The approach to combat and everyday life should be the same.
Ask a group of different martial artists what is Kata (Japanese for ‘Form’), and you will probably get just as many different explanations. At its most simplistic definition, a Kata is a series of predefined movements. At its most complex; a Kata is the very essence of the warrior’s soul.
A Kata is a way to train your body and mind to achieve a sequence of specific movements, in a way programing your body to react in a specific way. It’s a strategy used to drill in muscle memory and self-control, where your actions become second nature and you no longer have to think about what you are doing, but rather just do it. This is the core concept of any athletic or military training; to reinforce an action to the point where they become automatic where instincts and muscles memory leave little room for fear, anxiety, and self-doubt.
So what does this have to do with manners or chivalry?
Everything. When your actions become so integral to your being that they are now automatic, you no longer have to fear doing them wrong. Developing social memory is just as critical as developing muscle memory. This way you create a pattern and a structure to your behavior. Opening a door for someone, giving a helping hand, or smiling to someone in the street and wishing them a good day not only become natural but actually creates an aura of self-confidence around you. Your social actions should be as natural as breathing. You no longer have self-doubt on what you no longer have to think about.
For most who have never developed this, there is that instant of awkwardness that comes when you’re unsure if you should or shouldn’t do something. And it’s that instance of awkwardness that creates the “creepy” vibe some people feel in social situations. That awkwardness is born from self-doubt, a feeling that is easily picked up by those around you.
But when your actions are natural, you no longer have to feel awkward, as you no longer have to spend time thinking if you should or shouldn’t. They create the support frame for your confidence and actually provide a sense of security in those around you, as your behavior no longer carries a hidden motivation behind them.
So go out, be chivalrous, smile, be generous. And do it so often you no longer have to think about doing it.