Before the settlement of the 'Han' people - the indigenous population of Fujian were categorised as being a branch of the '百越' (Bai Yue). These were the numerous non-Chinese tribes that lived South of the Yangtze River and North of what is today Vietnam. The term 'Bai Yue' (百越) means 'One Hundred - Snake'. The designation of 'One Hundred' (百 - Bai) refers to the apparent high number of these tribes - whilst 'Snake' (越 - Yue) indicates that these tribes were united around the habit of worshipping 'Snakes'. A branch of these 'Bai Yue' tribes was also referred to as the '粵' (also pronounced 'Yue') - meaning 'Generous' - these people migrated into the geographical area now known as 'Vietnam' with their current name being derived from the term 'Yuet' (Viet) migrating 'South' (Nam).
Obviously, not all One Hundred of these tribes lived in Fujian and early on in history the number living in Fujian was set at 'seven' - meaning these people were called '七闽' (Qi Min) - although today the full name is '八闽' (Ba Min) or 'Eight Min' usually shortened to just 'Min' (闽). The ideogram '闽' (Min) seems to be a simplified version of '閩' (Min). This is the same ideogram used to describe the 'Min' River which flows through Fujian province. The general assumption is that these Eight non-Chinese tribes are named after this River. What does the Upper and Lower Particles of this ideogram tell us?
a) Upper Particle = 門 (men2) - Gate, Doorway and Entrance
b) Lower Particle = 虫 (hui3) - Snake, bug and animal
Perhaps the Min River was viewed as a 'Gateway to Snakes' - as Fujian province used to be filled with Malarial swamps! Meanwhile, the name 'Fujian' first appeared in the year 733 CE during the 21st year of the reign of the Tang Dynasty Emperor - Kai Yuan (开元). This emperor bestowed this name when he created a special economic zone through which people could interact. As you can see by comparing the work of Mark Edward Lewis with Chinese language historical texts - he is correct in his assessments - but there is much that he misses out. He conveys the false assumption that Fujian was not part of China - it was part of the Chinese world view (as can be seen from the above historical data) but it formed a 'different' part. Someone Chinese has told me that there are different dialects of Min and that the one I have heard is probably related to incomers from the North - which is 'different' to other older Min dialects. After looking at this history - I would agree - although the Northern variant remains the dominant version! One last point is that Fujian is also known to be very mountainous and full of hilly terrain. The valleys were probably river beds until drained - causing sloping territory. There is the riding of narrow boats (the 'high' horse stance) and then there is the need to carry heavy weights up and down the hills. All this, together with farming, all probably influenced the development of local martial arts.