To perform techniques a ninja must first utilize a form of energy source named, "Chakra" Chakra originates from two places: the first is physical energy which is inherent in the billions of cells, the second source of chakra is the mental & spiritual energy gained through exercise and experience. The body itself possess many points of concentration these are often referred to as chakra points. In order to perform a jutsu, the ninja will bring out and release these two energies. The amount of chakra needed for a technique will vary greatly, depending upon its size and complexity. It will also vary from user to user depending on their chakra capacity. Ninjas are able to manipulate chakra to use jutsus, molding and shaping the chakra to create the effect they want.
However, each ninja also has the potential to utilize an elemental Ninjutsu style. This is due to the fact that every ninja possess one elemental affiliation. For example, Naruto possess a wind affiliation and Kakashi possess a lightning affiliation. With an elemental affiliation comes an advantage as well as a disadvantage. For example the advantage of having a lightning elemental affiliation is that a ninja with that affiliation can master lightning based techniques more easily as well being able to perform higher level lightning based attacks. Possessing a lightning affiliation grants the ninja a higher advantage over someone possessing an earth affiliation, however the disadvantage of having a lightning affiliation is having a disadvantage over a ninja with a wind affiliation. In other words while acquiring an advantage over one opponent with a weakness to your affiliation, your affiliation has a weakness of its own. For this reason many ninja train themselves to recompose their chakra into different elemental based techniques to acquire a higher level of defense should they encounter their polar opposite as well as more options in combat. But because the ninja does not possess that particular elemental affiliation learning new moves requires more effort and limits their ability to be able to handle higher level techniques with that element.
Main Elemental Chakras
The Fire element technique. Katon takes on fire and flame based attacks. Its specialized as an offensive type of chakra and oftens create flame based attacks which are hurled from a distance, that gives the user distance between themselves and their opponent.
The Wind element technique takes wind based properties from a simple gust of wind to a typhoon. Out of all the elemental chakras Fuuton is most respected for it's ability to slice or act as an amplifier such as turning a simple kunai into an unstoppable bullet.
The Lighting element technique takes on and off lighting based attacks.It also specializes in offensive type of chakra like fire and its ability lies in creating mid range and long attacks. It can also be used by a metal weapon like conductor. A technique that was famously used by Kakashi's father Sakumo Hatake.
The Eath element technique is based around earth style and it specializes in defense. By taking advantage pf the properties that make up earth. It can be used as a near perfect escape route such as using a mud slide technique to incapacitate the enemy.
The Water element technique varies greatly depending on the users surrounding and the user itself, because of it's malleability it can be used to create powerful defenses as well as offenses. It can be from short to long range. However it's major weakness is it's user must be near any kind of water, but this however can be overcome as proven by the Nidame Hokage and Hoshigaki Kisame.