62

Anakin Skywalker was about nine years old (see script link, below) during "The Phantom Menace". Yet according to various people, he was too old (or even "far too old") to begin training as a Jedi:

  • QUI-GON: "I'm afraid not. Had he been born in the Republic, we would have identified him early, and he would have become Jedi, no doubt...he has the way. But it's too late for him now, he's too old."
  • OBI-WAN: "The boy will not pass the Council's tests, Master, and you know it. He is far too old."
  • MACE WINDU: "He is too old. There is already too much anger in him."
  • and even ANAKIN himself: "I'm with Qui-Gon...but...they're not going to let me be a Jedi. I'm too old."

All quotes above from The Phantom Menace script.

However, during "The Empire Strikes Back" Yoda gives Luke's age (18 in chapter IV according to the Star Wars A New Hope script) as the reason to deny him training only after first saying that Luke is:

  • too impatient
  • too angry
  • not ready
  • is unfocused ("Never his mind on where he was") and
  • reckless

All from The Empire Strikes Back script.

I would have thought that, if at 9 Anakin was too old, Yoda would have seen Luke at 18+ and started off by saying, "No chance, he has".

So, what is the age to begin Jedi training?

  • The Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic also breaks that rule, and that was set about 4000 years before A New Hope so it can't only be that they changed their mind after Anakin. – Borror0 Feb 4 '11 at 11:33
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    Too old in a time when there was a fully functional Jedi Academy with lots of members versus when there was... a single Jedi (Yoda)...... Yeah, big difference... I'm sure he didn't give a shit about age at that point... it was about him being corrupted and going to the darkside. – Adam Feb 4 '11 at 21:18
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    He didn’t start with it but Yoda said this of Luke; shortly before capitulating: “He's too old, yes…too old to begin the training” – Ashley Feb 5 '11 at 5:58
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    @Borror0 in KOTOR, the Jedi Council knew the truth about your character. – Michael Brown Mar 11 '13 at 19:16
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    at MaceWindu - I don't get the idea of "He is too old. There is already too much anger in him." -- have you ever seen an 18 month old who wants juice and isn't getting it? There's anger for you! – zipquincy May 16 '13 at 20:30
58

While it's not explicitly stated in the films, the implication is that training starts at a very young age, before children have a chance to get too attached to family members, and that training at a young age allows children to develop without (much) love, anger, hate, etc.

The inconsistencies you note in your question arise from the situation at the time of each film. In Phantom Menace, the Republic was functioning as normal and so a child of 9 would definitely be considered too old to begin training, for the reasons Qui-Gon gave. At this stage the age limit is a matter of bureaucracy more than anything else.

In Empire Strikes Back, the Republic has long fallen, and Yoda is essentially the only Jedi left alive. The reasons he gives Luke before mentioning his age are essentially the reasons they didn't take in older children during the time of the Republic.

On top of this, I suspect that in Empire, Yoda is deliberately trying to put off Luke, to test his determination. He knows full well who Luke's father is, and that he would make a very powerful Jedi based on his midichlorian count. I suspect he rejects Luke initially more to check how Luke deals with rejection than anything else. If Luke had gotten angry or violent, Yoda would have rejected his training for that reason; but instead Luke manages to convince Yoda that he is "righteous" enough to be Yoda's last chance at keeping the Jedi order going.

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    In Luke's case, it's not like Yoda had many other options...its was Luke (or Leia) or nothing. Your standards tend to get broader when you're desperate. – morganpdx Feb 4 '11 at 18:03
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    As anyone who's ever been still in a bar at closing time can attest :) – Jeff Feb 4 '11 at 22:15
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    I really had to resist the urge to down vote for mentioning Luke's medichlorian count. – Adam Wuerl Oct 25 '11 at 15:20
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    Midichlorians...wonder if they evolved to today's mitochondria (which scientist believe were originally foreign organisms). If that's so, maybe we are all jedi. – Michael Brown Mar 11 '13 at 19:21
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    @MikeBrown Or Sith... – Matemáticos Chibchas May 17 '13 at 8:00
8

In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda said, "You must unlearn what you have learned".
Plus, with our increasing age, we learn automatically from environment (like we can't lift stones in air from a distance).
So, the age should be around 2 or 3 when mind is fresh & empty to learn mysterious things. For each kid, its different as some start learning quickly & some slowly. So, even 2 or 3 years old kid needs to be judged by Jedi council.

6

Although I can’t claim to know the details of the Star Wars universe, the dialog excerps that you have quoted do not strike me as particularly contradictory.

You are assuming that there is a specific age at which all children would be considered “too old”, but this may not necessarily be the case. It could be a notion that is individual to each child. It could well be the case that whenever they say Anakin is “too old”, they mean that he could have been trained earlier but now it is too late for him; but whatever it is that made Anakin “too old” at age 9 may not have applied to Luke at the same age.

The fact that there are several references to “too much fear/anger” etc. seems to corroborate this notion. Anakin would be “too old” (= too habituated) to unlearn these things, but Luke might not.

  • This makes a great deal of sense to me. Anakin had grown up as a slave; Luke grew up as a free man (albeit under the yoke of the Empire). We don't know what pain Anakin had already experienced, or seen his mother go through; the greatest pain (and source of anger) Luke had experienced would almost certainly be the loss of his aunt and uncle, something that happened quite recently. – RDFozz Aug 14 '18 at 14:55
3

According to the (fully canon) Ultimate Star Wars factbook, your training should begin almost from birth.

Like most Jedi, Obi-Wan is identified within six months of his birth and begins his training immediately so that he can learn to control emotions of fear and anger at an early age


The excellent (but alas, no longer fully canon) Star Wars: The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force also offers us some pretty solid insight about the early life of a Jedi initiate.

Younglings who have grown up within the Temple hardly need guidance on what to wear. You've been wearing a uniform since you could stand.

It seems that the normal age for a new arrival seems to be well before the age of 2-3 years. Some (like Ahsoka) can end up arriving as late as 8 or 9, presumably depending on the level of Jedi presence on their world but this is unusual and undesirable:

The responsible use of power takes a lifetime to perfect, and therefore the Jedi Order only rarely accepts members who are older than a few years. Most of you came to the Temple as infants.

1

The Jedi wanted to get their younglings in infancy before the normal familial attachments were too strong, in their opinion. When Anakin was interviewed by the Jedi Council, it was a special consideration as otherwise he'd had been rejected out of hand as a matter of policy. I have jokingly envisioned a scenario where a Force-sensitive mother is birthing her child. Yoda wants with the midwife right there to take the baby. As the child enters the world, the midwife drops it! Fortunately, the baby is alright, but Yoda turns away, muttering, "too old, the child is...too old for the training!"

0

You are missing entirely what kind of training this is. It was one using physical bodies but the essence of the training was spiritual (of the spiritual force).

Anakin had an older "more experienced" spirit than anyone Yoda had previously trained, a spirit that was much more aware of the spiritual world's workings than any of Yoda's disciples, and perhaps Yoda himself.

It was not that Yoda did not trust Anakin's spiritual ability; Yoda realized that neither he, nor his own trainees had little to offer Anakin.

Anakin even realized, once Obi-Wan started "training" him, that he felt that he was being held back.

What that has to do with anyone who is more spiritually aware "mature" than their Pastor or mentor, they are shortchanging their own Holy Spirit inside them to trust in those who are spiritually weaker than them to lead them.

I hope I have hit the "too old to train" issue on the nailhead.

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    "Yoda realized that neither he, nor his own trainees had little to offer Anakin." What are you basing this on? The primary objection Yoda voiced at the council meeting was regarding Anakin's deep rooted fear. – phantom42 May 16 '13 at 17:04
-1

My opinion, based on the other Star Wars stories (not the last three movies) is about 5 to 9 years old was the age they were inducting them into the Jedi Academy.

I think it was Mace Windu who was actually inducted shortly after birth but that was abnormal.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • There's a tiny bit of answer in here, and a whole lot of rant. We're not really built for discussion here. If you can focus your answer, and add some references, you'll do much better – Jason Baker Jun 7 '15 at 23:53
  • @JasonBaker - Rant removed. Answer preserved. – Valorum Jun 7 '15 at 23:59

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