I’ve alluded to my son’s fascination (obsession?) with Star Wars. He loves it, and he particularly loves the Jedi. After all, they get the cool Force powers and the awesome-looking lightsabers. And of all the Jedi, my son’s favorite character is Yoda. Why? well, to quote my son, “Because he’s little like me!”
Anyway, I get a lot of Star Wars questions from him. Mostly questions where he asks me to explain some part of the plot again, or ask me “why did Anakin make bad choices”, or the like. But every once in a while, he catches me off guard.
“Daddy? Who trained Yoda?”
I shrug. “I don’t know.”
“I think he trained himself!”
Yeah. I got nothing.
Fortunately for my oddball Star Wars questions needs, Wookepedia: The Star Wars Wiki) exists. And they go into exhaustive detail about everything you might need to know about Star Wars. So, to start with, this is Yoda:
The official Star Wars web site describes him as follows:
Yoda was a legendary Jedi Master and stronger than most in his connection with the Force. Small in size but wise and powerful, he trained Jedi for over 800 years, playing integral roles in the Clone Wars, the instruction of Luke Skywalker, and unlocking the path to immortality.
Yeah, I know. You probably knew that. If you don’t, for some reason, check out that link to the Star Wars web site. Or better yet, watch the original Star Wars trilogy.
Canonically, there just isn’t anything much known about Yoda as a young man. He doesn’t talk about his youth at all in the movies, and all of the old Star Wars Expanded Universe have been declared officially non-canon by Disney.
Wookipedia, however, states that he was trained by a Jedi Master named N’Kata Del Gormo, a serpentine being with four arms.
N’Kata also lived in a swamp, and then went on to become a Jedi Grand Master.
Let’s be honest, though. There is one man to whom Yoda owes everything. One man, without whom he would have been nothing at all. One man who made it possible for him to be the great Jedi Master he was. And that man is Frank Oz.
Frank Oz was a puppeteer. Specifically, he worked for Jim Henson and portrayed characters that included Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam Eagle, Grover, Cookie Monster, and Bert. He was the voice for Yoda, and the puppeteer for three of the five movies the character appeared in – Yoda was CGI in Episodes II and III. Of that, Mr. Oz had this to say:
It was fine. For me, it’s easy. I did the first three, I think it was, it was very tough work, very sweaty and hard work, but then George went to CG, which is exactly what he should have done. He could not have done anything else, then I get all the credit and these two dozen people who’ve worked for a year of their lives at ILM, they don’t get any credit at all. And they’re the ones who work, I don’t.
So who trained Yoda? A British puppeteer, and a dozen or so special effects artists at Industrial Light and Magic.