Fighting styles are simply systems of combat. They are either taijutsu or strategy and tactics. In taijutsu or ninjutsu, different fighting styles are systems of codified practices and traditions of training for physical education, exercise and combat. A ninja's fighting style is an approach to combat that make use of that ninja's strengths and talents; one example is Sakura Haruno, in Part II her fighting style takes full advantage of her precise chakra control, resulting in her Chakra Enhanced Strength. Orochimaru and Kabuto Yakushi have amassed a plethora of abilities through various body modifications and illegal experiments, thus integrating the fighting styles of many other people, and using them to swarm the battlefield with many different and versatile techniques.
- An "External" martial arts style is a fighting style which is characterised by the focus on fast, explosive movements and developing the practitioner's physical strength and agility. Training regimes for external styles focus around muscular power, speed and application, developing the user's muscle memory and their stamina, building it all up to the desired 'hard' physical level for real combat. Flashbacks of Rock Lee show him training rigorously for hours doing exercises such as punching and kicking a hard, wooden training post, hundreds of squats, as well as cardiovascular exercises such as skipping with a jump rope.
- A "Hard" martial arts style is a fighting style which is characterised by its approach by intercepting and countering an opponent's incoming force with equal and/or greater force: In these styles, the practitioner either directly blocks the incoming attack with an attack of their own or by cutting through the attack at an angle. These styles rely on external power; in the case of a Strong Fist practitioner, it is the user's superior strength and physical conditioning, that creates success. The practitioner fights head-on offensively, and their offence becomes their defence.
- An "Internal" martial arts style is a fighting style which is characterised by its emphasis on the use of the practitioner's mind to coordinate the leverage of the relaxed body, (as opposed to the use of brute strength,) and the internal development, circulation, and expression of their chakra. A practitioner of a internal style understands that an opponent is only as strong as their weakest joint. Training regimes for internal styles include meditation and exercising control over their internal chakra flow.
- A "Soft" martial art is a fighting style characterised by its approach of receiving the aggressor's force and momentum and then directing the opponent's force, leading the attack into another direction. In these styles, the user seeks to turn their opponents own strength against them, to bring them off-balance, diffusing the energy of the incoming attack, and, in the case of the Gentle Fist, to take them down from the inside. A 'Soft' style is less about physical strength and more about internal power. In Gentle Fist, the user's superior chakra control and precision is the key to their success, emphasising control and defence.
- In taijutsu and ninjutsu, a fighting style also refers to an approach to fighting opponents. One example is Naruto Uzumaki's fighting style - as a 'Power' type, Naruto's fighting style exemplifies raw power, charging straight in and clearing a path through the enemy's defensive line, making a way in for the rest of the team. Another example of a dynamic fighting style is used by 'Speed' types, such as Minato Namikaze and Tobirama Senju and Kyūsuke, who take advantage of their superior agility and reflexes to execute devastating guerilla strikes against their opponents.
Another kind of fighting style is used by "Stationary" types. The Fifth Kazekage Gaara, for example, makes use of his sand to reach his opponents and attack from a distance, using "catch and crush" tactics. Members of the Aburame clan also practice this battle strategy with their method revolving around 'surround and seizure' tactics, seeking out the opponent and restricting their movements to capture them dead or alive.
- Likewise, a "Defensive" fighting style is favoured by members of the Hyūga clan for example who can use the defences of the Gentle Fist style as their offence.
- A "Supplementary" fighting style involves working in co-ordination with others to bring down enemy forces. An example of supplementary fighting formations in the series are the fighting formation used by both the former and the current Ino–Shika–Chō Trio. Members of the Inuzuka clan also employ this type of fighting alongside their ninken.
Fighting styles are also mainly divided into long-range, mid-range, and close-range type fighters. Puppeteers, such as Kankurō, are long-range fighters, and are at a disadvantage in close-range combat. The Wind Release complements a close-to-mid-range fighter who favours brute force. The Fire Release is a style that complements a mid-to-long-range fighter.