Master Yoda has been one of the most recognizable Star Wars characters of all time since his franchise debut in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. Since then, his character has evolved from a silly, wise former Jedi to a Master of the Force who’s just as much to blame for the rise of the Empire as his colleagues. He experienced fear just like many Jedi before and after him. But with intense training — many, many years of it — he learned to remain focused on the light rather than gravitate toward the dark.
From Apprentice to Master
Yoda trained many Jedi familiar to Star Wars fans, including both Count Dooku and Qui-Gon Jinn. But the Jedi Master lived for 900 years and, at some point, had to be trained in the ways of the Force before he could become a teacher himself. Many Star Wars fans want to know: Who trained Yoda before Yoda trained many generations of Jedi to follow in his footsteps?
In Star Wars Canon, this mysterious figure is only referred to as “Yoda’s old master” and is never given a name. In The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to Be a Jedi, a book written for younglings of our galaxy (and according to Wookieepedia) Yoda’s unnamed master taught the Padawan how to live peacefully, which would explain why the Jedi Master usually seems so calm and collected. He had many centuries to practice and refine the art of staying level-headed even when the threat of darkness looms overhead.
Although Yoda’s master remains unidentified in Canon, many might be more familiar with the Legends backstory of Yoda’s Jedi training.
Yoda’s Master in Star Wars Legends
According to the Legends lore, N’Kata Del Gormo was a Jedi Master during the Galactic Republic who found and trained Yoda. He was created by a Star Wars fan to give Yoda more backstory, and his character was treated as an official in-universe legend until Star Wars publishing created a new canon and categorized everything released prior to 2014 as Star Wars Legends. Nothing in Canon has outright refuted the former legend, he just hasn’t been named in the present continuity yet. But Star Wars stories have re-canonized Legends characters before — see Grand Admiral Thrawn, for example — and in future stories, Yoda’s master could make his way into official Canon.
Long before adopting his “do or do not; there is no try” philosophy,” Yoda was a youngling just like the many he would go on to instruct in the nearly thousand years he lived and traveled across the galaxy. Yoda’s origins — even his species name — have long remained a purposefully-kept mystery even among official Star Wars creatives, and chances are we won’t learn a lot more about the Jedi’s very early years anytime soon.
However, you can catch glimpses of him throughout The High Republic books and comics, where he is frequently pictured and mentioned across various stories even though he isn’t a major character. Now that the second phase of the publishing initiative is set to take place in the past, an even younger version of Yoda could play a slightly bigger role in the stories to come starting October 2022.