Five Steps to Becoming a Jedi Knight

We are excited to have Daniel Wallace, author of The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force, guest posting on the blog today. If you could have one Jedi skill, what would you choose? Leave a comment letting us know for a chance to win a copy of The Jedi Path. We’ll randomly select a commenter on Tuesday, September 20th. Good luck!

Star Wars: The Jedi Path is out now, and it answers the question every movie buff has pondered after witnessing a dazzling bit of lightsaber swordplay. Namely, why can’t I be a Jedi too?

Nobody has yet built a warp pipe leading to the galaxy far, far away. But with The Jedi Path we hoped to do the next best thing: bring a facsimile of an authentic Jedi textbook into our own world. The Jedi Path is presented as an instruction manual written by long-dead Jedi Masters, bearing the margin-filling graffiti of its most recent owners (former students with names like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Ahsoka Tano).

As a lifelong Star Wars fan, I viewed this project with both excitement and dread. After all, I grew up watching Yoda. How could I possibly channel his grumpy wisdom while writing a tome that spilled every secret of the ancient Order? But as soon as I started imagining a Disapproving Yoda on my shoulder, very clear my path became. I realized that the Jedi were traditionalists, and though they had achieved astonishing things, they had zero patience for mavericks who rocked the boat—and this would be their undoing. (Anakin’s comments in the margins of The Jedi Path, for example, reveal his frustration with Jedi orthodoxy.)

Even though the Sith had their revenge in Episode III, Luke Skywalker brought about the return of the Jedi in Episode VI. The Jedi Order is here to stay, so what are the five most important secrets of Jedi training? And are you fit to pass the Jedi Trials?

1) The Lightsaber: This Weapon is Your Life!
“You’ll shoot your eye out,” warned Ralphie’s mom in A Christmas Story, so it’s a good thing her son wasn’t training to become a Jedi Knight. If Ralphie had unwrapped a weapon with a glowing, frictionless energy blade, he might have cut off his own arm.

Luckily for would-be blademasters, The Jedi Path explains every technique of lightsaber fighting developed by the Order over a thousand generations. You’ll learn the seven lightsaber combat forms (and see why Yoda’s acrobatic Form IV runs rings around the remedial Form VI) and run through the steps for building your own saber. Or you can bone up on lightsaber countermeasures (an ultrachrome shield isn’t just shiny, it’s saberproof) and review exotic weapons like the lightwhip and flail. When you’re done, you won’t doubt that the Jedi were the unquestioned guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic, and hopefully you’ll have learned enough to avoid accidental limb loss.

2) The Jedi Are Deadly Serious About Detachment.
When an angry Luke asked Yoda if he should ignore Han and Leia’s plight on Cloud City, Yoda snapped back, “If you honor what they fight for, yes.” To the Jedi, possessing the powers of the Force means shouldering responsibility for the entire galaxy, not just for your friends & family.

The Jedi Path explains the Three Pillars of the Jedi: Knowledge, the Force, and Self-Discipline. The third is an exhortation for young Padawans to control their feelings. Luke lost his hand and his innocence when he recklessly rushed off to free Han and Leia, and Anakin’s obsession with saving Padmé led him to an even grimmer fate. The Jedi are truly an order of warrior-monks, and those members who don’t keep their emotions in check usually come to a bad end.

3) Guardian, Consular, or Sentinel? Choose Your Own Adventure!
Not all Jedi are created equal, and part of the fun of writing The Jedi Path was defining their internal hierarchies. The rank system of Master-Knight-Padawan is well known, but are there any horizontal classifications? In other words, if the Jedi are a military order, do they have their own Army, Navy, or Marines?

Not exactly, but Jedi Guardian, Jedi Consular, and Jedi Sentinel are broad groupings that illustrate how frail librarian Jocasta Nu fits in alongside one-man wrecking crew Quinlan Vos. The Guardians are mostly warriors, and the Consulars mostly diplomats and researchers. Sentinels tackle specialty roles like sabotage and espionage.

The lightsaber blades wielded by members of each group often serve to advertise their allegiance, with blue = Guardian, green = Consular, and yellow = Sentinel. So why does Mace Windu use a purple lightsaber? The short answer is that Samuel L. Jackson can do whatever the heck he wants.

4) How Well Do You Know the Force?
Maybe you can recite Obi-Wan’s line about the Force being “an energy field created by all living things,” but that’s only part of the puzzle. The Force has two distinct flavors, and contrary to common belief they aren’t the light side and the dark side.

The Jedi view the Force as possessing both “living” and “unifying” aspects. The former is very in-the-moment and empathetic, while the latter is distant and cosmic. A talented healer uses the Living Force, and a Jedi master trying to divine the future is more apt to tap the Unifying Force. Do you tend to focus on the little things, or are you a big-picture person? Your personality might dictate your path.

5) The Secret Too Big For This Book.
Hey, I wanted to include it, but Master Yoda insisted it be redacted! The Prophecy of the Chosen One was first mentioned in Episode I, and it foretells the rise of a being who will destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force.

But what else does the prophecy say, and is the Chosen One truly Anakin Skywalker? Unfortunately a powerful Force-user took a thick black pen to my detailed explanation, leaving behind several pages that resemble CIA documents from the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s a fun in-universe example of the fact that we don’t know everything about the Jedi. Maybe someday I’ll be allowed to tell the whole story, but in the meantime I’m not about to disobey anybody who has the power of mind control.

Unlearn what you have learned with The Jedi Path!

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