What Are Bokken Jedi and What Do They Mean for AHSOKA?

In episode six of Ahsoka, we heard a term we’ve never heard before in the saga for a Jedi. When Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) asked her master Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) if he ever knew Ezra Bridger personally, he said he didn’t. He said that “he was a breed of Bokken Jedi,” trained “in the wild,” outside the strict rules and regulations of the Jedi Temple. The word “Bokken” is actually a Japanese term, used to describe a wooden sword used for training in kenjutsu. This would not be the first time Star Wars has taken a Japanese word and uses it to describe something else. Here’s what Ahsoka‘s new term “Bokken Jedi” might mean in the Star Wars universe.

Both “Bokken” and “Jedi” Are Derived from Japanese Words

Ahsoka trains Sabine Wren in the ways of the Jedi, despite having nearly no Force sensitivity.

Ever since Star Wars’ early days as an idea in George Lucas’ brain, the franchise has used Japanese terms to describe things. Even the word “Jedi” was a riff on the Japanese term “jidaigeki” meaning period drama, usually ones about samurai. It’s possible that Bokken Jedi is merely an insulting term coined by Baylan Skoll and not an official Star Wars designation. But if Bokken is an actual Jedi term in the galaxy far, far away, then it’s one that describes most of the important Jedi Knights in the entire saga. If legit, then Ezra Bridger, Luke Skywalker, and Rey Skywalker were all Jedi trained in the Bokken way. Ahsoka was training Sabine Wren this way, too, out in the wild, far away from the stricter codes of the Jedi Temple.

Yoda (Frank Oz) trains Jedi Younglings in Attack of the Clones.

In the prequel trilogy, we learn Jedi trained under a very strict method that existed for a thousand generations. The Jedi Order adopted them as small children, probably around three to four years old. As Younglings, Master Yoda gave them basic lessons in the Force. Then, upon entering puberty, they began an apprenticeship under a Jedi Master as their Padawan learner. After a period of time as a Padawan, they each face their personal trials, and graduate to the status of Jedi Knight. This was the training method of Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and to a certain extent, Anakin Skywalker. But Star Wars‘ Bokken Jedi walk a different path.

Ezra, Luke, and Rey Might All Be “Bokken Jedi”

The Jedi apprentices and their Masters training after the fall of the Jedi Temple.

After the fall of the Jedi Order in Revenge of the Sith, the handful of remaining Jedi couldn’t be so precious about the rules. If they encountered someone Force-sensitive, they put aside concerns about whether they were too old or even too emotional. Kanan Jarrus wasn’t even a full Jedi Knight in Star Wars Rebels when he started training 14-year-old orphan Ezra Bridger. Even Yoda, the epitome of the Jedi Order itself, had to throw those rules out to train an adult Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. And even though Luke tried to establish a proper Jedi Temple, by the time Rey came to him, not only was she an adult, she’d had no formal Jedi instruction at all. When Luke became one with the Force, his sister Leia continued Rey’s training. Even though she herself never fully became a Jedi Knight. Since these Star Wars Jedi are shaped so differently, it would make sense to give them the new designation of Bokken Jedi.

Bokken Jedi May Be the Future of the Order

From Left to Right, Jedi trainees Ezra Bridger, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), and Rey (Daisy Ridely).

These three Bokken Jedi were the saviors of the galaxy. Ezra saved Lothal from Thrawn, Luke saved the entire Galaxy from Vader, and Rey stopped Palpatine. Meanwhile, the Jedi trained under the strict codes of the Order? Well, Count Dooku, trained in the temple under its rules, and went to the dark side. Obi-Wan’s inflexibility helped to push Anakin to the dark side as well. Even the Grand Inquisitor was a Jedi Temple Guard, who no doubt grew up and trained in the Temple himself. If anything, living a previous life outside the Jedi only made Ezra, Luke, and Rey better Jedi than most. All were tempted by the dark side, and all resisted in the end. Hopefully, when Rey trains her new generation of Jedi, she’s a little more “Bokken,” and a little less “Old School Jedi Temple.”

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