Never Getting Tied Up | Movie Look : Zodiac (2007)

In a brutal scene in the 2007 film Zodiac [clip below], a couple relaxing lakeside, is approached by the black and hooded ‘Zodiac Killer’ (true story; 1970’s San Francisco Bay Area).  The Z.K. instructs the woman to take from his hand a rope to bind to her boyfriend’s wrists.  Watch the video below (or if you remember the scene from the movie) – please offer your insights on the how the violence was played out.  Was there anything that the victims did wrong?  Just how big was their window of opportunity?

The Combative Corner was able to enlist two other self-protection professional’s perspectives on this scene; Melissa Soalt of Dr. Ruthless’ Practical Primal Self Defense and Roy Elghanayan of Krav Maga LA.

MICHAEL JOYCE :  What would strike me immediately (if I were the man in this scenario) is that the “Man in Black” not only had a gun, but was dressed as an executioner.  This, obviously, should not be taken lightly.  Considering the isolated area and the fact that there was very little cover, running away/running for help would be an iffy proposition.  If I felt very confident that my girlfriend and I could outrun (and if the car was close) the attacker, I would most certainly take that option.  However, my advice (if continuing with the “hostage” scenario) would be to whisper to my girlfriend to tie it very loose, so as when the Zodiac Killer comes to inspect her work, I immediately attack him.  I would hope that my girlfriend would assist me in this action as well.

DR. RUTHLESS :  My professional advise is common sense. Already stated — NEVER allow yourself to be tied up by a criminal. Period. This is classic- using one victim’s fear and pain against the other. As soon as he says, “Don’t get up…” All their alarms should go off. Feign submission for a spell if you need to to (goal is to lower bad guy’s aggressive aroussal; allow him to feel in control.  One of them NEEDS to act and close in on the gunman, grab the gunhand etc… and now there’s two against one!!!! (Would be great if it was the female because the gunman would least expect that. Then the man rushes in…)

The ZK essentially (as is not terribly uncommon) TOLD them out out-loud WHAT HE WOULD DO : “I’m not afraid to kill a man,” he said.

Also kneeling position offers some great explosive moves. (Simple one: yank his ankles hard and fast and very snappy – toward you while shoving him back in the groin region to send him slamming back and down hard. (of course there’s the issue of handgun…) Other from kneeling options too… snappy springing moves and then grab gun hand – slap gun off “kill line” Too tehcnincal for this…but you get the idea… ACT!

Hope is not a strategy– I don’t mean to blame these innocent peoples but c’mon folks– don’t believe the words of a f&#$% criminal!— Part of the work here is that we NEED TO GET OVER OUR FEAR OF INJURY– that’s critical for people to act in such dangerous scenarios- something else has to be more pressing than your fear…. like survival.  It always entails a risk – but this scene is clearly shouting out ” this ZK IS going to kill you both!” I think nowadays (today versus then) more people get it.

ROY ELGHANAYAN :  The guy obviously misjudged the situation.  Based on how he (Z.K.) was dressed (and his initial demands) he thought (perhaps) it was a random mugging situation.  What the victim should have done from the beginning was act like a victim – nervous – confused – (etc).  And hopefully the attacker will come closer & do what he wants, because in this example the attacker is keeping a distance between himself and his victims.  And because of this distance (and because the attacker has a gun) the only thing you can do is pray.  Your goal is to get the attacker at close range so you can grab the gun.  If you can’t do that, you have a problem…  How do you get him closer?  Don’t give him your wallet or keys.  Make him come and get it.

[If the scene plays out, and the guys HAD to toss the Z.K. the wallet and keys]  What the male should have done (as she was going to get the rope) would be to move his hands to the front.  Hopefully the gunman won’t care whether he’s tied up in the front or the back.  If she did this, and the Z.K.  was okay with this, the guy can do the technique really well (See Roy’s Video).

Another thing is that hopefully the woman wouldn’t just stand there.  She shouldn’t rely on anyone to save her.  You need to protect yourself – your family – your husband – So when she walks up to the gunman – boom!  She moves the gun away, she redirects the line-of-fire, she’s there to attack.  And the thing is that the attacker would not expect that from her!…

You’ve got to train for these situations.  Unfortunately if you take a cardio kickboxing class (or something similar) you won’t be ready to deliver what’s needed in this scenario.  In order to get to the level you need, you must train hard – not just physically but mentally as well.

Michael Joyce is the owner of The ChenCenter and founder of The Golden Thread System in Winston-Salem, N.C., & the author of 2 books on self-protection.  He is constantly  active teaching Women’s Self-Defense Workshops.  Visit his CombativeCorner profile for more information [here].

Melissa Soalt, or more famously known as Dr. Ruthless is an award-winning teacher of women’s self defense and a Black Belt Hall of Fame recipient.  She is currently liberating women from the jaws of fear.  For more information, visit her website at

Roy Elghanayan (his CC Interview – here -)is the owner of Krav Maga L.A. and a leading authority on reality-based combatives.  He’s a two-time Israeli Krav Maga National Champion and former trainer of the Israeli Special Forces.  For more information, visit his website KravMagaLA.Com.


14 Responses to “Never Getting Tied Up | Movie Look : Zodiac (2007)”

  1. Mia T. [via Facebook comments]
    Another instance where the woman was waiting for her man to become her knight in shining armor. Srsly. If she knew a little something, she was close enough to have done something…. Flabammo! Two on one. She lost her cool way too quickly too.Neither one of them had their heads on straight.

    • very true. i thought everything was very realistic. I thought even the man was very confident and calming. He should understand and some point, once he offered him “help”, that this psycho didn’t want help and wanted to completely immobilize them. For what? That is when I’d take absolutely NO chances.

      • Mia T. [via Facebook comment]
        OMG! I am SO riled up about this right now! Ask Rich and Chris about my issues with getting riled up about a subject…. Realistic, yes. I think that’s what pisses me off most, simply because the woman was SO “helpless” and the guy was TOO “helpful”… Grrr…….

  2. Karl W. [via Facebook comments]
    The gun is priority 1, act scared & non threatening. Do what he says in hopes of getting him close. In the scene, when he goes to tie up the girl, he must have put his gun down or away, or not holding it properly. PROVIDED she did not tie you for real, if you can slip out of it, this would be the point of attack. Left hand hammerfist to his nose followed by a right handed elbow or punch to face/throat hoping this would stun & disable him enough for you to get up. Not saying I could do it, but I’d sure as hell try!
    Why would I attack & not hope he just spares us? Because he takes the risk to tie us up. Why would he do that if all he wanted was stuff?

  3. Mike M. [via Facebook comments]
    Id hope the girl is aware enough not to tie too hard so that there is room to wiggle your hands or tie around his watch and the other hand. When the villain comes closer and focuses on the girl, he drops his gun and thats probably your best bet to get up and target one of the weak spot (maybe groin) and proceed to kick him and hopefully force him into the water / get the weapon.

  4. Fabian D.S. [via Facebook comments]
    if i was well tied,1º option: i´d attack when the guy is tying her. Check his hands, stand up very quickly and kick it´s face. 2º option: i ´d had given him a head butt in his face (3:33) aprox…..i think

  5. Kini H. [via Facebook comments]
    I agree with Karl – act scared and non-threatening, which is what the female was doing when ordered to get the rope. She had the first opportunity.. but she would have to have some training to “be quick or be done!”

  6. Thomas M. [via Facebook comments]
    Nice one. I think at running at 1:14 (or shoot him), she had her change (pistol disarm) at 2:35 and if she did not tie him up (mislead attacker) he had a change at 3:05.

  7. Ariben R.L.A. [ via Facebook comments]
    any situation, business, politics, wars, anything… there is so-called leverage. IF ONLY a person’s state of mind has not affected (but ofcors der will always be) his ability to think well he can decide the courses of action he would take even in a stressful scenario. Well, I myself cannot figure out the courses of action in a situation wherein it is so hard to say/think “well I am well trained, I can take this sucker for 3 seconds!” Hoah!

  8. Samuel C. [via Facebook comments]
    ‎1) I wouldn’t be stupid and fall for that lol I’d use my instincts to escape. and 2) I’d use Krav to defend myself if I had too. If that doesn’t work I’m screwed lol

  9. Tony B. [via Facebook’s Personal Defense Readiness]
    Dont have time to log in right now but I always tell students to never let themselves get tied up – there’s always some type of scenario where you decide to cooperate but the reasons better be clear – start with the rule and then consider carefully the options – apply our 3 I’s rule here too:


    blend you instincts & intuition and you’ll do something intelligent

  10. James S. [via Facebook’s Personal Defense Readiness]
    The womans intuition alerts her to a bad vibe … She is already being attacked emotionally They should have listened to her intuition, Far better to do the right thing and be wrong then the wrong thing and be right. They mayhave had time to get awaybefore ZK got close enough…ZK asks for money and wallet, he maintains a distance This is interesting I would have thought he would get closer to intimidate, perhaps he is already wary of a counter by victims… Male victim maintains composure states they will cooperate… I would count that as a sound strategy.. possibly he could have projected nervousness and fear in an attempt to draw ZK cloer. He then throws wallet… should he have kept it and try to lure the bad guy closer? maybe .. however throwing the wallet and it not being retrieved by bad guy tells me 2 things he is in no hurry and he wants more. ZK then states he wants woman to tie male up. This is a very bad sign. Male indicates to the woman he might be able to try to get the gun if ZK gets closer.. The woman should have tied very loosely and the worst knots in history. The hands are hidden from ZK so how will ZK know until he gets close enough to inspect .. ZK warns not to try anything and states he is not afraid to kill….ZK then walks closer to tie woman up.. this was the greatest opportunity for counter ambush especially if the male’s hands were tied very loose… it could have been two on one even before he put the weapon down.

  11. […] Original Article: Never Getting Tied Up | Movie Look | The Zodiac […]

  12. […] Never Get Tied Up : Self-Defense Survival (special guest: Rener Gracie) […]

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