Elemental is a sexual assault protection program that offers realistic training for realistic situations. This program:

  • Combines the best of classroom education and self-defense training in a program with peer-reviewed evidence of long-term effectiveness.
  • Offers an organized, cost-effective, and holistic curriculum that is grounded in social science research and is inclusive of a variety of participants, including gender and sexual minorities (GSM).
  • Assists your institution in filling the most recent requirements of the Violence Against Women Act (including the SaVE Act). Elemental combines some of the best elements of primary prevention and risk reduction programming. We offer face-to-face training and ongoing prevention through self-directed student review.
  • Provides program participants with choices in the way they respond to an assault, each based on the four elements of To-Shin Do. Our name comes from this element-based problem-solving paradigm.

What are the four elements?

Earth (Confident)
Hold your ground
Water (Surprised)
Step back momentarily, assess, then react
Fire (Connected)
Anticipate the threat and stop it before it grows
Wind (Withdrawn)
Exploit weaknesses within the threat that enable you to leave entirely

Latest News

Elemental at TEDx

Posted on Jan 9th, 2016

In November 2015 the nonviolent responses that are central to Elemental were featured in a TEDx talk. As is the case with TED talks in general, our goal was to transcend conventional thinking and reimagine a solution to a pressing problem.  To that end, Mellisa Holtzman talked about and demonstrated some of the nonviolent response options for sexual assault that are part of the Elemental curriculum. We were honored and thrilled to be invited to highlight this program in a TEDx talk!

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First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you & your team on what a fantastic program Elemental is. I have been through several different types of programs, and I have to say that yours is one of the best I’ve attended.

2013 Assistant Residence Hall Director

The scenarios... all felt very real for me. As a survivor of intimate partner violence, I thought those situations were much more helpful than many of the stranger-rape cases in past self-defense classes I’ve taken.

2012 Participant

I really liked the "uh-oh" moment identifications because a lot of them I would have never thought of and it allows me to look out for them in real life situations.

2013 Participant

Just wanted to let you know how awesome you are. You are making a huge difference! I think you are the only ones who get it.

M.W., PhD

My daughter is signed up for an upcoming session. I just wanted to say that I think your program is a valuable service to the students!

Parent of a participant

I liked how the different techniques weren't gender specific, and I liked how you could use each of the elemental moves to cater to your specific personality. It made the techniques more approachable. I loved the seminar, it was really empowering!

2013 Participant

I have recommended the seminar to other because it helped me a lot with confidence in uncomfortable situations, and made me feel like I could defend myself if necessary.

2013 Participant

I also appreciated that we were given the opportunity to try things that we might actually experience in real life with the couches and the beds.

2012 Participant

I would 100% recommend this class to others; in fact, I already have. It flows really well, it's very informative, it doesn’t tiptoe around the subjects, and you can ask any question and you don’t feel stupid or like you're alone. Everyone was really helpful and nice (even the creepers), and now you get review materials so you can keep practicing so you don’t forget what you learned.

2014 Participant

Elemental gives people helpful, but basic communication skills in these situations. I also like that it teaches you that there are steps to take before heading to the more physical ones.

2014 Participant