using martial arts at work, I saw my job posted online, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. Is it weird to incorporate martial arts at my job?

When I saw your recent post about the kneeling coworker, I started thinking all of the weird things that I do, many of which are related to my martial arts experience.

For example, at previous jobs I have taken a controlled fall to get low enough to grab something off a low shelf or under a desk, and at most of my jobs I’ve stood in stance to write on a counter or other surface that was made for someone much shorter than me. I practice forms in out of the way areas during breaks and downtime. I give myself wrist locks when my hands cramp. And yes, I occasionally kneel (though I’m more likely to lie on the floor) for ergonomic variation of position or just because it’s comfortable for a particular task (more likely on carpet than tile, to be fair).

My jobs haven’t tended to be office jobs, but I do wonder what your take is on whether getting into unusual positions at work is unprofessional or just one of those quirks that makes life more interesting. I try to limit my impact on other people (I’m not practicing punches in a crowded hallway or doing forward rolling falls next to someone trying to review a spreadsheet or anything), and I’ve avoided some of these when they had obvious problems (probably better not to take a fall in a chemistry lab no matter how quickly I want to get what fell under the lab bench). That said, I’m not particularly self-conscious about incorporating my martial arts into my day in small ways like the falls to do work down low or doing stances at a desk. Is that a bad thing?

I don’t know anything about martial arts so I made my husband demonstrate each of the moves you mentioned and … yeah.

Wrist locks shouldn’t be a big deal, and practicing forms in out-of-the-way areas on breaks would be fine in a lot of environments, although not all. But a controlled fall is likely to be distracting or even outright alarming to people around you. Standing in stance will be less so but will definitely be A Thing That Stands Out As Odd. You might decide you’re fine with the latter; if you’re willing to be known as the quirky guy at work, that’s entirely your call! But I’d quit the controlled falls; they’re pretty over the top for an environment other people are working in.

Read an update to this letter here

2. My boss said they can’t afford to keep me, and then I saw my job posted online

A year ago, I was asked back by a company I used to work for six years ago. Two Wednesdays ago, I was taken to lunch by my boss and told that with business slowing down they couldn’t afford to keep me on full-time and I was being “benched” but not fired or let go but I should put my resume back out there and he would give me a recommendation letter and I won’t be able to apply for unemployment.

A few days ago, I saw my job posted on the website and a few job sites for full-time, same pay. It’s a copy and paste of what I have been doing. I have no warnings, no write-ups, and no complaints. I am at a loss on what to do here. On one hand, I want to confront the issue but on the other, I’m afraid it will cause me to be removed earlier. Oh, I was given “probably the second week of the month” as my “last day.”

That sounds an awful lot like they’re trying to get rid of you without having to pay unemployment, which is BS. They’ve set your last day; that’s not a situation where they can claim you’re not being let go or where you wouldn’t be able to collect unemployment. They’re just hoping you won’t file for it if they tell you that you can’t.

Document everything, and apply for unemployment as soon as your last day comes. (If at all possible, try to get something in writing from your employer indicating they’re having you leave, although you can still apply for unemployment even if you don’t have that.) If you want, you can also ask about what you saw — it’s on the company’s website, after all! It’s bizarre that they’d think they could do that so openly and you wouldn’t notice, and there’s no reason you can’t say, “I saw my current role posted on our website and wanted to ask about what’s going on.”

3. Should I suggest my boss not replace me when I leave?

I’m resigning in a few weeks from a job that has under-used me and offered little work. During my two years here, I have received less than 10 requests to do the highly technical support job I was hired for. I’ve spent most of my time here finding busywork for myself while waiting for requests. In addition, about half of the few requests I’ve received have been for a technical skill dissimilar to my expertise despite having a similar name.

Ergo, I’m departing for a new job. I believe that my soon-to-be-former company should not refill my role (a dedicated expert), especially not one who makes my (well over market) salary for expertise that this company doesn’t need. Would it be worth it for me to strongly recommend that my manager not replace me when I’m gone? He’s aware of my low workflow, but is fairly uncommunicative and has always dismissed my concerns by saying that requests for my expertise will probably pick up soon.

Is your sense that this will be new info to your boss or that it will have an impact? If so, then sure, go ahead and make the recommendation! But it sounds like he might have all the info he needs to reach that conclusion on his own, and if the dynamics of your relationship indicate there’s any risk (for example, that he’ll resent the recommendation and give you a less enthusiastic reference in the future because of it), then skip it.

4. I want to talk to recruiters but I’m not ready to actively job search

I have worked at my company for about 2.5 years. I love my job and don’t really want to leave, but there have been some abrupt changes that are making me a little nervous. I am not ready to actively look yet, but I would like to see what else is out there and start networking with recruiters. I get a lot of cold emails and LinkedIn messages about various roles all the time but I usually don’t respond to them, and if I do respond and say I am not actively looking but would love to be kept in mind for the future I never hear from them again, which is understandable. I would like to speak with recruiters when they contact me and there is a chance that I could be swayed with a really amazing offer, but I want to be up-front with them so as not to waste their time. What is the best way to do this?

If you say you’re not looking currently but want to be kept in mind for the future, most recruiters won’t invest much time with you (unless you have a really in-demand skill set). So I wouldn’t say that if you want to talk to them! Instead, say you’re not actively looking but you’re open to moving for the right opportunity, which is true since you said you could be swayed by a great offer. Or you could skip that caveat entirely and just talk to them; agreeing to talk about a job doesn’t commit you in any way, and there’s really no expectation that you’ll only discuss a job if you’re actively searching.

{ 572 comments… read them below }

  1. Viki*

    I have my black belt and besides being a fun fact about me in ice breakers, there’s literally no reason why it would come up at work.

    Controlled falls in an office, or in a retail environment would be distracting and also just annoying if I saw someone do that, in an eye rolling way.

    Stances are slightly different but if you’re going into something super low (ie horse stance) that would also be an eye roll and a thought about professionalism. It’s not the end of the world but it’s not a beacon of professionalism.

    1. lyonite*

      Yeah, this isn’t anything I’d even mention to HR, but if OP1 has even the slightest notion they’re impressing people with their antics, they need to abandon that. If I had a coworker who was trying to incorporate martial arts moves into their workday, I’d roll my eyes so hard they might have their own controlled fall.

      1. ItIsWhatItIs*

        They’re also laying on the floor, which is a whole nother thing. I’d be curious to know LW1’s success when seeking promotions.

        1. Thistle*

          Talking of lying on the floor, where are you working that the floor is clean enough to lie down on? Everywhere I’ve worked in gets cleaned daily and yet the floors are always a bit manky. You’d want to wash your hands after putting them on the floor, let alone your whole body.

          1. the cat's ass*

            exactly, i work in health care and even though my office is REALLY clean, especially b/c panini, I’d never be found on the floor unless i was dead.

            1. wendelenn*

              Panini on the floor in a health care setting? :D I’m assuming that’s a very funny autocorrect for “pandemic”.

              1. Anon all day*

                A lot of people are using “panini” instead of pandemic (or other similar sounding words). I saw it starting to be used on, like, YouTube or Reddit where they were flagging posts about COVID at first because of all of the misinformation.

                1. stefanielaine*

                  Especially Tiktok – I think it’s a combination of COVID-related posts getting flagged, the auto-captions really struggling with the word pandemic for some reason, and people trying desperately to find some sort of levity when all the news is so bad. The panini, the panorama, the Panda Express. I heard someone call it “the prosciutto” once. :) The NYT even wrote about it!

              2. Mr. Shark*

                Haha, I’m looking at that and trying to figure out what panini could be an autocorrect for…it’s much more fun with panini there rather than the pandemic.

              3. Elizabeth West*

                I thought maybe the cat’s ass was cooking panini in the office (and if so, I’d be there every day with a plate and a hopeful expression).

                1. AJoftheInternet*

                  I did not see the username of the original comment and was briefly very horrified at what kind of lunches you were having.

              4. the cat's ass*

                yes, for some reason both my phone and my computer are terribly averse to ‘PANDEMIC.” Sorry about any confusion, food on the floor is also not good!

      2. cityMouse*

        The only time I ever reacted with a self-defensive spin at work was when someone came up from behind me and decided to try and hug me. Everyone was surprised, both the hugger and the witness yelled (?!) at me, I stayed silent and let them yell, then walked away… my supervisor said nothing (nightclub environment), BUT no one ever did it to me again… however, I never practiced at work. That’s inappropriate. Your coworkers deserve better. Also, you don’t need to telegraph this stuff. People will find out if and when they need to.

        1. jtr*

          I’m a little curious why you didn’t say anything during the yelling (!!!). “That’s why you shouldn’t sneak up on people from behind, dude.” Assuming it was a dude. Was this a customer or a coworker?

      3. Can Man*

        I don’t care about impressing people. I care about doing movements that are comfortable to me, keeping my muscles active, efficiently getting up and down, and staying in practice even when I feel like it’s unsafe to go to class. I try to limit it to when no one but the cameras are around, but I’m starting to think even that may be perceived as showing off.

        1. Freelance Anything*

          This is all very well, but you don’t need to stay in practice at work. You can do that in your own time.

          1. Freelance Anything*

            Just to clarify this, your stretches are fine. More people should be stretching at work.

            But doing full forms at work is really the part the stands out to me. This, again *to me*, is something to do at home/at a dojo/in the park.

            As for getting to low down things in a safe way… there are ways to do that without a controlled fall. Which I’m picturing as a slower/less dramatic front breakfall? (the final position looks like a plank).

            For example, muscle memory occassionally has me getting down to both knees in a slightly formal way, but that’s far less likely to draw attention, while also being controlled and easier on the body.

          2. Anonym*

            I think Alison outlines a good division between what’s unobtrusive and what’s distracting/alarming. I practiced martial arts for years, and would still be pretty weirded out by falls or rolls at work. But I’ve definitely done subtle movement practice when no one was around.

        2. Riley and Jonesy*

          I’m going against many people here and I’d say go for it! There are a huge number of studies showing that doing ‘eccentric’ positions just for a couple of minutes every hour can improve posture and overall health. Isn’t it the norm in many other cultures to do stretches as a group in an office? Being immobile at work surely causes far more problems than someone doing a few quirky movements.
          I think you are ahead of the curve on this Can Man, which is why others would see this as bizarre and Not For The Workplace. But I’d say thst if these are keeping you healthy and aren’t too distracting (so check in with your team mates!) then you should keep going.

          1. Mockingjay*

            I’ve done yoga stretches – modified standing and chair poses – in the office in my cube and on walks around the building. No one minded; these are quick and unobtrusive. I won’t do inversions or floor poses because those just aren’t suitable for work. (While my coworkers seem to like me, that relationship doesn’t extend to gazing at my rump in Down Dog, lol.)

            OP1, keep the exercises simple and PG. I’d probably been scared you had a fall and started yelling for assistance.

            1. londonedit*

              Exactly – stretching at work is good for you, and when I was in the office I’d regularly find an excuse to get up from my desk and walk to another part of the building, or I’d do a couple of unobtrusive back stretches in my chair, or whatever. But I wouldn’t claim that it was ‘easier’ for me to stretch my back by doing a full-on sun salutation or warrior pose in the middle of the office, because you don’t just start doing yoga poses in the middle of the working day unless you’re trying to draw attention to yourself.

              1. Galadriel's Garden*

                Yes, exactly this. Back when I worked in a more “traditionally” set up office with cubes and offices with solid doors, I would sometimes snag an empty office and shut the door if I needed a floor stretch. My current office is fully open, with glass-enclosed meeting and phone spaces – I would not be doing child’s pose or down dog either a.) in the middle of my (and everyone else’s) working space, or in the fishbowl that are our meeting spaces. I cannot imagine working with someone who just…hit the deck in a controlled fall periodically.

            2. quill*

              As someone who has dramatically wiped out at random in many public places, I’d be concerned about OP1. Personal experience would suggest that your knee or ankle had buckled.

          2. Nanani*

            There are definitely cultures where stretching in the office is normal and NBD, as well as things like practicing a golf swing (with an imaginary club!) while standing outside an elevator or waiting for public transit.
            But the point is if you’re the only one doing it in -your- office, then it might be a distraction to others nearby and that’s worth taking into consideration.

          3. Mameshiba*

            Those stretches are also coordinated set movements, not individual free-form karate practice.

        3. Everything Bagel*

          Is it really inefficient to get up and down without falling to the floor? That part made me laugh out loud imagining someone where I work doing it. I imagine this would be startling for people around you and you should stop doing it.

          1. NerdyKris*

            I’d imagine it’s easy for someone who’s in shape and can bounce back up one handed, but I can’t understand why it would be preferable to just squatting or kneeling if you’re already that flexable.

          2. LuJessMin*

            Just have to say, thanks to your username, I’m currently having a bagel breakfast sandwich. Thanks!

        4. JLS521*

          It’s more comfortable to fall to the ground to reach something than it is to simply bend down? Sorry, I don’t believe that.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Yeah. There are so many other ways to get things off a low shelf without falling down. The rest of us somehow manage to do it.

            The rest of it, probably okay. But the falls need to stop.

          2. Squidlet*

            Thing, is doesn’t matter whether it’s easier, more comfortable, or whatever. It’s not something for the workplace (unless you work in a martial arts studio).

        5. Autumnheart*

          Then join a gym and practice over your lunch hour.

          I admit I LMFAO picturing someone falling to the ground to get something off a shelf. I mean I used to be a cheerleader, so when I get up from my desk, I make sure to do split jumps while shouting at the top of my lungs. Just to stay in practice, you know. Not to impress people.

          1. Wildcat*

            I mean also, don’t throw yourself on the ground near furniture. That’s how my then 2 year old ended up with 6 stitches right in the middle of his forehead. Blood everywhere.

            1. Rolly*

              But was your two-year-old trained in martial arts? Highly skilled in an ancient practice that connects body, mind and soul? A physical and mental discipline that hones and strengthens muscles, builds flexibility, and sharpens reflexes? An cultural art form celebrated in poetry and pictures for millennia?

              Like my coworker Harold. Well?

              1. Squidlet*

                If I’d been drinking coffee, it would have exited through my nose when I read this – literally laughing out loud.

          2. anne of mean gables*

            I do not practice martial arts, so maybe a ‘controlled fall’ is different than what it sounds like to a lay person – but I am absolutely dying for video footage of this in an office setting. It sounds…truly astonishing to behold.

            1. JLH*

              I immediately went to watch some YouTube videos- it’s not as dramatic as I was picturing but it would still be incredibly bizarre to come across a coworker doing it and I’m fairly low key about caring what coworkers are doing on a day to day basis.

          3. Momma Bear*

            I agree. A lot of people go to a gym or out for a walk/run at lunch. I’d do the poses then, and not during the regular work day. If someone fell in my office I’d be alarmed. There have been times I’ve been on the floor (or on a chair, depending) to get at something but it’s not routine and there are no dramatic falls to get there. If the counter is short, consider placing a stool or chair there to sit or lean on. Like someone said about yoga poses – there’s a line between what just looks odd and what’s really not appropriate for the professional environment.

          4. Reluctant Mezzo*

            I do a Vaguely En Pointe when trying to reach something high (since I am short, this happens fairly often), but badly enough that it doesn’t bother anyone.

            1. Sasha*

              This is more like doing a full developpé to reach something off a high shelf, and claiming you are just doing it because it’s easier than reaching normally.

              1. Emily Spinach*

                Oh it’s easiest for me to get things off the floor if I do my most dramatic penche, and then obviously I generally need to waltz turn across the office to put the item back where it belongs (piques, if I have less space).

        6. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, but you don’t need to do a controlled fall to do that. Controlled fall to get into a lower position sounds a lot more like attention-seeking than practicality.

          1. Anonym*

            That would be my impression as well. There are some people who get very performative about their martial arts, and I think for them it’s hard to be aware A) that they’re doing it and B) that it really weirds people out and comes across as performative.

            (I’m a former practitioner with a practitioner ex who did that crap all. the. time. and it was absolutely attention seeking. The rest of us didn’t need the world to know we were Martial Artists (TM).)

            1. Em*

              I had an ex like that. Same stated reasons: he wanted to stay flexible, stay in practice, etc. And I get that – not a martial artist myself, but I like to stay in shape for my sports too. I can do that in the office with some simple, unobtrusive stretches though, and save the real stuff for my off hours (or breaks when I WFH).

              My ex was definitely known as the weird guy who liked to show off his martial arts skills. I can assure you, based on numerous comments I heard, that no one was impressed.

            2. Koalafied*

              This is absolutely something Dwight Shrute would do in The Office.

              LW, don’t be Dwight Shrute. You never want to be the Dwight Shrute of your office.

          2. Cait*

            Yup. This reeks of attention-seeking behavior. I know the OP claims he just wants to practice but if that’s the case I want to ask, do you you do controlled falls at the grocery store? At the gas station? At the doctor’s office? You can “practice” at those places as well but if you don’t I’d say this is more about trying to impress your coworkers than getting in more practice time. There is a time and a place for everything. Leave your extracurricular activities out of the office.

        7. Antilles*

          staying in practice even when I feel like it’s unsafe to go to class
          I don’t know MMA, so I’m asking this earnestly: Are you really getting THAT much useful practice by doing a few controlled falls when you have to pick stuff up? I’m just remembering every office I’ve ever worked in and grabbing stuff off the ground is usually on the order of “a few times per day”.
          Again, I don’t really know MMA, so maybe it is.
          But while I don’t know MMA, I do exercise regularly and I’m just trying to envision this from that sort of perspective. Like, I could do a proper squat motion to grab a notebook off the bottom shelf. But when I regularly do squats with weights and/or do full sets (plural) of air squats at home, is doing one single air squat at the office really actually serving as relevant practice or training? I really don’t think like it is…and it would usually look odd enough that it’s really not worth the hassle of being that odd guy.

          1. Nea*

            “Are you really getting THAT much useful practice by doing a few controlled falls when you have to pick stuff up?”

            I will argue yes. Oh, OP really ought to at least warn their coworkers that they’re practicing controlled falls rather than flopping over! But the more you drill something into muscle memory, the more likely you’ll be able to do it unconsciously when it really counts. And for something like falling? From someone with many a bruise, I’d love to be at the point where I control my landing.

            1. Butterfly Counter*

              Then OP 1 should practice controlled falls more outside of work to pick up and enforce the muscle memory, not throw themselves to the ground in a professional setting just to pick up something slightly out of reach.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              But the more you drill something into muscle memory, the more likely you’ll be able to do it unconsciously when it really counts.

              This. I’ve done a tuck-and-roll when I actually fell while taking a walk (I stepped on a fat twig and it rolled under my foot). It was so ingrained after years of skating that it happened automatically and I popped right back up without even thinking about it. I can’t recall ever doing that on purpose, though.

              1. Theo*

                I saved myself from serious injury twice because of years of ingrained emergency-dismount practice from my horse — once I only broke an ankle instead of, say, my neck, and once I ended up on my feet when I could otherwise have crashed into the ground (I did then fall over, but at dramatically reduced, non-gallop speeds). My body very much just took charge because of what I’d ingrained in it.

                However, I would never practice emergency dismounts off my chair at work, no matter how useful it might be.

          2. Squidhead*

            I will do a squat (really more like a deep plie) to get something from a low shelf, but that is because my lumbar spine is super tender these days and bending at the waist makes it worse. If anyone notices, I hope it looks like I’m guarding a painful area (which I am!) and not like I’m showing off that I took ballet decades ago!

          3. Boof*

            At one of my varied dojos, one of the stories was an upper rank blackbelt had really powerful legs from standing in horse stance all day at a factory they worked at – I think standing in something like horse stance while needing to stand still at work could be good exercise, especially considering one probably is on the clock at least 20% of their time
            Now, if we’re talking crane stance, might be a little much; unless no one’s around then who cares

          4. Mr. Shark*

            “A few times a day” to pick stuff up off of the ground even seems a lot. I would think that would only happen once a week or something.
            The whole thing seems bizarre to me. I would definitely cut the controlled falls and lying on the ground. You’re not at work for martial arts practice.

          5. pope suburban*

            I do MMA, and no, I don’t think this is necessary or even super-helpful. Yes, muscle memory is a thing and yes, drilling can help that, but at work? I don’t see a lot of utility. We’re not talking about, say, using proper form to lift something heavy, which is something everyone should take the time to do (and learn about) for safety, we’re talking about being ostentatious. I assure you, if I need to get to something on the floor, I can crouch or kneel like anyone else, and doing that hasn’t held me back in the sport that I or my coaches can tell. This person sounds like they’re really proud of what they do- which is fair! This is a lot of work!- but that they’re not expressing that in the most adult or professional way. They could take about 20% off the top and be fine, both athletically and professionally.

        8. Threeve*

          Honest question: have your coworkers never seen you lying on the floor and expressed concern for your health? I really can’t imagine seeing a coworker lying on the floor for the first time without going “oh my god, are you okay??”

          1. quill*

            The only place I’ve ever worked where lying on the floor would be Not Weird was when I was a councilor at kids’ art camp.

          2. Antilles*

            If OP was lying on the ground and clearly working, I wouldn’t necessarily worry about their health – like if I walk by your cubicle and you’re lying on your back with typing away at the laptop resting on your chest.
            But it’s so far from the norm in professional offices that it would still look strange.

        9. Make My Day*

          I’ve got a Black belt too and I know a ton of martial artists. It IS possible to keep your muscles active without incorporating martial arts into your work day. It does come off as weird. The only time my coworkers learn of my martial arts is when a guy tries to put his hands on me. So much fun to see their faces when that breast grope turns into them being in a nasty joint lock or getting nailed in the jaw.

          1. DKLKEK*

            Dear god, where do you work that you’ve had enough coworkers try to grope you that the tense structure of this story makes sense.

            Good on you defending yourself, but also your job sucks.

        10. Sylvan*

          Okay, but the way other people perceives you matters in the workplace.

          This is going to come across as attention-seeking behavior, although it might not be.

          (This also might startle me as someone who doesn’t love sudden movements in crowded places, but it’s not like we’re coworkers.)

        11. Umiel12*

          OP, just to be blunt, it really is weird. I would be willing to bet money that you have co-workers who talk about you and mock you because of it. Where I work, we would call it a career-limiting action.

        12. thisgirlhere*

          OP, have you talked to anyone at work? If you have a mentor or someone whose judgement you trust, maybe ask them. All of us are trying to picture this out of context but we don’t really know who you are and what you are doing (even with the help of video). I’m sure you can find a balance that still incorporates some stretches without startling your coworkers or coming off as aggressive. And please do think about those things. You know your motivation, but it still may come off as showy, intimidating or even nerve wracking to those around you. They have a right to feel comfortable at work too.

        13. Myrna*

          It’s tough to stay active working 8 hours or more so I empathize-i often feel like crud after work and I exercise every morning-but if I saw someone doing this I would immediately think of Mac from Always Sunny. But doing forms in a (truly) private area seems like a good compromise.

        14. Sarah M*

          I worked in retail during college. The security guys would do stuff like this All The Time to try and Impress Tha Pretty Ladeez. It had the opposite effect.

          I know you *say* you aren’t doing it to impress others, but this kind of flexing (i.e., a controlled drop where squatting/kneeling would do, constantly affecting perfect MA stance when most people would just… stand), is almost invariably done with that purpose in mind. To the other humans in your life, it comes across as performative because it is.

          As many, many others have said, there is nothing wrong with doing some minor stretches, moves etc on the DL but the more involved ones should remain at the dojo if you don’t want to be That Weird MA Guy to your coworkers, etc. It’s really not worth the reputational hit. You want to be known for the quality of your work, not The Weird Thing Brad Keeps Doing in The Copy Room. Capisce?

        15. t4cie*

          Since nearly everyone else in the comments is really ripping you a new one, I feel like I have to say this; the controlled falls are disruptive and should be cut back on, but otherwise, you are right and they are wrong. Everyone else should practice horse stance to use the copier instead of you bending over to fit in.

        16. Hmm*

          I used to work with a guy who was really into fitness and was always doing stretches and, like, holding poses in meetings, when talking to coworkers, or just in the middle of the break room. We all definitely noticed and thought it was quirky and kind of goofy. I never thought he was showing off, just that he maybe lacked awareness about the fact that what he was doing stood out as unusual to see at work.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Honestly the only time I can see controlled falls being okay in an office is if it’s a reflexive action when you’ve actually tripped over something. I only know a couple of controlled falls out of necessity (if there’s anything that can be tripped over, there’s a good chance I will find it the hard way) and with most I fail to see how the limited time save of falling Vs crouching would be worth startling your coworkers.

      As for stances…I guess I can see it when you’re using surfaces designed for people a lot shorter than you when there’s no better alternative, but even then I guess it depends a bit on how obvious they are? Horse stance may be a bit too much but if there’s a more subtle stance to achieve the same thing I’d personally write it off as “Oh Tyler is trying to remain somewhat ergonomic when using that table clearly not designed for their height”.

      1. biobotb*

        I was thinking that there’s a good chance that the OP’s non-martial arts-doing coworkers will not realize he’s fallen on purpose, but over time will think he’s so clumsy he can’t pick things up off the ground or low shelves without falling over, even if he manages to bounce back up right after.

      1. Can Man*

        Op1 here. If I wanted to show off the terminology I would have switched languages. I was trying to use accessible terms without going into a full paragraph to describe each individual position.

        1. The Lexus Lawyer*

          I wouldn’t, if I were you.

          You did ask for our advice.

          Presumably you have 16 other hours of the day to do whatever you please to keep your muscles active

        2. Tuckerman*

          My perfect world would involve ukemi in the hallways. My concern is if anything happened (a tack on the ground you didn’t see) it could lead to a workplace injury, which is costly for the employer.

          1. Sweet Little Buttercup*

            I must say that I have been tempted by ukemi in the hallway! I’ve never done it, though…. except one time when I fell on concrete at work. Knowing how to breakfall saved me from severe injury.

            I’m not willing to nix the idea entirely. I think you could do something like koho tento undo rather slowly and gracefully, without undue notice, but it all depends on the work environment, the expectations, etc.

            OP, why not ask your colleagues if you’re being distracting?

            1. Zelda*

              “OP, why not ask your colleagues if you’re being distracting?”

              Because putting people on the spot like that rarely results in honest answers. Many, many people will make mouth-noises about no, it’s fine, it’s all fine, while actually thinking that falling is a weird way to get from point A to point B and it startles them every time.

              Asking a mentor senior to OP, or asking a trusted friend, is a bit more likely to get an honest answer, because those people may feel more secure about freely criticizing. Or, y’know, strangers on the internet.

              1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

                Right? Like, if the intensely-into-martial-arts/often-flings-himself-at-the-floor-while-slapping-his-hands-down-to-fall-break-before-going-off-to-punch-the-air guy suddenly goes up to a coworker and asks them if they have any problems with his KickPuncher ways, they maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay nooooooooooot necessarily be comfortable answering honestly, because he’s been engaging in weird physical behavior that might seem threatening and they might not feel SAFE telling him “Oh god, please stop, you are making me so desperately uncomfortable.”

                1. Zelda*

                  From what they’ve said here, I don’t think OP is *necessarily* coming off as physically threatening (not that we can know the feelings of all of OP’s coworkers). But even without that, many people are firmly schooled in Polite Indirection, which will not permit them to look right at a coworker and say directly, “Actually, you’re being pretty annoying.”

                  But we internet strangers, we’re very good at being critical.

        3. OddEgg*

          IMO constant practice can be hugely beneficial to health and posture — and if you’re ok with just explaining yourself to colleagues when asked them I see no reason to not. Professionalism is overrated. If it’s not detracting from the work you do then I’m all foot people being as weird as they like.

            1. The OTHER Other*

              Professionalism is like your health, you mostly don’t appreciate it when you experience it but you sure miss it when it’s gone.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            As someone who has done tai chi moves, yoga poses, or other stretches discreetly at work when I was pretty sure nobody was around… I wouldn’t think professional ill of anyone doing any kind of basic controlled stretches for a few minutes at their desk. Yes, even warrior poses or sun salutations or minor stretch speed martial arts moves. I would, however, think anyone who took “This person is stretching so any kind of exercise is okay” to mean they could still do full speed punches and kicks, controlled falls, downward dogs, lying on the floor, deep squats, or anything else that puts you in a weird awkward bendy place, makes you sweat or pant visibly or makes you look fast or alarming.

            1. Lenora Rose*

              “I would, however, think anyone who …. is being excessive and a show off.”

              Professionalism is a tricky thing. We worry about it to excess in some directions (I will never to the end of my life understand why some people read opaque tights as less professional than fragile sheer or semi-sheer panty hose*) but in noting that some standards are ridiculous, we can also push too far against reasonable and appropriate standards. Things that distract people, create worry or distress, or make your average coworkers stare or feel grossed out are all very VALID reasons to keep to some professional standards and behaviour.

              *I’ve gone well past tights and into “No really, I am going to wear leggings under my otherwise proper skirt. Especially in winter.”

              1. Louise B*

                My father always taught me that the core of professionalism is to not make your personal life a problem for your coworkers. As your coworker, I will be sympathetic if you’re going through a divorce but that doesn’t mean I want to hear every detail, and I still need you to do whatever part of your work overlaps with mine. This extends to peccadilloes- I, your coworker, do not care about your martial arts habit. Do not put me in a position where I have to know or care about it. Light stretching in a reasonable area- even if that’s in a cubical- is totally fine and ignorable. Falling to the ground intentionally is ridiculous, and makes your martial arts habit my problem because now I need to be able to tell the difference between you falling accidentally and falling intentionally, and it’s extremely distracting.

          2. Squidlet*

            But it does detract from the work you do, by _distracting_ from the work you do. As others have mentioned, you become memorable for the wrong reasons. And that can extend beyond your current workplace.

            I have colleagues from 25 years ago that I remember more for their odd or unpleasant behaviour, than I do for the quality of their work.

            Like Benedict*, who had perpetual body odour and used to drink the cold, scummy coffee that he’d left on his desk the day before. He was probably a coding whizz, but I don’t remember.

            And Harriet*, who stood so close to me that I kept shuffling away until I backed into a piece of office furniture and was trapped. Every day! Multiple times! She was maybe also a good business analyst, I don’t know.

            There’s a chance that my colleagues from my first job also remember me for Bad Reasons because I too had limited social skills and understanding of workplace norms.

            * Not their real names.

        4. Hats Are Great*

          I get that you’re really into it, but the whole thing is coming across as very Dwight Schrute.

      2. Fenn*

        Ahh I realise I’ve done the kneel thing. To be fair I’m checking low down cages, I used to squat but it hurts my ankles so just kneel/sit on the floor, sometimes ill slide on my knees to the next rack of cages to check rather than the pain of getting back up and then squatting back down again, although I try not to do that around other people. Sometimes people ask me for help and they’ll attempt to squat to be on my level to talk to me, which is hilarious and I’ll get up to talk to them. The funny thing is though, we have a station next to where I may be sitting on the floor checking cages, with whoever using it standing up, and me next to them on the floor, my head at about groin level, checking cages next to them hahaha

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yeah, I’d stop any of the more unusual-looking moves unless you’re 100% sure there’s nobody else around. Stretches etc. are probably fine if done discreetly. As a mediocre amateur ballet dancer, I have sometimes done releves (flat foot to tip-toe) while waiting for the copier or something, but that’s about it.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        Same here (sometimes with pliés as well). I also have been known to do some soft shoe while waiting (I work in a theatre, though, so far less unusual).

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          I sometimes find myself doing soft shoe under my desk if I’m listening to music :) But it’s under my desk and no one can see what I’m doing.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I totally found myself boogie-ing to Smooth Criminal at the vet’s office yesterday while I was waiting for them to bring my dog out.

      2. UKDancer*

        Same here as another mediocre ballet dancer. Sometimes I stand in first or fifth when I’m waiting for photocopies or printing and check my turnout and occasionally do releves (our printer is very slow) but not when anyone can see. If someone sees me then I stop.

        My physio has given me stretches but I do those in the toilet or the first aid room where people can’t see me because I don’t particularly want to be seen looking weird.

        1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

          Oh god, this is giving me flashbacks to when, in fifth grade, a girl tried to get me in trouble with the teacher because apparently my standing in fifth position was being hostile to her. Although you know what? I *was* a pompous twit about being a ballerina. (We were both being twits, really.)

          That said, as an adult in an office job, I have absolutely and very discreetly done some ballet when bored/fidgety. So I get this. But yeah, if other people can see it or you’re doing something spectacular (no grande allegro!), you’re showing off whether you think you are or not.

        2. AnonaLlama*

          Just came here to say that this intersection of AAM and adult ballet has made my Friday.

          Also, back in the ‘before times’ I had a private office with a door and would do a lot of ballet while on conference calls or while in the copier room alone waiting for copies. Now I do the same at home. But would NEVER have done it in the office where anyone could see me. And ballet is a *performing art*. It just…..does not belong in an office.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            I’m glad that all the adult ballet folks here got to identify ourselves! And it must have been fun to do ballet in your office with the door closed, I bet your colleagues would’ve been amazed if they knew. :)

        3. Cassie*

          I’ve done releves (and plies) while waiting for the copier too! But it’s not something I would do with other people around.

      3. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I have a sit-to-stand workstation and I do releves sometimes when I’m standing to keep my feet from getting tired, so I do understand the urge to do some exercise/stretching during the work day.

        But I worry that while nobody has mentioned it to OP, he’s becoming “that weird guy at work” that people will tell stories about at parties.

        1. Momma Bear*

          A bunch of people here have adjustable desks like that. OP might want to look into it for workspaces that are not at the right height.

    4. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      It reminds me a little of accomplished ballerinas being super bendy while doing regular tasks. On one hand, I assume that it’s second nature for many of them and they may not even really register how their body is moving.

      On the other hand, it’s hard to do stuff like that and not look show-0ffy.

      Mild flashbacks to a friend of a friend who was shocked when she realised we didn’t all shave our legs by just lifting our legs up to our face. That was kind of sweet and funny because she was only a teenager — but it would probably be unbecoming on an adult.

      1. birch*

        Yep. Some people like to pretend that a skill makes you automatically perform the skill when finding yourself in a situation that uses that domain. But that’s uh… not true at all, and something people say just to show off and annoy everyone around them! Opera singers are perfectly able to sing “happy birthday” in a normal voice, yogis are able to stretch in a casual way, sprinters are able to walk down the street at a casual pace, dancers are able to turn around without spinning on their toes, artists are able to draw stick figure people. They might be more graceful or neat or less effort than the average person, but to get into the actual performance of a skill is a conscious act. The point being–performing is distracting and annoying, and there are non-performative ways to do the same things–bending down while taking care of your back, stretching out your wrists, stretching a leg or standing at a desk. There’s no reason to bring out the Official Martial Arts Poses at work when regular versions of the same thing are less distracting.

        1. Freelance Anything*

          This is perfectly said. Thank you!

          OP#1 is in the comments now talking about how they’re just doing what feels comfortable, keeps muscles active and keeping up with practice.

          The latter 2 are not justifications to be doing this in a workplace, as most people have ample time to do that at home.
          But your explanation perfectly fits the issue I have with their first justification.

          1. Fluffy Fish*

            Even the first reason has boundaries. Laying on the floor may be comfortable, but it’s pretty inappropriate for most workplaces.

            1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

              1000%! I work in a typical bland office environment and one of our greener staff used to occasionally lie on the floor in her cube to be more comfortable when she was pregnant. This was years ago, before I started, and people STILL talk about it as in “She’s a weirdo who used to lie on the floor”. Like, she maybe did it twice. You get a rep around the office for stuff like that.

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, this. I mean, in an emergency I would expect a martial arts expert to go all out, like cityMouse above, but otherwise it would read as showing off.

          That said, before the pandemic I used to do tai chi, and sometimes at work I’d stand in the basic pose at a standing desk for a while. But it’s not particularly noticeable, or at least nobody commented, or looked at me like I was doing something weird, even if they noticed.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            One of my kids’ teachers mentioned doing a lot of martial arts in the context of the active shooter drill they were conducting–he would tackle someone who entered the classroom, because he had specialized training in this context, so they were altering the baseline recommendation. But he wasn’t doing controlled falls to retrieve the chalk.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            I used to work with a woman who taught tai chi (completely unrelated to the job we shared) and she sometimes did some tai chi-based things at work, but they were pretty subtle. It was fine, anyway–we were in separate workspaces and I didn’t even see each other most of the time, much less get seen by patrons. I can’t think of anything we did there that would have been done with martial arts moves without looking really needy, though.

            1. Umiel12*

              I used to have a co-worker who would start doing tai chi moves when she came to my desk to talk. She did that with everyone, not just me, but people talked about it behind her back.

          3. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Yeah. As another mediocre ballerina, there have been times when my back hurts that I stand at my standing desk in my Very Best Ballerina Posture to relieve it, but in normal clothes that just looks like…standing up straight.

          4. pope suburban*

            I feel like stretching at work is a very different thing. So many workstations are not ergonomically great, and can lead to repetitive stress injuries or postural imbalances. Sitting all day, for example, is not great for most people; you get posture problems, or hip flexor issues, or back problems. Someone doing static stretching at work is looking out for their health and, because it’s static stretching, not endangering anyone else or likely to spook anyone. Big stuff like forms, controlled falls, or active stretching, on the other hand…probably not the best for in the office. Save that for lunch break or when you can have some space to yourself. There’s a really big happy medium here between looking out for your health/using proper form and doing full-on kata.

        3. londonedit*

          Yes, perfectly said and exactly what I was going to say! It might not be your intention but it really does come across as ‘oh, sorry, I’m just SO INTO martial arts that I can’t help myself, I simply have to do my martial arts moves every minute of the day, that’s just the kind of craaaaaazy guy I am’. Like if someone who was into running made a huge show of changing into their running kit and doing warm-up jogs and stretches in the middle of the office so everyone knew they were Going For A Lunchtime Run. I work in a casual industry/office environment but someone dropping to the ground instead of bending down to get something from a low shelf, or standing in a martial arts stance at the photocopier, would make people feel really uncomfortable and they’d absolutely get a reputation as the Weird Martial Arts Guy. It’s like something out of a sitcom.

          1. justabot*

            I was just thinking how even my trainer, who is a personal trainer at a gym, doesn’t even do his own lunges or jump squats or whatever move when he is there working, in a gym, unless he’s off the clock on his own time. I’m sure he also wants to keep his muscles active and stay in practice, and it wouldn’t even look “weird” to see someone lunge walking in a gym, but not when he’s with clients unless he’s demonstrating a move. It would be super distracting. I also don’t lunge walk down the hallway at my professional workplace, as much as I would also love to work on my fitness goals and keep my muscles engaged.

            1. londonedit*

              Yes! The people who work at my gym aren’t doing their own gym stuff while they’re working. They come in early and do their workout before they start training clients. I’m sure I’d feel a great benefit in fitness terms if I ran up and down the stairs five times every time I needed to go to a different floor of our office building, instead of just walking, but that would also be a very strange thing to do in a professional workplace.

              1. pope suburban*

                Thirding this. Unless a trainer or instructor is demonstrating proper form to a client or a class, you don’t see them working out on the clock. That’s reserved for their own time. This is a fight gym that trains actual, professional fighters, some of whom also instruct/train clients there. If we don’t have that happening, then yeah, it’s definitely weird and out of line in an office or store or…uh, anywhere else, really.

              2. London*

                I take the stairs to work every day. My office is on the fourth floor, HR and most of management is on the fifth. So I take the stairs if I need to talk to them as well. It’s a simple low-key way of keeping fit. I mean I don’t run because I could fall and break my neck but still.

                1. justabot*

                  Yeah I mean there are definitely ways to incorporate fitness into your daily routines like taking the stairs, parking further and getting in the extra steps, etc. I think that’s very different from doing lunges down the hallway instead of waking or sprinting up and down the stairs five times in between meetings. I wouldn’t find it that strange if a few people from work changed into workout clothes at lunch to get in some kind of fitness. When I worked in football, some of the coaches and scouts used to go outside and run the stadium steps before a game. But in terms of doing this as part of a regular professional work day, that would have been odd.

          2. MusicWithRocksIn*

            Exactly. To me, the real issue here is your relationship with your peers, because as soon as anyone sees you acting like this they are gonna go “Oh, THAT guy” and roll their eyes really hard, and really not trust your judgement as much as they used to. Because everyone has known one of *That Guy*, and *That Guy* (or *That Girl*) will insist forever that they are not trying to show off, but *That Guy* just does not know how to read the room. *That Guy* is usually exhausting.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            Didn’t we have a letter about a guy wearing bike shorts in the office a lot? I thought of that when I read this one.

        4. CalT*

          This is an amazing comment and I’m going to shamelessly use your comparisons from now on, because I haven’t been able to put it into words so eloquently.

        5. Insert Clever Name Here*

          So much yes to this: “They might be more graceful or neat or less effort than the average person, but to get into the actual performance of a skill is a conscious act.”

        6. Nea*

          Some people like to pretend that a skill makes you automatically perform the skill when finding yourself in a situation that uses that domain. But that’s uh… not true at all… the actual performance of a skill is a conscious act

          My personal experience says otherwise. When it comes to falls (or anything else involving muscle memory) the more you drill a movement into your muscles, the more likely your muscles will take over without your conscious thought – which is exactly what you want to happen in emergency situations.

          Back in my horseback riding days, I saved myself and my horse more than once by having practiced the emergency dismount All. The. Time. including non-emergencies when people told me I was being weird or showing off.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Also horseperson, also practice estops and falling on a regular basis (to the point where if I start to shift my weight my gelding will flat out stop, turn, and look at me like “seriously, again?”).

            I am not going to launch myself off my chair at work because it’s not the time or place.

            I also belly dance, which involves a lot of muscle memory & muscle isolations. I have a standing desk at work. I will do some very basic stretches, but I will not do a shimmy, because that’s still not the time or place.

            1. londonedit*

              Yep…I do Pilates, yoga, distance running and I go to the gym. I’ve never felt the need to bring any of those things into the workplace. I’m also an editor, so yep, I am absolutely noticing all the spelling and grammar errors I encounter in my day-to-day life. But I am not the sort of obnoxious person who ‘can’t help themselves’ from pointing them out when the situation in no way warrants it.

            2. UKDancer*

              I do bellydance as well as ballet and I must confess I do shimmy before an interview because it puts me in a positive headspace and reminds me how amazing I am so I go into the interview feeling my best self. But I don’t do it where anyone can see. I either do it in the toilet if it’s a face to face interview or before I switch my camera on if it’s a zoom interview.

            3. Littorally*

              Also also horseperson, also extremely extra about flinging myself out of the saddle when the option is available — but emphasis on ‘out of the saddle,’ not my desk chair.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            I think learning how to fall is not the same as pretending you can only stretch in Very Dramatic Ways.

            1. quill*

              Yeah, the point of drilling, say, a fall, is to use it when you need it – either in performance or when it will genuinely keep you safer. I know a couple stage falls. I pull them out when I have inevitably tripped over air, but I certainly don’t do them all over the office.

          3. The OTHER Other*

            I think you are missing the point of the comment. Yes, drill helps muscle memory, but that drill doesn’t need to be done at work. Are you practicing horse dismounts at work? Just because you need something on the bottom shelf doesn’t mean you need to do a controlled fall—if you “instinctively” do a controlled fall to get something off the bottom shelf, then you have serious problems with judgment. The comment used the analogy of someone being an artist still being able to make a simple stick figure diagram on a white board rather than busting out 3 point perspective and chiaroscuro.

            Some of this just seems performative and distracting. Should volunteer firemen practice rescue drills in the hall? National guardsmen practice room clearing in the break room? It just doesn’t belong at most work places.

            1. rollergirl*

              I play roller derby, and have muscle memory around ways to safely fall (e.g. if I’m falling backwards, twist so that I land on the meaty part of my butt and protect my tailbone). If I trip over something or slip on the ice, this muscle memory kicks in. That’s miles away from deliberately doing a baseball slide because I need to grab something off of a low shelf.

              1. Spooky doo*

                Oh boy, my tail bone has been wrecked because of a hard slip on the ice a few weeks ago. I would have loved some of that instinctual training to have that NOT happen.

            2. Squidlet*

              I’m imagining volunteer first aiders practicing resus and the Heimlich maneuver on their unwitting colleagues in the break room *snortle*

          4. Spero*

            Conscious is the key difference to me. If I’m in a situation where I’m falling off a horse, yes I’m going to do it in the learned appropriate way. However, I don’t voluntarily lunge out of my chair as if I was falling off a horse simply to use the skill. In this example, if the OP was falling (ex tripped over something) and turned it into a controlled fall using their skills, then it’s not an issue at all – I think my reaction would be “are you ok” followed by “that was a really cool save! How did you do that?!” The issue is that he is NOT falling naturally, he is choosing to fall in this specific way in scenarios that don’t involve the need to fall in any way. You can’t claim it’s “something involving muscle memory” when you intentionally choosing to create the situation.

          5. Shan*

            Look, I have a cousin who was a gymnast and can still do the whole multiple backflips in a row thing. Obviously, regular practice is going to allow her to keep being able to do this. You know what she doesn’t do? Backflip down the hallway at work to get that practice.

            1. Totally Subclinical*

              I have often wished I were physically capable of doing multiple backflips down my office hallway — it’s a nice long corridor and would be great for it. But if I *could*…it would be at 7am or 6pm when no one else is around to be disturbed, and frankly, I’d probably think better of it and save it for someplace with a padded floor and no glass windows that I could damage if I fell.

          6. birch*

            The difference is, in your example it’s the same domain. Of course muscle memory applies. But it applies to the *domain*, with some domain-generalized sensorimotor skill enhancement (re: my comment about being more graceful, more efficient, etc. than the average person). Motor memory of the kind that would make you automatically perform a structured skill doesn’t apply outside its skill domain! That would be like saying you automatically do an emergency horse dismount off a motorcycle or start automatically playing a cello like a violin because of muscle memory. (And yes sometimes brains do actually do this, but that’s akin to putting your keys in the fridge without realizing it, it’s a bug, not a feature.) OP is doing *controlled falls* *intentionally,* not, as others have pointed out might actually be appropriate, reacting to a natural fall by turning it into a controlled fall. And it also matters how complex the action is. Ballet dancers automatically pointing their toes? Sure. Full on martial arts forms in the middle of an office because you bent down to load the copier? No, that’s not how muscle memory works.

        7. Sparkles McFadden*

          Yes, this is what I came here to say and now I don’t have to figure out how to say it.

        8. MEH Squared*

          I think we can also talk about things that have become instinctive through years of practice (such as always keeping my knees slightly bent and my tailbone tucked in) and skills that I practice such as the forms that are a conscious choice.

          I can understand the OP having practiced something like a controlled roll enough times for it to be almost instinctive to use it, but I still feel that it’s different than the former examples. I can’t exactly articulate why.

          But also, I don’t have a problem with kneeling or squatting to get something from down low rather than bending at the waist.

        9. Dahlia*

          As someone who did regular yoga before breaking my spine, you know what was the most helpful thing that carried over, weirdly?

          Knowing how to roll onto my side and sit up without straining my back. My nurses were very impressed.

    5. Myrin*

      I think I had a coworker who did this, I would feel like how an NPC must feel when I get to know the mechanics in a new video game and roll around and kick stuff while they’re next to me just doing their thing.

      1. quill*


        I’m imagining me playing super mario smash bros, and OP, for context: I have won by spending the entire time jumping headfirst against a wall while everyone else destroyed each other. I did not have any idea where I was on screen.

        I’ve also lost five seconds after start because I jumped off the platform.

    6. Pumpkin215*

      Another black belt chiming in here! I have my 3rd degree in TKD and I’m a former instructor. I don’t think one person in my company knows this. There is no need to practice forms and controlled falls throughout the day. That is what class, home, the gym, etc. is for. Honestly it does come across very much like showing off and I’m going to guess the LW has a low rank.

      Do opera singers belt out songs at work to keep their voices active? Do runners sprint to the bathroom? I’ve never seen anyone twirl a baton, juggle, groom llamas or anything like that in the workplace. That is because there is a time and a place for such activities and it isn’t necessarily at work.

      1. Jessica*

        Pumpkin, I believe you’ll find that surprisingly many of the audience here are professional llama groomers! It might be the leading line of work for those of us not in the teapot industry.

      2. Emotional Support Care’n*

        Thanks. Now I’m imagining every marathon runner doing a Naruto run to the bathroom. I did a spit take with my coffee.

        1. 404_FoxNotFound*

          Oh what a mental picture! Was really glad to not be drinking the moment I read your comment, Emotional Support Care’n.

    7. RCB*

      If I saw someone doing any of these things in the office I’d not think kind things about that person, I’d roll my eyes and think he wasn’t hugged enough as a kid because now he’s seeking attention and affirmation from his colleagues. Harsh? Probably, but that’s what comes to mind, and I am sure I’m not the only one who would roll their eyes heavily at the “weird karate kid”.

    8. Kat G, PhD (and black belt)*

      Another black belt here chiming in! I’ve known people who would do this kind of thing, and it is extremely jarring, even in the work environment of a martial arts school! It’s not forbidden, but it’s going to mark you as “the weird martial arts person who never turns it off,” and you’ve gotta be prepared for some odd looks and comments, as well as some people thinking it’s unprofessional and unnecessary. Most of my friend group is martial artists, and we’d still lightly (and lovingly) mock someone who did this kind of stuff in “normal” life.

      1. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

        This actually sums it up very well. I’ve known a number of people, especially early in their training, who would throw themselves at it this way, and it’s…cute, but kind of weird. The only time I’ve ever done a break fall in public was when my clumsy butt was falling anyway. So, yes, more than once–and sometimes quite spectacularly–but not to retrieve something off of a bottom shelf or the floor. I *do* occasionally practice on my lunch break, but I work from home and have a mini-dojo in my garage, so…

        The other thing that I would strongly keep in mind is that it is usually best not to announce that you’re a martial artist. It comes out socially occasionally (a large chunk of my close friends are also martial artists anyway), but for the most part, I’d rather read as a cupcake right up until it’s necessary for someone to realize otherwise. My mom drives me *nuts* because she wants to talk about my shiny black belts to anyone who will listen, and…I do not want her to do that. Cupcake. Cute. Likes to run, but kinda slow at it. Unless you screw with me or my kids, and then it’s game on.

        OP, Volunteer for your security team, or to help in an emergency, if that’s a thing with your organization. Be on standby to help deal with difficult customers. (Remember, deescalation is as important a skill as knowing what to do with yourself in a fight!) There are ways to use those skills and keep them sharp without shoving them in your coworkers’ faces and being the “weird karate guy.”

    9. English Teacher*

      Agree, and I’d suggest op1 consider the context in which most of his coworkers will probably be familiar with the stances and moves he’s making…probably from movies where people beat each other up. I’m certainly saying that that’s what martial arts is only about, or even mostly about, but you have to look at context. They are MARTIAL arts, after all, and any coworkers unfamiliar with their real-world practice are going to associate them with fighting and probably feel a bit uncomfortable.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        That’s a very good point. I’m NOT into martial arts, although I enjoy a good action movie. However, if I saw someone doing martial arts type things in a work environment, I would be concerned that they were a threat, or at least so oblivious of social norms that they might become a threat. It would certainly make me uncomfortable.

    10. essie*

      Part of me is surprised at the lack of nuance I’m seeing in the reactions to LW1’s question. I get the notion that it’s not ok if it’s distracting to others, or if it’s in front of customers, or if it’s causing LW1 to be less effective at work, etc. But if those aren’t issues, it’s like Alison said – if he practices on breaks and he’s ok being the quirky person at work, then that’s his business! So many people here are saying that your hobbies should be done only at home and not at work, but in the past when I’ve openly read a novel at the lunch table on break, no one told me that was Not Okay and to keep my hobby at home. (Did I become known as the “nerdy book girl?” Yes, but it was true so I didn’t mind!) One of my coworkers knits openly on breaks and then walks around and shows us all what she’s working on. I don’t really think of that as showing off, it’s just someone being passionate about a hobby, which doesn’t bother me. Many of us likely have a hobby that has infiltrated our work life somehow, even if it’s just a decoration in our office that displays our interests.

      But because martial arts is less common/understood/respected than reading or knitting, it feels like people are judging because it’s not something they’re used to. This kind of feels like the person in my office who complained about the smell of curry in the office kitchen because they were only comfortable with American food smells. (An office rule was created after an “incident” that no one could eat Indian food at work, which is obviously problematic.) Please, let’s not be like that person who is offended by things solely because we’re not used to them. Living life with other people is not always about our own comfort level.

      1. londonedit*

        To me, it just feels ostentatious and I think it would be very difficult for it not to read as showing off. It’s not the martial arts in particular, it’s the fact that it looks performative. It’d be the same if someone was constantly jogging around the office because they were training for a marathon, or swinging from the door frames because they were really into parkour and ‘had to’ practise every minute of every day. It looks like they’re drawing attention to the fact that they’re A Runner or they have this Cool Edgy Sport Hobby. Going for a run at lunchtime? Perfectly fine. Doing a 5-minute yoga practice in a quiet meeting room on your morning break? Perfectly fine. Knitting at lunchtime and showing people who you know are interested? Perfectly fine. But going around the office doing random yoga poses or running up and down the stairs or falling on the floor every time you need to pick something up? Those things cross the line into ‘weird performative stuff that looks like attention-seeking’.

        1. 404_FoxNotFound*

          Yep, this is a large part of why I agree with Alison about OP1.

          I’ve been practicing marital arts for over a decade, and folks I’ve met in the USA have seemed to read martial arts (especially as someone who is now read as male) as a wow! factor like in the movies, or that I might be dangerous with no warning.
          (Most folks didn’t take me seriously in a martial arts context before I transitioned, for better or worse, I can’t comment on experience as a trained martial artist who reads as female in the work place.)

          Most relaxed to very casual office cultures will classify martial arts moves that are recognizable to the layperson that are in the work place as “that’s weird but ok sure, you do you”, assuming we’re talking about things like stances, stretching, practicing forms somewhere out of the way/alone. If that works for you, go and do the thing. Someone is likely to speak up if you cross the threshold to “you could hit someone” or it’s bothering people.

          If I needed to practice and desperately wanted to do falls at work, those I’d probably warn folks/check in if it’s ok to do that in the break room or something, but otherwise I’d avoid personally avoid things like falls, however controlled. To most they won’t read as controlled, and folks who don’t know any better may react poorly or very surprised. I keep those for when I’m actually tripping or falling and do that practice outside of work hours/buildings.

        2. Aitch Arr*

          At a former employer, there was a woman who brought her knitting to every. single. meeting.

          She became known as “The Knitter” and not in a particularly flattering way.

          1. allathian*

            There’s a woman in my team who always knits during our meetings, unless she’s either presenting or taking notes/keeping minutes. She’s open about how it helps her focus during meetings. Apart from this little quirk, she’s very professional, so nobody minds.

            1. Squidlet*

              When we moved to work-from-home, I started crocheting during video-off meetings. I found that it helped me to concentrate. But I would never do it in the office, or even in an video-on meeting. And honestly, I would find it odd if my colleagues did, although I can’t explain why.

      2. Tuckerman*

        I really like your perspective and I think we should work towards being more accepting of things we think are weird or even “cringe” but don’t do any harm.

      3. twocents*

        The answer to “is this potentially seen as weird” is objectively, “most likely, by at least some people.”

        “Weird” doesn’t mean “bad.” It means that it’s likely to be seen out of the norm for him to collapse to the ground to pick up a pen rather than just bending over and scooping it up. If he’s okay with being seen as weird for doing that, then that’s his prerogative, but it doesn’t make sense to lie about how it’s likely perceived. Or to equate that to racism.

        1. Littorally*


          Being the weird guy who flings himself on the floor at any opportunity is really not equivalent to being a target of racism, and drawing that comparison shows (irony!) a pretty significant lack of nuance. No one’s saying the LW is being Evil or Bad, just that he’s being kind of a weirdo and probably very distracting, and a lot of people with similar hobbies are chiming in to provide context on how that really isn’t a normal Martial Artist Thing(tm).

        2. Autistic Employee*

          As an autistic person, thank you for this.

          When I ask questions about how my behaviours are being perceived, the most helpful people are those that are willing to speak honestly and explain how the overwhelming majority of neurotypical people see things.

          I’m not saying that OP is the same, but comments that are clearly non-factual don’t help people who are looking for honest, sincere feedback. This behavior is very abnormal, and calling it anything else is not helpful

      4. typical lurker*

        It wasn’t a particularly nuanced question, though. I would 100% consider what OP describes to be strange, unprofessional, probably distracting, and I would judge them for doing it — and that’s what they asked. You could maybe have a more nuanced discussion around whether the reasons for my/people’s reactions to this behavior might be right or wrong or valid or invalid, but the reaction is what it is, and it’s up to the OP to decide how much to let it bother them.

      5. Ace in the Hole*

        That’s the thing though… I have a very different feeling about someone doing this on their breaks vs peppered throughout the workday as it seems LW is doing.

        Going to an out of the way spot to do a bit of exercise on your break should be fine, as long as it’s not disruptive or something that could cause an accident. If LW had asked if it was okay to practice forms or techniques in a spare room during their breaks I think most of us would say “sure, although your mileage may vary depending on workplace culture.” Doing breakfalls, martial art stances, lying on the floor, etc during routine work is another matter. It’s more analogous to loudly and obnoxiously forcing references to your favorite books into work-related conversations.

        There’s also the fact that martial arts are, by nature, connected to violence. Most practitioners are not violent people, but the activity itself is violent. I do both martial arts and roller derby. I would be very hesitant to practice roller derby stuff at work because it would be uncomfortably aggressive to many people… and martial arts is even more so. Plus some of these activities (e.g. falls) are a safety concern even if LW does them away from anyone else. Equating discomfort with violent sports practice at work with discomfort around food from other cultures is not a fair comparison.

      6. Zelda*

        “Please, let’s not be like that person who is offended by things solely because we’re not used to them.”

        It’s really not that. Motion draws the eye, and fast, sudden movements especially so. I’ve watched the video that OP linked, and rolling around with feet over the head is absolutely going to command attention every time. Anyone who has this even in their peripheral vision is going to be distracted.

        Standing in unusual ways that flex and exercise the muscles or some slow stretches are unobtrusive; anyone who’s not looking at OP won’t even notice. People who are looking up from their work may notice, but those are firmly under “OP has some interesting quirks,” rather than “OP is attention-seeking.” It’s the falls that are the issue, not just “anything we’re not used to.”

      7. Spencer Hastings*

        I think that doing a physical activity with your entire body is pretty inherently different from reading a book.

        If you were, like, ostentatiously reading the book, and holding up the cover and rotating so that everyone who passed by could clearly see that you were reading Infinite Jest, or whatever, that would indeed be cringe and I would advise you not to do it. But still not as out-of-place as someone doing kicks or throwing their entire body to the floor.

        The thing about whole-body movement is that other people have to be aware of you so that you don’t run into them or vice versa. That’s the thing to avoid most of all, IMO. I was once standing in line at a Starbucks next to this girl (probably early 20s, so was I at the time) who was doing this little dance, in place, while waiting in line. It was kind of annoying, since I had to step back every time she seemed to be about to run into me. When you do this full-body stuff in a public place, you make your personal space bubble larger, and that affects other people.

      8. TootsNYC*

        part of it is that martial arts takes up so much more space physically and visually. And uses more obvious energy. It has more impact on observers.

        However, if a colleague was doing stretches or poses in an unused conference room on their lunch break, or even in a corner of a large break room, I would find it interesting and quirky, but reasonable. Sort of like if someone was knitting at lunch.

        Standing in an unusual stance while working at a counter would probably vaguely register as “they’ve found a way to deal with the pressure on your lower back from standing for a long time” or “they learned that stretch or pose in yoga, it must feel good.” Because it’s still, and therefore its impact on me is not so huge.

      9. Critical Rolls*

        Reading and knitting are not remotely physical or attention-getting the way falling to the ground is. The problem isn’t that martial arts are unfamiliar or not respected, it’s that physical hobbies have a very limited place in the office. If this person had written in about juggling or jogging in place they would be getting a similar response. Big, unexpected movements are startling and distracting and don’t belong in the office.

        There is absolutely no basis for a comparison to the actions of an openly racist workplace.

        1. essie*

          If you knew my coworker who knits (a very flamboyant person who requires constant attention and compliments), I don’t think you’d say knitting has no comparisons to martial arts. I think it has just as much to do with the person and the way an activity is being performed as it does the activity itself.

          You’re entitled to your opinion, just as much as I am. I still very much see the basis to comparison to Indian food (as the person eating curry in my office was told he “drew too much attention” to himself by having smelly food so he needed to stop). That’s fine if you don’t understand.

      10. Dahlia*

        If you were sitting in the breakroom reading an audiobook at full volume, I would bet your coworkers would have opinions.

      11. somanyquestions*

        As someone who has recently resumed ballet, I can’t help but think of how it would look if I did leaps and pirouettes down the hallway. There is a line for this sort of thing, and if you’re actually performing, you have crossed it. This feels very performative.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I know it’s late in the day and nobody’s likely to see this, but i just imagined you doing pique turns all the way down the hallway and I cannot stop giggling.

          1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

            I saw this and also giggled, plus I’m so pleased to see all the dancers here!

      12. Emmy Noether*

        Wait, I knit and my experience has been that it is often not understood or respected, and not that common anymore either. People around me certainly talk more openly about martial arts than fiber arts. This is probably highly dependent on social group, but while I don’t hide (I will talk about it if it comes up), my colleagues in my heavily male-dominated industry will *never* see me knit. I know other women who do completely hide their interest in fiber arts in similar circumstances.

        1. essie*

          Well, apparently the consensus in the comments is that no one should bring a hobby to work under any circumstance lest it offend someone who doesn’t want to see your hobby, so by their definition, you shouldn’t be knitting at all and I shouldn’t be reading either. ;)

      13. DataSci*

        I’m actually seeing a fair amount of nuance here, mostly the “stretches are okay, stances are kinda weird and might get you labeled as That Guy – just like knitting in a meeting would, to take one of your examples – controlled falls are Not Okay”. Your knitting co-worker – are people going to identify her to each other as “the llama toenail specialist” or as “the one who always knits in meetings”? Does she care? It’s not necessarily BAD (depending on the workplace) to be “the quirky one”, or to have the primary association your co-workers have for you to be a hobby rather than work-related, but it seems fair to point out that this will be the case so the OP can make an informed decision.

    11. NYC Taxi*

      I do a martial art that is supercool and gets a lot of questions from people and there’s no way I’d do any of it at work, even when people have asked me to show them a move. If one of my direct reports was doing controlled falls and the other stuff OP1 mentioned I would tell them to knock it off immediately. At best it comes off as being an annoying showoff, at worst it’s scary for coworkers to have to see in a work setting.

      1. une autre Cassandra*

        “… at worst it’s scary for coworkers to have to see in a work setting.”

        Yeah, I appreciate some folks’ desire to push back against people labeling this “cringe” etc but honestly? I would be bothered by displays of martial arts prowess during the workday. Someone discretely practicing on their own time in an out of the way place? Cool! Someone adapting their posture to be more ergonomic while they’re doing a task? Cool! But the falls and other things…ugh, I hope the letter writer will reconsider this, because I would be very uncomfortable with it.

        Maybe this isn’t fair, but I’ve run into enough creeps and jerks who like to “subtly” communicate that they’re physically stronger (than me and/or others) as part of an overall threatening vibe that it really would put me off a coworker who just can’t help but practice their martial arts all day at work. It’s an imperfect analogy, but it would be a little bit like a guy who fidgets and plays with a pocketknife during the workday or someone who blathers about all the guns they own. Just something I hope LW will consider in reevaluating their insistence on practicing at work—what nonverbal messages are you sending to coworkers when you do this? (And that’s beyond the possibility of simply startling or worrying them with the fancy falls etc.)

    12. LittleMarshmallow*

      We had a tech at work that was into MMA and he was… well… weird. I usually am pretty cool with people sorta being themselves and personally hate “professional norms” but he would like throw his leg up on a desk and stretch while talking to people and shadow box random people in the hallway and was always trying to do pull-ups out in the plant (for safety reasons this one we had to draw a hard line on). It made the women especially uncomfortable. I do not like when someone starts shadows boxing in front of me when I’m trying to talk to them. It’s definitely not work appropriate.

    13. jtr*

      SRSLY! Breakfalls are just stupid when not necessary – every single person watching is going to assume you are getting hurt the first time, and times after that they will think you are being an attention hound. Just don’t.

      Same with stances, honestly, and lying on the floor???

      You shouldn’t be advertising your martial arts skills at work, unless you work for a martial arts school.

  2. Dark Macadamia*

    LW1, I’m sorry but all I could imagine while reading your letter was Kronk sneaking around doing his own theme music in The Emperor’s New Groove, but like in an office and wearing a suit. I’m sure that’s… inaccurate, but it made me very happy lol. I agree with Alison that the falls are the most unusual part of what you described – the rest would be like “oh, martial arts coworker is exercising on their break” but I would definitely laugh about the drama of reaching for a low shelf in any way other than bending/squatting awkwardly.

    1. many bells down*

      My husband is watching “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” right now and I was totally picturing Mac.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I was totally picturing Mac. As well as a guy I used to work with who sometimes wore his gi to work …. he was weird for many, many reasons but that was one of them.

    2. Can Man*

      OP1 here. Thanks for a laugh in the middle of a comments section that so far is making me wish I had waited until after I got up to look at it.

      1. Mockingjay*

        A lot of us here work in conservative or hierarchical places, so our questions and advice about workplace behaviors reflect that.

        You work in a more relaxed environment, so most of what you described is fine. As I mentioned above, the fall can be disconcerting. Save those moves for home or class practice. And thanks for writing in with an interesting question. I now have a daydream of Jet Li busting in to liberate us from the tedious monthly all hands meeting…

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I work in a really casual, rather eccentric academic environment. There are lunchtime yoga classes, students use the covered walkway to practice hip-hop routines on rainy days, and if you show up early, you can stumble on random Tai Chi practice. People sit on yoga balls, work without shoes on, and regularly have naps in the office.

          Doing occasional stretches at your desk, or in a spare conference room, would be considered unremarkable. Standing at your desk in dog pose while writing, or assuming crane pose during a conference call would be considered ostentatiously weird, like you’re showing off how hard-core you are. Doing a controlled fall to reach stuff on a bottom shelf would be considered thoroughly bizarre, and you’d probably be told to cut it out for health and safety reasons.

      2. Anonymous Hippo*

        Offices are weird and restrictive places. I tend to disagree with the commentary and think you should go ahead with anything that isn’t going to cause a gasp of alarm if you do it suddenly. I’m not entirely sure what a controlled fall is, but if it obvious enough not to startle anyone I wouldn’t worry too much about it being “weird”. I personally think the uptight nature of office environments is because managers don’t want to have to manager individuals, so they just restrict out a lot of stuff to make it easier. But why should you have to spend 40+ hours a week like that?

        Now, because this environment does exists, you may find you come up against people who do have a problem with it, and it could cause you issues. At that point you’ll have to decide if it is more important to you be your authentic self, or to more on.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Your mention of “being your authentic self” shook loose the thought I’ve been trying to figure out how to express.

          There have been a lot of letters over the years where the consensus has been that you can’t really be your whole authentic self at work. There are always concessions to be made. My authentic self sings made up songs at full volume while I walk around the house. But my work self doesn’t do that because I don’t want to be the annoying coworker who people are silently fuming and rolling their eyes at all day.

          I’m not saying OP can’t keep doing what they’re doing, but since he specifically asked if people would think it’s weird, I think it’s kind to say, yeah, a lot of people would. What OP does with that knowledge is his own choice, but I don’t think it’s helpful to talk about “being your authentic self” at work when we all know there are times when that’s not an appropriate choice to make.

          1. Momma Bear*

            It’s like having to adhere to a dress code. I am basically paid to cosplay a responsible adult for 40 hrs a week.

            1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

              well said! When I am particularly formally dressed at work, I call it “in disguise”. But guess what, that’s why they pay me, they like my whole disguised work persona.

            2. London*

              I like to call it LARPing my worksona personally. I’m autistic so I had to make a few adjustments to the script and costume after all that masking burned me out but I like to think I’ve found a reasonable balance by now :)

          2. Spencer Hastings*

            Also, usually when I hear the phrase “being your authentic self at work”, it’s about identity. Like, not punishing people for having hairstyles that make sense for their hair type, but are different from the white norm. Or ensuring that people feel safe to talk about their same-sex partner, and stuff like that. What sports you practice is not an identity.

      3. TyphoidMary*

        aw you gotta remember, the people here try to be nice but they are ultimately here for entertainment. If your biggest area for improvement is you have some quirky habits that may come across as unprofessional, I’m not sure you have to go into full soul-searching mode!

      4. sb51*

        I think a lot of people are offering advice on “what you should do to show yourself in the best possible way and optimize your career growth by not standing out” and “how to avoid going over the boundary between “quirky” and “upsetting others”.

        I’d skip the falls as they can look alarming to people who don’t know what you’re doing, feel free to be the guy who codes in a stance but if all of your coworkers are sitting down in a meeting, sit down too, and take cues from others on how stretch breaks are done there — if everyone goes outside for a walk, do your forms outside; if a quick stretch at your desk is common, do it there as long as you can keep it to your own space. Avoid punch/kick moves at speed anywhere near people as they might bother coworkers who cannot separate the motion from the use in fighting. (You don’t know who was intimidated by physical violence as a kid, for example. And it’s common in my limited experience with tae kwon do that a lot of women will need some time and support to be comfortable with large men throwing punches around them even if they know intellectually that these are their trusted martial arts buddies).

        1. LittleMarshmallow*

          This last thing is definitely true. As a fairly small women that works around very large men that I know wouldn’t hurt fly, I still jump if one of those big teddy bears sneaks up on me or makes too sudden of movements or too loud of noises. The brain can’t help it. I always laugh it off especially since I know I’m generally jumpy but if someone is doing more of a fighting behavior around me it’s going to put me on edge.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        I could 100% see Dwight Schrute doing martial arts moves in the office — and my advice to OP is, do you really want to be the Dwight Schrute of your office?

      2. Cheap Ass Rolex*

        That’s just it- characters who would do this at work include Mac, Dwight, maybe Andy Dwyer, Dennis Duffy, or Ross. It calls to mind a very dorky/nerdy image, even if you’re genuinely good and skilled.

        It’s not about pearl-clutching of “Tis improper!” It’s more about… there aren’t many cool people who would do this and remain seeming cool.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          It has nothing to do with the “cool” people not doing it, and that’s a strange place to take this since we are not in junior high. If this was a bro constantly doing football drills down the hallway that would also be unprofessional.

          1. Cheap Ass Rolex*

            The point is, it’s not unprofessional in the same way as most of the thing discussed on this site- chronic lateness or swearing or whatever. It’s just attention getting in a way that’s socially awkward. And doing showoffy martial arts moves calls to mind the concept of dorkiness specifically because it’s so characteristic of guys many of us knew in high school. It’s age-appropriate to that phase of development but out-of-place in adulthood.

            People are just trying to explain how this kind of thing comes across on the receiving end, and specifically why a cool/interesting/impressive ability becomes so the opposite when handled this way.

    3. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Fun fact: the voice actor for Kronk improvised that theme song and Disney liked it so much the decided to use it!

      Opinion: The Emperor’s New Groove is one of the most underappreciated Disney films and Disney missed a really great opportunity to make the entrance to Yzma’s secret lab a ride at the parks.

  3. CatCat*

    #2, if they say you’re not being fired or let go… what exactly are they saying is going on here?

    Also, it’s not up to them if you file for unemployment benefits. Sounds like they’re trying to control the narrative to prevent you from filing (by saying you can’t) or by concocting some sort of story for the UI office to dispute your eligibility if you file.

    I don’t think it’s worth confronting them about the job posting since I doubt anything will come of that.

    Frankly, I’d put an email to your boss along the lines of. “I understand I’m being laid off next week since, as you explained at lunch on [date], the company is eliminating my position since the company can’t afford to keep me. Please let me know when the companh has a definite date for my last day and let me know what you need me to do to wrap up before the company ends my employment.”

    And keep responding in writing if they reply with any kind of namby pamby denials that they are letting you go. Don’t let them make it look like you quit, since it seems like they’re angling for maybe trying to pull a fast one in you and the UI office.

    UGH, I’m so sorry, OP.

    1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      And she should definitely get a screen shot of the job posting in case they try anything unethical regarding unemployment.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Reading it carefully, it sounds like the employer’s logic is that they’re not firing them or laying them off, they’re just reducing their hours…. to zero. But they’re still employed, really, so they can’t get UNemployment insurance, which is for people who don’t have jobs.

      The thing is that a significant reduction in hours *is* UI eligible – this came up a lot when people’s hours were reduced during the COVID shutdown. And it sometimes shows up in seasonal work where they really do rehire people later.

      1. Anon and On*

        THIS. OP 2, “benched” is not a thing. When you contact the unemployment office website, you will not find it in a search.
        “You can’t get unemployment.”
        Ya can. People who were fired (ahem, hand raise) can collect unemployment.
        Your boss sucks. Your company sucks. Take care of you.

        1. Delta Delta*

          “Benched” means you’re still on the team but you’re just not playing right now. So, I think they should keep paying OP, and OP would not be working.

          On the other hand “we’re telling you you can’t work here anymore” is basically a firing, so I think OP ought to apply for unemployment.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Yeah. Benched means still employed — so a paycheck should be forthcoming. If no paycheck is paid, then you were fired. So, unemployment it is.

            Company is trying to have the best of both worlds, not paying you but keeping you on the hook in case the new hire doesn’t work out. Feel free to opt out of their game playing.

            1. Tupac Coachella*

              100% agree. Unless OP is getting paid, they are not “benched,” they are laid off, and they are eligible for unemployment based on the facts they’re presenting here. Source: spent about a year working in an unemployment office and saw LOTS of employers try to tell their very eligible ex-employees that they weren’t. Gained extra respect for a well known local company who routinely directed their employees to the UI office immediately following their last shift of the busy season (and the employees knew about the seasonal layoffs when they were hired, too).

            2. TootsNYC*

              or they’re hoping OP will find a new job before they get tired of paying her, or before they find a replacement, and then their unemployment costs won’t get dinged by a layoff. Maybe they figure it’s cheaper that way

              Sort of a prolonged notice period, maybe a form of “gardening leave.”

      2. I'm just here for the cats*

        The only thing I would say is to check the UI office or website. Some job industries do not qualify for unemployment. For example in my state if you worked for an education institution and were fired they have to “investigate” to see if you were really fires/laid off or if this is seasonal. If there’s the expectation that they will be back then they may not qualify. It supposed to be so that teachers don’t collect unemployment in the summer when they will be back in the fall. When I was fired from a professional development education company I had to wait for my benefits,.even though both employer and myself told them I was let go and I gave my count for it.

        1. doreen*

          I’ve been reading over the past few years about some states making truly seasonal workers ( like lifeguards or camp counselors) ineligible for unemployment even if there isn’t any promise of a job next season.

          1. Sasha*

            The way employers get around this in the UK is a short term contract – 0-6 months. No need to fire anyone, your contract just comes to a natural end. It’s pretty hard to fire people in the UK, even for cause.

            Our unemployment is not paid by individual employers though, it comes out of general taxation. So of course you can claim if you are unemployed for any reason.

        2. Another health care worker*

          But if there was some concrete industry reason LW was ineligible for unemployment, then their boss wouldn’t be trying to finesse the language so hard and discourage LW from even seeking unemployment. The way they’ve handled this in every way indicates that LW would be eligible, and they’re just hoping s/he/they won’t apply.

        3. Clorinda*

          I believe that fulltime teachers are paid year-round and receive benefits on the same schedule. My husband is in higher ed, I’m K-12; we both are paid all twelve months and there is no gap in insurance coverage.
          When I adjuncted, I was, of course, only paid during semester that I worked, but that’s different.

          1. Teacher, Here*

            It definitely depends on the state — my first teaching job teachers did not get paid in the summer (though we did get health insurance year round.) It was rough. My second year “prorating” became an option for the first time, and it was a HUGE relief for many.

          2. Panhandlerann*

            In some places, teachers have their paychecks spread across 12 months. At a university I used to work at in a certain state, that was the case, but my contract was a 9-month contract.

      3. new*

        Also known as constructive dismissal. This employer is disingenuous and must think OP is stupid. OP, get your unemployment, you have indeed been fired, for whatever reason.

      4. Avril Ludgateau*

        I was about to say! Reducing hours – they don’t even have to get as low as zero – is actually one of the rare situations where you can apply for UI even if you have voluntarily quit. It is considered “constructive dismissal.” The specific criteria may vary by jurisdiction; if the LW is in the US they should definitely check their state’s DOL pages. Maybe even search “[state] + constructive dismissal”, though you may end up having to filter through a lot of law blogs and law firm pages.

        (And before you panic, LW2, constructive dismissal is not something you typically need to involve a lawyer in if all you’re trying to do is collect unemployment insurance. Even if your employer challenges it, the appeals process is more of a mediation/arbitration, and it would likely be over as soon as the agent confronted your employer with “how many hours has your employee been scheduled for in the last 30 days”. But sometimes there are confounding factors like a hostile work environment/discrimination where an individual may wish to pursue other damages, so it is an area that employment lawyers can be involved.)

      5. LizB*

        Yep, I got furloughed due to COVID and was eligible for UI at that time even though I was technically still “on the books” as an employee. If you’re going from income to no income, even if the business still lists you as being on the payroll (while paying you $0), you should be UI eligible.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          OldExjob had a similar thing when hours were cut deeply during the Great Recession. Our state offered a Shared Work program that allowed our manufacturing employees to get UI to cover the time they weren’t on duty. They came in a few times a week on staggered schedules.

          So yeah, this is bogus. OP’s company is trying to discourage them from filing.

      6. Rose*

        Even this is so bizarre. Like… a furlough is an actual thing as many of us leaner Dover the last two years. You’re still active in HR systems, a lot of people kept their IDs and emails… You can’t just say you’re an employee, you just don’t have hours, don’t get paid, don’t get benefits, don’t have an employee ID, aren’t in our HR system…

        This he how a nine year old would fire someone. Is OPs boss perhaps a small child?

      1. anonymous73*

        Maybe, but that implies they will bring her back and her job seems to have been posted so it’s very odd. And if memory serves, those that were furloughed when the pandemic started were still able to collect unemployment.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Boss’s “on the bench” wording made me think he (wants LW to believe he) plans to possibly bring LW back. But yeah, super weird all around.

        2. Mockingjay*

          Yep. I called my unemployment office when I got furloughed at ExToxicJob and we had heard NOTHING from corporate for literally weeks. They said I likely qualified and to submit the paperwork. The application was online and very easy. (In a startling coincidence, once contacted by the unemployment office ExToxicJob brought us back rather quickly, haha.)

        3. Em*

          Yep. I was furloughed at the start of the pandemic and was able to collect unemployment. The job did bring me back after a few months, but I was able to collect in the meantime while I was an “employee” who wasn’t actually working or getting paid.

          OP, your employer is full of shit.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      The options are:
      a) You are being fired and CAN collect unemployment insurance
      b) You are not being fired and thus still have a job and thus cannot collect unemployment insurance
      c) You quit (without being pushed to do so) and so cannot collect unemployment insurance

      They are trying to bring about (c) but the default if you don’t quit is (b)–there is no third option where they get rid of people in a way that isn’t firing them or laying them off. (At least, not involving assassins.)

      Second Cat’s advice to put it in writing.

      1. Pantalaimon*

        B is not one of the options in most places because if they reduce your hours you can still get UI benefits.

    4. Your local password resetter*

      Yeah, if they stop paying you then they laid you off.
      Unless you’re getting paid vacations days or other benefits from them, they’re just BS’ing you. And you’d still be eligible for unemployment AFAIK.

    5. MissGirl*

      My roommate was “laid off” and given an end date but was expected to still output a ton of projects. When she pointed out the impossibility of completing these before the date *he* set, she got a lot of flack. He then rescinded a two-day vacation she’d scheduled months prior and had bought flights for (it would’ve been her last official days). Flat out told her he wouldn’t “allow” her to take those because she had too much work to do. Then she found out her boss (the owner) had told everyone that she was quitting.

      A week before her scheduled last day as this went down, she finally just said then maybe today should be my last day. Her boss freaked out at her and sent her a bunch of abusive emails telling her he couldn’t believe she quit.

      Knowing from this site he couldn’t threaten her unemployment, I told her to tell him she would get a lawyer involved if he fought her unemployment. He backed down hard as he had a tendency to break many, many labor laws. Going by some strange things he told her (like she could still use her office after her last day), we figured he expected her to simply become a contract worker and still keep the status quo but he wouldn’t have to pay benefits.

      A year later it comes out in the local news that he was arrested for running a Ponzi scheme and a lot of things we’d never understood about her time there clicked into place.

    6. Sparkles McFadden*

      It looks as if they are trying to get the LW to do a self-firing. In the work world, it’s usually better to make them push you out than to jump, so get whatever they’re trying to do in writing as suggested here.

    7. Momma Bear*

      I agree. I think OP needs to clarify that there is no fireable offense and keep documentation of this layoff for unemployment purposes. The email you propose puts the onus on the company to give OP a firm end date, which OP will need to plan ahead (like, can I see the dentist next week? Will I have one last paycheck or two?). OP, don’t let them string you along.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Right, I did wonder – being fired for cause can make you ineligible for unemployment, right? OP needs to clarify their status for her own peace of mind but also for practical reasons.

        1. CatCat*

          It can, depending on the reason. This may vary state-to-state. In my state, the bar for disqualification for benefits is pretty high and firing has to be for “misconduct.” So if you’re fired because you just aren’t the best at your job, you’re eligible, but if you’re fired because you punched your boss in he face, you’re not eligible.

    8. Dragon_Dreamer*

      And I’d fight if they try to have your unemployment denied! Get all the documentation you can, OP, everything you can that proves they’re letting you go, AND screenshots of the job postings! They’ll probably try to put up a token fight, but if you present your case well, you’ll get unemployment.

  4. awesome3*

    #3 – I recently did that, but I believe my boss told people he intends to fill the role and make no changes. I also told the people who will work closely with this person the difficulties I faced though, so hopefully they’ll be able to guide them. The jury is still out on whether the role will be filled or not

    1. Squidlet*

      I started a new job about 12 years ago, and after 3 weeks I discretely asked my colleagues why I’d been hired – there clearly wasn’t enough work for all of us. They responded that they didn’t know, because there hadn’t been enough work even before I started. We were a team of 3 with a manager who didn’t do anything except “manage” us.

      Eventually we realised that our grandboss didn’t want to lose any of their headcount / people budget / tiny empire, so had gone ahead with filling the position, despite knowing that there wasn’t enough work.

      There was also a senior person who was fired 6 months after I started, for funneling new hires through her husband’s recruitment company (without disclosing the relationship and conflict of interest). I think it was the same person.

      That company was so overstaffed that some of my colleagues were running thriving side businesses during working hours without any impact on their delivery. I was bored out of my mind and left after a year.

  5. Oh No She Di'int*

    #2 Respectfully, I’m wondering if the “don’t want to pay unemployment” narrative really explains it fully. Contrary to popular belief, businesses are not literally cutting checks for employees that have been laid off (assuming this is in the US). The unemployment system is essentially a kind of insurance fund that employers pay into on an ongoing basis. When someone applies for unemployment, they are paid out of that general fund. There’s no change to the employer’s immediate cash flow. Yes, eventually the employer will get reassessed and their unemployment rates will go up if they’ve laid off lots of people, but the change to the payment rate based on one laid off employee is negligible. Certainly way less than the cost of hiring and onboarding a new employee.

    I could be wrong based on the state I live in and am open to being corrected on this matter.

    I’m not sure what is going on, but the unemployment narrative doesn’t quite seem to line up to me.

    1. pinot*

      This varies by state. In our state, each UI claim is charged to the employer’s tax account and you pay more for every UI claim that gets approved. (I’ve administered these and there is a definite advantage to keeping our unemployment claims low.)

      1. Snow Globe*

        Yeah, companies don’t necessarily pay dollar for dollar what their ex-employees are getting for unemployment, but employers pay a % of each salary dollar for unemployment insurance, and the % goes up if they have more claims, just like your car insurance goes up if you have a lot of accidents.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        That’s my impression from when a daycare closed–each former employee drawing uninsurance was costing them.

    2. Observer*

      I’m not sure what is going on, but the unemployment narrative doesn’t quite seem to line up to me.

      This happens ALL THE TIME. The change in cost is not necessarily negligible, and some employers care enough about it that they really, really don't want to pay it. On the other hand, any employer with an ounce of brains understands that when they have no case, it's a waste to fight it. But if you can find some way to keep someone from filing, a shady employer will think "why not."

      And the employer IS being shady. They obviously have some sort of issue with the OP, but instead of giving them the information they need so that the problem can be resolved or just cutting the OP loose in a respectful manner they are saying something that's demonstrably untrue. So they do want to get rid of them, but they don't want the hit to their unemployment insurance payment. Solution? Lie to the OP.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        One company that I worked for laid me off, but for me to get severance, I had to sign a paper saying I was leaving voluntarily. I knew enough, by that time, to refuse and lawyered up. I also had the lawyer get me out of the non-disclosure agreement. Total cost=the amount of my severance, but well worth it. Because the owners were a large foreign company, it may have been ignorance, but I doubt it.

        GRIN, because I lived in one state and worked in another, my UI came from the working state. One time, I had to go in-person to their office, which was much further from the previous work location. All I had to do at the office was to sign into their system from a computer in the lobby. No personal contact at all.

    3. nerdy alto*

      My dad worked for a small Architect firm which imploded when it became clear the guy running it didn’t have any idea what he was doing (beginning of the 2008 crash). Several missed paychecks too many, and Dad and the few remaining people left. They only found out when they applied for Unemployment that the boss had never paid into the state UI fund. The state went after former boss, and eventually the former employees got their back-pay AND their back-unemployment. But I don’t wonder if LW#2’s boss isn’t trying to intimidate them into not filing because the company has failed to pay in at all. Which is to say, LW2 should definitely do everything mentioned here (getting stuff in writing, screen shots), and file for Unemployment as soon as they leave on their last day.

      1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

        I worked for a small company and the owner did something very similar.
        He fired someone and tried to claim that person was a freelance 1099 employee to avoid UI.
        She fought it and the state determined she wasn’t a freelancer. The incident triggered a whole investigation of the books by the state, where it was found he had not been paying into our Social Security or unemployment taxes for all of us as employers are supposed to do. He got into a lot of trouble and fees. Ha!

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They told her she can’t file for unemployment, when she clearly can file for unemployment. It seems really clear that they … don’t want to pay for unemployment.

      I don’t think that’s the entire story — the rest of the story is that they’re not being up-front with her about why they’re cutting her loose (the “we can’t pay for this role” is obviously a lie if they’re rehiring for the identical role, assuming that role isn’t in another department entirely or something like that). But this absolutely is a company that’s trying to get out of paying unemployment, as evidenced by the fact that they wrongly told her not to file for it.

      And unfortunately quite a few employers do try to get out of unemployment claims because claims raise their tax rates and not by a negligible amount, particularly to small businesses.

      1. Chriama*

        > They told her she can’t file for unemployment, when she clearly can file for unemployment. It seems really clear that they … don’t want to pay for unemployment.

        Yup, this is a critical part of the story that can’t just be brushed over. Maybe they don’t know the law, but as an employer talking to their employee that’s an awfully convenient mistake to make.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        The only place I’ve heard the term “bench” is at a consulting firm, for being between projects. I wonder if they’re trying to invoke that thought in LW’s mind.

        I also wonder if the employer has convinced themselves they’re doing LW a kindness by avoiding the Scarlet F, and just happening to eliminate their unemployment liability as a happy accident.

        I also wonder if the employer uses “we have never had to fire people” as a claim when recruiting to try to attract talent and is trying to keep that intact.

        All are BS and Alison’s dead on that LW should ignore them and file anyway.

      3. I edit everything*

        I’m so going to need an update to this one! I hope the LW finds a much better place to land than the crappy place she’s working now.

      4. irene adler*

        If the employer contests a claim for unemployment (so as to avoid those increased tax rates), don’t they have to provide documentation re: why the employee was let go?

        IOW, they have to prove the reason for letting the employee go.

        And that reason better not be discriminatory, right? I’m betting they don’t want their reasons explored. Could this be an attempt to cover up discrimination?

      5. LizB*

        I wonder if OP2 is getting a higher salary than they want to be paying for this role (maybe due to her previous tenure with the company), so they’re trying to push her out and rehire her position at the very bottom of the range?

        1. irene adler*

          The OP indicated that the job ad ran with the same pay as they are currently receiving. So unless they do the ol’ bait and switch, I’d say pay is not the reason behind this. Although, I’m wondering if maybe medical insurance or other benefits won’t be a part of the compensation package.

      6. Parenthesis Dude*

        In my field, “benching” indicates that you’re not on a project but you’re still being paid fully, getting benefits etc etc. Companies will do this because they don’t want to lose good talent just because they don’t have a job for them this month but think they will in the near future.

        For example, one of my friends was a good PM but got into trouble with one of the managers on his project and that manager wanted him off. Since the company wanted to keep him, they put him on the “bench” until they found another project for him.

        In such a case, I would think you can’t file for unemployment as long as they’re paying you. But if you’re not so good, and it might be awhile until you get “off the bench”, it’s good to look elsewhere.

  6. JSPA*

    if they sell themselves to customers or to other employees as, “we have A, B and C in-house,” that may bring in enough customers (or top employees) to be worth their while to pay someone for sitting on their thumbs.

    You could try, “it might make sense to bring someone on part-time to do A and B [those being things that you don’t do] and contact me or someone else on the rare occasions when you need C [your specialty].” If you’re indeed willing.

    If they’re willing to pay you a high hourly rate for (say) 2 days of intense work, 4 or 5 times a year, that might be a welcome source of backup income.

    But be prepared to hear, “no.”

    “You will never have to wait for someone to come in and frim-fram the flam-jam, because that’s all in-house” can be a huge selling point.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I’m not sure that’s the case here, because when she previously discussed it with the boss, he didn’t say (something like) “I appreciate the workload seems low but for business reasons it’s the right thing as it means we can say we have an X expert immediately available “, but rather that he thought the number of those requests might pick up soon (based on what?)

      I don’t think this situation can go on indefinitely; I’d probably bring it up with the boss again, because I think there’s a real possibility of the person/position being laid off in the future. I’d feel thar I had an ethical obligation towards the person who otherwise would be recruited and then laid off, to do as much as I reasonably could to convince the boss.

      1. ecnaseener*

        That’s an interesting take, that you have an ethical obligation to try to prevent future layoffs. I was thinking of it from a different perspective, that there are plenty of people who would love to get paid to wait and it’s the company’s problem if they want to spend their money that way.

        I would think that they’re not too likely to eliminate the position shortly after filling it (barring a bigger round of layoffs which could happen to anyone) so in all likelihood the replacement will have time to notice the low workload and decide if they want that or not.

    2. OP #3*

      OP for the “don’t replace me” question here — that is an interesting perspective I had not considered! Some background: I have a Ph.D. in a field related to the company’s product, and co-created one of the processes they use as part of my thesis. So you might be right that it’s been part of their marketing to clients to say “we have one of the developers of XYZ process on staff”. It’s not enough to keep me in this job, but that does make me feel better about the frustrating lack of impact I’ve had in this role.

      1. Clorinda*

        Maybe they thought when they hired you that the part of the business that most heavily involves you was going to take off in a way it actually didn’t; they wanted to have you ready for when you were really needed. A lot of people’s business plans changed over the last couple of years.

      2. Smithy*

        For the highly specialized piece – I certainly think it’s worth a discussion – particularly given how infrequent it’s been done.

        I used to work for a legal nonprofit that was one of the few places specializing in a certain kind of legal practice. Rather rare, and to be blunt, highly depressing work. This was a human rights nonprofit, so having fields of practice where “success” was measured in taking cases based on human rights principles – not because they’d succeed given the political climate – wasn’t unusual. However this was a specific field that for practitioners was just a bit more miserable than others, but also high profile. As a result the only attorney relied on to take these cases was not a staff attorney but a contracted one. It allowed the organization to continue advertising that they took such cases (which was true), but not invest in finding another in-house attorney willing to specialize in the field given the risk of dissatisfaction/burnout.

  7. nnn*

    If anyone has links to pictures or videos of what LW1 is talking about (or was able to google them more effectively than I could), those of us with zero martial arts knowledge would appreciate it!

    I tried googling the terms used, but I couldn’t find anything that would make sense in the contexts described.

    1. L*

      Agreed. The only video I could find of a “controlled fall” was a guy doing what looked like the worm, and I really hope that’s not what LW1 is doing at work!

        1. John Smith*

          Oh my. The only thing I can say is that the OP would be laughed out of the of office. This may be a wow moment the first time, but afterwards would be seen as showing off and downright irritating at best. I’d be more impressed if someone in the OPs position held informal classes or demonstrations for colleagues (assuming a desire and the wherewithal to do so). That, or okay some breakdance music when such moves are made…

        2. KateM*

          Do you also have a video of getting things from low shelves while doing a fall? Because I can’t imagine that…

        3. some_coder*

          These techniques are new for me. In the martial arts i’m doing we do completely different falling techniques. For example where you roll over your shoulder with a roll forward and backward or where you land on the side.
          But i also would not use these other techniques at work because they are really distracting.

        4. Jennifer Strange*

          Thank you, I also was having trouble finding a video of what this meant. In addition to the eye roll-worthiness of it, I feel like kicking your legs up that way (assuming OP is doing it full out as in the video) could also be a safety issue in general. What if someone comes walking around a corner or something and OP doesn’t see them?

        5. amoeba*

          Also came here to say that that’s one possibility – but there’s many different types of falls in martial arts, so it’s not necessary the one OP’s using. However, I don’t know any that would even be suitable for reaching low shelfs at all (I mean – you usually end up lying on the floor and then having to get up again, not sure how that’s efficient?) and very definitely none that would be appropriate for doing at work.

          Here’s some different ones from Judo:

        6. Can Man*

          No no no! I do know some flat front falls like that, but my go to for getting up and down quickly is much more discreet: . I’m beginning to think that I was somehow simultaneously too vague (since people can’t picture things) and too explicit (since I’m being accused of showing off). :(

          1. Metadata minion*

            If you’re just doing the leg bending behind you thing instead of squatting, I don’t know that I’d even notice, but if you’re actually rolling back like the guy in the video is, I would probably think you’d overbalanced and managed to catch yourself really smoothly or something. If I knew you were doing a martial arts roll it wouldn’t *bother* me per se, but you would definitely become That Guy Who Does Martial Arts In The Office.

          2. Insert Clever Name Here*

            This doesn’t read as discreet to me for getting something off a low shelf or under a desk. Seeing it once would be “well that was… interesting” but seeing it multiple times would definitely read to me as doing something unnecessarily complicated in order to show off. I think you’re better off kneeling or squatting.

          3. Karate Mom*

            I think maybe you have two camps here in the comments: 1) the fellow martial artists who know what you mean, are curious why you feel the need to be “in practice” while working, and see demonstrations of martial arts at work as attention seeking, and 2) the non-martial artists who don’t understand the practice and just see these moves as odd or over the top for a workplace scenario. However, reading through the comments there are many who bring up valid points by why it’s okay to be the “fitness guy”, or “yoga girl”, but not the “karate guy”. In all honestly, I think it’s just the nature of martial arts being seen as a “fighting sport”, and therefore inappropriate at work, even though there are many non-fighting elements to it – such as balance, breathing, stretching, and forms as you’ve mentioned. Don’t let the comments get you down, just take this as useful information moving forward that you many not be coming across as you thought or intended.

            1. TyphoidMary*

              oh see i feel like most comments are saying NOT to be the yoga girl or fitness guy if it’s done in a show-offy distracting way

              1. Joielle*

                Yeah the fitness guy should also not do a pistol squat to retrieve something from a low shelf. And the yoga girl should not do, idk, a bound side angle pose or something.

                If you work in an informal office and don’t mind being seen as the weird guy, that’s your prerogative, but I think most people on this blog are coming at it from the perspective that it’s best to be seen as professional so you’re more likely to be promoted, given good projects, good references, etc. But if you don’t really care about all that, then this advice will seem overly fussy to you!

              2. Spencer Hastings*

                I’m the Cello Girl at my office — it’s my go-to small talk “thing” (Doing anything interesting over the long weekend? — Oh, yeah, I’m going to Cello Con ’18 in Poughkeepsie). And yes, it’s “quirky” compared to certain other hobbies people have, like golf or running. But it also doesn’t mean that I bring my cello to the office, or play air cello. In other words, there’s “being Cello Girl” and then there’s “being Cello Girl”, you know?

            2. londonedit*

              I think if the ‘yoga girl’ or the ‘fitness guy’ were bringing elements of their hobby into the workplace in a way that other people would notice, it would be just as odd as someone bringing martial arts into work situations. Someone who always ‘had to’ do an elaborate yoga stretch to pick up documents from the printer, or who ‘had to’ do lunges in the corridor and jog on the spot at their desk 24/7 because they were training for a marathon and had to be keeping their body in tip-top shape at all times would be seen as pretty strange, same as someone falling to the ground instead of bending down like most people would.

            3. DisgruntledPelican*

              But people aren’t saying it’s okay to be the yoga girl or the fitness guy. They’re saying there’s a reason Cross Fit jokes exist.

            4. Dahlia*

              I mean I think if you’re going into downward dog to get something off a shelf, your coworkers are also going to feel weird about that.

          4. Esmae*

            That type of fall probably feels discreet to you, because you’re comparing it to other types of controlled falls. Compared to just bending or kneeling down, it’s pretty dramatic.

          5. KateM*

            So you are rolling on your back on floor? That’s a pretty weird thing to do in an office, unless you work as an office dog.

          6. Observer*

            ut my go to for getting up and down quickly is much more discreet: . I’m beginning to think that I was somehow simultaneously too vague (since people can’t picture things) and too explicit (since I’m being accused of showing off)

            There is nothing “discreet” about these falls, especially if you’re doing the leg flailing that he’s doing.

            I don’t think you are showing off. But it’s absolutely going to attract some negative attention.

          7. LizB*

            That’s definitely less dramatic than the other video, but would also be very startling to me if I saw someone do it in a work context – especially if you do the loud floor slap thing (which I gather is a necessary part of the move, so you probably are doing it). My thoughts would be, in order, 1. Oh my gosh are they okay? 2. Oh, they look okay… was that on purpose?? 3. That can’t possibly be faster or more efficient than just crouching or kneeling. It sounds like thought 3 is probably technically not accurate, but as a lay person it sure doesn’t seem that way.

            Aside from the falls (which I would say you should stop no matter what), I think you can decide how much of the other stuff you feel like continuing to do. It’s pretty much up to you how eccentric you’re willing to be at work, knowing all knock-on effects that can have – maybe that’s what your coworkers will know you for instead of your great work, maybe it’ll make it hard to get promoted, maybe observers will think you’re pretentious or looking for attention. But maybe none of those things are the case at your workplace, or you care about them less than you care about moving in ways that are comfortable for you. I think the only hard fact here is that what you’re doing is outside the norms of most workplaces. Some people will think it’s outside the norms in a bad way, some people will think it’s outside the norms in an interesting or cool way. If your goal is to fit within the norms of an average office, you should probably stop everything but the wrist locks. If not, you do you!

          8. Julia*

            Thank you posting that link! I was so confused by what you meant and looking on youtube got me videos that were more off putting/ostentatious that what you are showing here.

            Depending on the work place it could be plesantly quirky or distracting/concerning. Weirdly some of the tech jobs I’ve been in would probably be fine with it. When people are casually chatting about their recreational historical fighting (SCA etc) they’re not going to blink at some martial arts moves.

            In my white collar offices it would be distracting as hell and enough outside norms I would be concerned.

            More generally I can see a manager having workplace safety concerns. Your coworkers aren’t expecting a controlled fall. If I saw that I would drop what I’m doing and rush over to help you assuming its an emergency. I wouldn’t be stopping my work in a controlled fashion.

          9. Ms.Vader*

            This…did not help your case. This is wildly unusual to see and as it really isn’t any less efficient than just bending over or squatting to pick something up, I don’t really believe you aren’t doing it for attention. Honestly, based on your responses i don’t really think you were looking for advise but for validation which you aren’t receiving.

          10. Dark Macadamia*

            This is better than the “worm” move Alison posted but definitely not discreet AT ALL.

          11. EventPlannerGal*

            I’m not trying to pile on here but I genuinely do not understand how this could be an efficient way of reaching low shelves and so on. I mean, I can’t envision it at all. You are… rolling down onto your back next to whatever you’re trying to reach, I guess?, maybe raising your legs in the air??, grabbing whatever it is you’re reaching for then rolling back up onto your feet while holding it? Is that right?

            To answer your question, yes, that is pretty weird. It really isn’t discreet at all, and it also just looks like a wildly inefficient way to move to achieve your stated aims and, yes, a bit attention-seeking.

            1. Ace in the Hole*

              It’s… not. I have practiced falls like this. I can do them quite easily. But the most efficient/quick way to get something off a low shelf is to just squat or bend down and get it.

              For context, my roommate is a professional martial arts instructor and several-time national champion in her martial art. She’s the one who taught me to fall. She practices techniques in the house every day. This is a woman who is 110% comfortable doing controlled falls and about as efficient as a human can be at them. And when she’s at home in a totally casual environment where no one would be bothered by her practicing falls, her go-to method of reaching low shelves is to crouch or bend down. Just like everyone else.

          12. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

            This doesn’t seem discreet to me if it’s like the video. If your feet are in the air, that’s going to immediately catch attention because it’s so unexpected in a work environment. I would say that move is distracting/disruptive at best and a safety concern at worst.

        7. Can Man*

          Also, I guess I muddied the waters by talking about forward rolling falls, which are a more elaborate looking fall that resembles the roll that link does in the legend of zelda games.

        8. Wildcat*

          Oh goodness, that’s even worse than I was picturing.

          No, absolutely do not do that at work. Go to the gym before work to practice, over lunch, after work, but absolutely do not do that stuff in the middle of the office.

        9. alienor*

          I’m dead at the thought of someone doing this in an office, plus I don’t get why you even would. Apart from looking very strange, it doesn’t seem like it could possibly save time (OP mentioned efficiency) over just bending/squatting.

          That said, I would LOVE it if College Humor or Key & Peele or someone would do a video of a new hire coming into an office where everyone is a martial arts expert.

          “That man just fell to the floor!”
          “Oh don’t worry, it’s only Brian getting the copier paper. Hey, Brian, this is our marketing intern.”
          (Brian backflips over to say hi)
          “Well, I’ll leave you guys to it.”

        10. ecnaseener*

          OH. I was picturing something with a lot less movement to it, like just flopping/diving down and landing safely. Even that would read pretty weird if it’s not an emergency, but with the worm/leg kick action it’s on another level. Sorry, LW, I know you genuinely don’t mean it as a performance, but to the untrained eye it 100% looks like one.

          1. Pippa K*

            With apologies to the OP, I would never, in one million years, believe that someone doing this at work did not mean it as attention-seeking performance. As birch said above, there are lots of sports/disciplined physical practices, and the practitioners don’t do them casually in every space. If a colleague were occasionally using an empty conference room for a quick set of stances and movements, people might think “oh that’s just Jim; really into martial arts, kind of wants people to know it.” But that controlled fall, while actually working, on the excuse of reaching a shelf…well, serious eye-rolls at the least, and definitely the only thing Jim would be known for thereafter.

        11. Falling Diphthong*

          Thanks for that.

          This strikes me as something that would go over fine in an laughing environment like a large gathering of friends. (I am picturing alcohol being involved even though I don’t drink, for context of how casual this vision is.) But would land as show-offy even there, okay in context because we are friends hanging out and maybe someone is going to try and do a backflip off the stairs now and then we will try to throw popcorn into Bart’s mouth. In other contexts it would land more like someone coming up with reasons they had to do a full jete to avoid a Lego on the floor.

          1. This Old House*

            As someone who used to practice Judo, what OP linked is exactly what I was picturing. (I kept wondering if maybe a different martial art had different falls that would make more sense in the context of getting something off a shelf.)

            You nailed it. There are exactly two contexts in which I’ve used falls outside of practice: when I’ve actually fallen down, and when I was really drunk in college. And while I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time, yeah, I was showing off. I thought of Judo as something that made me interesting.

            (Also, when I have fallen down *because* I was really drunk in college. Picture drunk me, flat on my back, while a friend leans over me in concern and I say contemptuously, “Of course I’m fine! I know how to fall!” like it’s obvious.)

          2. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Yeah, like I’ll do a ballet move that I learned 20 years ago to get past a pile of Legos but my kids will roll their eyes at me because I’m definitely showing off. I don’t care in that scenario because they’re my kids and it is my distinct honor and joy to do things that make them roll their eyes…but if that same pile of stuff is at work, I’m walking around it.

          3. Dark Macadamia*

            Yeah, this would be great as like some kind of Rube Goldberg challenge, can you perform a mundane task using only martial arts moves… but not at work.

        12. I'm just here for the cats.*

          That was not at all what I was envsioning and it is WAY WORSE than I thought.

          How/why would this be faster/easier to get something that fell? I’m sorry but I think the OP is just trying to show off.

        13. NerdyKris*

          Even if it wasn’t the worm the only thing I could think of was something akin to falling flat to grab something, which would be very strange and alarming. If they’re fit enough to be doing a controlled fall, they’re capable of just squatting down.

        14. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

          If I saw a co-worker do this I would not thing of martial arts, my mind would go immediately to him trying out for the next season of Finding Magic Mike. It’s one of the first moves they teach guys on that show.

  8. MEH Squared*

    Hi, OP #1. I also do martial arts (Taiji) including weapon forms, and I agree with Alison that the controlled falls are too much for a work place (the rest ranging from perfectly benign to rather odd).

    The controlled falls aside, it is just a question if you want to be known as the martial arts guy at work and to what extent. I wouldn’t have a problem with people knowing I love weapons, but I wouldn’t swing a sword around at work, even if it was a wooden one.

    1. kiki*

      Yes! I don’t know if anything here is unprofessional-unprofessional (besides the controlled falls), but it is odd! Odd in a work/professional context, but also most non-martial arts contexts. And it’s okay to do odd things– I myself am a fairly odd person– but it does run the risk of making you “that martial arts guy” and in professional contexts that could mean distracting bosses or clients from your actual quality of work.

    2. MistOrMister*

      If I coukd get away with it I would take wooden swords wirh me everywhere! But I got in trouble at work for having a plastic machete as part od a halloween costume once so I guess my sword carrying has to be limited to my off hours.

      Re OP: I had to google the terms, and the idea of someone doing a controlled fall in any workplace at all flabbergasted me. It is way too over the top for a workplace. And just seems like total overkill too. That seems like a whole heck of a lot more work than just squatting or bending over and is likely to rub most people the wrong way. Practicing moves in an out of the way spot and stretching one’s wrists are normal things I don’t think most people would have an issue with. The standing in stance is….kinda weird. At least, that is how it us likely to look to most coworkers,

    3. Rock Prof*

      One of my colleagues also practices this. On nice days, you might sometimes see him outside practicing. But it’s a college campus, so on nice days, that’s also the group of power walkers, some students using a slack line or hacky sack, or other people exercising. It would be weird if he was practicing in the hallways or downright dangerous in his lab.

      1. quill*

        Last time I played hacky sack at work we were trapped in the parking lot for an hour while someone worked on a faulty fire alarm.

        1. Very Social*

          That’s brilliant. There should be a designated hacky sack provider on every team for fire drills.

  9. Pyjamas*

    OP2: maybe your boss is telling company you’re quitting so he can hire his nephew. Something fishy is going on, anyway

    1. ecnaseener*

      I was thinking along those lines too. Posting the position is weird, but if the middle manager is hiding the whole thing from upper management it could make sense.

      LW, get SOMETHING in writing. It’s possible your boss is setting you up to get terminated for no-shows.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I picture a step where boss told HR about hiring his nephew to fill Jeannie’s role, and HR was like “So Jeannie is leaving and we need to post her position, and Young Fletus might be one of the applicants.”

  10. Paperdill*

    OP1: It’s so so dependent on your work place.
    I work in health care and some things like this will be applauded, others will be considered an OHS risk. I do a lot of yoga and I often get asked to do some standing and desk stretches and flows for 5 minutes with the team, and I will use my body in particular ways when having to stand for long periods or stoop to a lower level – and people are cool with it because it’s all very much in keeping with our wellness policies and safe work practices.
    If I started doing headstands or crow poses, I think people would have safety concerns.
    I am positive loads of places would find controlled falls cool, but there are going to be people who find it alarming and loads of people who are going to find it not safe for work (however safe you may be doing it).

  11. Freelance Anything*

    OP #1

    Also a Martial Arts person, and this stuff is weird to do in an office and is absolutely drawing attention. Possibly in a neutral way, but I’d be concerned about the potential for negativity. I think the most likely response is major eye-rolls and some chuckles.

    Apart from the wrist locks for hand cramps. Those sound fine.

    The controlled falls are by far the most egregious, if the stances are particularly low and/or wide (and I’m picturing a deep horse stance) those are second, and the forms during breaks (assuming people genuinely aren’t seeing you) are last.

    I’ve been trying to pinpoint my issue with it as on paper, there shouldn’t be anything wrong it.

    My martial arts training comes with a heavy dose of humility, so maybe this feels borderline attention-seeking through that lens. Which could be unfair to you.

    As someone else said, if there’s even the smallest part of you that thinks you’re impressing people or hopes someone will ask you about it etc., then I think you should stop.

    1. B*itch in the corner of the poster*

      Agree. I also do martial arts (Aikido) and am preparing for a test this month, and I would NEVER do this. It makes me cringe thinking of it. AT MOST I will stretch my wrists alone at my desk, and find an empty conference room at lunch to stretch. OP1, just no.

      1. AnxiouslyAnon*

        I’m also an aikido practitioner. I also work in a lab where there are a frequent number of “wait 3 minute” steps. I have 100% practiced movements while waiting if the space is not busy (especially when I was earlier in my aikido practice). These days I don’t do it quite as much (as I’ve gotten better visualizing techniques and how bodies move), but I on days I teach I definitely do some version of the movements while working (if I have time) to make sure things feel/fit right.

        Is it a bit weird? Probably. Have people asked about it? Not really.

        So I definitely don’t get the animosity OP1 is getting. Assuming his behavior is otherwise normal, it’s a quirk. (Okay, except for the falling thing. That one is weird and potentially dangerous.)

        1. Critical Rolls*

          I think animosity is an overstatement for most of the comments. This behavior (the falls in particular) are so far outside most workplace norms that a lot people are astonished that “is this weird” is even a question. And, unfortunately, a lot of folks have encountered people who are in-your-face about their hard-core physical activities in ways that are deeply obnoxious, so it’s touching a nerve there.

        2. Observer*

          (Okay, except for the falling thing. That one is weird and potentially dangerous.)

          I think that that’s the key. Everything else? Maybe a bit weird, depending on the workplace but not that big of a deal. But the falls? Potential safety issue, and definitely attention grabbing, distracting and stressful for others to see. And comes off as very attention seeking.

          The fact that the OP uses the word “discreet” about the falls just makes it worse. Because there is simply no way you could call the falls they are linking to anything CLOSE to “discreet”, especially in almost any indoor setting. So it sounds like they are posing or a deeply, deeply clueless. Pretend discretion is the kind of thing that’s likely to get this crown riled up.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Yeah, exactly. It’s the falling that pushes this over the line. I can track with the other stuff, maybe some of the stances might make me raise an eyebrow at most, but just…don’t try to tell me that it’s normal for someone to throw themselves onto their back and bring their feet over their head in order to get the Zanderson file from the bottom shelf. And not only normal, but faster and more efficient? I’m sorry, I just can’t track there.

  12. sara*

    OP4 – I was in a similar situation a few years ago. I was happy enough in my then-role but also knew I didn’t want to stay there long-term. I ended up taking a meeting with a recruiter from a firm – she’d reached out to me about a role when I wasn’t looking (I’d just gotten converted from contract to full-time) but we had chatted a bit on linkedin as we had some former colleagues in common from before she switched to recruiting. So I reached back out to her and we met up a for coffee to talk a bit about what I was looking for. And then a few months later, she moved to in-house recruiting, and we met up again about a couple roles there.

    None of them ended up working out for various reasons, but the conversations were super helpful for me to narrow down what I was looking for. And also as networking and interviewing practice… And throughout I was super open about only wanting to leave my then role for certain things. Also I ended up introducing her to someone she did successfully put into a role, so I think this kind of networking can be beneficial all around.

    I’d say that you might have more luck with some people who recruit with a recruiting firm or as a contractor rather than one that works for a specific company. And also like Alison said, if you have an in-demand skill or are in a serious employees’ market, this might be more successful. I was an intermediate full-stack web developer in a tech hub sort of city, for context.

  13. Freelance Anything*

    I posted a response to #OP1 but it’s disappeared (for me at least).

    In short, I am a Martial Arts person. My martial arts study came with a heavy dose of humility so my view could be coloured by this.

    There is very much a *type* you find in Martial Arts spaces where pride and superiority are the words of the day.
    OP just comes off as that guy* to me, I think.

    As someone else said, if there’s any part of OP that feels they’re impressing people, imagining people coming to ask them about in an earnest, awed way (or even a critical way, and they imagine himself rising above it), then I think this needs to stop.

    Even this letter could be interpreted as a flex. But this could also be very unfair to OP and I acknowledge that.

    Other than the hand locks for cramps, this is feels weird enough to draw significant attention. Some of it may be neutral, but other people may be laughing or eye-rolling and while it may not bother OP personally, it could affect their reputation.

    *I am picturing OP as male because that’s often the *type* but I’ve tried to keep neutral pronouns.

      1. Nausicaa*

        OP 1, I say go for it (with the possible exception of the controlled falls).

        Other people are saying that you can practice in your breaks but it seems to me that you want to incorporate the martial arts way of moving into your daily life and that’s great. I’m sitting here with a sore back and hips and knees, having taken an hour instead of 30 minutes to walk to work because my balance is shot. I wish I had done martial arts poses while working when I was younger. I wouldn’t be so stiff now if I had. In fact, I did do bellydancing for a few years and would do mini hip movements every time I was standing up and it did make me feel a lot better in myself.

        I also work in academia and the arts and not in the US so I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at a lot of the things that are considered unprofessional on this site and there are other things that people think of as professional that I would find weird and unsettling (people responding to an email within an hour, for example). So I guess you should think about your work culture and what would concern people where you work.

        1. Emilia*

          You would be ‘unsettled’ by people responding in an hour to an email? I’ve lived on three continents (Europe, Asia, US) and 5 countries and have never seen this. That’s some serious level of laid-backness.
          But I agree that it’s about work culture. I’d find somebody doing martial art moves described by OP1 in the office funny, and not particularly annoying, but wouldn’t be surprised if that got them known as ‘Mr Ninja’ and taken less seriously. Still if their work product is solid, at all the places I’ve worked (academia adjacent) I don’t think it would be a big deal.

          1. Anon all day*

            I just responded to an email in 30 seconds. My average response time is almost definitely under 15 minutes.

            (Sometimes, I do think that responding so quickly might make people double take, but most of my work load comes via email, so if I don’t stay on top of it, it gets bad.)

      2. Anonym*

        Hi OP1, I’d like to second Freelance Anything’s response. It sounds like you’re not in the show off camp, but there are a lot of martial artist that are, and they tend to have some other obnoxious habits that go along with being very visible about their practice. (You’ve probably met a handful in your time!)

        I think Alison’s advice is spot on – stick with the subtle stuff at work, leave the big visible stuff for out of work. There’s a lot you can do without causing people to think you’ve had an accident or are seeking attention. I used to do aikido footwork and balance exercises in the breakroom, and it was rarely noticed and never alarmed anyone. :)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Adding, if hand cramps are such a thing then a stronger plan might be to figure out why that is happening and what needs to be done to stop the cramps. Even going to a nutritionist for dietary support may be enough to deal with the actual problem.
      Taking care of hands and wrists is at thing near and dear to my heart. Keeping my hands and wrists supported nutritionally and in general good health is critical for my work and my home life. Perhaps I am misunderstanding here, but it sounds like you, OP, are forcing muscles to behave and do what you need to do. This is not a long term plan although it does work for some people for a short run. At some point we have to stop and deal with the issue, BTDT.

      1. just another bureaucrat*

        Agreed OP says that they don’t work in an office but RSI is a serious issue and I’d recommend looking into some stretches designed specifically for response to that if it’s becoming a problem even a tiny bit. Also if there’s an suboptimal equipment that could be better (a better keyboard is the most obvious one to me but I do work in an office) then that’s something to address.

        As a tall person dealing with too short tables is painful, literally, so I’m pretty open to just saying that (or if it’s a regular table finding a way to buy yourself a few inches can make your life much easier).

        Martial arts isn’t a substitute for good ergonomics and well-designed work space and if you find yourself constantly working around it then finding a way to improve that is more valuable to not just you but everyone who uses the space (unless you permanently raise the table, then the short people get crabby).

  14. Petrificus Totalis*

    Regarding letter #1 – I have no clue what any of the actions are, but I can’t stop picturing a controlled fall being like a trust fall type motion (what actually popped into my head is Neville Longbottom getting stunned by Hermione’s Petfrificus Totalis spell), which I’m sure is wrong but also hilarious to imagine and would be incredibly awkward to witness as a bystander at work!

  15. Myrin*

    I gotta say, Alison, your husband is like a mysteriously-elusive side character on a TV show to me – every once in a while, we learn something new about him, and it paints a picture but not, like, a clear picture, and I’m not actively thinking or wondering about him but whenever new information about him surfaces, I’m absolutely delighted.

      1. dresscode*

        I’m thinking of Robby from New Girl. Every time we meet him, we learn about some new cool thing he can do.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Yes! I love the idea of Alison just being like “what’s a controlled fall” and he immediately performs it perfectly without asking why and then goes back to whatever he was doing lol

    2. MEH Squared*

      I thought the same thing! I love that he just pops up now and again in very random ways to make an appearance before disappearing into the ether again. It’s so random and cool.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh my god, thanks for all of these (the fact that you and your husband are texting about these kinds of things and in such a manner is absolutely delightful to me) but a special shoutout to the guy mentioning as a reply to the fisticuffs-with-a-burglar scenario that “You could have helpfully provided the caveat that the burglar was also aged”.

      2. Squidlet*

        I love the peek “behind the scenes”, especially the sex-tape boss / Caligula / Jordan Belfort one :)

  16. Virginia Plain*

    OP1, I’d say if you are fine with “oh that’s Gavin, he loves his judo bless him!” then crack on with all but the controlled falls. That’s potentially alarming and more like “oh you’re getting Gavin on your team, he’s a nice guy but he used to do the worm in the office, it was so weird; the boss had to have a quiet word”.

    OP2 what a load of old pony. Either you work for them and they pay you, or you don’t. “Benching” you is just some nonsense that they’ve made up apparently to convince you you can’t get unemployment benefit. Do as Alison says and document everything to record the true facts, and get yourself a job amongst rational people.

  17. Kate, short for Bob*

    OP1 reminds me of the time an ex took up karate in a very Ross-from-Friends way and then took some shifts at the bar we used to drink at, washing up at the little low sink (for between dishwasher cycles) in stance to work his legs rather than bend his back.

    Bar owner still remembers it too. She does impressions.

    1. Kate, short for Bob*

      Also, correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t a “hand lock” just a tendon stretch by any other name? Should I be macho-ing up my knitting by doing *aftershave advert voice* Hand Locks every few rounds?

      1. Freelance Anything*

        Yeah I’m just picturing bending your elbow and flexing your wrist back towards you shoulder, with assistance from your other hand.

        As a Martial Arts person, it’s just a stretch in that context. Framing it as a ‘wrist lock’ feels pretentious.

        1. Viette*

          Yeah, I think performing a “wrist lock” on yourself because your wrists are sore is called “stretching your wrists”, and anyone can do it! Up until this letter I hadn’t really considered that you could do a wrist lock on yourself, since it’s not really… I’m not sure how to say it. Both of the hands are your own hands and you can get free anytime?

          1. Can Man*

            It is just stretching my wrist. I described it that way because two of the stretches are ones I’ve never seen outside of a context where the wrist locks that resemble them are practiced.

            1. biobotb*

              I mean, choosing the less well-known way of describing a common thing–wrist stretching–does come across a little bit attention seeking/precious. Why not just use the term everyone knows?

          2. AnxiouslyAnon*

            It is basically a wrist stretch. It’s just common in martial arts to call them a “wrist lock practice” because you manipulate the wrist in a specific movement that mimics a particular technique. The idea is you both stretch the wrist, but also progressively make yourself more capable of enduring these movements.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      My husband was a high school wrestler, and one of his more…um, endearing…habits is that he loves to fall like a wrestler. If he loses his balance, he will drop his shoulder and roll right into it. He doesn’t make the slightest effort to stop his fall by moving his foot/grabbing something/putting his hand out. Then he will brag to anyone who was watching about how he still has his wrestling reflexes.

      It…doesn’t look cool, or skilled. It looks like a very large man just went splat and said way too much about why he didn’t just catch himself like a normal person. He’s also injured himself a couple of times because hard floors and city sidewalks aren’t actually much like wrestling mats when one falls on them.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        I see I’m not the only one whose partner calls their foibles “endearing”! Although in my case it’s snoring, which I can’t help. If you’ve seen Galaxy Quest, a parody of Star Trek, there’s a hilarious part where the Captain Kirk character does a bunch of unnecessary “combat roll!!!” while the rest of the crew just walks. Maybe show that to your husband?

      2. biobotb*

        That was kind of my reaction to the video the OP posted–as a non-martial arts person, my first impression would probably be that they’d fallen over, and not on purpose. To me he would look like someone who can’t crouch down without falling over.

  18. Marny*

    For #2, my assumption is the company is hoping to hire someone new for the OP’s position who they can pay a lot less. Between being shady about telling her she can’t apply for unemployment and telling her they can’t afford to keep her, it sounds like the business is concerned with saving money and this is their scheme to make that happen.

    1. Myrin*

      OP does say, though, that she “saw [her] job posted on the website and a few job sites for full-time, same pay. That’s not to say that the company won’t try to pull a fast one on the applicants to the tune of “oh, there was a mistake” but at least as it stands, that doesn’t seem to be their reasoning.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I thought the most likely explanation is a “don’t attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence” sort of scenario.

      Somehow there’s been a miscommunication between OP’s boss and HR (or whoever is in charge of recruitment), in that OP is “leaving” so HR/whoever have automatically re-posted the job ad for a direct replacement with the same salary and JD etc, as they do in every similar case where someone leaves. I expect OP to be presented with ‘termination’ HR paperwork on their last day, even though their boss says they will be ‘on the bench’ rather than actually leaving the company.

      I’m not sure what to make of the unemployment part though. Could be just a misunderstanding on the boss’s part (you won’t be able to claim unemployment because you’re still technically employed, even though we are giving you 0 hours) or something more nefarious, like (how others have suggested) trying to avoid a UI claim for “business” reasons.

      1. Graeme*

        There are a lot of aspects to this one, each of which in isolation could definitely be attributed to incompetence rather than malice. Being eased out for no obvious reason, job being reposted, deliberately vague final day, being incorrectly told they can’t claim unemployment – any one of these and I’d agree with you, probably just a mistake.

        But all of them together? Nah, something’s going on here. If not trying to reduce costs (which seems less likely given the advert has the same pay for the same job) then someone else’s suggestion elsewhere in the comments about a nephew or similar being lined up for this job seems like a real possibility.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          It’s possible, but all of those are explained by the disconnect between “boss intends for OP to be on the bench” and “HR thinks OP has resigned”.

          1. ecnaseener*

            I think this is teetering on the edge of what can be adequately explained by incompetence. Boss *accidentally* gave HR the impression that LW is quitting and *accidentally* failed to mention he didn’t have the budget to replace them, after *accidentally* bungling the messaging to LW? Unless there’s a gas leak in his home or something, LW had to have noticed that level of incompetence before now.

  19. Turingtested*

    LW 1, I think the concern is getting known as “martial arts person” instead of “great at the job person.” It also depends on whether these moves are truly unconscious. If you’re deliberately choosing it and the reason isn’t “my back is killing me and I shouldn’t bend it” your behavior likely comes off as more focused on MA than your job.

    This is one of those things that technically should be OK but in reality can come off as attention seeking. I’d take a hard look at your work environment and your peer reactions and decide whether it’s serving your overall goals.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, I don’t think OP is attention-seeking, neither IRL by doing all those things described, nor by the very act of writing this letter (that’s a pretty uncharitable read in itself, I’d say) – he seems genuinely curious and doesn’t seem to be taking himself too terribly seriously (reckognising that his behaviour could be interpreted as “weird” or “quirks” which I think many people would never even think of using to describe themselves).

      BUT, just like you say, these things can easily come off as attention-seeking, and have the potential to be off-putting to both people who are into martial arts themselves (“Ugh, does he really have to do that? I don’t! Clearly he has no self discipline!”) and those who have no clue about it (“What on earth is going on here? Is he having some kind of seizure?”). I like your advice to take a hard and honest look at the environment and reactions and I’d add that OP should also factor in his relationships with his coworkers in general – I’ve found that people tend to find the same action annoying or show-off-y to different degrees depending on how they like the person in question in general/apart from these particular actions.

    2. Can Man*

      Op1 here. Thanks for a response that was more charitable than the first few. Those were jarring to wake up to.

      1. Can Man*

        Also, I’d say most of them are semi conscious, where I’m defaulting to the movements I know or using them as a stim. (I’m pretty sure I’m autistic.) I can retrain them, but it’ll take months at best. I’ll have to troubleshoot the solution to working at a hip-high counter with no chair available, though. Kneeling and stances are out, and crouching is uncomfortable. I guess I’ll have to learn to live with taking 5 times as long to get up and down from the floor since that time is apparently not worth the reputation hit.

        1. Freelance Anything*

          I think you’re taking the wrong advice from people here (and from the previous letter about kneeling) which is not necessarily surprising given the responses.

          ‘working at a hip-high counter with no chair available, though. Kneeling and stances are out, and crouching is uncomfortable.’

          A wide stance or kneeling at an awkwardly short table when there is no other alternative, is fine. And for the most part people aren’t focusing on your stances at all.

          The focus are the falls, which could be alarming at best, and the Forms which seem weird at best or overtly aggressive at worst.

          And *importantly* there are alternatives to both. You don’t need to do a controlled fall and you could switch Forms to more appropriate stretches.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Agreed — if you’re at a hip high counter, kneeling (whether one knee or two) facing the counter is not odd. Remember that what was odd about the previous letter was kneeling on both knees and a super straight back in front of another person *when there was an alternative.*

            And yeah, most people are reacting to your falls. I don’t see how bending, crouching, or kneeling to get something off the floor is less efficient or takes more time than the fall *onto your back* that you posted, but if it truly is more efficient and you don’t want to take the reputation hit then approach the bending/crouching/kneeling alternatives as something you need to practice in order to become efficient at. Presumably this is what you had to do with the falls anyway, so you’re certainly capable of learning how to do the alternate and do it well.

        2. Heidi*

          I dunno – it takes less than a second to squat, but if your work efficiency is measured on a millisecond scale, then use the fall, I guess.

          If we want to look at the “reputation hit” aspect with more nuance, I suspect (based on the responses in this comments section) that co-worker responses are going to range from a neutral “whatever – you do you” at best and a negative “what is this attention-seeking nonsense?” at worst. I don’t think that a really positive response is likely. Assuming that your coworkers will have a similar range of responses, you’ll have to decide for yourself if that matters enough to stop doing all of this.

        3. Metadata minion*

          This may not be something you have any control over, especially if you’re in retail or something, but a lot of your movements seem linked to your workplace being vastly unergonomic (why are you storing so much stuff near the floor, for example, and why don’t you have a chair?). Is there any chance you can push to get your workspace altered?

        4. Attractive Nuisance*

          LW, your letter reminds me of a friend I had in graduate school who used to skip down the hall to get from one room to another. At first I thought it was very bizarre and wondered why she behaved that way. Then I realized it was a normal and comfortable way for her to move, and I think she did not realize how weird it was (she is also neurodivergent). Here’s the thing, though – realizing it was comfortable for her did not make it any more comfortable for me. It was very jarring and honestly a little scary to be walking down the hall and suddenly have a full-grown adult come skipping at me full speed. I don’t know how your coworkers feel about your movements, but I think it’s important to recognize that people can have very intense reactions to unexpected motion. If people are uncomfortable with your martial arts moves at work, it probably isn’t just because they are being judgmental.

        5. Kate 2*

          I mean I timed myself going from standing upright to hands touching the floor, back to standing and it took all of 3 to 5 seconds. Not a long time.

        6. Julia*

          Working at a hip height counter with no chair is a very different situation from kneeling in an office where everyone else is seated in chairs.

          Do you know someone who can give you some feedback on the martial arts positioning you’re doing at work? I suspect many of them are going to be OK especially if you do them in the context of being comfortable moving around at work. If someone questions what you are doing you can simply say you’re moving/stretching to be comfortable. People will accept that information better than if you say you’re doing martial arts.

          However anything that looks like a fall is going to be a work place problem. You know it’s a controlled fall but no one around you will know that.

        7. moonstone*

          So, I’m a dancer with ADHD. I find sitting still very difficult for long periods of time – something that caused issues for me at both school and work. However, while I think social and professional norms can stand to be a bit more accommodating to neurodivergent people, it doesn’t mean neurodivergent people get to completely absolve themselves of conforming to social standards and abiding by the social contract. This is a part of belonging to society – everybody has to do this. What you’re asking to do is not respectful to others around you and could make them uncomfortable.

        8. Coconutty*

          How long is it taking you to get up and down from the floor without doing these falls? A few seconds longer?

          1. MHA*

            I’m kind of calling BS on the idea that it’s faster/more efficient at all, really. Unless Can Man is snatching whatever he wants off the shelf while in the process of rolling forward to get back onto his feet without losing momentum (which would be incredibly indiscreet/disruptive, and very likely to result in needing another attempt due to missing the object, and much more likely to result in an injury than getting the object the old-fashioned way), I genuinely can’t conceive of how a grown person having to get up off the floor all the way from their rear instead of from a squat/kneel is faster than squatting/kneeling in the first place, regardless of the individual 1sec of time that’s saved by dropping to the floor instead of kneeling to it. Especially if Can Man is doing these falls from a kneel instead of a full stand– if you’re already kneeling, just grab whatever you want and stand up! Doing the controlled fall is literally adding another, unnecessary step at that point. I feel like the “it’s more efficient” thing is stemming from how it feels faster because the body is moving fast for individual parts of the process, but that doesn’t mean the whole process is faster overall.

            (Plus, even if it was somehow more efficient than just popping a squat and standing back up– I mean, it would be more efficient to sprint everywhere too, right? But the ways that that would be inappropriate for an office environment are obvious, yes? Sacrificing some efficiency for predictability, and therefore safety, when you’re surrounded by other people in an enclosed space is something we all do in hundreds of little ways.)

        9. EventPlannerGal*

          Okay, so, I do get that the negative response you’ve seen here really must have been jarring to wake up to. It’s not a nice feeling to discover that other people think badly of something we do habitually, it makes you feel very exposed and uncomfortable. However:

          1. You asked if these things are weird, and people are answering. Unfortunately the answer is that yes, some of these things come across as weird. That sucks given that some of these movements do serve a purpose (like the stretches, although I think the consensus is mostly that those are probably okay), but Alison has always been pretty consistent about answering in a way that reflects how things are rather than how they should be.

          2. When we are annoyed or defensive about something we do, sometimes a natural reaction is to exaggerate the need for it. “Doing literally anything else apart from a martial arts controlled fall onto my back to reach low shelves will take me 5 times longer and take me months to learn!” strikes me as stemming from that urge. It seems pretty unlikely to me that someone in the right shape for these moves would have significant trouble bending down briefly.

        10. Observer*

          I guess I’ll have to learn to live with taking 5 times as long to get up and down from the floor since that time is apparently not worth the reputation hit.

          You’ve gotten good responses on the rest of your comment. But this comes off very, very oddly. Because unless your normal way of picking stuff up is really, really unusual, the idea that a regular bend or squat takes *5 times* as long as a controlled fall is just not credible.

          And, really, it would be really useful to you, for you to realize that the large reaction to the controlled falls is because it’s not just a little thing. It’s not just that people are being snarky about anyone who does things just a bit out of the ordinary. Those falls are HIGHLY noticeable, and in fact in most work contexts almost demand notice.

          1. a sound engineer*

            Exactly, the rest is just neutral-to-“we get it, you do martial arts”, depending on how people take it. But the controlled falls are what take it to being actually inappropriate in place of strange but not necessarily a capital-I Issue.

        11. Autistic Employee*

          Hi there, OP#1. I know that reading some of these responses has to have been difficult. I also want to acknowledge that it’s natural to get defensive and look for reasons not to accept negative feedback when it is given. I’m talking only about the falls, here. Keep stretching during downtime.

          Since you mentioned that you think you may be autistic, I want to engage with your comments about efficiency. I am an autistic person who feels a deeply engrained need to be efficient in everything that I do. When I have needed to shift these behaviours, what I do is remember that efficiency does not mean the same thing as fast. The most efficient way to clear your inbox is not to delete all of your emails without reading them – that would be faster, but you’re not meeting the constraints of the task.

          So what are the constraints, here? You need to get the object from the lowest shelf, obviously. You need to do so safely, with a minimal risk of injury. However, there are some other, unspoken constraints that I will explicate: you also need to do so in a way that’s not going to disrupt other people or cause them to gossip about you. These things aren’t a small part of being an employee at all. And they aren’t just some silly part of the job that neurotypical people made up for no reason.

          So when you do a controlled fall, you’re not being efficient. You’re not meeting the basic requirements of the task, because you’re focusing solely on being fast and ignoring the other requirements. You’re alarming your coworkers and doing yourself a social injury. I can guarantee you that the people around you think that this is very, very strange. They most likely joke about it behind your back.

          Why? Because the human brain is a correlation machine. People who exhibit strange behaviour in one way tend to exhibit strange behaviour in other ways as well. This is why people avoid those who talk to themselves on the street – they’ve seen people who do this behaviour become aggressive in the past, so they associate what is a harmless action (talking to oneself) with a harmful one. They see the harmless action as a warning sign to avoid that person.

          I had a coworker who would dance – full on dance, not just doing a little jig – to get other people’s attention instead of waving. It was very, very unusual but harmed no one. The lack of social awareness that it indicated ended up disastrously for her, though, and she ended up getting terminated. She was very fortunate not to have the police called on her. People were not surprised, because she had given herself a reputation as someone who placed a very low importance on getting along with others.

          I don’t think you are trying to show off. I also don’t think you’re understanding just how important it is to follow appropriate social codes. I also don’t think you’re quite understanding what you’re communicating to others when you do these falls. This miscommunication can have serious professional repercussions. Your reputation is important, and you should try not to be resentful of being asked to change your behaviour to fit in. Everyone is expected to do this – it’s not just autistic people.

          It’s worth a few months of effort. You are worth it. Give yourself some credit.

          And if this is helpful for you on your quest to understand yourself: even before your comment I read your letter as being written by an autistic person.

          1. SAS*

            This is a really interesting and thoughtful comment, thank you.

            To add to the efficiency calculation, OP is one employee and the company relies on the total efficiency of workers. If OPs controlled fall is saving him 20 seconds to reach the item on the shelf, but causing his co-workers to lose 1 min by checking if he’s okay, that wouldn’t be more efficient for the workplace as a whole.

      2. Turingtested*

        I’ve worked with a lot of “colorful” people over the years. The vast majority were sincerely eccentric but almost all of them were pegged as pretentious by coworkers.

        It’s a delicate thing. If your job is just a paycheck, get down with your bad self. If you want to advance you might have to play politics or find a more open workplace.

        Personally I think it’s bullshit that there’s such a narrow range of acceptable behavior.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think it’s bullshit that there’s such a narrow range of acceptable behavior.
          I think that narrow range is a natural outcome of expecting people to cooperate in big, diverse groups that change all the time. We’re hard-wired to be alert for behavior that deviates from a range because it can mean danger. Some stuff you can rewrite, but doing that all the time in all contexts isn’t efficient when “finish two projects, then get some coffee” is what you want out of the morning.

      3. BethDH*

        Jumping in here to say that frequency matters. Reading your letter, it sounded like getting things from low shelves was as common as wrist locks. If that’s the case, think really hard about whether you’re finding excuses to use these skills unnecessarily versus “I really need to do this so I’m going to do it in the most comfortable way.”
        I have definitely found myself finding excuses to be more elaborate in my movements when I’m sleepy and need to wake up, when I’m bored or frustrated, and I try to be careful to direct that energy into something non-distracting to my colleagues.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Fair point re quirkiness landing very differently if it’s one thing you know about Janice, who is principally The Only One Who Can Fix The Printer, vs that quirk being the only thing or main thing you know about Janice.

  20. Viette*

    OP1, within all the discussion and speculation about *why* you might be incorporating your martial arts into your workplace actions, I think probably the take-home from this comments section is: whatever the reason you’re doing it, AAM is right, it’s going to be very noticeable and distinctive and at least moderately weird in almost all workplaces. Even the purest motivations are not going to allay the reality that these actions will provoke a “??? :/” reaction in officemates who see them, live or on camera.

    It’s up to you if it’s worth it, but I agree that especially the more dramatic actions are a real risk to your reputation in terms of becoming Always Doing Martial Arts Moves Person at work.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        One of the valuable uses of the blog is to test “Would X land as weird to you?” and “Would X be something for you to fix?”

        (Thinking of a past letter re cube decor which landed weird to many people, and would cause them to judge the young owner of the decor, but would not be a thing OP or most coworkers needed to say anything about as they didn’t manage this person.)

        1. quill*

          Yes, precisely.

          Also, @CanMan – much sympathy if you’re having to squat or bend over all the time in retail. That was not at all fun. The trouble is finding a movement that doesn’t make it harder for your coworkers to work around you – for a yoga example that may mean kneeling properly instead of doing a lunge and taking up extra space.

  21. Varthema*

    Definitely getting visions of Dwight Shrute. I’m guessing that’s not the look LW1 would like to portray!

    1. Wildcat*

      I thought of that too.

      I do yoga and particularly when I was pregnant to relieve sciatica. But I’m talking a quiet wall sit or stretches jn a private place. I never would have just done cat/cow poses in the middle of the workplace.

  22. jsmthi*

    #1, here’s a different POV. Please keep inhabiting your body in the way that is most comfortable and ergonomic for you – maybe you will start a trend!

    I don’t do marital arts but I do have chronic medical conditions which require me to do various stretches during the work day, as well as sometimes lie down, take a different position to the people around me, or move in atypical ways, e.g. to reach something. None of this makes me worse at the job.

    Yes, as commenters so far have made clear, this does get noticed and result in being perceived as eccentric. But the so-called ‘normal’ ways of being embodied at work are just a convention, not intrinsically better (in fact, often worse, health-wise). Rather than just accept the norms as unalterable fact and comply, we can work to change the culture to be more accepting of diversity, including bodily difference.

    So I’m considering anyone doing ”odd” stretches and movements at work to be an ally to all the Disabled workers for whom it’s not a choice.

    Further, even a small change in norms would benefit everyone, as TBH most abled people and non-martial-artists could do with stretching and varying their positions more often during the day!

    1. Can Man*

      Well, at least one person sees it the way I’ve been looking at it. It seems like the consensus is that weird=bad, though. :(

      1. Anny*

        I think another thing at play here is the relationship you have with you colleagues, how much they know about you, and how much you want them to know about you. It’s absolutely reasonable, in my opinion, to take part in exercise at work. As others have suggested, controlled falls may be a bit of a bridge too far, though, since observers may think it’s an actual fall and try to help. If you enjoy martial arts and talking about martial arts, it seems pretty harmless to practice some movements at work. People aren’t just worker bees! Plus you know best about what makes sense in your particular workplace.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I’ve seen few if any comments saying weird = bad. The near-consensus seems to be: yeah, this is weird and people will notice it and be confused by it, some people will find it off-putting, but it’s up to you whether you’re fine with it.

        I say this because comment sections always feel more aggressive when one has just woken up :) You asked whether this looks unprofessional, and the answer is probably yes, but you can choose to breach professional norms if you’re okay with the consequences.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          You can choose to breach professional norms if you’re okay with the consequences.
          This. You can embrace people thinking you’re weird and normalize that weirdness as the range of human behavior. Or you can realize that a thing you thought was charming and quirky is landing more negatively and becoming the only thing people know about you, which is not your goal in this context. (Whether that’s work, temple, kickball league, or ESL class.)

        2. Lily Rowan*

          AND I think Alison is always giving the “what does the Modern American Workplace think about X” answer, not “how should reasonable people think,” if you see the distinction. You can 100% do something outside of the norm, just be aware that it is outside of the norm.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Which is valuable! People aren’t writing in to ask how things might work in a different world, but in the one they currently inhabit where they need to buy food next month.

            Like the advice on panty hose, which are now much less common but there are regions and jobs where they would be expected.

          2. Littorally*

            Alison generally answers the question that is asked. Sometimes it’s a ‘should’ question. Sometimes it’s an ‘is’ question. That’s because “how should reasonable people think” is very subjective, and also tends not to be all that helpful for people trying to navigate how the workplace actually is!

        3. Metadata minion*

          Exactly! I am also a Weird Person in some ways, and if the LW is comfortable being weird, that’s totally a valid choice! But this does sound like something that will be Weird in most offices.

          I agree with another commenter that one exception is anything that makes sudden unusual movements — those can be stressful for a lot of people because frankly in an office situation big fast movements or someone dropping to the floor other than by kneeling/crouching probably means there’s something wrong.

        4. Forrest*

          I commented to say that I thought it was harmless and eccentric, and got a bunch of responses saying anyone who breaks conventions like this probably violates other boundaries too!

          1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

            One woman said this and two other people agreed with her… I don’t know if that’s a bunch? All three people mentioned in person experiences or the very valid reasons the behaviors detailed would make them feel unsafe.

      3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I imagine it is incredibly jarring to see all these comments about your letter and I think it would make anyone feel a little defensive.

        That said, I’m not sure that weird=bad is the consensus. I think it’s more that uncessarily disruptive = bad.

        Most people seem to be focusing on the controlled fall. I doubt the commentariate would have the same reaction if you were just doing streches and stances, which are far less likely to distract colleagues.

        1. Observer*

          Most people seem to be focusing on the controlled fall. I doubt the commentariate would have the same reaction if you were just doing streches and stances, which are far less likely to distract colleagues.

          Very much this.

          If you take the controlled falls out of the equation, I think the reactions would be much more muted. Sure, other stuff could be seen as weird, which would be something that the OP might want to think about, but not that big of a deal.

          But the falls really are a bit if a big deal and I think that they are kind of taking up all of the oxygen in the discussion.

      4. Admin Lackey*

        Honestly, I think it’s that a lot of white collar offices have a judgmental mindset for anything slightly odd, even if it objectively doesn’t matter. Like, office ergonomics are bad for your body and what you’re doing is not hurting (or even affecting!) anybody else.

        Yeah, maybe stop the more obvious ones, but it’s not a sin to not behave like absolutely everybody else. Maybe reflect on your motivations, like other martial artists have commented, but I can tell you that I would think this was a funny thing you did in the office and I absolutely would not care

        1. ItIsWhatItIs*

          I have done blue collar factory work and they would absolutely roast someone doing any sort of obvious martial arts on the floor, whether or not it was disruptive. It’s definitely not just a white collar job thing.

          1. Mameshiba*

            Yes, if anything it would be MORE disruptive on a factory floor or other blue collar workplace setting because of possible tools, equipment, and materials that could be a safety hazard.

      5. TyphoidMary*

        I mean from my perspective, you asked if this will come across as weird and unprofessional. And… yeah? It will to a lot of people?

        Doesn’t make it bad. Lots of things that are unprofessional are pretty great. But you didn’t ask “is this weird thing I do bad?” You asked, “How will *most* people interpret this?”

    2. drpuma*

      jsmthi, I have a lot of empathy for what you’ve written here. I’ve worked multiple places where I’m conspicuous for being the person who’s always standing up. I 100% agree that we should normalize people doing the things that are right for their bodies, and that creates a more welcoming office environment for people of all abilities.

      What you and I are talking about are “unusual” physical things we do that ultimately help us perform and succeed at work. The impression that I got from the OP’s letter is that maybe half the things he does in the office similarly help his physical body support his best work performance, but the other half of his activities are focused on keeping himself in peak! physical! condition! as a martial artist. Yes, let’s normalize some light stretching, mobility breaks, sitting or standing or lying down as works for your body. I agree with the other commenter who suggested that, on the other hand, doing forms while you wait a few minutes for the copier to finish implies that you’re more focused on martial arts than getting your job done. If the OP wants to practice forms on his lunch break similar to how some folks choose to go to the gym, more power to him. But I think there is a difference between setting an inclusive example of “this is me doing what’s right for my body, please feel free to do what’s right for yours” and being the only person practicing a specific physical discipline which could come off as exclusionary.

      1. Freelance Anything*

        I agree with everything you’ve said here (changing my mind from previously), except your advice on forms.

        I think that’s going to depend on the form. Many forms/kata/patterns are explicitly and umambiguously simulated combat. There are absolutely exceptions to this (usually in regards to the level of stylisation), but I think OP needs to have an honest look at the content of his forms and decide if it’s actually suitable to be doing that in a workplace.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, a few deep knee bands and lunges at the copier say you need to stretch, and could draw from a number of disciplines. Simulated combat with the copier is going to land as odder.

            1. Zelda*

              Whereas, if it’s a printer, especially full-color, you don’t go in alone. You bring trained backup and go straight for superior numbers, shock-and-awe, resistance-is-futile. Never show weakness to a color printer.

      2. Wildcat*

        I think it’s the physically throwing yourself on the ground that I simply cannot get behind. Stretches, squats, fine. Throwing yourself bodily in the ground is a big startling thing to do at work. Not at work around other people.

        1. alienor*

          That’s pretty much my take on it. I’ve worked with plenty of people who had bad backs and would stand up and lean against the wall during a long meeting, or do a couple of quick stretches at their desk, and that’s no big deal, but if I saw a guy suddenly fall to the floor I would think he was having a heart attack. Even if it happened every day it would still be distracting.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Agreed. No fast erratic motions at work. That will get attention every time (because humans check out fast erratic motions automatically to check if they are tigers or falling trees or otherwise dangerous).

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I think this is an important point re not matching norms–if that means people have a startled “Is that a tiger?!” response to you, over and over, that’s going to be disruptive and, if the behavior is something you can control, annoying.

        3. quill*

          Same. My personal experience with unexpected falls, no matter how you control them, would lead to me going “Is Can Man OK?” a dozen times a week if I worked with him.

          Stretches? Yeah I should probably do one too. Squats? That’s well within the range of people trying to lift safely. Lunges get a little more iffy because I have to walk here too and I can trip over a carpet seam, please try to keep your feet somewhere near your body. XD

    3. Hailrobonia*

      “I don’t do marital arts…”

      Doing marital arts in the office is a great way to get stories about you posted on AAM!

    4. disabled at work*

      No, sorry, as a disabled person, I don’t want to be associated with people who don’t know how to behave in public/at work. That’s not how I want people to think of the disabled. That is not allyship.

      1. jsmthi*

        Fair enough. I also think the controlled falls are a bad idea in the workplace!

        So the ally comment was somewhat tongue in cheek. But I’m reasonably serious that I’ll support anything harmless that helps disrupt abled normativity (i.e. arbitrary conventions regarding what is locally considered ‘how to behave’) and forced conformity of co-workers bodies. Because these are discriminatory and excluding.

        Commenters above are right too – it is descriptive of the real world that people like to mock those whose bodies aren’t conforming to expected norms (maybe or maybe not for disability reasons – one isn’t privy to others’ medical information). And that’s unfortunate, so if even one person thinks about this differently, it was worth saying.

  23. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    LW2, do you used company issued equipment, like a laptop, headset or tablet, or access to any kind of corporate system? If you do, please ask for a receipt if you’re told to return it, and take screenshots if your access is cut off (the “login failed” message). I know a pregnant woman who was suddenly fired who used those screenshots and the emails she got from the facilities department as proof when she sued her former employer.

  24. EventPlannerGal*

    All I could think while reading letter 1: “While you were filing, I studied the blade. When you were doing the TPS reports, I mastered the hand lock.” I mean, it will definitely be making life more interesting for your colleagues but not perhaps in the way you intend. Definitely lose the falls. There are better places to display your martial arts abilities than reaching for low shelves!

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      I was actually sort of disappointed reading the actual letter. The headline suggested something much more exciting.

  25. Forrest*

    Super disappointed in the responses to LW1. This is a level of harmless eccentricity in the workplace which I am wholly in support of.

    1. anonymous73*

      I have no idea what a “controlled fall” is but I see that being an issue if people are unaware that it was done on purpose. And with people being so litigious these days, the company may want them to stop for fear that he could hurt himself and sue.

    2. CR*

      I think someone can be as eccentric as they want in the workplace but don’t pretend that it won’t affect how people view OP and his career prospects.

    3. MonkeyPrincess*

      It’s harmlessly eccentric in theory. In practice, every guy I’ve ever met who does stuff like this has boundary issues in other areas, often towards me.

      1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

        THIS. 1000%

        Even in a martial arts training context, this is the guy I desperately try to avoid during partner drills. In a work context, this is the guy I avoid because the boundary issues that tend to come along with this kind of behavior are even harder to deal with.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Yep. Especially if he’s doing any moves that are or could be perceived as fighting techniques. Someone who behaves outside of social norms and also seems to spend a lot of time/thought on… physicality (I know martial arts isn’t necessarily meant to be aggressive or violent, but it still involves punching/kicking/grabbing!) would make me feel instinctively unsafe.

    4. Fluffy Fish*

      Except it’s not really harmless. It’s harmless in the sense no one is being hurt, but it’s not harmless in terms of his career.

      Unfortunately in most workplaces, the person who lays on the floor or falls over to pick things up, is going to be known at the least as odd. It can very well change how they are seen by supervisors , his opportunities for advancement, and how his peers interact with him. Is that fair? I don’t know. Personally it would give me pause about their ability to be professional at appropriate times.

      Op deserves to know how they are likely to be perceived and it’s implications. If they still choose this particular quirk so be it.

    5. Ace in the Hole*

      Most of it is harmless, although may be disconcerting or off-putting to coworkers. It’s likely to affect their professional reputation – not saying it’s right, just that it’s probable. It’s up to LW1 to evaluate whether it’s worth the potential consequences.

      The exception is falls. Speaking as someone who has practiced falls and whose current job is occupational safety… falls are not harmless. They’re a safety/liability risk both to LW1 and to anyone nearby. Controlled falls are usually practiced on padded mats in large open spaces, which reduces (but does not eliminate) the risk of injury. Practicing them on a hard surface in a workplace setting where there could be various unnoticed hazards in your fall path is pretty risky. LW is taking the chance of sprains, broken bones, head injury, cuts/punctures, and knocking over other people.

      LW is probably skilled enough that they are safe as high-impact sports go, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe by workplace standards! If I saw someone at my site doing controlled falls, they would get one verbal warning and disciplinary action if they did it a second time. It actually concerns me that no one has talked to LW about this at work… that’s a sign that their health & safety program is really not up to scratch.

  26. Tim C.*


    “I’ve spent most of my time here finding busywork for myself while waiting for requests.”

    If your position is to repair systems when they go down or to provide solutions to necessary upgrades, then this is to be expected. I had a relative who was “skilled trades” in an assembly factory. His job only got busy when something broke. When it did, the whole plant could shut down. Management did not mind that he played cards most of the time. But he needed to be there right away when the line was stopped.

    I work in a field that requires tech support 24/7. If our tech goes down, I am stalled and then it may take twice as long to recover after the downtime. Customer complaints begin quickly. Helpdesk and IT support is crucial in making my job functional.

  27. Bookworm*

    #4: Thanks for asking this question! I had been in a similar spot but didn’t talk to recruiters at all. I do hope maybe something comes out of this for you. Good luck!1

  28. Gnome*

    OP 2… I am sorry. It sounds to me like some kind of office politics more than anything else. However, if you have an update at some point, I’d love to see it!

    Also, as per Alison, you can file. Also, if you aren’t in contracting or some industry/position where being on the bench is normal, and your company doesn’t really have a bench (with processes etc.), they are really just full of crap. Being on thr bench is like being a substitute teacher where you aren’t paid unless they call you and you work, but you’re on a list to be called. Does your company even have that?? Most don’t.

  29. Ana Gram*

    OP1, this is going to come across as very attention seeking. I volunteer with a guy who also did random martial arts moves at inappropriate times. He stopped when we started congratulating him on his “ninjy chops”*. For his next trick, he started randomly replying with little French phrases and claiming it was an accident. A native French speaker came by once and we all told him our colleague spoke French. Well, it turns out the little phrases were the extent of his French knowledge. We’re all looking forwarding to his next bizarre behavior.

    The thing is, he’s a nice guy with a pleasant personality. We’d like him without the weird little tricks. Oh well. But yeah, doing martial arts at work is going to look very odd and will make people think things of you that you likely don’t want them to think.

    *From the silly internet video!

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      So I get that your coworker is displaying some… quirky behavior. But you guys responses are frankly mean. It sounds a lot like the cool kids picking on the weird kid in middle school.

      I hope you reconsider your responses and I hope you learn to like a nice guy with a nice personality inspite of his quirks.

      1. Ana Gram*

        I can see why you’d think that but we’ve been friends and co-volunteers (is that a word?) for 10 years so there’s a bit more nuance than us sitting there mocking him. We all tease each other about certain things. He’s calmed down a bit and is definitely in on the joke. For the French thing, we legitimately assumed he spoke French. Oops.

  30. LlamaLawyer*

    One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned for Letter #1 is the risk to the employer. OP could hurt himself (or someone else) if a move goes as unplanned, particularly with those falls. Employer may be on the hook for Workers Como and would not be pleased. Or OP could damage something.

    1. Forrest*

      This would be a fantastic B-plot for The Good Fight. The lawyers going in all confident that this is a straightforward compensation claim, and then PLOT TWIST the employers lawyers say, “yeah, but he was doing the Worm..” and they have to rethink their whole strategy.

    2. doreen*

      Something similar happened at my job – it was a law enforcement agency and one officer decided to demonstrate a technique to another. The demonstrator was not a trainer and this was not during a training session – the other officer was out for months on worker’s comp.

      1. doreen*

        Submit too soon – apparently in my state at least, worker’s comp only depends on you being at work, and doesn’t require you to actually be performing your assigned work. So OP would get WC if he did one of those falls to pick something up from the floor.

        1. pantslesseconomist*

          my dad got worker’s comp for breaking a tooth at the office (the company provided popcorn, he cracked a molar on a kernel), so it definitely seems like if OP1 hurts himself doing a controlled fall to get a dropped pen the company would likely be on the hook.

        2. Insert Clever Name Here*

          That’s how it is in my state as well. And as The OG Sleepless commented elsewhere, falling onto the warehouse floor or whatever is certainly not the same as falling onto the floor at your dojo or whatnot. If someone* at my company saw you doing the falls, you’d absolutely get told to knock it off due to the potential for injury (and workers comp) alone.

          *not even management — talking about safety is so much a norm at my company that it’s something peers will bring up with each other, especially since the company’s safety performance as a whole is a component in our annual bonus.

  31. Seeking Second Childhood*

    OP3, Your situation sounds like the first one where it might make sense to offer to your old boss that you would work for her as a occasional consultant.
    Obviously depends on the kind of support you are referring to: Specialized software development can be scheduled for a weekend weekend but not firefighting. Or “website crash” level of response for that matter.)

    1. OP #3*

      OP3 here. That’s an excellent idea, and I agree that there’s no harm in extending the offer. I’m definitely more of a software developer than a firefighter.

  32. Freelance Anything*

    I can’t reply individually at the moment as my comments are being eaten.

    #OP1 I’ve read a few more responses to you now and seen your responses. And I’m changing my response slightly:

    – Your stretches are still fine, and more people in the workplace should be stretching.
    – Your wide stances are things I see in labour-heavy environments often enough that I don’t think I originally even commented on them

    – Your controlled fall is certainly a *choice* and you definitely have less dramatic options when getting closer to the ground. But I also think that as long nothing about that movement could be truly startling or dangerous (do your legs kick back and up?), then that could be on the okay side of eccentric.

    After some reflection though I still do believe that doing forms/kata/patterns in the workplace is inappropriate. Because (with a few exceptions) they are explicitly violent; they are simulating violence and combat. In a stylised way maybe (again this depends on the martial art) but I don’t think it’s appropriate, even if you’re pretty sure no one can see you. And since it’s also unnecessary, I’d really considering stopping this part.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Can Man replied to Alison’s comment and said it was definitely not what he was doing and posted a different video that more closely aligns with his fall…which is a fall onto the back with legs up. I think a fall is *always* going to be startling in a work place, even a work place that isn’t an office environment, and especially given that there are alternatives the falls need to stop.

        1. Freelance Anything*

          I’m sorry… he’s doing a back breakfall to get to the floor?

          I’m going to find this video.

          A front breakfall is still alarming but makes a degree of sense.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Ah, thank you! That response had been caught in link jail when I looked, but there was another response that didn’t contradict Alison.

        3. Observer*

          Yeah, but the video they posted has kicking up as well as floor slaps. So, totally NOT just something that someone might not even realize had happened, unlike a stretch.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            100% on the same page. In Can Man’s defense, he does say he doesn’t do the slaps at work, but that modification is nowhere near enough to bring it into the “eh, I can understand that” range.

            1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

              Also, f he’s not doing the slaps, then he isn’t even executing the fall break correctly. He isn’t dispersing the force of the fall (the whole point of a fall break–the arm slap is the most important part next to tucking your chin) and is engraining bad habits/poor technique–which means there is literally no excuse (valid or otherwise) for him doing the fall breaks at work in the first place.

              1. Freelance Anything*

                Also back breakfalls for getting something from a shelf makes no sense. You are now on your back with an object and no great way to get back up.

                Is OP1 rolling onto his side with the file or box, going to his knees and then standing? That takes up more floor space to execute, probably looks incredibly clumsy and…defeats the purpose of not just going to your knees in the first place?

                At least a front breakfall would essentially skip the intial ‘to your knees’ part and go straight to ‘plank’. You’re also then just in a far better position to take things from a shelf and bring it back up with you.

                It makes so little sense that I have to start wondering if OP is trolling.

  33. Stella70*

    OP#1, I read your letter thinking, “Here is a person who really loves martial arts” – not necessarily as “What a poser!”.
    I was reminded of a situation many moons ago. I was young, in love, and worried I was pregnant. I broke the news of my concern when my boyfriend and I were sitting in our car in a park which bordered a very busy highway. I barely got the words out (“I think we might be pregnant!”), when he bolted to do martial arts poses (positions? moves? calisthenics?) on the hill parallel to the highway. I estimate the drivers of a few thousand cars saw him, to his delight, while I sat in the car and decided I wouldn’t want him to father a plant with me.
    Moral of the story? Practice positions or not – it’s your career. But if your significant other has huge news to share, don’t bolt from the scene to practice next to a highway. That was 35 years ago, and I still wish I had gotten out of the car and kicked his ass.

    1. Chili pepper Attitude*

      But we’re you pregnant? Did you marry him?
      I want to know things I have to right to know!

      1. Stella70*

        The rest of the story would involve a stiff drink, Chili Pepper Attitude, or at least a lot of coffee. To shorthand: not pregnant after all. Likely just stressed about our upcoming wedding, which I wisely canceled two weeks before. His reaction to that involved three different law enforcement agencies (not kidding). Once he calmed down, he drained our joint bank account, and headed West. I ran across his photo online a few years back, and he married what looks to be my twin. No idea if he is still practicing his poses….

        1. Chili pepper Attitude*

          Thank you and OMG!
          My last was supposed to say, I want to know things I have NO right to know.

        2. Kate in Colorado*

          Oh goodness, that was not where I expected that story to go. I must say, I was curious and had no right to know, but I thank you for sharing! I wish I could buy you that stiff drink.

  34. Chili pepper Attitude*

    How does filing for unemployment work when you have advance notice? Should the OP file now with a date of the first Tuesday next month or does the OP have to wait until after that date to file?

    I’m sure it is different in each state but if they can file now in their state, is there some advantage to the OP to file now?

    1. Shiba Dad*

      Can’t say for sure, but I think you can’t file for unemployment while you are still working, even if you have advance notice that you are losing your job.

    2. just another bureaucrat*

      Usually you should wait to file until you are actually unemployed, doing it before can result in additional delays as you wouldn’t be eligible until you are unemployed and that matter would need to be decided before you would begin receiving benefits.

      Your mileage may very by state, but not by much.

  35. Rowan*

    LW4 – I’m in Australia, I work in the IT sector, and it took me a while, but I figured out a few things about the recruitment industry here. Whether this info is useful to you depends, I’m sure, on your industry and your level of expertise… and possibly where you live.

    First, there are at least two tiers of recruiters. One tier are the bulk recruiters – they’re probably the ones who contact you on LinkedIn and then don’t reply when you say ‘not now, thanks’. The other are the specialty recruiters. If they don’t have a good candidate, they don’t make a recommendation.

    Second, the specialty recruiters tend to act differently to the bulk ones. They want to build relationships with great candidates who are going places. Even just OK candidates who show promise for the future. If I want to know what’s out there, I look for a specialty recruiter nearby who’s posting jobs in the right field, and I message them asking if I could possibly pick their brain if I take them out for coffee and cake, my treat.

    1. Sled dog mama*

      Was coming to say this exactly. I have maintained a “friendship” with a recruiter for the last 11 years. This friendship consists mostly of saying hi at annual conferences and the occasional professional update email (like maybe 5 total). The firm sends out a monthly news letter saying what they are recruiting for that anyone can subscribe to.
      2 years ago when I was suddenly laid off I contacted this recruiter and within a week he had 2 short term placements (3-6 months) and one permanent position interested in me, and one of the short term wanted me to start the next week.
      (I will mention that I’m female in an 80% male industry so that does help some)
      Find a recruiter who knows and understands your credentials and skills, the recruiter I worked with doesn’t have any clue how to do my job but he knows what are the sought after skills and certifications in my career.

  36. Anon for This*

    #3 – My spouse has had jobs like this. Worth his weight in gold those handful of times a year when they really needed his expertise, something hard to find on short notice in a crisis situation, so they kept it in house. He has always sought out other duties to keep himself occupied, found managers who needed special projects. When he was younger the lack of defined work kept him concerned about being laid off. Now, with many years under his belt he no longer needs to prove himself, so while he still seeks extra projects, he is no longer concerned about the arrangement.

  37. the cat's ass*

    LW#2, screen shot everything. Get as much info in writing in possible-you’re being laid off. And you are certainly eligible for UI, despite what your (sounds sketchy)employer is saying! Good luck with your job hunt/next job.

  38. LondonLady*

    #LW1 In my first ever job (student library assistant) a fellow assistant was a martial arts praticioner and used to do these weird lunges, crouches, stretches and poses while shelving books. I’m afraid the rest of us laughed at him (we were young and stupid). Our boss told him not to do it when the library was open but was relaxed about it when we were shelving out of hours. I don’t think it did him any favours in terms of how he was perceived at work.

  39. Jellyfish*

    #1 – I used to work with a man who did similar things. He was a good guy, friendly and capable, but the unnecessary karate moves earned him a reputation. As far as I could tell, he was fine with that and enjoyed being the over-the-top karate guy. I can’t speak to his intentions, but it certainly *looked* like he was showing off and wanted everyone to know he was a martial artist.

    The bosses weren’t going to fire him over it, but they had some concerns about his sense of social norms and professional judgement. Was it just Charlie being himself in the office, or would he act that way around clients too? No one was eager to find out, and it limited his learning and advancement opportunities.

    Whether it should have been that way or not, his insistence on karate habits being more comfortable did him more harm than good, professionally.

  40. Popinki*

    OP1, I don’t see anything wrong with doing the stances/stretches, because a lot of things just become muscle memory after a while. I work with a very tall guy whose way of dealing with a low counter is to stand with his legs planted at least 3 feet apart rather than bend over or squat. Another coworker wears micro-miniskirts and at least 5″ heels every day, and she’s a wizard at the “knees tight together, feet tight together” squat. I’ve done some weight lifting and I automatically squat, lift, and put heavy objects down with very careful, controlled movements.

    However, I’d say to leave the more… dynamic moves at home or the gym. My personal reaction would be “what the #ELL are you doing?” plus you run the risk of injuring yourself or someone else. Plus, I ain’t lying on the floors at my job because the people who clean are kind of lackluster about it :X

  41. Kaiko*

    OP 1: if you are practicing so much that you are practicing at work, then surely you have the physical prowess to crouch down or get low to the ground without going into a controlled fall. It may *feel* better, but it probably *looks* pretty far out of the norm of how other people move in your workplace.

  42. Sue*

    LW1: If I understand correctly you do this when noone is around but security cameras? Is anyone actively watching those? Because I would be concerned seeing one of my colleages falling to the floor and at other times laying on the floor without a heads up that this is fine and that I should not hurriedly making sure you are okay. But this might be me being too concerned.

  43. Jay*

    A quick question for OP#2:
    Is there any significant date coming up for you?
    Like, are you being pushed out JUST before you, say, start qualifying for the company pension, or a significant promotion/raise? Something that will move you from “Slightly more important than an intern, but slightly less important than the plastic fichus in the lobby ” to “Treated like an actual human being”? I’ve known a couple of people over the years who got forced out of jobs they were enduring in order to get this big huge upgrade after “‘x” number of years that would have made all the crap they had to go through worth while.

  44. Nikki*

    LW1, I work in an industry that’s very casual and attracts a lot of eccentric characters. Even there, controlled falls and lying on the floor would absolutely not fly. At best, people would be rolling their eyes and talking about it behind your back. At worst, it might affect your career because management might have concerns about your judgement and ability to understand office norms. I think there would also be a concern about liability. Martial Arts spaces generally have padded floors and open space. If you’re falling onto a hard floor and surrounded by office furniture, you’re liable to injure yourself or someone walking by, even if you’ve done it a ton in the past and think you always have it under control. I would save this kind of thing for outside working hours and just stick with some basic stretching while at the office.

  45. anonymous73*

    #3 not being snarky, but honestly why do you care? You say your boss is aware and you’re leaving for another job. It’s not your job to worry about it for the next person.

  46. T. Boone Pickens*


    Full-time executive recruiter here. Here are a couple of things I thought of.

    The path of least resistance is simply doing what you’re doing now, which is perfectly fine! The only thing I would add is if a role looks interesting responding with a template message that says something along the lines of, “Thanks for reaching out! I’m very happy where I’m at but would be open to considering a new opportunity if it *fill in the blank here for what it would take for you to make a move–compensation/work duties/etc* ” you still may have to contend with the occasional bad actor that will try and bait and switch you on the role but 99% of recruiters will appreciate you getting back to them and shoot you straight on the role.

    The next tier up would be seeking out specialty recruiters that work within your space and you could either make a mental note of who they are/follow them on LinkedIn. You could also proactively reach out to them although I probably wouldn’t do that unless you were prepared to at least have a conversation about what you would be looking for. This will take a bit more work on your end.

    For the types of roles that I usually work on (C-Suite/SVP) I’ve found that about 50% of my conversations are folks in your shoes. They are happy with what they’re doing but they want to get a sense of the market/pick my brain for intel/hey I would move for xyz. While some of these conversations are a complete waste of my/the candidates’ time. The vast majority are usually worthwhile and I have more examples than I can count where a connection I made 3+ years ago turns into a placement/referral.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

  47. Karate Mom*

    LW #1 – having practiced martial arts for a little over 15 years and making it to 2nd degree black belt level (pre-kids), I would find that behavior extremely odd at work. There’s a time to practice and incorporate what you’ve learned, and then there’s the trying too hard overkill, which is honestly how your letter comes across. I have never tried to practice stances or falls at work, which would indeed cause alarm among my coworkers, but I also just *wouldn’t want to*. I’m at work, and my brain is focused on work things in that moment. Now, I will admit that one of my public martial arts induced quirks is never having my back turned. I like my desk etc. to face doorways and such. Pre-covid, I used to see a gentleman come to work in his uniform pants. I recognized the pants as martial arts ones, they were unmistakable, and I even found THAT odd to do. My best advice would just be to keep the obvious martial arts moves on the down low, as its too likely to be oddly received at work.

  48. Mgr101*

    In relation to the the martial arts poses and falls, we had an employee who did martial arts in his free time and often did elaborate distracting overhead stretches when you happened to both be in the work kitchen at the same time and making polite chatting conversation. He was a junior employee and I am one of the most senior. I asked around to see if it was just me this happened to, and the only other people who had the experience were other women. I and at least one of the other women were 20 years his senior, so it really just made him look either like he was showing off (his shirt often came up enough to expose his stomach) or incredibly socially awkward! I think it was mostly the latter. It just made the interactions very strange and awkward and we are a very casual workplace (flip flops and shorts in the summer). In most workplaces the behavior you describe is just going to make other people uncomfortable and look like you are way out of touch with professional norms. Unless that is your intention, I would save it for outside work or behind a closed office door if you have one. Incidentally I have some physical issues that are much better if a stretch or do some targeted strength moves during the day, but I always do them in my office or in the bathroom. Not cause I care what others think as much as to avoid making others feel uncomfortable, which it definitely would!

  49. HystericalHistorian*

    LW1 reminds me of a library friend/colleague who hired an intern who turned out to be a disaster in many ways, but apparently the first indication of it was when he told them he was let go from his previous job for an “explosive anger incident” (his words!). Apparently he had a hard time controlling his temper and just lost it at a coworker — but don’t worry, he’s better now because he does tai-chi. And he then proceeded to stand up in a nearly silent library office and do tai-chi in a room where several people were quietly working at their desks and doing their best to a) ignore him and b) not make eye contact with each other.

    No one wanted to say anything because: explosive anger incident! In my mind he made sound effects, but I can’t confirm that.

    1. Kate 2*

      I understand what you mean. Speaking as a quirky person myself, quirky people make me nervous because in my experience it goes from someone with fun quirks to someone with no sense of social norms or professional behavior very quickly. I don’t know many quirky people with a strong sense of professional behavior to be honest.

  50. BB8*

    I wouldn’t have a problem with the martial arts guy, I think quirky people are fun and make life more interesting. I’m not in charge though and all it takes is someone with some authority to find it off putting just enough to impact your work life. I’d suggest asking a close co-worker if anyone has said anything or if they think it’s too weird. If it’s in a science or engineering field there are quite a few people with quirky personality traits, and they tend accept personal oddities more readily than a more structured office setting would be. People tend to not like things being outside the ‘norm’, despite their claims to the contrary.

  51. NotRealAnonForThis*

    Shoot, did I write in about 6-7 years ago and my letter was just published as LW#2?

    If that’s not the case:
    1. Document everything.
    2. File for UE anyways, screw that. They won’t contest it. (And if they do, you have everything documented.)
    3. You’ll find something far better.
    4. Spend the next 6-7 years concluding it was “small business clusterbleep toxic” and have some good chuckles about it.

  52. Dwight Schrute*

    This is very on brand for my username, OP1. All I can picture is Dwight fighting himself

    1. seahorsesarecute*

      I’m really wishing all the actors from The Office would come to the comments (every day) as their characters now.

  53. Lady Danbury*

    LW1, after having read through a bunch of the comments and your response, this feels like a freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences situation. Is there anything wrong with you doing your poses at work? Absolutely not. Will some people think it’s weird and off-putting? Absolutely, as this thread has shown. You’re free to do your poses at work but you aren’t free to dictate how others might react to you doing your poses at work. Rightly or wrongly, there may be consequences in terms of how people who work with you view you and the only option that eliminates that risk is not to do them.

    1. not a doctor*

      This comment is key. OP, let your freak flag fly, but you gotta have some self-awareness about it.

      (*Personally*, I think I’d be fine with most of your eccentricities, but the controlled falling has got to go in my eyes. And get off the floor if you don’t have to be on it, in general. Not only is it distracting, I’d argue it’s grossly unsanitary in most work environments I can think of.)

  54. WantonSeedStitch*

    LW #1: as a former martial artist myself, I think that it’s just as fine to practice forms during breaks in an out-of-the-way place where people aren’t going to interrupt you (say, a reserved conference room, or a rarely-used storeroom, etc.) as it would be to go jogging on your break, as long as you are able to still appear professional afterwards (e.g., not all sweaty and disheveled). Keep in mind that like other exercise, this is something you shouldn’t do in a place where a lot of people are going to see you, because it is distracting and unprofessional to act as though your workplace is a gym or dojo. And stretching periodically throughout the day is absolutely a good idea–more people should do that! But controlled falls to get something off the floor? Standing in a low horse stance at your desk? No. Too much. Save that practice for home. It is not a natural and expected way for a person to behave in day-to-day situations, and will stand out as show-offy, regardless of your intent.

    There’s an additional layer of problematic here, especially if you are/present as male: martial arts are generally interpreted as having an element of aggression, even if you aren’t someone who is behaving aggressively towards others. Broadcasting “I am a martial artist” at the office on a daily basis isn’t much different from broadcasting, “I like to go shooting” on a daily basis. Remember the article about someone who put up their paper targets at their office? While neither thing indicates you are actually a harmful person, both are things that can make others who aren’t involved in your hobby kind of nervous. Especially with a person who is perceived as male. Whether or not you feel that nervousness is warranted, it’s something that is going to happen, and you want to be aware of that.

  55. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

    OP #1: I’ve trained with That Guy. I’ve worked with That Guy. Please don’t be That Guy!
    Yeah, there are some things that you can easily slip in throughout the work day that will be fine, but please don’t be the guy who stands in stance all of the time AND practices forms AND practice moves. And please, for the love of all that is holy, stop doing fall breaks around people at work. That’s a world of no.

    Look, if you were training for a marathon, it wouldn’t be be cool to just jog in place at work all day. If you were a hurdle jumper, it would not be cool to traverse the room by vaulting over people’s desks. If you did ballet outside of work it would not be cool to jete and pas de bourree throughout the hallways. Hobbies are awesome! But you aren’t getting paid to practice aikido (or whatever martial art flavor you’re currently training) at work, and some of the stuff that you’re describing is not going to come across as “quirky,” it’s going to come across as some combination of disruptive, aggressive, and attention seeking. Which is just no bueno–it’s no fun for them, and it can actively impact you in negative ways.

    Hobbies are awesome! But you are more than just your hobby, and you should mostly leave practicing your hobby as something that you do outside of work.

  56. Bridget*

    LW #1, please don’t stop. I used to have a coworker who was obsessed with yoga and would “perform” around the office. She was an endless source of entertainment for her coworkers and even my friends, who would regularly ask if Yoga Lady had done child’s pose at the copier lately (which did after dropping a box of paper clips and picking them up; it was extraordinary). Her bizarre yoga-related antics did overshadow almost everything else about her though. It’s been ~5 years since I worked with her and I couldn’t tell you a single thing about her besides her eye-rollingly endless desire for every single person she crossed paths with to know that she was accomplished at yoga (no one cared).

  57. just another bureaucrat*

    #2 Please file for unemployment as soon as you are no longer working. You should also make sure that you include a note when you file that your employer told you not to file. In some states this is illegal and the employers can be fined for this. If they do decide to appeal this and there is a hearing this would be good to have in the record.

  58. Sawbonz,MD*

    I have my black belt but it’s not a character trait of mine, if that makes sense, so I just leave it at home.

  59. Taxidermybobcat*

    OP 2 – I don’t know what state you’re in or what the requirements are, but make sure you start immediately filing for unemployment on a weekly basis with the DOL in your state as soon as you’re let go, even if the business contests it. I was in a situation in my state several years ago (GA) where the company claimed that I didn’t qualify for unemployment (even though they fired me, I didn’t quit) because I was an “independent contractor.” Turns out if the company treats you like an employee but neglects to pay your taxes and files you as an independent contractor, the DOL does not look kindly on that. It took a few months for me them to straighten the situation out. During that time, I had not been filing for unemployment because I didn’t understand that you have to file weekly for any weeks you are out of work, regardless of whether or not it’s being contested. When I finally got the approval, I went into the DOL office to backfill the dates from when I was originally let go, and was told that I didn’t qualify for any back payments because I didn’t file at the time. It was a rough lesson to learn, so passing it on for anyone who may be in a similar situation. Always file on a weekly basis, even if you’re not getting paid/don’t know if you’ll qualify for anything, and also be aware that in some states, even if a company reduces your hours from full-time to 1 hr a week, you still won’t qualify for unemployment until they actually lay you off entirely or fire you if you’re on their books as an employee. My husband went through this, months of reduced hours and pay, and the DOL in our state kept advising him not to quit because he wouldn’t be able to collect until he was actually laid off. Finally 3 months later he was, but those were tight times financially.

  60. Jean*

    OP1, I just want to say that you sound like a very interesting person, and I would definitely want to be work besties with you if we worked together. (And I would also probably bug you to teach me sweet martial arts moves)

  61. Ozzie*

    I’ve definitely been the person who laid on the floor sometimes at work, because their back hurt… I got strange looks. (I even got strange looks for stretching, which seemed strange to me) But, if someone saw me on the floor and asked if I was alright, the answer was…. no. I wasn’t there by choice, I was there because sitting had become near impossible. So this would be the first thing I would assume – and ask – if I saw someone on the floor. Especially if I had seen someone fall. Stretching and staying limber is fine, and unless it was seriously over the top, I wouldn’t think twice about it. From your description, you’ve gone into way over the top areas (definitely with the falling, potentially with the poses), and it would definitely be the only way I ever referred to you in my head thereafter. (Alongside “person who takes every call on speaker phone with the door open”, “person whose laugh drowns out everyone in the office”, “person who sneezes way too loudly for an open office and possibly doesn’t cover their mouth”, and “person who brings fish for lunch every day”)

    1. Fenn*

      I sometimes lay on the cold hard floor in a research unit when my back is playing up, ahhhhh so lovely and so difficult to get back up again. Never with a researcher in there though

  62. Former dancer*

    Devil’s advocate- when you have trained a lot in something, sometimes certain body movements are so deeply ingrained in you that you don’t always even fully realize you’re doing it.
    I have a standing desk and something about the posture of standing at something like that… it clicks something in the back of my brain. I sometimes find myself doing ballet bar exercises while I work (nothing really over the top- someone walking by might just think I was just doing some quick knee bends to move around a little, without realizing I’m in first position. and I don’t add the arms- they’re busy typing lol). whoops.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      As a former ballet dancer myself, doing plies in first position while standing at your standing desk is much, much different than falling to the ground and rolling to your back with your legs up to pick up your pen. I get the point, but to go *that far* is a conscious choice.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        This. I think the ballet equivalent would be if you decided you needed to do pique turns instead of walk or lean down with your leg in arabesque to pick up a pen rather than just squatting down.

        1. A. Ham*

          haha that is totally fair. I guess I was thinking about the stance thing more than the falling to the ground thing.

  63. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP1: If you’re doing the controlled falls with grunts and/or arm slaps, that’s going to be distracting for any coworkers nearby, even if they don’t see you do it.

    1. Can Man*

      I make sure to avoid loud noises like the slap and kiai yells. I also try to do anything involving faster movements in areas away from people, or at least out of their lines of sight. Although I said I wasn’t super self-conscious about the subtler things like the stances, I definitely try to avoid being disruptive.

      1. Sal*

        which stances do you think are subtle, and are you doing them correctly or sort of half? Both of those are important to how far the deviation away from standard work behavior is.

  64. Parenthesis Dude*

    #2 – The “bench” concept is common in IT or in the cleared world. It means that you’re not on a project but still getting paid fulltime. Generally speaking, sometimes talent is so valuable that you’d like to keep them even if they’re doing nothing. I mean, take someone who has a high level clearance. It’ll take years to get a brand new employee starting from scratch to get a clearance, let alone learn their job, so it makes sense to keep them on the bench for a few months and find them a new opening.

    Unless you’re very good though, it’s not where you want to be. But I don’t see how you can claim unemployment if you’re still being paid your full salary.

    See for example:

      1. CoveredinBees*

        Yeah. A company that claims that can’t afford to keep them isn’t going to hold onto them at full pay while doing nothing.

  65. A Social Worker*

    #1: All I can picture is the Office episode where they are doing Parkour. Not a professional look!

  66. Phony Genius*

    On #3, one thing I would worry about is if my new job doesn’t work out, would I be able to return to my old employer? It would be hard to if you tell your boss you’re not needed.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      But the alternative is that they recruit a replacement and then what would happen? The replacement be thrown out of their job because OP needs to return to that job? I think that would be legal (in the US) but crappy.

  67. H.Regalis*

    Letter #1 immediately makes me think of Ninja Rick from the webcomic Shortpacked/every I-studied-the-blade weeaboo I’ve ever met.

    That said, while I think it would come off as kind of pretentious, it’s not the end of the world. If your boss isn’t telling you to knock it off, and you’re fine being The Weird Martial Arts Guy, then don’t sweat it. As all the readers of this blog know, there are waaaaaaaay worse things you could be doing at work.

  68. Roja*

    Okay, I admit that in a regular office setting, doing controlled falls to the floor would definitely attract some attention. But I laughed because in some work environments it would be totally normal. I work as a ballet and modern dance teacher and I imagine the response to a sudden fall and/or roll around the floor would be somewhere between not even noticing and admiration (if it was done well). One of my college professors used to do yoga during staff meetings, squashed in the tiny corner between the table and the wall. Bonus points if you find a toenail clipping or hair clump on the studio floor while you’re down there lol.

  69. EBG*

    Alison! Your letters are supposed to be anonymous, but clearly LW #1 came from Dwight Schrute.

    1. Brains or Bust*

      I know! I literally can’t stop giggling at the idea of someone doing a controlled fall in an office environment

  70. Semi Bored IT Guy*

    I have actually worked in a place where it was not uncommon to walk past a (large, outdoor) break area and see people practicing stage fighting, flips or rolls, or in some cases even repeatedly cracking a bullwhip.

    Granted, it was in a theme park, their job title was “Stunt Performer”, and the break area in question was the one that was closest to the stunt show in which they all performed.

    1. Semi Bored IT Guy*

      (pressed submit too soon)

      so it wasn’t anything alarming. If I had seen this in an office location, yeah, that would not be good.

    2. Observer*


      I think that almost anything that would look reasonable in the context of “break room used by the stunt people on the stage in the next room” is something that probably shouldn’t be done in most work places.

  71. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#1: For the simple question, “is that a bad thing”, my answer is Yes, some of those are bad things. The other comments have already pointed out, in a consensus, that the controlled fall is bad. I would also point out that you should not lie on the floor at work. In so many work places, to lie on the floor would be very weird and unprofessional. You mentioned a chemistry lab – no, don’t lie on the floor in a chemistry lab. I have worked in multiple businesses with laboratories, including chemistry labs, and that would be unacceptable behavior.

  72. Gnome*

    OP 1. I did Shotokan karate for years. Certainly some Forms are going to raise eyebrows (jumps and kicks) while others could reasonable be made to look like moving stretches or a moving meditation… At least the leg movements.

    Frankly, if I saw someone doing horse stance at a low table I’d probably notice but not second guess it – there’s only so many ways to do that. Falls are going to be alarming because if someone doesn’t know you meant to, they might think you are hurt – so that’s not kind to anyone who happens by.

    So my take is that the stances and stuff are fine – heck if anyone side eyes you you could say “figured I’d give my legs a workout rather than hurt my back bending over” – but drop the falls and maybe reframe the Forms. If you really want to do them, try doing them really slowly. It will make your balance more precise and will be more meditative. If anyone asks, just call it you moving meditation practice. I think it will be more accepted that way.

  73. Lisa Simpson*

    20-year traditional karate practitioner here.

    I would highly discourage you from displaying any of your martial arts skills at work. Whether you agree or not, I’ve learned from experience that even just knowing about your skills can feel threatening to some colleagues. So displaying any of your skills at work could be perceived as creating a hostile work environment for them.

    In addition, I’d argue you shouldn’t show these skills in public at all (unless doing a demonstration for a school or something). Your skills are your greatest advantage, especially if people don’t know about them. For example, I’m a very petite female and no stranger would suspect my skill level. So not only my skills, but the element of surprise when I do have to show them is an incredible advantage in any self-defense situation.

    One other thing to consider is the martial arts codes of humility. Whether you mean to or not, you’re likely giving the impression that you want to show off your skills and that communicates the opposite of humility. In our school, that would be heavily frowned upon and may also be giving the wrong impression of your ego to your coworkers.

  74. Brett*

    I was in that position at my old job and had that conversation with my boss at the time. They followed my advice and transferred my higher level activities to a different department, with some funding attached, and used the remaining funding from my role to provide matching funds on a grant and end up hiring two specialists for other work that I was doing. It ended up working out fantastically for them, as they traded my part-time attention for two full time specialized people and developed a dedicated relationship to take care of the expert knowledge tasks that I did handle.

    Bigger bonus? The new specialized roles including specialized skills for pandemic response, which became highly relevant about 4 years after I left.

  75. Married to the roadrunner*

    Lw1: keep in mind your body speed as well. My husband has martial arts training and he freaks me the hell out sometimes (even though he hasn’t practiced in years) with his body speed (catching something, dropping something, controlled falls) and makes me jump. I also threaten to put jingle bells on him because I almost never hear him move from room to room – he’s just quiet and fast and I guarantee you your coworkers notice.

  76. Anonymous Bosch*

    For OP#2, in California that could be seen as “constructive dismissal” (letting someone go and hiring someone else for the exact same position) and might be illegal.

    I’d be surprised if the OP is being benched, because that would mean they are still being paid and will be brought back to resume working, when needed.

    If you no longer have a job and are no longer being paid, you should be able to collect unemployment.

  77. Esmeralda Fitzmonster*

    I think it is so disrespectful to move unpredictably -or in a way that others would perceive as unpredictable- in public spaces. I used to work in a restaurant with a very small and sprightly host. Instead of following the flow and pace of traffic, she would dart in between people to get around them. She was very sure footed and and she always judged correctly whether she could fit. But she couldn’t understand why other people found it so unnerving- that we all had to account for her unpredictable movement while planning our own, all while carrying heavy plates of hot food! That’s not something you usually have to consciously think about. I think a controlled fall goes in that same category and it would drive me up the wall.

  78. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    #2 – Your boss can use cutesy language like “benched” (which implies you’re staying on the team/being paid/getting benefits even if you sitting on the side not working unless they need you to do something) but if they’re removing you from their employ, you’ve been let go/fired/laid off.

    Sounds as if they’re manipulating you into quitting so they can replace you without having to pay you UI. Well, guess what. Your employer doesn’t get to decide whether you qualify for benefits; the UI Dept. does. And your employer doesn’t get to tell you not to apply. Using their the determination.

    Why would they want you to quit? Who knows? Maybe they’re tired of the same old face. Maybe they have someone in mind they like better and the posting is just going thru the motions. We’ve seen enough postings about crummy employers and managers to know no stupidity is beyond some.

    1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      Sorry, text dropped out: Using their sports analogy, the ball’s in your court whether to apply and you should. It’s up to the UI Dept. to make the call about your eligibility. When I was a young’un new to to wiles of the workplace, I was forced out of a job this way and I believed my caring, sincere boss. Don’t be as gullible as I was.

  79. Lifeandlimb*

    #1: if you’re in a very casual working environment, and your martial arts skills make your job more efficient without being too distracting, I’m all for it. For instance, there’s a grocery clerk at my corner store who obviously has some kind of sleight-of-hand or martial arts training that makes him one of the most efficient grocery baggers I’ve seen. It’s kinda fun to watch!

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