David Roberts, 48, falsely claimed more than £18,000 disability living allowance. He claimed he was in severe discomfort after walking a few steps, needed help getting dressed and getting in and out of bed.
But the sensei and black belt judo and martial arts instructor was filmed by Department of Work and Pensions investigators throwing adults over his shoulder and holding opponents in leg and arm locks, in Runcorn, Cheshire.
Sarah Griffin, prosecuting, said: “During his claim he was observed by officers walking significant distances, carrying heavy equipment, teaching children and could clearly stand up without difficulty.
“He was interviewed by police and denied any change to his condition before he was shown evidence including video, photos and a print out from a website naming him as an instructor.”
Warrington Crown Court heard on Friday 15 March that Roberts, of McKeagney Gardens, Widnes, Cheshire, was overpaid £18,142.08 but has been paying the cash back and now owes more than £16,000.
Michael Scholes, defending, said Roberts had some medical difficulties originally which were exaggerated.
He added: “The defendant was not paid to work as a judo instructor, it was a voluntary position.
“He is a highly-qualified teacher and it was a community-based organisation in Runcorn he was responsible for.
“The offence was triggered by the breakdown of his first marriage as he was left with a huge amount of debt.”
Judge Simon Killeen spared Roberts from prison, handing him instead 200 hours’ unpaid work and a six-month sentence suspended for 12 months.
He said: “What you did has a domino effect on others who are making a legitimate claim.”