i split 5-8 cords a years by hand. i love it. good excersise as well. i agree the worst part of splitting is picking up the piece to split it again.
when i split, i let the wood fall on the ground and i grab another log. after a little bit the stack will be high enough around my splitting log to catch anything. before you know it your not chasing pieces anymore, they just fall over onto the pile. i cut my "bending down to pick up pieces" in half.
i use fiskars 8 pound axe/maul. its going on 16 cords and not a damn thing wrong with it minus me touching the edge up a bit with a file.