I just watched "The Force Awakens", and have been obsessively reading through all questions tagged with it for the past couple days. It seems to me like there is a little bit of a debate with whether or not Kylo Ren is actually adept at using the Force. For example, this question, and this question both discuss Kylo seemingly being very mediocre at using the force.

So is Kylo good at using the force or not? There are definitely arguments both ways. For example, these all imply that he is talented

  1. He can stop a blaster rifle in midair, and hold it there for a good 5 minutes while walking around and talking to the stormtroopers. That would probably take a massive amount of physical energy to stop a laser with so much energy and a massive amount of mental energy to be able to hold it there while carrying on with business as usual. We have also never (to my knowledge) seen a previous Jedi/Sith do this.

  2. He reads Rey's mind. And Poe's mind. While this has been seen in previous movies, he clearly has great skill when it comes to mind reading. We have also never seen someone so directly reading someone else's mind.

  3. He pulls the general all the way across the room and holds him in the air in a rage of fit when he learns of Finn and Rey escaping.

  4. He is related to Anakin, and trained by Luke. While that doesn't automatically make someone talented with the force, it means he must be very genetically predisposed to the force, and he was trained by one of the best.

However, there are also plenty of arguments in favor of him being very poor at using the force. For example:

  1. He is unable to withstand Rey reading his mind. Although I suppose you could chalk this up to Rey being very talented with the force, rather then Ren being bad at it.

  2. He loses in a light-saber battle with Rey, who has no force training whatsoever. Though you could also say this is because of Rey's talent, he also just barely managed to beat Finn just minutes earlier. This shouldn't have even been a contest, as Finn has no force sensitivities, and most likely very little training in melee-combat.

  3. He is unable to pull the light-saber out of the snow after the fight.

  4. He is hit with Chewie's bowcaster on the bridge scene. No Sith Lord in any of the previous movies would be hit by a blaster rifle, because they could so easily deflect it with their light-saber.

So which is it? Is he talented or not?

  • 9
    I think we'll have to wait till the next movie (I know, I know: :( ). My unsupported opinion is that he has a great natural power -- which allows him to perform the impressive feats you describe -- but he lacks self-control and his training is unfinished, which explains his clumsy missteps. If his training was complete (either Light or Dark Side) he'd probably be very powerful.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 20:16
  • @AndresF. I'd agree however, I think in the next movie, he'll be much more trained after being humiliated by losing to Rey.
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 20:36
  • @DJMcMayhem, and after having strengthened his resolve by killing somebody who might else have lured him to the light side. Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 20:57
  • 3
    Without spoiling, I think points 3 and 4 in your "Kylo is poor at using the force" list are easily explained. #3 - he's pulling that object, but so is another person who is clearly powerful in the force, and the other person gets hold of it. #4 - He's caught off-guard because he's just been through a very emotionally affecting moment. Whatever his emotions are at that time, they seem to have overwhelmed him.
    – recognizer
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 21:26
  • Just a thought on the mind reading thing I had, maybe its similar to how Vulcan mind melds work, I know its a separate universe but hear me out. It would explain why Rey suddenly was so adept at using the force. Since both individuals would have a shared connection with the others mind, Rey could have "learned" about using the force from Kylo and then perhaps could subconsciously gain more information that would later help defeat Kylo in the lightsaber battle as she might have known his fighting style and thus defend and attack more effectively.
    – CJK
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 20:07

6 Answers 6


According to the expert (Snoke), he is talented. But he has a major weakness (he has the pull of the Light side he's combatting).

When next Snoke spoke there was an intimacy in his voice, a familiarity that stood in sharp contrast to the commanding tone he had used with Hux. “I have never had a student with such promise—before you.”
Ren straightened. “It is your teachings that make me strong, Supreme Leader.”
Snoke demurred. “It is far more than that. It is where you are from. What you are made of. The dark side—and the light. The finest sculptor cannot fashion a masterpiece from poor materials. He must have something pure, something strong, something unbreakable, with which to work. I have—you.” He paused, reminiscing.
“Kylo Ren, I watched the Galactic Empire rise, and then fall. The gullible prattle on about the triumph of truth and justice, of individualism and free will. As if such things were solid and real instead of simple subjective judgments. The historians have it all wrong. It was neither poor strategy nor arrogance that brought down the Empire. You know too well what did.”
Ren nodded once. “Sentiment.”
“Yes. Such a simple thing. Such a foolish error of judgment. A momentary lapse in an otherwise exemplary life. Had Lord Vader not succumbed to emotion at the crucial moment—had the father killed the son—the Empire would have prevailed. And there would be no threat of Skywalker’s return today.”
(Alan Dean Foster's TFA novelization)

However, later Snoke tells him he's "weak", when he fails to read her mind:

There was as much curiosity in Supreme Leader Snoke’s voice as there was disappointment. “This scavenger — this girl — resisted you?”
“That’s all she is, yes. A scavenger from that inconsequential Jakku. Completely untrained, but strong with the Force. Stronger than she knows.” His mask off, Ren replied with what seemed to be his usual assurance. No one else would have sensed a difference. Snoke did.
The Supreme Leader’s voice was flat. “You have compassion for her.”
“No—never. Compassion? For an enemy of the Order?”
“I perceive the problem,” Snoke intoned. “It isn’t her strength that is making you fail. It’s your weakness.” The rebuke hurt, but Ren didn’t show it. “Where is the droid?”

To address your indications of his weakness, let's deconstruct them one by one:

  • He is unable to withstand Rey reading his mind

    He didn't know she would be there. Neither did she.

    Ah, he thought to himself. Something there, of interest. Not the image of the map. That would take another moment. But definitely something worth investigating. He shifted his perception toward it, seeking to identify, to analyze, to —
    The barrier he encountered stopped him cold. And it was he, Kylo Ren, who blinked. It made no sense. He pushed, hard, with his mind—and the probe went nowhere.
    A look of amazement replaced the fear on Rey’s face as she discovered herself inside his mind. Stunned at the realization, she found herself inexorably drawn to—to…

  • He loses in a light-saber battle with Rey, who has no force training whatsoever

    • He was injured by Chewbacca's bowcaster, right before

    • He was weakened by the murder he just committed

      Stunned by his own action, Kylo Ren fell to his knees. Following through on the act ought to have made him stronger, a part of him believed. Instead, he found himself weakened. He did not hear the roar of the enraged Wookiee above, but he did feel the sting of the shot from the bowcaster as it slammed into his side, knocking him back on the walkway.

    • She has weapons training. We see her fight off 2 people with her stick on Jakku

    • He held back, because he was trying to convert HER to Dark Side.

      There was a vast rumbling, as of a continent sighing, and a gigantic chunk of forest behind Rey simply collapsed downward, leaving her fighting on the edge of a cliff so high that the newly formed surface below could not be seen through the rising cloud of dust.
      Ren held his lightsaber, poised to strike. “I could kill you right now. But there is another way.”
      Breathing hard, Rey looked up in disgust at the man looming above her. “You’re a monster.”
      “No. You need a teacher.” He was beseeching and insistent all at once. “I can show you the ways of the Force!”

    • She was using the Dark Side at the time, feeding off her anger (the quote from novelization is too long to do this answer justice, so I'll post just the minor part):

      Though Ren was bigger and stronger than Rey, their struggle had nothing to do with physical size. What she lacked in mass, she made up for in ferocity.

      For a while she actually drove him backward, until he regained his self-assurance and in turn pressed her. The fight continued to shift back and forth; first he gained the advantage, then an enraged Rey took it back.

      ... A long moment passed, in which Ren sensed a change in the air, a change in her. Then she opened her eyes and attacked, viciously, in a way she didn’t know she was capable of, striking again and again as Ren was slowly driven back. The flaring energy from the interacting lightsabers was more pronounced than ever in the flurry of her attack. And—Ren went down.

      One downward cut, she saw. One quick, final strike, and she could kill him. The landing lights of a shuttle appeared in the distance, coming over the trees in her direction. She had to make a decision, now.
      Kill him, a voice inside her head said. It was amorphous, unidentifiable, raw. Pure vengeful emotion. So easy, she told herself. So quick.
      She recoiled from it. From the dark side.

  • he also just barely managed to beat Finn just minutes earlier

    He wasn't trying till the end. He was playing cat and mouse.

    Finn blocked him again and again, once letting the other man’s beam slide against his own and harmlessly off to one side. He counterattacked, to no avail. The longer the contest continued, the stronger Ren seemed to become. It was as if he was enjoying the challenge. Feeding upon it.
    At least, it appeared so until Finn parried, swung, and unexpectedly stabbed, the tip of his lightsaber beam grazing Ren’s arm. That made it more than a challenge. Taking a step back, Ren reconsidered his opponent. When he closed the distance between them anew, it was with a purpose that had been previously lacking. Expecting an execution, he had found a contest. Now he had been touched. It was time for play to end.
    Advancing relentlessly, he was driven by something that Finn could not even sense, far less counter. Still the ex-trooper fought back, until Ren landed a blow that cut across Finn’s chest and sent the lightsaber flying from his hand. It landed in the snow six meters distant.
    It was over.

  • He is unable to pull the light-saber out of the snow after the fight.

    This is NOT an accurate assessment. He is able, but she calls the lightsaber better.

    Switching off his own weapon, Ren extended an arm toward the device lying in the snow. It twitched and then began to vibrate as the Force called to it. Stretching out his hand farther, straining, Ren beckoned powerfully—and the lightsaber rose, to come bulleting toward his outstretched fingers.
    And past them.
    Taken aback, he whirled—to see the weapon land in the hand of a girl standing by a tree. Rey appeared equally shocked that her reach for the device had exceeded his. She gazed down at the weapon now resting in her grip.

    Here, it appears she is legitimately stronger than him in the Force. Given who her father is... (OK, that's a speculation... but we all know they will eventually reveal: Luke, I am your father :)

    1. He is hit with a blaster rifle on the bridge scene. No Sith Lord in any of the previous movies would be hit by a blaster rifle, because they could so easily deflect it with their light-saber.

    First off, remember that tons of Jedi in Lucas films were killed, not just hit, by blaster fire

    Second, if you meant being shot by Chewbacca with a bowcaster, he was surprised and still shocked and weakened by what he did right before:

    Stunned by his own action, Kylo Ren fell to his knees. Following through on the act ought to have made him stronger, a part of him believed. Instead, he found himself weakened. He did not hear the roar of the enraged Wookiee above, but he did feel the sting of the shot from the bowcaster as it slammed into his side, knocking him back on the walkway.

  • 2
    What is that text from?
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 21:58
  • 1
    I'm guessing the novelization. Is out on eBook. Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 22:10
  • @DJMcMayhem - see the updates please Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 22:13
  • Does the book confirm who her father is?
    – Andres F.
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 22:44
  • 2
    @AndresF. - no. It's heavily implied (as it is in the film), but not confirmed. Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 23:02

I think there are two factors involved in being an effective force user Force affinity and focus.

As Yoda says

focus feel the force.

If you remember when Luke was training. He lost focus and sent R2 and Yoda flying.

I think Kylo has the raw power but not the focus. He is also wracked with self doubt and internal conflict.

He tells Han that he is being torn apart inside and thinks killing Han will help this.

Also remember Yoda says

control. You must learn control

Kylo shows that he has little control. Compare his rage to that of Vader.

If Vader is displeased he can force choke someone on another space ship. Which shows immense control.

Kilo just smashes stuff up with his lightsaber

His lightsaber is an embodiment of his Psyche. It is bold and imposing, but it is also rough, and unfocused.

Rey is much more certain of herself and focused.

Which is why she can match him.

It is also with noting that

His training is incomplete.

So he may improve in the future.

  • 2
    +1 Good call on the rough-looking lightsaber being a reflection of Kylo's own roughness. What's interesting is that Rey is also untrained (as a Light Side adept; we already know she is a tough gal!) yet she is a match for him. Questions, questions! :P
    – Andres F.
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 22:48
  • @AndresF. Yes that was my thought when I saw it. It is an imperfect light saber, not as stable and clean a light blade as the ones created by true adepts.
    – Escoce
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 14:35
  • 1
    Where is Kilo coming from?
    – Zack
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 22:02

He is supremely gifted in the Force due to his lineage and pedigree, but he is untrained fully. He lacks the control of a Jedi, which is why he filed in his training with Luke. And, even more so than any previous Sith, he doesn't use hate, or anger... He uses pure youthful rage. So where others we have seen use a pensive, conscious range of dark energies, Ren has only two settings' smoldering calm, and the altogether complete loss of all cool.

This is why in his more classic Sith-like moments of trying to toy with opponents, he fails to have that Vader-like calm control of the situation. Vader, Maul, Dooku, Sidious... All showed anger, but very few moments of unhinged vengeful angst and rage. I venture a guess that this is because none were born in the Light and pulled to the Dark. Anakin had no knowledge of the force the first half of his life, while Ben ("Jacen" to many of us) had full knowledge of his long and legendary pedigree; both Jedi & Sith, battles fought, Force adept mother, legendary uncle and dad with a checkered past turned hero... Talk about a kid with issues?! His Force rage is uncharted territory. So when he is boiling hot, he is nearly uncontestable. But when he is trying to play "Vader" in cool, calm, collected moments he fails.

In these moments, Rey can get the best of him because she has a more steely resolve as an orphan forces to survive the wilds of a nearly uncharted outpost, digging for scraps of salvage to be rewarded scraps of food. Ren is the privileged angsty teen, while Rey is the tougher than life street urchin. Force included, life is still life and they bring those things to the table in battle.

So is he gifted? More so than anyone we have seen before—when on rage-mode. But only then. He's quite untrained if not going psycho. This makes him the best "baddy" to date for me because he's the worst kind of villain; zero loyalties (even to himself) due to legitimate mental problems, and a power at his disposal in times of mental crisis that is supremely frightening. Think Joker from the Batman reboot. Whoa.

PS: borrowing heavily from the Jacen/Jaina storyline but altering it in crucial ways, I believe that Ren & Rey are cousins. They even perhaps subconsciously gave them verbally alliterated names like in the EU novel; J&J / R&R.

PSS: Snoke refers to him as the leader of the "Knights of Ren"—does this suggest that there are more? Is this a new doctrine of the Force based on pure rage and not training in anger management? I'm very interested in the introduction of more Force-adept groups that challenge the paradigm; Jedi, Sith... The Ren? The White Way?

Good topic!


It seemed fairly obvious to me (and I'm surprised no one else is mentioning this) that after Kyle tells her he has a lot to teach her about the force, Rey's eyes conveyed "you're right, you do!" Then she used the force to steal knowledge from Kylo's mind. After she does that her power instantly doubles.


Kylo Ren is strong with the force in the beginning of the movie. Well, he is an apprentice to Snoke, but as the movie progresses, he becomes weaker with it, as he now faces the challenge from the light side. While he combats the light side, he becomes weaker with the dark side, thereby justifying his loss of abilities.


Your statement of Finn having little to no melee combat is false. Finn has been trained quite well in melee combat in his stormtrooper training.

When Chewie shot Kylo Ren with a bowcaster, you forget that Kylo had just impaled his own father with his lightsaber and was probably hurt mentally. The bowcaster is also a one hit kill for stormtroopers who have on armor.

  • 1
    This only tangentially addresses the main question of whether Kylo is talented with the Force. Did you mean it to be a comment?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 21:53

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