their Trials and became a Jedi Knight. Padawans wore typical Jedi robes.

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 set forth 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 this 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 more strict and 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 in order to get chosen as Padawans.

Some did not get chosen, and instead joined the Jedi Service Corps.

Padawans typically wore a single braid (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 construct their lightsaber. This would then be one of their sole possessions as a Jedi. 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 reestablished the Jedi Order after the Jedi Purge, there were not enough fully-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.