update: is it weird to incorporate martial arts at my job?

Remember the letter-writer wondering if it was weird to incorporate martial arts at his job? Here’s the update.

I clearly could have written that better, since when I explained to my wife why I was asking who Dwight Shrute was she laughed at how far the character is from a match to my personality. I blame writing the letter in a hurry and editing for a thorough list of examples and brevity rather than tone or context. I see how statements like “I’m not particularly self-conscious” could make it sound like I’m being intentionally conspicuous rather than merely being willing to explain why I’m in stance to write on a low counter or mop a floor.

Anyway, I’ll probably continue some of it since my current job (like many in my past) is pretty solitary, and I still find that incorporating the movements I am already familiar with frequently makes tasks easier, more ergonomic, or faster for me. I started incorporating most of these movements to solve specific practical problems. To use the fall as an example, I needed to basically get low enough to have a shoulder on the floor dozens of times per grocery night shift to pull products on the bottom shelf from the back to the front, and I found that a sit-down back fall was quicker and less fatiguing (for me) than other techniques I tried. The least practical things I do with these at work are things like doing a stance to vary my position to fight hip stiffness (what I had in mind when I made a comment about keeping muscles active), doing a technique or form as a stress reliever/brain break/stim (I’m likely autistic), or killing time around the corner when the work is done but we need to stay a few more minutes in case there’s a last second forklift delivery. I’ll probably trade that last one for something else, but I’ll continue doing the stimming and stiffness examples for the time being.

That said, I will certainly be toning it down. That comments section made it clear that martial arts techniques have too much risk of going beyond my usual “quirky geek” vibe and into “sideshow geek” or “Spongebob in karate gear at the Krusty Krab” territory. I’ll avoid the gentle falls anywhere anyone could possibly be in eyeshot with less than 10 seconds notice (easy at my current job since I don’t take falls anyway due to product contamination concerns and obstacles), and I’ll do the same with forms. I didn’t do those where people could see anyway since I try hard not to be disruptive (and forms are something I actually do get self-conscious about), but I’m increasing my safety margin. I’ll also try to reduce the frequency of stances around people, but there really are times when I need a position between standing and crouching or a way to generate some pushing power or something else where they would be practical for my non-office job. I’ll think about other ways to fill the role of martial arts in my solutions to practical, ergonomic, and stimming problems, but it’ll be a slow process to come up with solutions and retrain my body not to default to these motions in the cases I decide it’s worth it.

In short, message received, commenters, but it’ll be a slow process to tone most of it down.

{ 198 comments… read them below }

  1. Falling Diphthong*

    That comments section made it clear that martial arts techniques have too much risk of going beyond my usual “quirky geek” vibe and into “sideshow geek” or “Spongebob in karate gear at the Krusty Krab” territory.

    Many commenters had some variation on “I did something similar when I was younger, and I now see how that came across rather differently.” A good use of crowd-sourcing your question, to figure out if your instinct is in fact 90% of people’s instinct, or if the majority have a quite different take. I’ve been in both positions in comments.

  2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Full disclosure, OP. I 100% thought you were talking about grabbing a ream of paper from a shelf and shoulder-rolling to the copier to load it in the bottom drawer!

    1. supertoasty*

      Boss: Hey, uh, the printer is jammed

      OP, tightening their tae kwon do belt: Don’t worry chief, I’m on it

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’ll be honest, I did think of the SpongeBob karate-at-work episode.

          “Kara-tay? You should be making me money-ay! With your spatu-lae! Now get back to work!”

          1. supertoasty*

            “I love karate!”

            “I love kara-tay!”

            “I love money-ay!”

            “I hate all of you.”

    2. thisgirlhere*

      Same, but truly it doesn’t change my thoughts about it. There’s just too much risk that he’s coming off as aggressive and intimidating even though that’s clearly not at all his intention. Not to mention people who see OP go into a controlled fall and rush to call 911. This is a great example of someone hearing feedback and responding in exactly the right way: he’s not completely changing just to suit the commenters but adjusting to take other’s comfort into account. Cheers, OP.

    3. Cj*

      My first image also. I’m glad we got this update, because it sounds way less strange than I was imagining. And that they did have legitimate reasons for doing it, and that it wasn’t about showing off, which is what it came across like in the original letter, even though they denied that is what they were doing.

      1. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

        Same! I was definitely picturing something like OP spots a receipt on the floor and just *flop* on the floor dramatically to retrieve it.

      2. whingedrinking*

        To me, I was baffled at how hostile some of the comments were. I recently left a job that actually did require me to get on the floor on a regular basis, including sometimes in front of paying customers, and I definitely read the original as more like “Is it okay if I find it more comfortable to use horse stance instead of hunching over to fill up a low shelf?” It took me a while to realize that all the people saying, “Ugh, I would roll my eyes at this complete doofus who’s clearly trying to show off, you don’t get to work out at your job, also you would seem violent and scary” thought OP meant “I do sweet flips down the hall, randomly kick and punch at the air, and stand in crane stance whenever I’m at rest.” A lot of the responses clearly came from people who don’t have to do a lot of standing, bending, squatting (and yes, getting on the floor) at their jobs and wouldn’t get really get how physical techniques could have a practical application at work.

      1. ferrina*

        I was picturing an office setting too. I used to work with a Sales Guy (corporate B2B, nothing that would require any kind of physical movement) who introduced himself to everyone at our company as “I do judo”. (He was much better with clients)

  3. oh no*

    >(I’m likely autistic)
    Ah, my kin, I knew I recognised you. Solidarity and best wishes on receiving fewer weird looks. (I used to do squats waiting for the printer…)

    1. Murphey*

      As licensed professional in the field, I would really like to discourage OP from making a self diagnosis. A bunch of strangers commenting on your behavior based on one quickly-written letter is not the foundation autism diagnosis. If you genuinely think you may be autistic, talk to your physician about getting a referral to a qualified professional who can make a accurate determination.

      1. Gothic Bee*

        I mean for sure see a professional if needed, but I took that aside to mean the OP was aware that they may be autistic prior to the original letter. I find it hard to believe OP suddenly decided they were autistic based solely on the comments from the last letter.

      2. Mercie*

        1) LW mentioned that they’re likely autistic in the context of mentioning stimming, not that they drew that conclusion from the commenters.
        2) A licensed professional in the field is the one who told me I couldn’t possibly be autistic “because if [I was] really autistic, [I] would be staring at the ceiling and talking on and on about trains.”

        1. Squidlet*

          Sounds like the licensed professional who told me that my son couldn’t have ADHD “because look how focused he is on that computer game”.

          Or the one who told me I didn’t have ADHD because the medication she’d prescribed wasn’t effective (at the very low trial dose we’d agreed to start on) – resulting in me forgetting to phone back to make a follow-up appointment.

          Luckily we found other, competent, licensed professionals to work with.

          1. PeanutButter*

            “You can’t have ADHD, you have a graduate degree!”

            Heard this sooooo many times in my life.

        2. Alison M*

          Ha, kinda like the pediatrician who told me my toddler daughter couldn’t be autistic because “she smiles too much and she’s a girl”….um, no. Luckily, in our state you can self-refer to early intervention services (0-3 years), but it took almost 6 months to convince my husband that my concerns were valid given the complete brush-off from the pediatrician. Ironically, it turned out the reason my husband wasn’t worried about certain behaviors/signs was because he is on the spectrum as well. Even though they aren’t interested in testing (understandable, at their age), his parents really check a lot of the boxes, as well.

          Amusingly, the embarrassed pediatrician had no problems referring my son a year later for evaluation when he was a baby.

      3. Libellulebelle*

        My impression was that OP already had reason to suspect he’s autistic, and was adding that as further info—not that he was self-diagnosing based on AAM comments.

      4. Squiggler*

        I didn’t see anything in the letter that suggests their diagnosis is from themselves or in response to AAM comments – Not sure where this is coming from?

          1. SloanGhost*

            …or peer diagnosis, or their therapIst brought it up and they’ve done a lot of thinking about it lately, or they were evaluated as a child and are revisiting the possibility now that our knowledge of the disorder is more nuanced. It’s really none of our business.

          2. Squidlet*

            Self-diagnosis possibly, but NOT self-diagnosis based on “[a] bunch of strangers commenting on your behavior based on one quickly-written letter”.

          3. Elle*

            It could also mean they are in the process of getting a formal dx but have not completed the process.

      5. curtangel*

        As an adult with autism I would like to encourage OP to get in contact with other autistics online and ignore gatekeepers like this.

        1. Midwest Teacher*

          100%! I’m not autistic, but I’m also neurodivergent (adhd) and self-diagnosis is widely accepted in adhd circles as well. Diagnosis as an adult is virtually impossible, and finding camaraderie with other people who are experiencing the same things can be unbelievably helpful and validating.

        2. littlehope (formerly Blue, there were two of us)*

          That was not a helpful comment from Murphey. IME, self-diagnosis is frankly the only form of diagnosis available to most autistics, and is nearly always more useful than harmful.

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            Agreed. I’ve been trying for years to get a diagnosis. I’m an adult female and I’ve been told I can’t possibly be autistic because I maintained eye contact (ugggh) and then by another person that I’m probably experiencing a trauma response (which could be valid, but come on at least give me a test or something before you decide that). Meanwhile everything I read online from reputable sources and from folks who are diagnosed with autism, as well as the opinion of my friend who works with special needs kids, leads me to conclude that autism is the most likely case. I’m crossing my fingers that I will have an easier time once my daughter goes to school and gets evaluated (she’s definitely showing clear signs too).

      6. KimberT*

        If getting an autism diagnosis as an adult that’s somewhat passing in the workplace was that easy, we wouldn’t be self diagnosing. And nobody here was basing it off comments.

      7. Elder Millennial*

        First of all: LW didn’t say it was a self-diagnosis. For all we know the idea was floated by their therapist or psychiatrist and LW is waiting for a formal assessment to confirm.

        And even if it was self-diagnosis, it’s quite the leap to think it’s just based on the comments. Why not just assume that LW might have had other feedback in their life that made them think that they are autistic?

        Furthermore, accessing a formal diagnosis can be next to impossible for adults, certainly those living in the US. Waiting lists are long, costs can be exorbitant (I have a facebook friend who works as a mental healthcare provider and even his insurance didn’t cover his assesment) and I know people who have been told they cannot be autistic because they have friends. (Before you tell me that that can’t be real, I have spoken to those people. This was verbatim what they were told.)

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I know someone that was given an IQ test as an autism diagnostic tool and subsequently told they were “too smart” to be autistic. There are plenty of mental health care providers with not just wrong, but horrifically backwards knowledge about autism.

        2. kates*

          I made an appointment for Adult Autism evaluation (my psych didn’t feel qualified) 6 months ago. My appointment is in 2023.

          As far as I am concerned, I am autistic until proven otherwise.

      8. Lead Balloon*

        Self identifying as autistic can be very helpful, especially if access to autism assessment is restricted. And generally in autistic communities self identification is accepted as we know how hard it can be to access diagnostic assessments, and how difficult life was before we knew we were autistic and could do something about it.

        It’s not necessarily a substitute for formal diagnosis (I certainly needed mine) but it can take years to access an assessment. Many autistic folks have experienced trauma in the hands of medical services too. In an ideal world everyone who needs one could access asuitable assessment that isn’t biased with respect to age, gender, ethnicity etc but my own experience and my fellow autistic folks’ experiences say that sadly this isn’t what the world is like right now.

      9. AutisticDiagnosed*

        Autism assessments, let alone diagnosis are notoriously difficult to get for adults (speaking as a professionally diagnosed autistic adult), and self-diagnosis is therefore commonly accepted within the autistic community.

      10. OP*

        It’s pretty clear that I am at least in what some researchers have called the Broad Autism Phenotype. For one thing, I will be the first to admit that I resemble several pop culture characters who are widely considered autistic (some stereotypically so). For another, I have educators in my family who can confirm that I have many of the characteristics, just matured from what they would see in kids. Finally, I was on an autism research kick for a little over a year a few years back, so I’m pretty knowledgeable about it for someone with little formal psychological training.

        However, even though I’m 90% sure I fit the diagnostic requirements I feel no need to seek a diagnosis. Supports for adults who would be classified as “high functioning” are minimal, so I don’t know how I would benefit unless I need one for something like needing a formal ADA claim to be successful at work, which is currently not the case. I also think it’s overpathologized. (The treatment paradigm seems to be “train them to seem less obviously autistic” rather than “teach them how to be successful while autistic,” and much of the discourse is quite othering.) This is a bunch of words to say, thanks for your concern, but I wouldn’t see much return on the time, energy, and financial investment of having a doctor give me a piece of paper saying “Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

          1. ArtsNerd*

            …Which is maybe not the best phrasing in a discussion about autism, but basically: “This. All of this. +1000”

      11. Wm. Schmidt*

        Self-diagnoses are widely accepted in the autism community. While some may prefer a professional diagnosis, and it may help in some situations, it is not necessary in order to legitimately be autistic.

        1. lazuli*

          I’m a mental health professional and I often point out to co-workers that a diagnosis doesn’t change anything about the client’s actual status! If they had schizophrenia yesterday before they met you, you giving them a diagnosis doesn’t make the medical condition or mental health condition any different. A diagnosis just describes what’s already happening.

      12. AlpacaGroomer*

        There aren’t a lot of resources for adults who suspect they have autism, and if it’s not causing a significant disruption in your life, it’s highly unlikely you will be referred for diagnosis, and even less likely that it will be covered by insurance.

        As someone who has self-diagnosed as being on the spectrum, I’ve discussed it with my therapists and psychiatrists and none of them has encouraged me to seek a formal diagnosis.

      13. Well...*

        Are you aware your field has a huge problem with misdiagnosis, especially for autistic people who aren’t white men? Many people don’t get the resources they need until they self-diagnose.

      14. I heart Paul Buchman*

        Sure, but in my country at least it costs upwards of $3000 for a ‘gold standard’ diagnosis (multi-disc team).

        It might be good practice but it’s out of reach for most people.

      15. anonagoose*

        For most adults, the formal diagnosis process starts with self-diagnosis. And that doesn’t even consider the barriers to actual diagnosis, including finances, medical biases (hello, diagnostic criteria that assume all autists are white men) and social stigmas. You have literally no idea what the letter writer was drawing on to make that determination or where they are in their formal diagnostic journey, if they are on one at all. Frankly, the fact that your first assumption is that they based their self-diagnosis on comments on a post on Ask a Manager instead of self-exploration and research is offensive and reflective of all the reasons so many of us don’t trust “licensed professionals” like you.

      16. Splendid Colors*

        That’s going to cost OP $6000 out of pocket because the “qualified professionals” don’t take insurance. Unless OP wants to request reasonable accommodations at work, that’s overkill.

    2. marple*

      I do squats and calf-raises while I brush my teeth, but I don’t even like to let my husband see me do it!

  4. supertoasty*

    Yeah, this is one of those things that you don’t… HAVE to stop doing, I guess, it’s just that you should be aware that it’s going to be a thing you’re remembered for doing, for better or worse – of which it seems you’re at least aware. In any case, on the sliding scale of “stuff people do at work” this definitely places at “harmless and mild, if a little odd to witness,” so I think you should be fine in the long run, especially if, as you mentioned, you’re slowly but surely phasing it out.

    1. Sloanicote*

      Yeah I think Alison has said that you get to use your capital on what you personally value (possibly in response to one of the knitting/baking letters? Or the one with the whimsical office supplies?) so OP may decide s/he’s fine coming across a bit odd if they get to keep doing this. We all make tradeoffs!

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, it still sounds a bit odd to me but also pretty low stakes and as long as you’re not like causing coworkers to think “oh no, he’s falling!” multiple times a day, which it sounds like is not the case, then I guess you just do you!

    3. Wildcat*

      Since this is a stocker/warehouse type thing, I do think it’s actually possible to get fired for doing this kind of thing for safety reasons, and OP really does need to stop. Stocker/warehouse job managers are always highly worried about workers comp claims.

      1. Littorally*

        Yeah, this is the one element I think is more serious than plain old ‘OP is adding some interesting texture to the workplace.’ The worker’s comp angle is pretty significant — and what if OP actually does get injured on the job? My understanding is that one doesn’t generally do martial arts on entirely hard unyielding surfaces! Stances, whatever, but flinging yourself onto a concrete or tile-over-concrete floor is a nonzero level of risk.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          If he were flinging himself on the floor, that would be a legitimate concern, but the update presents the “controlled fall” in a different context: He is sitting down and falling backward to roll on his side to reach the back of the bottom shelf. With this context, it makes a lot more sense than what we imagined from the initial letter.

  5. quill*

    Congrats on taking feedback (and not causing anyone who happens upon you to wonder if a fall is a problem or intentional) despite a very loud comments section.

    (I also 100% thought you were restocking office supplies and not like, jugs of milk. Makes far more sense to be at floor level multiple times a day when your shelves are down there!)

  6. Paper Librarian*

    Yeah man, let your freak flag fly.

    If you were writing because someone complained about your karate moves at work, I might feel differently. But it doesn’t sound like you’re currently disturbing anyone, especially if you don’t often work with others. And now you have some feedback to know to reign it in a bit in public.

    I still roundhouse kick my car door shut–especially if my hands are full. Sometimes, it’s nice just to have fun.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Above I write about how I picture OP rolling over to the copier and “wow, that’s a lot for an office”, but full disclosure…on bright, sunshiny days I’ll do the leg kick step off of the curb like Bill Murray did in Ghostbusters. You can confirm this with my division’s head (Vice President) who was parking his car in the spot next to the sidewalk and complimented my effort after addressing me by name.
      It happens.

    2. Tinker*

      There’s a weird variation on a front kick that’s part of the curriculum for a martial art I used to study — one of those “niche things that might be good for training some underlying principle, but you probably don’t want to plan to specifically use it in a sport or self-defense context” type things.

      Best as I can figure it’s possibly good for kicking someone in the junk with moderate force from an angle that might surprise them, and definitely really good for catching a door that is closing in front of you when both of your hands are full. Such ninja, very groceries.

      1. it's-a-me*

        I want ‘Such ninja, very groceries’ on a T-Shirt, with a picture of a ninja exactly as you describe, in a classic ninja kick pose, but laden with bags and foot in a door.

      2. OP*

        Based on this and other comments you’ve made, we would get along with each other well, haha.

    3. Shallow Sky*

      I regularly kick doors open. If they’ve got the crash bar and my hands are full, why not? I don’t generally do it in front of people, because they’ll usually get the door for me, but I wouldn’t feel bad about it.

      1. whingedrinking*

        Whoever’s in charge of these things saw fit to give me impressive hips and no desire for children. I can only conclude that I was meant to use my butt to open doors when my hands are full.

      2. ArtsNerd*

        I’m struggling with the physics of this. Unless you’re doing it with inappropriate force, doesn’t it just close again by the time you close the gap with the rest of your body? Something more knee-distance would make sense to me. But then the height gets all wrong…

        I’ve use my feet, elbows, hips, and even my head to open doors before, but always at closer range than a kick!

    4. OP*

      Exactly. I generally modify different kicks than the roundhouse, but I certainly replace my hands with feet for many tasks.

    1. A. D. Kay*

      Same here! OP is my new work hero. You sound like a kick in the ass! No martial-arts pun intended.

  7. Just Me*

    Yes, knowing that your job requires a good deal of physical activity changes things. I think most of us commenters were imagining you working in an old-school office (so we should probably check our own assumptions!) so what you’re saying makes more sense in the context of your work.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, mentioning that it’s a grocery store-type job (or warehouse or whatever the setting vs an office) would have helped a lot, I think.

      1. Ope!*

        My mental image went from Dwight Schrute to Dina from Superstore (one of my favorite characters, for what it’s worth, and I can totally imagine her finding & using ergonomic controlled falls at Cloud 9)

      2. Myrin*

        I mean, OP did say “[m]y jobs haven’t tended to be office jobs” and a lot of commenters spoke about a retail environment to the point where it confused me because I thought I’d missed something. I personally didn’t envision any particular sort of work environment but I feel like many people were able to intuit it just right.

        1. TreeFrogEditor*

          You’re right, but even this I interpreted differently! I thought it might mean “In the past my jobs haven’t tended to be office jobs, but this one is, so maybe my expectations for what’s normal are out of sync.” The added specificity is so, so helpful.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yes, I also interpreted it as “I am new to an office environment and trying to readjust my norms” but I can see that it didn’t really say that and it was definitely just an assumption on my part!

    2. GlitsyGus*

      Agreed! This does change a few things. When I was doing warehouse work and had to actually be flat on the ground more than once a day it did make more sense to do, not a controlled fall exactly, but more of a sorta curtsy lower-down. It really was a lot easier on my body when I had to do it multiple times a day.

      One thing that did stand out:
      I’ll also try to reduce the frequency of stances around people, but there really are times when I need a position between standing and crouching or a way to generate some pushing power or something else where they would be practical for my non-office job.
      These are the perfect times to use what you have learned about displacement and leverage in martial arts! Absolutely use your horse stance (or whatever your preferred stance is) before trying to push a palate or lift cases of water! You will be the only one without a sore back at the end of the day. When it comes to the actual physical labor that is going to put stress on your body use all the tools in your toolbox. If anyone gives you a look or asks you can always just let them know, “centering like that helps me distribute the weight. It works really well!” From my own experience with that kind of labor it’ll pretty much explain everything. Maybe just be mindful in front of customers who don’t understand what you’re doing.

      1. Just Me*

        100% I remember seeing that but had images in my head of someone who was on their feet but in a kind of public-facing office setting (walk in resource center, DMV, school, etc.) So again I should have checked my assumptions and just read the letter. Mea culpa.

      2. Tinker*

        The thing that OP called a “controlled fall”, based on some discussion in the original, seems like it’s probably basically what you’re calling a “curtsey lower down” — basically, although it can be done with a lot of energy, the fundamental movement is just a moderately stable process of sitting on the floor from the standing position.

        Folks seem to have run with the assumption that “controlled fall” means something visibly acrobatic — “flinging oneself at the floor” — but that’s not consistent with anything someone could remotely call an efficient way to reach items on lower shelves, or for that matter something that someone would need to be told to stop doing because of bad optics rather than because it hecking hurts a whole dang lot.

        I mean, yeah, if OP is doing breakfalls on concrete, probably stop doing that, but more so because you probably want to still be able to turn your neck when you’re 30.

        (Seriously. I have on balance benefited a lot from being a martial artist, definitely including the point that I practiced breakfalls enough to learn them. But once I learned them I was a bit slow to cut down on how often I trained them, and thusly there are some massage therapists out there with new boats. Be careful with breakfalls.)

      3. OP*

        That curtsy position sounds like it might be close to one of the stances I do (a cross stance). It’s good when I want to reach low down but don’t need to go the extra few inches to get on the ground. A really low cross stance is also a really good way to limber up my hips if they’re feeling stiff. (My hips are two of my stiffest joints, and the workplace stretching programs I’ve encountered do nothing for them.) I do try to limit my use of that stance to when people aren’t around, though, since I’ve always felt it’s harder to explain that one than, say, a diagonal stance (like a lunge with a straighter back leg) to get a pallet moving.

    3. Sparkles with a side of Glitter*

      Yes! Plus I think of all the interesting people who work at my local grocery store. Our favorite check-out guy speaks in a British accent half the time. I asked him where he’s from…and he has never left our American town.

      Take care of yourself, OP!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Oh, that reminds me, there is a letter in the AAM archives from someone whose colleague suddenly started talking in a British accent. They worked in an office, though.

    4. Wildcat*

      As someone who’s had this kind of job, unfortunately this detail makes it worse, not better. Stocker/warehouse jobs are incredibly obsessed with avoiding on the job injuries. You have to take regular refreshers on proper lifting procedures.

      1. OP*

        Fair point. The job I did most of my intentional falls at wasn’t known for great safety procedures. They weren’t monsterous, but speed was so emphasized that milk crates that could be nudged into place with a foot were frequently used instead of ladders that would need to be picked up and set down.

  8. Hailrobonia*

    You should send a script to Stephen Chow. I would totally see a “Kung Fu Office” comedy action movie!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Oooo, and next door to the Kung Fu Office is the competing Nina Office. I Would Watch That.

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      But it is Kung-fu Warehouse or Kung-Fu Grocery. OP isn’t in an office so the visuals might be different

  9. TreeFrogEditor*

    FWIW, learning more about what your job actually entails (mostly solitary, a lot of physical labor) make a big difference in how I perceive this. For good or ill, I think a lot of commenters here, including myself, by default imagine that people writing in work in a The Office style white-collar cube farm unless specified otherwise, and we were responding to how martial arts stances would be received in that setting. Using low-key controlled falls when your job actually DOES require constantly moving down to low shelves in relative solitude sounds much more reasonable to me!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes, you don’t need to worry about tripping people if there are no other people nearby.

      1. quill*

        Yeah, when I reread and realized that the place might not be an office, I pictured retail such as being visible restocking a much smaller store during times when other humans might need to be walking around.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I followed this as well. No way. Oh, yeah, maybe…
      It reminded me of the last line of Chester Himes’ The Pick Up, where it rocks the reader’s entire sense of perception. Oh, THAT makes far more sense.

      (not comparing the gravity of the two, or the significance, just saying it’s a similar concept of perceptions and assumptions.)

    3. Ace in the Hole*

      Eh, for me that actually makes it worse… I see a much more serious safety hazard from falls like this in a warehouse setting vs an office. Even more so if LW works alone most of the time since hitting your head the wrong way while no one else is around can lead to Very Bad Things (TM). There is a reason us safety folks obsess about slips, trips, and FALLS. They’re far and away the most common serious workplace accidents in most industries.

      But then again, I was also assuming something like a warehouse/workshop/etc in the first place.

      1. Emilia*

        But I think doing these movements correctly would likely decrease the chances of a bad fall or strain. That’s the whole point of martial arts no?

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          I’m speaking from my experience practicing martial arts as well as my experience in occupational safety: the risk of injury from a martial arts backfall is much higher than the risk of injury from squatting/crouching/kneeling with good posture. Martial arts falls are great for reducing the risk of serious injury from a fall… but not falling in the first place is always going to be lower risk.

          There’s a reason martial arts schools practice falls on padded mats. A correctly executed fall onto a hard surface won’t cause injuries… but even an experienced practitioner can’t count on doing it correctly every single time. On a hard floor, getting the move slightly off can result in anything from bruises to broken bones to concussion. Repeated falls on a hard surface can also cause chronic musculoskeletal problems. But the biggest risk is that there will be an unexpected object in the way. Even if LW does everything perfectly, they could be seriously injured if they fall onto a sharp/pointy object or if there is something in their fall path (like a pallet jack, shelf corner, box, etc).

          Assuming LW is skilled at these falling techniques, it’s probably quite safe by the standards of contact sports. That is not the same as being safe by workplace standards. Save the breakfalls for times when you can’t avoid falling.

      2. SnappinTerrapin*

        There is a significant difference between a controlled fall from a standing position and a controlled fall from a sitting position. What he described in the update does make sense, and should not create a risk of hitting his head.

        What you envisioned is a serious risk. His supplemental description mitigates the risk. He’s describing a “fall” from a sitting position, in which he essentially rolls back from being seated, curls his head and neck away from the floor, and then rolls to his side to reach the back of the bottom shelf.

        He could lean on one arm and lower himself to lie on his side, but if we put our minds to it, we could imagine theoretical risks from using that technique, too.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          I missed that. I guess if he’s doing a seated “fall” that’s not much of a risk. Although it seems odd to me to call it a backfall if he’s doing it fully seated… I realize that’s what it might be called during his martial arts practice but in everyday discussion it would be more effective to say that he leans/rolls back from sitting. Controlled fall implies that there is, in fact, a fall – which there really isn’t if you’re already sitting.

  10. Chauncy Gardener*

    OP, the “Spongebob in karate gear at the Krusty Krab” visual absolutely made my day!!!
    Thank you for that!

    1. Merci Dee*

      “But sir, she snuck up on me . . . in my own dojo!”

      I love Sandy and Spongebob doing their kara-tay!

  11. OptimisticPessimist*

    For what it’s worth, Dwight is my favorite character. You sound like someone I would love to work around. Your Krusty Krab line had me rolling!

  12. creepycarbonara*

    LW reminds me a lot of a coworker I had at a past job who was a fitness nut and would regularly stand in various yoga poses/on one foot/ etc. He was, for the record, one of the coolest people I’ve ever worked with

  13. Nick*

    I see all these commenters saying thing to the effect of keep on doing your thing and let your freak flag fly. I just want to bring things back to Earth. I would absolutely be rolling my eyes at you and would never take you seriously as a co-worker if I saw you doing that stuff. I’m all for personal freedom, but like I told my kid, if you act different than what is the social norm then it is just a fact of life you must face the consequences. Its ok to be weird, but you can’t get mad if everyone thinks you are weird when you are being weird. Let your freak flag fly, but be ready to accept that people will think you are freaky. Freedom to act or do a thing is not the same as freedom from consequences of doing the act or thing. Please don’t misunderstand me, if my kid wants to let her freak flag fly I will be right next to her while she does it and help her any way I can to live her best life. I will be her shield from the mean or jerk normies for as long as I can.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      Fair enough, though I’ll add that the degree to which I would find this behavior odd is vastly different in the context of office cube farm vs retail stocking. In my current job, OP would be VERY quirky. In retail? Mildly quirky and very endearing if he was an otherwise good coworker to be on shift with.

    2. Temperance*

      I think there are degrees of office weirdo. I definitely put myself in office weirdo category; I’m very openly nerdy and my office is full of Funko pops and my prized Star Trek action figures. But I’m not the off-putting, “everyone thinks of the weird shit I do whenever they think of me weirdo”.

      For example, I have a former coworker who I liked quite a bit, but was pretty strange. Apparently, before I worked there, he was well-known for his huge, waxed mustache and riding a scooter with a matching helmet.

      1. Schnapps*

        Are you me? I have Funko Pops (Deadpool, etc), Lego Characters (including a Spock and a Worf), and my favourite, Feisty pets (both the plush and the figures).

      2. Baby Yoda*

        I thought I had nothing like that in my office, until I looked around at all the Grogu stuff I have. (Changing my name here from “New Job So Much Better” since it’s now been 5 years.)

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Luckily on a solitary night shift in a retail restocking job, the LW is unlikely to have anyone see his freak flag if he chooses to fly it. I’ve been in that role and anything that can keep you focused and awake is A-OK and definitely better than some of the choices my coworkers made (e.g. meth, yelling when lifting, singing, skateboarding). My only caution to the LW is to always be aware of surroundings if planning on doing something really out there and tone it down if folks can see you.

    4. anonymath*

      I agree in some ways (“if you act different than what is the social norm then it is just a fact of life you must face the consequences”) but drew very different lessons from that in life. As a woman who loves things that traditionally make one “un-womanly” and certainly unpopular in American culture, I went through a lot of anguish figuring out that I could try to follow social norms, inevitably fail, and end up without the activities I love and without social approval (because I am just not good enough at being a “normal woman”), or I could just say f(*& it and live my life. The second has been much better for my mental health and ironically my pocketbook.

      Certainly there are consequences and difficulties. But conforming will never protect one from all the evils of the world, and certainly won’t protect the OP from shoulder strain when pulling forward goods on those lower shelves.

      1. Tinker*

        I’m an autistic trans guy from what I’m getting to realize is actually kind of a weird background and… mood.

        The way I move, talk, and think about things is a bit off from “the norm” in ways that are, judging from how people react to me, quite often visible. I’m not incapable of moderating that and adapting my approach to connect with other people in a way that is often adequate, but past a certain point making a concerted effort to “look normal” comes off as more off-putting than just owning being a little odd and being good-humored about it, plus which it takes up effort and thought that could otherwise be used for substantive work.

        1. Lead Balloon*

          I’m also autistic, and I think I know what you mean. I think it’s related to the ‘uncanny valley’ effect.

          I feel that this is happening whenever I try to mimic neurotypical eye contact. It never looks natural but it looks like it’s trying to be natural, which makes it ‘off’ in a disconcerting way.

          Social rules can be changed if society chooses to change them.

        2. Divergent*

          In my experience succeeding at “looking normal” also leads to missing all the similar people that might have been good friends but who think I’m too normal to open up to, while normalizing being a bit off — being open about it and accepting it rather than acting as if it’s too terrible to expose folks to — helps me find my people and kind of ironically helps normal people to accept it through good humour, as you say.

    5. Gerry Keay*

      Trust me, most of us who let our freak flags fly are VERY aware of the consequences, because we experience them. In fact, many of us experienced social shaming even when we weren’t letting our freak flags fly, which is why many of us decided to say “screw this” and be openly weird.

      If you really wouldn’t take a coworker seriously because they move a little weird, that’s a you problem. You’re being the jerk normie you’re talking about protecting your kid from.

    6. Echo*

      Yeah, I think most of us weirdos kind of know we’re weird! I’m also not sure if being a shield is exactly the right way to think about this. I’d rather have learned the social skills and confidence to embrace my weirdness and stand up for myself than hide behind a shield.

      1. quill*

        Summarizing the threads I participated in during the original letter, it was all about letting the freak flag fly but also moderating it enough to not make other people’s lives harder (with the falling, particularly.)

        I’m weird and tired and I bite when people try to train me to not be weird. But I have a couple things I’m very good at and other people can just learn to put up with humans that don’t come out of a cookie cutter, so long as I’m not causing harm.

        1. Huttj*

          I know my knee jerk reaction was how if I’m seeing someone fall it’s jarring. Draws my focus to see if people are ok. So needlessly doing it on purpose stood out as a “don’t do that!”

    7. Wisteria*

      “I would absolutely be rolling my eyes at you and would never take you seriously as a co-worker if I saw you doing that stuff.”

      Sure, YOLO. But, you have choices in how to respond, and one choice is to take your co-worker who does that stuff seriously. Why not make that choice?

    8. JSPA*

      One of the best guys at the local [orange or blue home store] was a huge, huge star trek fan. And also the best source of electrical and HVAC information. If you can’t look past the trek gear and the ears to see the intelligence in the eyes, you’re missing out.

    9. Yorick*

      Agreed. I would roll my eyes if someone did martial arts stances as a way to shift positions to avoid soreness. You can just shift. This does still seem like OP wants attention for being a martial artist, although he is planning on toning it down some so I think that less now.

  14. FrivYeti*

    Add me to the chorus of, “oh, it’s a mostly solitary night shift job, not a general office job, that dramatically reduces how weird it is.” For one thing, if people have jobs that involve a lot of repetitive movements, they often develop unique and slightly odd ways of reducing strain on themselves, so the fact that you have a particular unique and slightly odd way of doing it doesn’t stand out nearly as much. For another, if people spot you doing a thing every once in a while, that’s not the same as being places where you’re constantly interacting with people. Which isn’t entirely fair, but society is weird that way.

    It’s still a thing that you could develop a reputation for, so toning it down a bit is not a bad plan, but I think you’re in a safer place than I’d originally imagined.

    1. Kyrielle*

      This. I was envisioning something retail-ish because it seemed to best fit with OP’s letter, but I hadn’t gotten the “mostly solitary” part in my head at all – the fact that there aren’t usually coworkers coming and going constantly (and thus, mostly no one seeing it) makes a fairly significant difference in how it’s going to come across, I think.

    2. OP*

      Not currently night shift (or retail), but my job is still plenty solitary and similarly physical. I don’t do the falls here, though, since there tend to be either obstacles or contamination risks in this environment.

  15. learnedthehardway*

    Sounds like you’re finding a way to incorporate some ergonomics with your job, and it just happens to be martial arts related. And that your job is a whole lot more physical than what I had imagined. (I had mental images of you doing rolls down hallways in an office building).

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      Same! Ergonomics in heavily manual jobs is important and as it sounds like OP is finding a way to protect themselves physically.

  16. Brightwanderer*

    I think that’s a really good assessment of what to keep and what to change, OP!

  17. triplehiccup*

    If you’re doing manual labor, ergonomics come first! Do what works for you. I wish I had been more careful when I was younger.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      I spend all day every day looking at the ways physically demanding jobs have damaged bodies over time. Do what works.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      For the sake of fun (which I hope is appropriate on this update, though I understand if this is deleted for derailing) I’m going to say Kevin. Why? 1. I love Kevin. 2. Kevin modified his method of communication in a way that worked for him, even though he caught some sideways glances in the process. 3. I am convinced OP could have saved that chili.

    2. OP*

      She actually hasn’t seen it, haha. She only knew that character through pop culture osmosis.

  18. Sarah M*

    I was one of the many who envisioned you doing power stance + drop roll in the copy room, so I appreciate the update and clarification. (You *definitely* do not want to be That Guy). What you’ve described makes much more sense. Thanks for the update, and the good humor with which you responded. :)

    1. Sarah M*

      *You definitely do not want to be That Guy In The Copy Room. (I should have included that last bit.)

      1. Savy*

        When I hear That Guy In The Copy Room, all I can think about is Rob Schneider in a cow costume chanting, “Making copies!”

  19. SaffyTaffy*

    That context about the falls makes it make SO MUCH MORE SENSE. I was definitely picturing, like, you’re in a button-down shirt and tie doing a somersault in order to pull a plug out of an outlet. What you’re describing sounds downright smart.

  20. Maybe not*

    I definitely thought you were doing all of this in an office setting. Knowing more about your job makes it seem much less weird. It sounds like you have a good feel for what is necessary and helpful to you and what is optimal and might be perceived differently by others. I’m sure you’ll find the right balance.

  21. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    OP, you might check your company’s employment manual or training materials for safe working practices. When I worked at a grocery store about fifteen years ago.. it was pretty strict about how you were to lift/move products, and that the company was liable if anything happened if you used a different method. Even if just a little slip, no matter if you’re a black belt, the company won’t want to pay out worker’s comp if you were using a method not recommended by OSHA. Even if by scientific standards your method is healthier or more efficient.. Just a heads up.

    1. Delta Delta*

      100% this. Because when OP falls the wrong way and separates a shoulder, or shatters a patella, or whatever other injury happens, that’s a workers’ comp claim. Until it gets denied when store surveillance shows and/or OP says they were doing a fall, which is very much not at all likely to be how you’re supposed to do it.

      Have fun in a different way at work.

      1. CV*

        Not sure where other folks are coming from, but in my jurisdiction, worker’s comp (where I work and make these decisions) would never deny a claim because someone didn’t use OSHA-prescribed body mechanics. If you got hurt at work in the course of your job duties, it’s in. I have absolutely approved things that happened because people are sometimes stupid, because that’s how the legislation is written.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Exactly. They could fire LW for breaking company safety policies, but he’d still get worker’s compensation since the injury was work-related.

          Also, getting worker’s comp regardless of whether you followed written policy is a critical part of enforcing occupational safety standards. Otherwise unscrupulous employers would just make a written policy that says they do things super dooper safe (whether or not the official procedure is at all practical), then off the record pressure employees to break official policy for speed/efficiency/cost savings/etc. When employees inevitably get hurt, the company could just point to their written policy and say “we won’t pay – it’s not our fault since he broke the rules!”

          By making employers financially responsible no matter what, there’s a strong incentive for employers to make SURE that people are working safely… even if that means making some compromises elsewhere.

          1. Shallow Sky*

            Yep. At my old physical-labor-adjacent job (theme park ride operator), while we’d probably get fired for violating procedure if we fell and broke an arm taking stairs two at a time, worker’s comp would still pay out. (And yes, we did do that. The way a particular ride was set up, it was the only way to consistently press the start button on time and check all the harnesses properly – we just had to move too fast.) Worker’s comp paid out on the guy who decided to steal stuff from the heavily fenced, “DO NOT ENTER, EXTREME RISK” under one of the coasters and got hit (he survived, but was very seriously hurt). Worker’s comp will pay out unless the company can demonstrate you hurt yourself intentionally.

        2. Emilia*

          I think OP doing these difficult physical movements ergonomically would be a benefit to the employer, since they are less likely to get hurt. In this context, I don’t even see why it would be a problem if others saw the OP do these things. It just makes a lot of sense.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            As HSE – somewhat, but also I’ll have other people noticing the method OP is using, and not knowing how to do it safely but also trying to do it themselves, because people are like that, and now I have Susie over here with a shoulder sprain and a few thousand dollars minimum of worker’s comp because she doesn’t have the training OP has. You likely will also have a safety person who has none of the training OP has and cannot verify that what OP is doing *is* more ergonomic than what ‘standard’ procedure would call for.

            (I am in heavy manufacturing)

            1. Ace in the Hole*

              Yup. Fellow safety person, this is definitely something I would be concerned about.

            2. OP*

              That’s probably the argument that has been most convincing to me so far. Luckily I’ve already gotten out of the habit of doing the motions that would be most dangerous for someone who hasn’t been formally taught them (i.e. the falls) due to their impracticality at my current job.

              You really do have to make sure to do the crouch/sit/rock sequence smoothly and with a well-tucked head for it to be safe and gentle. Most people haven’t done tens of thousands of these at various starting positions, so untrained copycat behavior could certainly be a risk. Thanks for gently pointing out an angle I hadn’t considered.

  22. Gerry Keay*

    This is my new favorite follow up letter. OP, you sound like an absolute delight and I would be honored to watch you do martial arts falls to reach lower shelves.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Look, as someone who had the “people are going to be jerks to me regardless” epiphany somewhere as a teenager, I get where you’re coming from and what you’re trying to do. However several people have already pointed out the workplace safety issue with the falls and how screwed LW is going to be if any injury occurs and the employer can say “well LW didn’t follow basic workplace safety rules so not our problem”. There are times to celebrate weirdness. This isn’t one of them.
      Besides, LW literally mentioned only changing some habits (the ones most likely to startle others), not their entire personality.

      1. JSPA*

        I am unconvinced that there’s necessarily a “how to” guide for sitting on the floor. (Though they might write one, after watching OP.) But if there is instruction, then yes, OP should do it the stated way/the demonstrated way, not the most efficient way. (“Be maximally efficient” isn’t a hidden part of every job description.)

        Regardless, I agree with Gerry Keay that OP sounds way nicer and more open minded here than they came across in the first letter, and strikes me, as well, as a good and interesting person to know. No harm celebrating that, I hope!

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Absolutely not! In fact I commend LW for it in a lower comment.

          However, it’s not *sitting* on the floor, it’s the getting to the floor that counts. I’m pretty sure if LW gets injured and the company is looking for reasons not to pay worker’s comp, falling to the floor might be a contentious point – even if it is a controlled fall by someone who knows how to do them.

      2. Gerry Kaey*

        Even when working with small children, never had I ever seen a workplace policy dictating how someone sits on the ground. But sure, continue writing a bizarre OSHA fan fiction if that’s what brings you joy!

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Now who’s being judgemental?

          As a sidenote, you may have noticed I didn’t actually refer to OSHA, and there’s a reason for that – I’m not American, so I have no idea what OSHA actually does and doesn’t entail. I have worked in environments similar to LW, however, and my employer would come down on me like a sack of bricks for falling to the floor on purpose when just sitting down would suffice.

  23. Student*

    It probably came up in the original comments, but I’ll add that a fidget that’s martial-arts oriented will come off to some of us as a red flag that you might be prone to violence. I know on one level that martial arts does not have to involve “real” violence, and I can see from your write up, OP, that violence is really not on your mind when you do these things.

    However, if I were watching this, without the write-up that explains what’s going through your head, I would think “This guy is doing a lot of fight posturing, all the time. He may have an unhealthy obsession with fighting, and he may be prone to solving problems with violence. I will stay far, far away from him and minimize all interactions, and if I have to talk to him I will treat him like a potential powder keg instead of like a normal co-worker.”

    I had to explain this to my own husband once. He is not a violent person. He got a gift of a pocket knife from a friend that he really liked, and he started treating it like a fidget toy. He’d flick it open and closed all the time, in all sorts of situations. He never used the knife for anything violent. He never threatened anyone with it, and never made scary comments about it. He used it to open boxes occasionally, and he flicked it open and closed constantly.

    It bothered me, but I didn’t say anything to him until I found out he was taking it to work. Then I sat him down and explained to him how scary it came off. Telling him that what he was doing, treating the knife as a fidget toy, was indiscernible from brandishing a knife to everyone around him. I know he didn’t mean to be scary, and I know that was not on his mind at all. But it was scary to hear that knife flick out unexpectedly. It was scary to see it in his hand when there was no reason for it to be out. It made me uncomfortable around him whenever he held the knife, and it made me leery of being near him, and it made me profoundly worried about his and my own safety.

    I told him he needed to leave the knife at home, and that I’d be happy to help him find a replacement fidget toy that was not so sharp and stabby. I told him that at least some of his co-workers would be scared by this, so it would negatively impact him at work. The idea he was inadvertently scaring people, including me, helped motivate him to quickly cut it out. Sometimes it’s hard to realize that other people view something you’re doing as scary.

    It can be very hard to see yourself from someone else’s point of view, but hopefully this will help explain why it’s important to ween yourself out of this habit and replace it with something else. I’d urge you to do it now, and not make it a gradual withdrawal, because of this intimidation factor. I know you think you’re being sneaky and covert about it, but I can assure you that people notice and talk about things like this. There is no level of being sneaky about this kind of behavior that is going to cut it. Also, cameras – cameras are everywhere. One person seeing this on security footage will be more than enough to out you rapidly.

    1. Gerry Keay*

      I dunno, I gotta disagree with this. So much of martial arts is a practice of control and discipline. A visible knife is in another universe than someone standing in a wide stance with sturdy posture or dropping to the floor in a controlled way, in large part because of the level of accidental harm a knife can cause. It’s pretty hard to accidentally throw a punch that lands; it’s a lot easier to accidentally slice someone’s hand open with a careless flick of a knife

      1. Gothic Bee*

        I don’t think Student’s point is that anyone is in danger of OP accidentally punching them, lmao. I think the point is that OP might appear threatening if they’re doing martial arts in their downtime and a coworker happens to see them throwing karate punches or something.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Yes, I’m inclined to think/hope LW is coming off as “loveable dork with a lot of energy” but that’s the one thing from the comments on the first letter that he didn’t address in the update.

      LW, please consider who is around and how they might feel if any of your forms, etc, can be perceived as aggressive or intimidating. Factors like your body size/build or the kinds of jokes you make and media you reference could make this behavior seem a lot more threatening. Personally I would not be comfortable working with someone who seems overly fixated on “fight-related” behavior unless we were VERY good friends or maybe if you were like, half my size.

    3. JSPA*

      All excellent points. “I know I’m harmless, so other people ought to assume so” is something that every person needs to unlearn.

      Especially would-be helpful people following others too close at night on an otherwise empty street. Or offering a lift, ditto.

      Add, “talking about stuff that sounds violent or involves death or dismemberment or body parts” (even if it’s just video games, just taxidermy, just pre-med lab, just having temped at a funeral home).

      Add, talking about military equipment/firepower outside of an enthusiasts club.

      Add, talking at length, spontaneously, and repeatedly in an admiring way about gangsters, ninjas, soldiers, warriors, actual pirates, mass murderers, cult leaders, mercenaries, and basically anyone else who made their living from their training and ability in the fine art off intimidating, coercing, injuring and/or killing others.

      Is it your legal right to skeeve people out, and make them tense? Pretty often it is, yeah. Is it a wise move, in 99% of social contexts? Hardly.

      1. quill*

        Yeah, OP: as you’re a guy who works nights I’d stick with non-obvious fighting stances that people don’t assume are “ready to fight” and are more like, warm up / could possibly be tai chi or yoga or stretches. It’s going to be better for your reputation to be The Guy Who Stretches All The Time, than The Guy Who Clearly Wants To Throw Down.

    4. OP*

      Fair point. I avoid using blocks and strikes as stims in public for this reason. I like to think I’ve mostly managed to do the stances in a way that looks like an odd position to hold a broom in or a powerful way to push a pallet, but I possibly did go too far when I shifted back and forth in stance to fling the mop across the floor in as wide a swath as possible during my dining hall work study cleanup shift.

      1. OP*

        I will say, however, that what I said about taking months isn’t because I’m not taking it seriously. It’s just that some parts of this are more akin to getting someone to stop shaking their leg when they’re concentrating while other parts are essentially dozens of the procedures I use daily/weekly/monthly have been revised to exclude what I’ve been doing but not advise on what to do instead. It’ll take a lot of consistent self-awareness and strategizing. It’s not as simple as not taking a single tool to work.

        1. JSPA*

          I also have an inner directive to maximize efficiency. I regularly need to bring it up / call it out / examine it, as that’s NOT actually anywhere near as high a priority for most people (and most jobs) as you might innocently think. “Be predictable even to those who don’t know you” is often higher priority. “Move in ways consistent with how we design our safety assumptions,” ditto.

          If a job bores you, minimizing time spent and motions spent isn’t the automatically correct response. Sometimes the right answer is, “signaling social comprehension that will track me into a less boring job.”

          I’m not saying you can’t choose to do this! I’m saying you can’t assume people will agree on the obvious utility of your efficiency hacks. You’re not alone on Mars; you’re in a sparsely populated but nevertheless shared workplace.

      2. lost academic*

        If you are doing things that are going to make the average person uncomfortable being in the same space as you (the mop flinging, some of the other things mentioned) you really do need to check yourself. Or at some point your manager is going to do it for you. It’s one thing if you recognize that your chosen behavior has potential normal consequences and accept that potential outcome, but if you don’t accept it and are going to react negatively/strongly/in disbelieve when you’re told to tone it down/stop/leave by management, then that’s something else.

  24. A.N. O'Nyme*

    LW, you definitely deserve some kudos for this. You mentioned in the comments of your original letter that you shouldn’t have read the comments right after waking up and were feeling bummed out, and yet you took the time to reflect on the feedback you got. That is a very commendable thing, and I wish you luck in finding good replacements.
    A good place to start regarding ergonomics might be your workplace – see if maybe there’s some tips about ergonomics in your employee handbook. Alternatively, see if you can find anything online about your specific situation and see what experts recommend.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yes, I second the recommendation that you look at ergonomics. And if you know anyone who works for UPS, ask them for advice. I once had a colleague who previously worked for UPS and he told me that their delivery staff got good ergonimics training on safe lifting.
      And OP, I’m glad you wrote in, because it made many of the dancers on this site come out of the woodwork and have a fun side discussion about dance!

    2. Myrin*

      Yes, I heartily commend OP for writing a follow-up! While some of his comments on the original thread seemed (somewhat understandably) a bit pouty, this update shows someone who engaged with others’ viewpoints in his head and really “had a good think about it” before drawing his own conclusions and deciding which advice to incorporate (I think that is something that often gets overlooked by commenters on AAM – people are just throwing out ideas and advice and everyone is free to follow those… or not. Everyone is the expert of their own situation and if they decide that because of [reason they didn’t mention in their letter], some of the suggestions won’t work, they’re wise to not try those).

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I agree with just taking the view that there are going to be a lot of ideas in the comments and some will work better than others … think of it as an idea buffet. And also, as commenters we forget that we never have the entire context of a situation or a person. Sometimes, there’s just a ton of backstory that can’t fit in a letter.

      2. OP*

        Yeah. I’m not a morning person, and I have to get up at 5am for work. I usually read AAM before I even get out of bed, but that proved to be a bad decision that day. It didn’t help that the day had other stressors happen, and I didn’t have much spare time to formulate thoughtful responses, so you really didn’t get my best self. Sorry I was a bit whiny and bowed out of comments after my lunch break. Now I know to stop reading if I encounter a response to a question I sent in first thing in the morning or at least save the comments for when I can engage with a clear head. No need to open that can of worms again, haha.

        But yeah. I do tend to think deeply and carefully about things when I’m not still waking up. I don’t accept things blindly, but I mentally “try on” most advice and arguments before rejecting them since I would rather become right than pretend I was always right all along. I’m just glad that my update thread reflected more of what I aspire to be than my original thread did.

        1. Alpaca Bag*

          “I would rather become right than pretend I was always right all along” – I love this! It embodies your well thought out approach to this whole thing.

  25. Sam Von Schmamm*

    My husband practices kung fu. It’s a hobby he loves and incorporates it into his daily life, as well. Horse stance is a favorite of his for settling jumpy muscles, etc. His job is very physical. All his coworkers know he practices and don’t mind him doing a form so he can settle his mind. He’s not customer facing so it’s not a big deal. I feel for you, buddy. If he had to take it out of his life, it would be very difficult. You be you. Good luck!

  26. 404_FoxNotFound*

    Thanks for the update OP!
    Fellow ND martial artist here. I think I had also understood this to be more office with desks and computers type environment than you described here. That said, I’d still advise you to keep the martial arts as inconspicuous as possible. Based on my own (more office environment than not) experience, I can say that if you need to lift or move something and it won’t regularly involve a flying kick or fall/roll, then by all means apply your training, knowledge of balance and leverage and such! That will save your back and help you stay uninjured! Moving yourself around though (crouching, standing back up, etc.) should probably still be done as inconspicuously as possible to avoid being labeled as Weird/Bad/Dangerous.
    I hope your coworkers do not give any flying anything about how quirky you are, but I’m assuming and erring in the side of caution. Good luck finding all of the discrete stims! (Ever played with mostly invisible muscle isolations?)

    1. Tinker*

      Also same boat here — I probably look about like the end result after OP deletes the obvious forms and any dramatic-looking breakfalls (if that’s what they’re doing; it wasn’t clear from the description and I don’t have many spoons for videos — and the conversation in these posts has been… interesting.

      I really want to emphasize — knowing about leverage and effective ways to move, and doing so routinely, is most of what I do as a martial artist and invariably a significant component of anyone’s practice even if they’re from a more flashy/fighty background than mine. These are useful skills that are relevant to work for many people — yes, even people who are intellectual and who write well (to reference a yikes from elsewhere).

      When you say “it’ll save your back”: Seriously, this is worth paying attention to. I’m 41, and in the past couple years I have started looking around and going — in a crowd of people who are roughly my peers, I am really starting to stand out not because I fly through the air to kill people with my bare hands (I don’t; I’ve never had a particularly high degree of athleticism, for one), but because I both can often carry a 50-pound bag of dog food into the house from the car, and judge with reasonable reliability when I shouldn’t try to do such things. That kind of thing gets to have a big impact on quality of life, and there’s even a lot said lately about how measures of everyday mobility predict lifespan.

      Some kinds of weird are good to be.

  27. Nope.*

    (To clarify, I agree that’s what seems to be insinuated, and I think it’s pretty disrespectful to people in non-office jobs).

  28. Not My Usual Username for the Purposes of This Comment*

    I wish we lived in the world where Autistic people or people perceived as Autistic (and yes, self-diagnosis is valid despite what professional gatekeepers insist) weren’t automatically assumed to be “weird” or even hostile because we make movements that are unexpected from a neurotypical point of view. And where NTs were more aware of these stereotypes, more aware of what autistic movements and stims really are, and didn’t always jump to conclusions of people being dangerous because they are different. This assumption that only people who can pretend to be normal can fit in in the workplace is really saddening to me. Or that if we can’t mask as well, we don’t deserve to have office jobs or non-solitary jobs. I don’t think that’s what anyone above is explicitly saying, but it’s the societal background noise thrumming beneath so much of the attitudes shown above.

    1. SloanGhost*

      Some of the responses to this are shockingly harsh. It’s I guess illuminating to know how many people think we should be disqualified from ~polite society~.

  29. Macaroni Penguin*

    Hey OP, you sound like a kind and thoughtful individual. I’m glad that you’re incorporating some of the feedback into your work.

    My heart also delights in the vision of a coworker doing martial arts at work. Someone just casually walking down the hall way (RANDOM FLING DROP ROLL) and continuing on. But yeah, that only fits on an action movie set.

  30. t4cie*

    Thanks for the update, OP, and you keep doing you. I retract the centimetre of caution I advised on your original letter, because when you said you practiced falls, I was envisioning you actually throwing yourself to the ground like the way I learned safety falls, but it sounds like you’re actually doing a less dramatic practice fall.
    Maybe I’ve just worked some weird places, but you don’t sound like you do anything very unusual or odd, and all the comments saying that you’ll look like a socially awkward freak sound like they’ve worked in very stiff environments (I once had a lot of classes with a competitive dancer and shared a LARP group with an aerialist, the urge to ask “are you comfortable like that?” was strong)

  31. Nom*

    As many other commenters have said, knowing what your job is makes your letter make a lot more sense. I think taking “stances” when stocking shelves all day would not come off all that weirdly IMO, but if you say, stocked one ream of paper a day, it would seem pretty strange. When i see someone doing a physical job doing something weird with their body, i usually assume they’re stretching or something (i used to crouch and hug my knees when serving tables because it was such a great stretch)

  32. OP*

    For those who are still concerned about the falls, I pretty much keep those to home right now due to small rooms, obstacles, and contamination risks at my job. Also, it’s literally just crouching and sitting next to my heels, making sure to keep my head tucked as I gently rock back. It may look jarring (so I’ll try to avoid it even in jobs with fewer obstacles and no contamination concerns), but with a little situational awareness/quick look back beforehand it’s gentler on my body than getting on the ground via putting a knee down. Heck, I often land harder into the breakroom chair for lunch than I do when my back touches the ground with this particular fall. I recognize that it’s one of those things that may seem very dangerous to an outsider, however, so I’ll make sure to avoid ever needing to have that conversation with a manager.

      1. lost academic*

        OP said they’re restocking a grocery at night? So I’m guessing floors aren’t clean, maybe they’re in the walkin in the meat area, that kind of thing.

      2. OP*

        I want it to be at least a little work to identify me, so let’s just say my current job has lots of areas where you don’t want material from location 1 to get into location 2 or there will be major consequences. We can pretend it’s a cleanroom or CDC lab or something if that helps you get an idea why it would matter.

    1. Ace in the Hole*

      Thanks for clarifying! I know I’m one of the ones strongly against falls for safety reasons, and I had been picturing you doing them at speed.

      I think there was a lot of confusion from commenters about what you were describing… in some cases because someone didn’t recognize the terminology, but in other cases because we are TOO familiar with the term and imagined the type of move we would expect to see in our own practice. My experience of a sit-down backfall from standing is a move that’s done almost as quickly as a regular standing fall and has almost all the same risks – which sounds like it’s very different from what you’re doing.

      If you ever need/want to discuss doing martial arts moves at work, I’d suggest using specific descriptive language. For example, if someone at my workplace asked me if it’s okay to reach shelves with a controlled backfall, I would say absolutely not. On the other hand, if they asked if it’s okay to get down on the floor by sitting on their heels and carefully rolling back, the answer would be “depends on the circumstances, lets talk about when/where it’s safe.” Similarly, there’s a big perceptual difference between “martial arts stances” vs “lunges and half-squatting positions,” even though a front stance is basically a lunge and a horse stance is basically a high squat. Etc.

  33. Sue*

    Your workplace needs to not regulary put things on the floor under a low shelf! It seems so weird to me..

  34. stretchingisgood*

    I think everyone was too hard on OP. Pre pandemic where I worked I got a union-mandated lunch break and two shorter breaks. Once commenters started suggesting people shouldn’t use those breaks for yoga, martial arts practice, or anything else, that was way too far IMO. “save it for the dojo” yeah ok is this guy supposed to dress for a dojo, get there and come back on his 15 minute break? Also, if you’re doing highly physical work I think it’s great to use different stances to stay comfortable.

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