How to identify five element body types

Stereotypes are caricatures. Every pure type represents a distortion in which one elemental force dominates to the exclusion of the other four.  Perfect health implies a life in which the tendencies of all five elements participate in equal measure, promoting, checking, and balancing each other. Few of us enjoy such perfect health. Meridians are like roadways in life. We tend to take the same roads repeatedly while leaving the others untravelled. The energetics of the ones we travel on repeatedly become excessive while the ones we ignore become deficient. In time, this imbalance become our personality, defining the the way we interact with other people, with the world,  and with ourselves.


  • The Wood-type person can be identified by the ‘three longs’: long face, long body trunk, long fingers.
  • The Wood-type person is shaped like a tree, with a long face; wide on top and narrow at the bottom, bony with scant flesh, and has wide, slouching shoulders.
  • The Wood-type person has a greenish complexion and a solemn looking demeanor. The Wood-type person is prone to anger manifested by bulging, green veins.
  • The Wood-type person’s speech is blunt and short, with words sounding “thin,” as though coming from the teeth.
  • The Wood-type person walks with a noisy, marching gait, lifting the feet and letting them drop.


  • The Fire-type person can be identified by the three “pointies”: a pointy nose, a pointy chin, and a pointy top of the head.
  • The Fire-type person’s body is shaped like a torch: pointy on top, narrow on the bottom, and flared in the middle. The face is round and full, and the hair is thin. The body is plump, of medium build with sloping shoulders.
  • The complexion is reddish; the ears and the neck turn crimson when the temper is roused.
  • The voice is sharp and high-pitched, with a broken quality. The sounds seemingly come from the tongue.
  • The Fire-type person is light-footed and walks at a hurried pace, dashing forward with the upper body swaying from side to side.


  • The Earth-type person can be identified by the three ‘shorts’: the body is short, the neck is short, and the fingers are short.
  • The Earth-type person has a square face with big ears and a bulbous nose shaped like a head of garlic. The muscles are strong and both the waist and back are thick. Movements are clumsy and the demeanor is honest and sincere. Not well-educated but a simple person with no guile.
  • The complexion is yellow, which turns into a withered yellow when the person is unhappy.
  • The Earth-type person speaks with a loud, low-pitched nasal tone. The gait is heavy-footed with every step solidly landing on the ground.


  • The Metal-type person can be identified by the three ‘thins’: thin lips, thin eyelids, and the flesh on the back of the hands is thin.
  • The Metal-type person is attractive-looking. The face is rectangular in shape, with a pointy chin, and well-defined, well-distributed features. The body is slim, and the movements are graceful and lively.
  • The Metal-type person has a good way with words and is a persuasive communicator.
  • The complexion is white, and turns pale when the tempers are aroused.
  • The voice is bright and clear as a bell with the sounds coming from the throat. The gait is swift, light, and lively.


  • The Water-element person can be identified by the three ‘thicks’: thick eyelids, a thick jaw, and the flesh on the back of the hands is thick.
  • The face is large, fleshy, round, wider at the base than the top, and often a double chin. Big eyes, thick eyebrows and thick hair, both the face and body are full and chubby.
  • The complexion has a black tint, which darkens when the temper is roused.
  • The Water-element person speaks with a relaxed, low tone with the sounds coming from the throat.
  • The Water-element person walks slowly, with the feet dragging on the ground.


About Lok-Kwan

Lok-Kwan is a Licensed Acupuncturist in the state of Illinois. He is a board-certified acupuncturist and herbalist. He sees patients and teaches qigong in Chicago and Wilmette. Visit his website
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