Breaking apart. That was the best description he could come up with for how it had felt when the target panic set in. It was an odd sort of breaking though, not violent like the sudden shattering of a bow, but subtle like the unraveling of a string. Something that barely warrants notice until, suddenly, it's a problem that stops everything in its tracks.
Perhaps some would say he was being melodramatic. Everyone has bad shots and dry spells sometimes, they might say, but he knows it's not the same. He's had bad days before, days where he feels uncomfortable in his form, and his glove feels like poorly fitting clothing instead of an extension of himself. He's had those days, and he knows this is not the same. His equipment feels as natural as it ever has, and his form feels fine all the way through his draw.
That's what scares him. Everything feels fine.
And then, in the very last split second before the release, his hand seems to move of its own accord, and the string slips free. It's not a clean release. The string catches on his thumb, and the arrow wobbles its way into the dirt in front of the target, and instead of the clear snap he's used to, there's a dull rattle and his bow feels unsteady in his hand.
They say that kyudo isn't just about the form. It's about the intent as well. If an arrow is to fly true, then the archer's heart must be true and focused as well. A stray thought or a wandering mind muddy the arrow's course just as easily as a poor stance or a rushed draw. If that is the case, then perhaps the opposite is true as well. As his arrows falter, so to does his heart, and the more he worries, the worse it becomes until both his form and his heart are lost to him.
He quits the team and retreats into the mountains to find himself again. He avoids the kyudo hall when there are others around, arriving only after he is sure the last of the other students have left. Alone, with only the moon and Who for company, he finds a beginner's mind and starts over. For a week, he practices only his stance until it is as natural as walking. He builds slowly from there over the next months, staying with each step until it is second nature.
Slowly, the uncertainty and the doubts wash away, and the uncertainty in his form joins them. It's here, alone in the moonlight, struggling to regain what he has lost, that he truly comes to understand what is meant by the unity of body and spirit, and the unity of the archer and the bow.
His notebook is nearly full now; this is the last night he will practice here.
He steps up to the line one last time.
His heart sings, and his arrow answers.
You're up, mousapelli